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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Austin Underground Kombucha Network (or, How to Make Kombucha).

So, remember a couple of weeks ago when we were talking about all the missing kombucha in Austin?

In the absence of our beloved drink, I move to start our own Austin Underground Kombucha Network!

Now to be fair, there actually IS still plenty of kombucha in the city. Buddha's Brew for example. But making your own kombucha at home is durn cheap, and lots of you asked for the recipe. Membership for the Austin Underground Kombucha Network currently stands at one (me), but if you follow this recipe, BOOM. You in da club.

One more word of caution. Actually, two.

First, if you are squeamish to the taste of vinegar, you probably won't like kombucha. It's not terribly strong, but as this is a fermented beverage, vinegar taste is definitely present. If this is you I completely understand and won't make fun of you; I am the uptight snob at parties who doesn't like beer, after all.

Second, the culture you use to make kombucha looks like a spleen or something. It's terrifying. But don't worry, that's what it's supposed to look like.

Now let's get this party started!

* how to make kombucha *

Ingredients / Tools:

-Medium to large stainless steel pot
-A one-gallon glass jar (you can find them at Hobby Lobby)
-Paper towles, coffee filters, or any other clean "breathable" covering
-Water (three qts)
-White sugar (one cup)
-Tea (four bags. I like green tea, but you can use whatever)
-A kombucha culture, often referred to as a "mother"

step one:

Boil your three quarts of water. Distilled or purified is best. While it's boiling, measure out your cup of sugar.

step two:

Add your cup of sugar to the water when a rolling boil is reached. The sugar is added to feed the bacteria and yeast in the Mother, because she eats it!

Boil the water and sugar together for five minutes.

step three:

Turn off heat, and add your four tea bags. I like playing around with different kinds, although I always use at least a couple of green tea bags. Just my preference. The last time I did it, I used a couple of "Women's Relaxation" herbal tea bags, and it yielded this spicy sweet, cinnamon-y flavor. Mmm.

Steep 10-15 minutes, then for God's sake LET THE TEA COOL. I skipped that part the first time, added the Mother in while the tea was still hot, and accidentally killed her! Don't do that.

step four: 

Once your tea/sugar water mixture is cooled, pour it inside your gallon glass jar, and add in the Mother.

Cover the glass jar with a paper towel / coffee filter / whatever breathable covering, secure with a rubber band, and let it sit in an undisturbed, room temperature area for 7-14 days. Keep it out of direct sunlight, and don't let people smoke or cook lots of greasy foods in the same room as your little kombucha. She doesn't like that.

Fresh air is important too, so remember to open a window every so often in the room where your kombucha is growing.

Here's a guide to help you with timing. I used to think that kombucha took at least two weeks; as it turns out it's typically a little less than that.

4 to 6 days: Too sweet. All the sugar hasn't converted yet.
7 to 9 days: May taste like sparkling apple cider.
10+ days: Vinegary taste starts to get stronger. If it gets too strong for you, dilute it with fruit juice.

A few more things. When you are making kombucha, the Mother creates a "baby," i.e., another culture that someone else can turn around and use as THEIR Mother. Isn't that cool? It's one of the reasons kombucha lends itself well to a network, because you can share it with other people.

Mothers vary in their awesomeness, though. The first one I made was completely wimpy, like a falling-apart tissue. But the second one I made was a freaking beast.

Here's a side-by-side comparison.

Now, I have a jar of fresh kombucha that I'm almost finished drinking! It's so yummy. It's earned an honored place on our kitchen counter.

Don't you like how it's hanging out with our liquor? Almost as if to say, "Stand back, fellas. There's a NEW sheriff in town."

happy kombucha making!


Sophie Neutron said...

The pictures of you holding your "babies"/"new mothers" are pure gold! (translation: me like and they made me giggle)
Making Kombucha seems like fun. I never thought of raising my own beverage before. But now...

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Sophie Neutron - Thanks! I was pretty thrilled that my second Mother turned out so healthy and strong.

Making kombucha IS fun! (And cheap / easy)!

magnolia*mama said...

thanks for the tips baby! You make it not look creepy and like something only dirty hippies do ;)

I'm still sad I can't just go buy it though. I blame la-lohan.

linda said...

WOW. peter tsai posted this on a mutual friend's facebook. i am going to use Kombucha on my friday food definition blog this week. will link to this blog entry :)

blew my mind.

Stan said...

hi there. where can i get a mother? any recommendations?

Anonymous said...

(Almost as if to say, "Stand back, fellas. There's a NEW sheriff in town." -- I laughed out loud.)

I'm with Stan... where do I get a mother?

Le Tigre said...

Hahaha. You make me laugh. If I liked Kombucha I would totally try this, but I'm one of those beer drinkers. :-/

Unknown said...

Nope. Still not convinced. Sorry, T. ;)

Jodi said...

The "Mother" looks like a placenta. So in order to try this, you have to ask someone to give you a "mother?"

Austin Eavesdropper said...

These responses are going to go in no particular order...

@Stan and @TheFirstKitchen - You in luck! I actually have two mothers. Would you each like one? If so, email me, and I'll be happy to give them to you!

@Breanna - YOUR LOSS, my friend!

@Jodi - LOL...totally looks like a placenta. And yeah, you have to get a mother; I think a few places online sell them. I'll make another one though in a few weeks if you're interested...?

@Le Tigre - Good for you. I'm still figuring out how to get my taste buds to follow suit with beer.

@mama*magnolia - I'm sad I can't buy it, too. I LOVED GT's! Especially the grape flavor!!

@Linda - Your blog's photography is completely gorgeous.

rise said...

So where can you purchase the "mother" for making your own? Since I assume those two guys claimed yo mama (hah!)

BTTVScott said...

@le tigre Hi

Scar said...

I need a mother. Know where I can receive or purchase one? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Put me in the " looking for a mother" club. Seems like getting the mother is the hardest part.

Unknown said...

i need to get some things together, but would love to adopt one of your babies or learn about where to get a mother. thanks for posting your recipe/photos!

Anonymous said...

Check out YouTube there are a couple of videos that show you how to "make" your own mother from a bottle of store bought Kombucha as the starter. It may take 14-28 days to get a good Mother (SCOBY-Symbotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) depending on the temperture, sugar, and tea. I tried it and it really works! I'm drinking really good Kombucha from homemade SCOBY. Being able to make your own culture will provide a lifetime of Kombucha.

Anonymous said...


Loved your post, however, getting your hands on a mother is proving difficult! Who is your source? Can anyone give me the inside nod towards Scoby providers?

thanx! :0

Jennavision said...

I would absolutely love to partake in the growing Kombucha Club! New to town and I LOVE your blog :)

I need me some Mother Love!

Jen Coombe 512-434-9324

Austin Eavesdropper said...

Hi Jenna! Welcome to Austin!! So happy you're a kombucha gal -- I don't have a batch going right now, but when I do (and make a new mother), I'll text ya.