Slow Going

I’ve read that kombucha fermentation tends to change as the seasons change. This certainly seems to have been true for me, as progress in each of my four 1-gallon jars slowed to a crawl over the last three months. This is despite the fact that they’ve been a room with constant temperature and a heating pad to make sure the temp is in the 76-86° range. Each one has been brewing for 4-10 weeks, and and only the 10-week batch was particularly strong.

I’ve not really commented on what I’ve bottled, but it has mostly been my default recipe flavored with a teabag. Here’s what I’ve tried:

  • Dried rosehips: This was okay, better than the hibiscus batch I made at the same time. I should try it again, with a milder batch.
  • Dried hibiscus flowers: Considering the preponderance on hibiscus in raspberry teas (and all “Zingers”), I shouldn’t have been surprised that it reminded me a lot of them. Since I don’t especially care for those in kombucha, I also shouldn’t be surprised that I didn’t especially care for this.
  • Lemon Zinger: not much lemon flavor, but a lot of hibiscus flavor.
  • Dry Desert Lime: The flavor was a bit intense, with the lime tartness on top of the kombucha’s strong acetic flavor, but I think I detected something really interesting (and subtle) from this tea. I’ll try it again with a milder batch.
  • Blackcurrant Bracer: The effect was similar to Raspberry teas, but better. In the end, not great, but okay.
  • Bangal Spice: I was really hesitant about this, but I think it could turn into one of my favorites. It made the kombucha taste a lot like mulled cider, and other people even thought they detected “apple”. For this batch of kombucha, it was better than my usual peach flavoring.

Curious about the Dry Desert Lime, I tried a mug of it as regular hot tea. It was okay, with the same interesting bit that I first detected in kombucha, with a base flavor tart but as boringly mild as most hot tea. So while it doesn’t do anything for me as tea, it may still work for kombucha, and I wonder if it might also work as an extract for adding some interesting notes to a pie (especially key lime pie)

One of the batches was made with twice the tea: 4 family-size Luzianne decaffeinated tea bags in two quarts of boiling water, steeped in a stainless sauce pan on the hot stove as long as it took to cool to room temp. Besides the long brew time, it also managed to lose almost 2 quarts of liquid to evaporation. It didn’t really taste particularly different, but it did yield a massive 1.5″ scoby. Whether this was due to the time or tea, I don’t know.

My last batch was from the batch brewed with Hojicha. I just bottled this yesterday, and haven’t finished sampling it, so I’ll make another post when I’ve finished that. But I have tried a glass of it warm and plain, and it looks promising!

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7 thoughts on “Slow Going

  1. Pingback: Hojicha Kombucha | :|

    • I’ve read that too. I’ve also read that a before and after chemical analyses of brewed and unbrewed Kombucha showed no significant reduction of caffeine, indicating that the caffeine was not likely to provide ay sort of nourishment or building materials for the culture. Virtually all of my kombucha has been decaf, and my experience has in no way supported any assertion that caffeine is necessary or even beneficial.

      Nevertheless this is a biological process, and there are many variables. Maybe the caffeine is helpful within certain temperature ranges, with different water, or some other set of variables. The lack of it certainly doesn’t seem to be hurting my cultures.

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      • I learned that using anything other than distilled water will delay the process. I also used Earl Grey tea which apparently has oils in it that can cause delay. The 1st two containers are actually still growing. I did take the scoby out of one to examine it. That was very cool top c up close. I put it back in to c what would happen. There is actually another scoby beginning to form where the original was. …

        So then….
        We started 4 new quart sized jars with distilled/plain black tea. In less than 2 weeks 1 of the 4 is least 1/8″ thick and the rest aren’t far behind. The differences are rather surprising!

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        • I’ve always brewed with distilled water, but that’s the only place I use it. I know some people have cautioned about using tap water for cleaning, etc, but it’s not been a problem for me. I rinse each batch’s scoby in cold tap water before throwing it into my scoby hotel and grabbing another for the next batch. I also use cold tap water for rinsing the jars, strainer, and everything else. I know my tap water has is chlorinated and fluoridated, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting my kombucha production at all. I should probably make a full blog post about this sort of stuff.

          I recently used a bag of decaf earl grey to flavor a quart of bottled kombucha, and the result is very nice! The kombucha itself was brewed with plain decaf black tea (orange pekoe), so the bergamot oil in the earl grey was introduced too late to affect the fermentation.

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