Some time ago I purchased acid-range pH strips, but they were relatively expensive, had an overly-wide range, and never seemed all that accurate. Just over a week ago I picked up a bottle of 100 wine-range pH strips, and I’m pleased to say that they are better on all counts. I’ll start measuring each batch, and a variety of other things, too.
After 18 days of fermentation, this batch measured pH 3.6. It was full-bodied, tart, and astringent, but not vinegary. It didn’t taste particularly sweet, which was a nice change after my last batch. I was expecting this to be very similar to my usual kombucha, but there really isn’t any good reason for that. Of course, the ceylon was undoubtedly fresher and was probably higher quality. Now that I think of it, the ceylon was organic and it probably contained it’s own bevy of yeast and bacteria that contributed to the fermentation.
I flavored a quart each with Purely Hibiscus, Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland, and 2 TB of dried Sassafrass. I’m not especially fond of any of them. They seem to be poorly suited to this kombucha base, and are each relatively harsh. The Sassafras is interesting in that it smells a lot like rootbeer, but none of that comes through in the flavor. After a couple of days of continued steeping, the sassafras kombucha seemed to be developing more woody flavors and the rootbeer scent had decreased. I tried adding some honey, but it still had a rough edge. I added a dash of Angostura bitters, my “magic melder“, and it made all the difference. It’s been quite a while since I had thought about that, I’ll have to try it more.
I’m beginning to think that I should start removing my tea bags (or other post-bottling flavorants) after 24 hours of steeping. I get enough flavor by that time. have never noticed ay added benefit, and I’m now beginning to notice a pattern of increased off-flavors (starting with the Republic of Tea “Hibiscus” teas I used here).
For my last batch I mistakenly paired a sweet flavoring with a sweet kombucha. This time I took a tart kombucha and added piquant flavorings. Clearly, I need to spend more time tasting the plain kombucha and selecting an appropriate flavoring. Hopefully my future brews will be more on the tart side. The sweet ones are less refreshing and too easy to drink in rapid succession. Then again, if I paired a piquant flavoring with a sweet kombucha, maybe I’d restore balance in the force, and all would be well.
I’ve recently started sharing samples with my brother and his wife, and it’s interesting to learn how their impressions differ. In particular, her tastes seem to veer towards more intense flavorings, and I think she liked one of more of these. Perhaps one or both will start commenting with their impressions…