June 08, 2014

Mothers, Babies and Scobies

So in another life, I used to be a knitwit.

Here are some of my creations:

Shrug knit with Noro Kureyon (Japanese hand dyed yarn)

Lanesplitter Skirt for Gwen (Noro and Paton's Merino)

Art Bag (Noro)

Storm Toque-r for Nathaniel (Noro - can you tell I like Noro?)
My life and my personality being what they are - ADD - I have been ignoring the yarn in my stash and focusing on writing the great novel and sewing quilts and patio cushions instead.

But for reasons unknown (KISMET?), I ventured to Ravelry recently - the knitter's online mecca - all things knitting all the time - and immediately noticed that I had a friend request.  Weird.  I proceeded to check out my fellow knitter's profile, as you can never be too cautious.  The last "friend" request I had was from a Scottish non-knitter who said that he loved to see "women's legs in knitted stockings and women's bodies wrapped in soft wool".

I kid ewe not. (See that? There are two puns in that sentence!)

While I was tempted to friend the woolly wiggler for the humour factor, I did not.  I was worried that I would be tempted to start sending him wool porn.

So... where was I?

Aha! - the friend request from Ravelry.

I saw that the lady was a blogger and so I read some of her entries.  You can tell a lot about a person from reading her blog.  Just like that, I learned about kombucha tea.  I learned that it tastes like tart green apples with an underlying sweetness and fizz.

I learned that it (supposedly) promotes a healthy liver, is great for digestion and prevents cancer.

And I learned that I can brew it myself, in the privacy of my own home, using black tea.

I marched down to the Quartermaster for a bottle of Kombucha, eager to sample this magical elixir.  I picked a bottle of tea that looked like it had the most sediment on the bottom (a.k.a. The Mother), as that is what is used to grow a scoby - the jelly-like, snotty layer of cellulose that keeps harmful bacteria out of the tea while it's fermenting.

Some up close and personal snaps of scobies, some more attractive than others:



Aren't they pretty?

Quartermaster sells Kombucha starters, but at $18 a box, my inner cheapskate was not impressed.  I did not purchase the Mother in a box, but I did leave with a bottle of Kombucha and a package of locally made, overpriced, gluten-free chocolate and almond treats that are so fucking delicious, that I am going to try to make them too.

The magical moment?  When I cracked open the bottle of kombucha and took a swig.


So yummy, light and refreshing, tart and sweet, and a sparkly explosion in my mouth! Mmmmmmm.

I can't wait to brew my own, but first I have to make a scoby.

Here's the baby scoby (a.k.a. the Mother, the starter culture, the mushroom) in the bottle of Kombucha that I purchased from the store:

You can also see a mother in a bottle of apple cider vinegar - it's that brownish, smoky thing that hovers at the base of the bottle.

The scoby pictured above is tiny but it will grow rapidly once it's fed, taking 2-3 weeks to mature.

I thought that I better get started if it was going to take a minimum of two weeks.

I rummaged through the recycling bin and found a pint-sized glass jar.  I washed it thoroughly and then sterilized it by boiling it for ten minutes.  I like to err on the side of caution when it comes to food and drink.

While I was waiting, I brewed two cups of black tea and mixed in 4 tbsp of sugar:

I carefully removed the sterile jar from the pot of water, and dumped in the bottle of Kombucha:

Aren't the two vessels of amber liquid pretty?

I then mixed them together to begin the fermentation process:

my kombucha starter, in a warm spot out of direct sunlight
I used a paper towel and one of Gwen's rainbow loom creations to seal the jar.  I could have also used cheesecloth, a coffee filter, linen or muslin but I went the paper towel route because that's what I had. You want to use something that's breathable that will keep the fruitflies out.  

I like that I can see the baby scoby sort of hanging down the side, near the top of the jar.  

I will post more pictures over the next couple of weeks as the scoby matures.

Grow, baby, grow!


Addendum:  I am posting a picture of Day 3, so you can see how it grows...  there are actually two scobies growing:

Day 5 - see that white line that covers the surface of the liquid?  That's the new scoby, spreading out:

Day 7 - it's getting juicy!

More juiciness to come :-)

Musical pairing:  Strange Brew by Cream.