gra-tu-i-tous |grəˈt(y)oōitəs|
{ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Latin gratuitus ‘given freely,spontaneous’}
1. uncalled for; lacking good reason; unwarranted : gratuitous violence.2. given or done free of charge : gratuitous advice.
vi-o-let |ˈvī(ə)lət|{ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French violette} adjective:
1. a bluish-purple color seen at the end of the spectrum opposite red.
2. a herbaceous plant of temperate regions, typically having purple, blue,or white five-petaled flowers, one of which forms a landing pad for pollinating insects. Genus Viola, family Violaceae.
3. ME.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Love Your Mother

Another Violet in Bloom!

Hey y'all, it is that time of year again: Spring-time, Hooray!
Flowers and trees and plants are all gloriously serenading us with blooms and growth all around. Naturally, it is the perfect time of the year for us to celebrate Mothers everywhere- both birth and adopted Moms, our Mother Earth, and the funkiest of them all- Kombucha Mothers!

What the!?!? My Mom does NOT look like that!

For those of you not in the know about Kombucha, it is a fermented tea teaming with probiotics and good bacteria which makes the guts and subsequently, the digestive system super-happy. It also has oodles of other health benefits, including being alkalizing, giving relief to arthritis symptoms, being an immunity booster and some even say- helping prevent cancer! It's name Kombucha originated in Japan, and it translates to “tea sponge” which references the SCOBY.


Symbiotic Culture Of Bacterial Yeast.

Scobys are also referred to as the Kombucha Mushroom (this is the active part which eats the sugar and releases the probiotics and goodies in turn,) because they have a mushroom cap-y look to them. Kombucha's story is akin to the age-old adage of “who came first, the chicken or the egg?” because one cannot exist without the other. After each batch of brew, the Scoby Mother grows a new Scoby in the brew- often attached to itself. It is a real Mother and Child healing power-duo.

Want to brew some?

My Scoby Adoption Agency- there must be like 4+ fatties in there! 

Firstly, you must obtain a Kombucha Scoby.

Look on Freecycle or Craigslist for a free one or post a “SCOBY Wanted” poster up in your local health-food market's bulletin board- because, let's face it: they all have one. Some loving soul will eventually get back to you with a Scoby to adopt and around a cup's worth of Kombucha brew which she is totally chilling out in.
Soo Saucy!

A healthy Scoby looks like a shiny, wavy pancake and may range from 1/2 cm. thick to an inch thick, related to how long it was allowed to grow and the strength of the batch. Depending on the type of tea that it was brewed in, it can vary in hue from creamy white to tan to pinkish or light brown.
It must be free of mold- be it black, brown or green.. Mold is Gross AND Unhealthy.

IT'S Weird Science, Y'all

Secondly, you will need the following:

~ a Large non-aluminum soup pot (w/a lid is best, but not necessary)
~ a 1-Gallon GLASS jar (I use a sun-tea jar, with spigot)
~ BLACK or GREEN real Tea (not herbal)
~ Plain ol' Sugar (the cheap crappy kind)
~ Fresh Water (I use Britta-filtered agua)

Later you will need:

~ Glass Jars with lids/caps (mason jars work, but so do whiskey jars, etc.)
~ a Fine Mesh Strainer (mine is about 3” wide)
~ a Funnel (hey, it's FUN)
READY? Let's go!

Fill your clean jar with water, leaving about an inch or so below the neck free (to later accommodate for the Scoby Mother and liquid,) and pour it into the pot, bringing it to a boil.

Add 11 to 13 teabags (because I enjoy numerology- but 10 will do) to the boiling water or if you are using loose tea, place @ ½ a cup into a fabric straining device (I use my nut-mylk bag) and let roll/boil for about 1 minute before turning off heat. I enjoy a strong tea flavor, so I let it brew and cool with the tea leaves/bags in the water almost completely before going onto the next step. Let's say you are caffeine sensitive or whatever, remove the tea after 8-10 minutes. Feel free to taste it for your preference, but know this: it will not be that strong tea-flavor-wise after it ferments. If you taste it more than once, use a new spoon each time- the Kombucha doesn't want any of your nasty-ass cooties!

When the tea is cooled just enough to stick your immaculately-clean fingertip into, without getting burned, add 1 cup sugar- no more though. Stir gently until it until you no longer see the sugar granules. Those bastards are really small, so keep a keen eye on it, letting the liquid settle occasionally to check.

Allow the sweetened tea to cool completely to room temperature. Like a baby in the bathtub, you do not want to add your little adopted Scoby to magma-hot tea as she will get scalded- and she will die. And you will be a bad parent.
Not like this though:

For the Love of Christ- somebody call DCF!

Pour the cooled tea into the glass jar (glass doesn't like mega-hot liquids as a general rule anyway, so there's another reason to be patient in the cooling process. Go read a book or weed the garden for a while. Godzilla knows that you need to!)

Shhh, little Scoby is sleepy- so let her rest now!

Gently pour the cup of Kombucha brew (that your Scoby came in) into the tea then place Scoby into the mix. Do not stir. Resist the urge. I found that it brews best with the least amount of movement, and since you are adding bacteria and such to this tea, if it has stringy clusters of bacteria, and you mix it up- well, it changes the strength of/timing of the brew. (I am not Bill Nye or anything, & I know there's a more scientific explanation, but after a 14+ hour work-day, followed by a zesty walk downtown then city-limo (a.k.a bus) ride/commute home, as well as typing this at 1:23 am, I am fried. Crispy. Toast.)

Sometimes the Scoby floats. Sometimes the Scoby sinks. Sometimes it hovers in between like the Mother-ship. All are suitable. The tea will ferment from the top down if it floats, and will ferment from the bottom up if it's a sinker. No big whoop.

Here we see a new Scoby baby growing at the bottom of the jar.
She is throwing off tendrils of awesomeness on the sludge-y jar floor.
Above, floating on top, the Mother nurtures another baby who grows on top of her.
This batch grew 2 separate Scobys and one attached Scoby.
That's what I call Strong Medicine my friends!

Place the soon-to-be Kombucha in a spot where it will not be exposed to electric waves, like a microwave oven or other large appliance, where it will not be hit with direct sunlight or be disturbed- by people or bad vibes. Keep it covered with a cotton cloth- sealed on by a rubber band- so it can breathe. My jar has a plastic screw-off lid which I put on loose-ish. I brew my Kombucha on the edge of my kitchen counter, near the sink, where I give it lots of daily Love, Positive Energy/Reiki & I gratuitously share occasional anecdotes about life. Remember, your little Scoby is alive, so treat it with gentleness and respect.

Jar of Yummy Healing

After a week or so, depending on the warmth of your home, you will see a new Scoby forming in the tea as Kombucha is brewing now. The yeast is gorging itself on the sugar and leaving you with a rich brew of awesomeness. YES! Let it ferment until you do not taste the sweetness, and you see a fat baby forming either along with/on top of the Mother, or in the jar somewhere else- often connected by stringy umbilical cord of fabulousness. Sometimes the Kombucha looks cloudy, other times it is more translucent. Both are suitable, and often are related to the cooling process of the tea, but if at any point, you see mold growing- ABORT! That is not a healthy batch.

The process can take from 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the strength you seek, the tartness you enjoy and whether you forget about it in the pantry behind a bag of garbanzo beans or not. The longer you brew it, the more probiotics will form, the more tart/sour it will become and the fizzier it may be. There is trace alcohol in this brew, about half of one percent- so please note. 
Yes it is safe for kids to drink.

No, there is no more tequila left in that jar. 

When the brew is ready for jarring up, pour it into clean jars, sieving/ funneling it in. I sieve mine since I do not enjoy drinking the slimy stringy bits. I get enough bacteria and am not a fan of slimey goo. (Although I enjoy fresh lychee and okra- go figure.)

If you are not used to imbibing this beverage regularly, start with an ounce at a time 2x a day, building up to 4 oz at a time. You will feel an almost immediate difference in your digestion, especially if it is at all sluggish, or even overactive. Do not fret if your b.m.'s are different, but if you are alarmed, please call your doc for a chat about it.

Next time, I will give an advanced Kombucha brewing tutorial all about brewing, including sugar variety options, second fermentation processes and Kombucha health tonics with added benefits for specific symptoms!

One Corner in my Kitchen Apothecary

For those of you out there asking “Why brew it when I can buy it?” I have this to say:
Much of the commercial Kombucha on the market has been pasteurized, unless it is brewed by a micro-brewery, and states that it is raw and un-pasteurized. That makes me think that it is weakened at best. Plus, home-brewed Kombucha is oodles cheaper & way more delicious, given that you have the space for brewing it.

Happy Mother's Day this weekend & 
Go get brewing- see you in cyborg-space soon!

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