Ok, I am finally getting around to doing this. Scobylena time! Many friends have asked me about Kombucha and brewing and I have given some SCOBYs out to people who now need to know what to do… so the easiest is to write it all up in one place!
First, what on earth is a SCOBY? It is a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast i.e good things for your digestion! It looks like a thick rubbery mass and it is what aids the fermentation process. The appearance of a SCOBY can vary but typically it is dense and round. Note it will take the shape of your vessel!
What about a Scobylena? That’s just what I call my SCOBYs 😊
What do I do with it? You use it to make Kombucha, a fermented beverage that has been enjoyed for many years and has powerful health benefits. Some would say it has a unique flavour, but you can change this by the amount of sugar you add to suit your taste, but more on that later.
Kombucha is produced by adding a SCOBY into sweetened black tea (your tea needs to be caffnated but not perfumed, so no Earl Grey!), then letting it ferment for 6-12 days approximately. The bacteria and yeast in the SCOBY break down the tea’s sugars and convert them into alcohol, carbon dioxide and acids. The fermentation increases the probiotics content, so good for your gut.
It is important not to let you SCOBY come into contact with metal, so when making your tea put it in a container that can take the heat and for a standard SCOBY, 3 tea bags and a cup of sugar (just standard sugar, no fancy stuff) will be about right. But you can add more if you want it sweeter. Do not put less though or your SCOBY won’t have anything to feed on. Also remove the tea bags after a few hours.
Once the tea is cold, you can add this to your SCOBY jar (big Kilner jars are great for this!), do not add hot liquid as this will kill your SCOBY. Then cover with a coffee filter, double layered kitchen roll or muslin cloth. Your cloth needs to be breathable but not allow flies to get in, and they will try to get in!
Once covered leave at room temperature but away from direct sunlight, more or less heat will speed up or slow down the fermentation so depending where you are, this may be a bit fast / slow for you.
So keep an eye on it and when the liquid lightens it is time to decant. After it has fermented for about seven days, you can start tasting it. You’ll know it’s done when it tastes good to you — not too sweet but not too tart. It’s really all about your preference but it should be complete within seven to 10 days.
I try and have the next tea ready before decanting, so my SCOBY is always in liquid. It is also important to leave a bit of the old mixture in your main SCOBY brew jar so that the good bacteria and yeast stays with the SCOBY.
Once you decant most of the mixture out, you can flavour it up. I use honey to sweeten and depending on what else I am putting in for flavour you will want to add more or less. If using fruits then use less as they will have some sweetness. Some of my favourite flavours are:
Chilli; Ginger; Strawberry and basil; Passionfruit; Blackberry and cinnamon; but have a go making your own combos!
Because the SCOBY continues to grow with each batch of kombucha, once the SCOBY is about 1/4-inch (2/3-cm) thick, you can use it to brew a new batch of kombucha or give it to a friend so they can brew! You also want to have a SCOBY hotel in case something goes wrong with yours, that way you have a back up! I won’t detail this here but the resources below have lots and lots of info and where I learnt all about brewing!
Other resources and Kombucha tips: