Every year during mid-July, the town of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania celebrates Blob Fest, in honor of the campy sci-fi horror flick that was filmed here back in 1958. I attended this year, not for the first time, but I did have my first experience participating in the Blob Fest “Friday Night Runout,” which involves reenacting a famous scene in the film in which the blob attacks a movie theater, by running out of the actual theater featured in the film while screaming. In person I’m quite the shy, awkward, introvert. Last weekend, I ran out of a movie theater screaming, in front of a crowd of strangers with cameras.
This post is dedicated to 2013’s Blob Fest. Read on and you will understand why.
Let’s talk about kombucha. I’d heard of this stuff but never gave it much though, until one day I was in the supermarket looking for some yogurt, and there it was. As far as probiotic drinks were concerned, I had little interest. I’m not into dairy drinks, so kefir was basically out, and rejuvelac tastes like cheese water to me. Not my thing. Anyway, curiosity got me, so I grabbed a bottle of GT’s Enlightened Kombucha. Oh man, it was sooooo good!! Some people online seem to think it’s gross, too sour, too whatever. I’ve even heart of people talk of choking it down for the health benefits, as if it were some icky medicine or something. Huh? Not me! I was sold on taste alone.
At this point all I really knew of kombucha was that it was a fermented tea, so I set out to do a little research. Now, before you go any further down this page or anywhere on the internet in search of kombucha info, ask yourself a few questions: Do you currently enjoy kombucha tea, or are you interested in trying it? Are you currently pretty oblivious as to how it’s made? Do images and descriptions of big slimy things freak you out? Have you seen The Blob, and would you be freaked out by drinking a glass of iced tea that said Blob prepared for you? If you answered “yes” to each of those questions, stop. Read no further on this page or anywhere else about kombucha and its production. See, I just don’t want to ruin a potentially good thing for you. While the process and materials don’t really bother me, I spoke with my brother recently, who disclosed an experience where he first tried out kombucha, dug it, started googling the stuff, and was then unable to finish his first, partially drunk bottle.
Still reading? OK then. First thing you need to make kombuchu is a SCOBY. No, not a Scooby. Cartoon dogs make terrible iced tea. A SCOBY: Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. The scoby is pretty freaky. Most brewers get their first SCOBY from a fellow brewer, as scobies reproduce themselves during each brewing cycle, but I was impatient, so I ordered one on Amazon. Basically, I got a big lump of bacteria. Slimy, somewhat resembling (and sometimes referred to as) a mushroom. Kombucha enthusiasts also sometimes call the scoby a “mother.” Eeekk!! But I’m supposed to be vegetarian! I don’t consume things with moms!! But seriously, it’s called the “mother” because it produces the “baby” scobies (scobys??) during brewing. This thing is so Alien, so futuristic. But actually, claims are that the ancient Chinese were drinking this stuff. Amazing! So it’s actually kind of retro, just like The Blob! Baby bacterial colony tea.
|My SCOBY: “It creeps…and leaps…and glides and slides across the floor….” OK, fine, it doesn’t do those things.|
Kombucha also comes in all kinds of flavors. You can apparently brew it using different kinds of teas, though you must use actual tea and not herbs. Coffee kombucha exists as well. Flavors, like fruit juices and such, are generally added after the initial fermentation step. As far as the bottled stuff goes, basic black tea kombucha is my favorite, but I probably won’t be able to resist trying some flavor variations down the road. I’ll keep you posted.
Basic Kombucha (First Batch)
1 gallon of filtered water
10 tea bags
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Bring water to a boil and add tea bags and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved and allow tea to brew for a few minutes. Allow to cool completely. This is important, because water that’s too hot could kill your scoby. I placed my pot full of tea in an ice bath to accelerate cooling. You could also decrease the amount of water by a cup or two and replace it with ice after brewing.
Once completely cooled, place your tea in a glass container. I purchased a glass canister for this. A large mason jar would work well too. Add scoby to tea. Cover with cheesecloth, or as I’ve done, use a coffee filter secured with a rubber band. This will keep out any bugs that might be attracted to the sugar in your tea. Make sure your jar has no metal parts and you don’t use any metal utensils once you’ve added your scoby. Metal can hurt your little blobby friend. Now let it sit. Most recipes say you want the room temperature during brewing to be between 70 and 85 degrees. My air conditioner was broken for the entire duration of brewing, so the kitchen temperature hovered just below that 85 mark, and I ended up with a fantastic batch of kombucha. I’m hoping it continues to turn out this well in the cooler months.By day 3 you should begin to see a baby scoby forming. Start tasting with a straw on day 7, and continue tasting daily until you’ve reached your desired level of sourness. I was happy at day 8. Bottle up your tea in tight glass jars or bottles, leaving as little headspace as possible. If you’d like your kombucha a bit fizzier, leave the bottles sitting at room temperature for a day or two. For subsequent batches you can use the same method, but omit the cider vinegar and instead add about 2 cups of kombucha from your first batch.