Go local with Kombucha

Dear friends,

How are you doing today? Have you planned on how to spend your long weekend? I have chosen to stay home this weekend to do my monthly home cleaning with my husband. While cleaning, we will be able to do some self-check to decide what to keep and what to give away. As time passes, I wish to streamline the "physical goods" I own, to minimalize my wants, and maximize the quality of my life. 

Two months ago, my friend, A, (who needed to work from home) invested in equipment to cultivate Scoby in order to make in Kombucha. I've tried many store-bought Kombuchas and was never a big fan of its (overly) sour taste. Not to mention the expensive prices for each bottle of Kombucha - about S$7 per bottle (300-400ml). Fortunately, the Scoby that my friend, A, had cultivated produced a sweeter version of Kombucha which I instantly fell in love with. 

1 month later, when the Covid-19 pandemic lock-down situation relaxed from Phrase 1 to Phrase 2, A had to return to work. Due to his long working hours, he was unable to continue with his new hobby. And no prizes for guessing who was lucky enough to "inherit" all his equipment when he wanted to find a new home for his Scoby. A gave the entire Kombucha set (2 x SCOBY hotel, not the scooby doo scooby, but it's "Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast" (aka SCOBY) and glass bottles) to me as he knew that I was interested to make my own Kombucha. 

Although I have always wanted to own less over time, after deliberating within myself, an inner part of me was screaming: I have a lot of stuff and very little kitchen space to fit a SCOBY hotel (a 5 litre glass bottle, can you imagine the space required?) And also space which I don't have in my tiny fridge to adopt a couple of glass bottles. Here's what the other part of me was telling me: growing SCOBY is part of a sustainable lifestyle, and I would love to learn how to cultivate them when the opportunity arises. Kombucha works well for my gut system and it tastes great, so why not now?

From the moment when I started writing this post on how I inherited SCOBY from A, I've already been cultivating it for nearly 2 months. Although I spent not a single cent on the SCOBY nor any of the required equipment, there were still hidden costs like black tea, sugar, water and the flavour which I wished to include for each 2nd fermentation process. In the later part of the post, I will share with you how I minimalized these costs by only buying what was widely and cheaply available in the local wet market.

Humbly, I am not qualified to discuss the detailed process of making Kombucha here, but I am most happy to share with you what I had learned in my less-than-2-months worth of practice.

Here's how it works: there are two stages for Kombucha fermentation.
1st fermentation is pretty standard and you'll need:
• SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast)
• A 5 Litre glass bottle (which will be used as a SCOBY hotel) - this size can make 4 x 100ml bottles of Kombucha

SCOBY to be preferably fed once every 7 days (the SCOBY can survive on 1 feeding for a max. of 30 days)
You'll need:
• Black tea
• White cane sugar
• Distilled water (I used tap water and just left it in the open for 24 hours and any chlorine in the tap water will evaporate)

The exact amount and the how to? Click on this link to study. 

2nd fermentation: it's the time when you are free to play with whatever ingredients that are available in your neighbourhood or your home. All you have to do is just to select your desired ingredients and mix them together with the Kombucha from the 1st fermentation.

It will require a minimum of 3 days in this 2nd stage to produce the flavoured Kombucha of your choice. Once you have placed everything into a bottle, do remember to "release" the gases (bubbles) in the bottle every day and every night to prevent an "explosion". For the glass bottle to be used, I would strongly recommend this (bottle with stopper). 

Imagine Kombucha as your canvas. What (fruits or vegetables) will you use to paint your picture?

This is the one question which helped me to invent my own Kombucha into the various "exciting (for me)" flavours.

1. Jucupagomi
Juhua (chrysanthemum) + cucumber + pandan + goji berries + mint

2. Chiliberrie
Chillies + Strawberries (not really that local, but these ingredients have been in my fridge for a while)

3. Danine
Pandan + Jasmine

4. Orangin
Orange + Ginger Flower

The portions of my chosen ingredients are pretty random. I will grab an extra portion if I fancy a particular ingredient (the key is to explore new flavour combinations to call them your own). First explore, then fine-tune with portion.

You may be curious about the benefits of drinking Kombucha?
There are many benefits which I will not mention here, click here if you wish to find out more.

I personally like to drink coffee to increase my adrenaline levels. As I searched for a coffee replacement, now I have 100ml of kombucha daily after each meal to increase the efficiency of my digestive system. Other than this benefit, I simply enjoy drinking this homemade fizzy drink (till the last drop) on a hot day.

I find the essence of sustainability work very similar to someone who is willing to put in time (to study), with a little bit of love and care (actions) to extend the life of something beautiful (and yummy!). 

Stay healthy,
Waee Waee