Kombucha Tea

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Most of my friends know that I love my kombucha and brew my own at home. Not only is Kombucha (aka. booch) a tasty tea-based drink, but it also has many health benefits because of the fermentation process the tea goes through. (Some scientific information here: Kombucha Fermentation and Its Antimicrobial Activity and Jayabalan_et_al-2014-Comprehensive_Reviews_in_Food_Science_and_Food_Safety )

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I usually have spare SCOBY’s to pass on for others to start their own brew, so in order to save time (previously I had been writing out instructions for each person) I decided to write out and publish the instructions I use for brewing my booch. If you would like to brew your own please let me know and I will help you get started. I have kombucha tea SCOBY’s and will soon have Jun tea SCOBY’s to share! (Printable PDF of instructions below: Kombucha Instructions)

Kombucha Brewing Instructions

You will need:

  • 1 large empty jar or vessel (at least 4L) – I’ve seen them at Bulk Barn, Winners, Canadian Tire, and Ikea.
  • Unflavored tea – black tea is optimal but white or oolong tea will also work. Do not use flavored tea.
  • Sugar – organic cane sugar is optimal but refined white sugar will also work.
  • Coffee filters or tight weave fabric for the top of the jar and a rubber band to secure. Do not use cheesecloth.
  • Water
  • SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and 1c of starter brew – provided by me

Directions for 1st ferment (1F):

  1. Make sweetened tea – Brew 2L of very strong tea, dissolve 1/2c of sugar, and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Thoroughly wash and rinse your jar (and anything else that will come into contact with the SCOBY).
  3. Add cooled sweet tea, SCOBY, and starter brew to your jar. Note: before handling your SCOBY always thoroughly wash and rinse your hands.
  4. Cover jar with coffee filter and secure with rubber band.
  5. Place jar in an area where it will not be disturbed. Warmer areas of your home will make your kombucha brew faster than cooler areas, so when seasons change you might want to move your kombucha to a different location.
  6. Taste your brew after 5 days or so (I like to wait until I can see a new SCOBY forming on the top), you can drink it any time!
  7. Ladle out some of the brew (don’t forget to reserve some starter for your next brew), store in an airtight glass container (jars or flip-top bottles work great) and place in refrigerator. Brew will not ferment any more once refrigerated and can be stored for week or months. Never refrigerate your SCOBY.ratios
  8. Let your reserved brew and SCOBY(s) rest in the jar before starting your next batch. You will have better results with a really strong starter. When ready, add sweetened tea to your jar with SCOBY(s) and reserved starter brew and repeat the process (you do not need to clean out your jar/vessel before each batch). You can change the quantity of sweet tea as long as you keep the recommended ratios as per the chart. This ensures that your SCOBY stays healthy and your brew is optimal and free of mold. If you don’t want to start your next batch yet you can leave it to sit for several weeks or months as long as there is enough liquid to cover the SCOBY.

Within a few days of starting your brew (or a few hours if it’s really warm in your house) you may notice it looks a little cloudy near the top of the liquid. There may also be translucent white patches or it may appear to have a “film” on the top. This is your new SCOBY forming and it will get thicker as your kombucha sits. Your new SCOBY will cover the top of the liquid completely and your old SCOBY(s) may float, sink, fold in half, float diagonally, or stick to its mother culture (old SCOBY) – it’s all normal. Older SCOBY’s will be different shades of beige (older ones will be darker) and probably have brown strings hanging off of the SCOBY, this is yeast and it totally normal. If you have fuzzy or dusty black/orange/green/ patches it is probably mold and the entire SCOBY and brew should be discarded.

Every new batch of kombucha will produce a new SCOBY. You can leave all of your SCOBYs in the jar, or when you start to run out of room in your jar you can transfer them to a new jar with some sweet tea (SCOBY hotel). You can also share your SCOBY’s and starter brew with your friends to make their own kombucha.

The 2nd Ferment (2F):

Note: This is an optional step. If you have followed the steps above and like the way your kombucha tastes put it in the fridge and start your next batch.

  1. In a separate jar add some fresh or frozen fruit, vegetables, or spices of your choice. Some common favorites are blackberries, pear, strawberries, mango, melon, pineapple, ginger, carrot, star anise, lemon, thyme, and rosemary. You can also use pure, unsweetened fruit juice – PomWonderful is my favorite.
  2. Add sugar to taste (optional, fruits will add sweetness to your brew) and pour some of your kombucha into the jar with fruit.
  3. Close lid tightly and let sit on your counter for a few more days. Try to “burp” the bottles/jars once per day to get excess gasses out. Your brew will hopefully self-carbonate.
  4. Strain into bottle or jar and refrigerate.

Your kombucha will keep for weeks or months in the refrigerator. If (either during your second ferment or in your refrigerated kombucha) you notice new baby SCOBY’s forming, brown stringy bits, or clear blobs that resemble egg whites it’s totally normal, it just means your kombucha is healthy. Although it’s all edible, I usually strain it out.

That’s pretty much it! Please comment below or send me a message if you are interested in acquiring a SCOBY sto start your own brew or if you have any questions. I will try my best to answer.

The Baby’s Room!

We are pretty excited about how well the baby’s room is coming along! We purchased used things on Kijiji and worked on refinishing some furniture ourselves, and since I’m pretty handy with a sewing machine I made several other things for the baby’s room. We aren’t huge DIY-ers, but we do think that people can be far too wasteful and when it comes to kid stuff as it doesn’t get used for too many years before the kid grows out of it.

Refinished antique dresser

My favorite thing that we got on Kijiji was an antique dresser that was in pretty good shape but the wood wasn’t the color we wanted – and someone painted the top white?? I spent an afternoon stripping all of the old paint and varnish off, sanded (Samuel helped), then stained it with a rich, dark walnut stain, and sealed it all with varnish. I love the color that it turned out to be, it matches the new crib and change table in the room and the grain of the wood is still visible.

Wood Eddie Bauer high chair.

We also purchased this wooden high chair from Kijiji for a pretty reasonable price. It was originally a reddish cherry color but it had a ton of scratches and wear right down to to wood and the cushion was worn with food caked into it. Actually, most of the pieces of the chair had food caked into it so there was a lot of cleaning that had to be done. I wasn’t sure the safety strap could be salvaged but I picked up some supplies from the fabric store and re-created it using the old one as a guide. The next thing to work on was the ugly seat cushion. I used some leftover fabric from making diapers for the front and used some fabric I already had, plus some polyester batting from the fabric store. It wasn’t overly difficult to make but my machine didn’t really like sewing through the batting. I was going to make two so I would have a backup while one was being washed but I think I will just use the old one as a backup. Samuel did all of the stripping, I sanded, stained, and varnished using the same color stain as the dresser.

And then there’s the mural. THE MURAL! I cannot take any credit for this. My talented mother hand painted a mural on an entire wall of the baby’s room. We collaborated on what it would look like but she did all the work. It’s so amazing! We kept the color scheme gender-neutral since we don’t know if we are having a boy or girl. The walls were already grey (we painted all the bedrooms the same color when we moved in) and decided on a bright, sunny yellow as an accent color for the baby’s room.

    Birch trees and birds.           photo 2

I didn’t do much with the change table but I did make a cute change pad cover (I still have to make a back-up or two for laundry day) and added some shelf paper to the shelves just to make it look a little nicer. 🙂 I love it. I also whipped up some curtains and used clip rings to hang them.

Cloth diapers are still an ongoing project for me. We really wanted to use cloth diapers so I figured we would save a ton of money by making our own. We definitely are saving money but I’ve been working on them for months! I gave priority to the smaller sizes so at least they are ready to go.

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I was dreading organizing the closet since this room has such a tiny closet, but I guess tiny people have tiny things so it all works out for now. 🙂 We picked up a closet organizer/storage system from Ikea and installed it into the closet, which turned out to be a lot more work than anticipated. We had to take out the old shelf and closet rod and do some spackling, priming, and painting before we could install the new system. I think it will work great for us and it can be changed as the baby grows up.

The first things we bought for the baby’s room were a crib and change table. Even though they came from two different Kijiji sellers we were able to get a matching set in decent condition! IMG_0613

IMG_0612 IMG_0606Overall I think we did pretty well getting the baby’s room ready for his/her imminent arrival. I can’t wait until there is an actual baby in there. Soon!

The Second Trimester

We’re officially through the second trimester and into the third!! 27 weeks! 6 months down, 3 months to go! 🙂 A lot has happened. We did a bunch of reading and research about pregnancy and birth, worked on getting the baby’s room ready, and giggled over my bulging baby belly moving and jumping around.

Things are coming along perfectly both in our home and with my pregnancy – the baby’s room is about 70% complete, I still don’t really have any pregnancy discomfort or “issues”, and baby is growing right on par! We purchased a few used furniture items for the baby’s room from kijiji and got some really good deals. Also, some of our awesome friends have been kind enough to pass on a few of their old baby things they don’t need any more so we have been really fortunate with all the things we already have for our baby. ❤

Last week we met with our doula who refreshed our knowledge on anatomy (as it relates to pregnancy/birth), taught us all about the different stages of labor and what it feels like for some women and how to identify which stage of labor I am in, gave examples of how different women react to what is happening in their bodies during the various stages, how long it can take, etc. So many things to know about! We borrowed the Hypnobirthing book from her lending library and Samuel and I have been reading it together (I’ll probably write about the book when we finish it) but so far we think it will be really helpful. Next time we meet with our doula we will learn relaxation techniques and birthing positions. I love having a doula and am thrilled that she will be there as we bring our baby into the world.

Things I learned about pregnancy/things people don’t tell you…
The baby can actually kick you in the butt hole (from the inside). So weird. It totally depends on where your placenta is and the position of the baby, but half of the mom’s I’ve mentioned this to have no idea what I’m talking about and the other half are like, “Ya! It’s so weird!”.
Hot feet. SO HOT! No, they aren’t swollen. The rest of my body is not hot, just my feet. I Googled it and it’s a thing that happens to some pregnant women but nobody knows why. At least it’s only occasional for me.
The baby moves ALL THE TIME! Of course, I was expecting to feel movement and I know it’s a good thing, but a break for a few hours would be nice sometimes. Shhhhh…. sleep, baby. Sleeeep… Actually, I love it when the baby moves. ❤

Speaking of movement… our wiggly baby wouldn’t even lay still enough at the 20-week ultrasounds (yes, there were 2 ultrasounds again) to let the ultrasound technician have a peek at his/her organs to make sure they have developed normally. Both times we were also unable to find out if we are having a boy or girl, so I guess it will have to be a surprise! I have a strong preference for gender-neutral things over pink or blue anyways.

Things I’m looking forward to in the third trimester…
More cute maxi dresses, the baby shower, seeing how the baby’s room turns out (my Mom is painting a mural!), getting really good at the relaxation exercises, ice cream on hot days, and finally meeting our baby.

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Husband Appreciation Day

1480541_10152049795971047_40224064_nI’ve been feeling so grateful about many things in my life right now, but mostly my husband, so I googled “husband appreciation day” and found out that it’s actually a thing and it’s on April 18! I figured this would be a great time to brag about my amazing husband a little bit. ❤

Samuel treasures every minute with me and is incredibly understanding with my commitment to dance. He sends me gift baskets while I’m out of town for dance and regularly sends me edible arrangements at work on my birthday and our anniversary. After my most recent trip away he picked me up from the airport in dress pants and a nice shirt and brought me home to a clean house. 🙂

I love you Samuel!!!

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