Kombucha 101

May 24th, 2016 by

Curious and slightly afraid of kombucha? We decided to dive in and the results were pretty exciting. The key is to change the way you think about that gelatinous, stringy, rapidly reproducing mass that floats on top. That mysterious and slightly disgusting entity is what transforms ordinary tea into a refreshingly fruity and slightly fizzy fermented beverage with a multitude of (purported) health benefits. You can read about those here if you’re interested. To sum it all up, kombucha contains probiotics, which have been linked to digestive and immune system health. Some people drink it medicinally while many just love the taste.

Scoby

This is a SCOBY. Yes it feels weird.

Bottled kombucha is available commercially, but it’s much cheaper to make your own. Plus, many commercial kombucha beverages are pasteurized to stop the fermentation process. This pasteurization process creates a more stable product but also kills the live bacteria. When you make your own, you can control the fermentation process yourself to achieve the flavor and fizz level you like.

What you’ll need

A SCOBY (or “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”). You can buy them online or make your own from an existing batch of kombucha.

Glass 1 gallon jar with a wide mouth

Filtered water

Caffeinated tea (3 tablespoons)

1 cup sugar

Temperature gauge (optional)

Instructions

Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a small pot, then remove from heat. Add your tea. We used Nilgiri black tea and our t-sac filters, steeping the tea for about 5 minutes. Remove the tea leaves. Stir in a cup of sugar and add the sweetened tea to your glass container. Add cold, filtered water until the tea is about 4 inches from the top. Make sure the tea is at room temperature, between 68-88 degree F, before adding your SCOBY. Stir the mixture, add your SCOBY, and cover the top with a piece of cotton secured with a rubber band. Place the jar in a dark place with good air flow.

Your kombucha will be ready somewhere between 7-21 days. The longer it sits, the more sugar is converted to vinegar by your busy SCOBY, and the tarter the taste. Test it by carefully running a clean straw along the side and under the SCOBY. Then, with your finger covering the top of the straw, draw some liquid out and taste.

Safety tips

Make sure your hands and all of your brewing equipment is very clean before starting your batch, transferring or bottling your kombucha, and any time you handle your SCOBY (antibacterial soap is not recommended however). Store your fermenting batch away from other food, trash, or plants and within a 68-88 degree F range. Be on the lookout for anything that looks like mold. Strings and blobs are good (gross, I know) and fuzz is very bad. When in doubt, throw it out.

When your batch is done

With clean hands, remove your SCOBY, which will have a “baby” SCOBY or two growing on it. Separate them and place each in a jar, covering them with some liquid. Store them in the fridge for future use. Pour your kombucha into bottles with tight fitting lids, adding some fruit juice for flavor if you like. You can leave the bottles at room temperature for a day or two for extra fizziness (they will continue to ferment slightly), or stick them in the fridge. The flavor will continue to change over time, so if you like the taste, consume within a few days of bottling.

After-2

Ready for bottling. This is what it is supposed to look like. You’ll learn to love it.

Bottled

 

Easy Chemex, Hot or Iced

May 6th, 2016 by

New to Chemex coffee? The Chemex is distinguished in the world of pour over brewing by its unique shape and heavy paper filter, which work together to create a flavorful and clean cup of coffee. If you like a bright flavor without bitterness or sediment, give it a try!

Coffee Purists

To brew hot coffee with the Chemex, you’ll need the following:

  • Chemex 6 cup or 8 cup brewer
  • Chemex Bonded Filters
  • Coffee ground slightly coarser than you would use for an autodrip machine (ask for a pour over grind if ordering ground coffee)
  • Near boiling water
  • A Kettle (preferably with a thin spout)

Instructions:

  1. Open your filter so that it forms a cone. You’ll see that one side has three layers. Place the filter in the top of your brewer with this side facing the spout.
  2. Measure your water and coffee. We recommend using 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every 6-8 ounces of water.
  3. Boil your water adding a little extra to the kettle to rinse the filter before brewing (optional).
  4. Preheat your brewer (recommended for hot coffee) by pouring a little hot water into your filter. This step serves to eliminate some of the paper taste from the filter as well as warm the carafe. Discard the water once it has run through.
  5. Pour your ground coffee into the filter.
  6. Wet the grounds with hot water. Add just enough water so there are no dry spots and let sit for about 30 seconds.
  7. Add the rest of your water. Start by wetting all of the grounds again, then move the stream of water in slow spirals, pausing when close to the top. A gooseneck kettle is recommended for greater control.
  8. Once all the water has been added, allow the water to filter though. Remove the filter, give the carafe a swirl, and serve.

Iced version:

For iced coffee, replace half of the brewing water with ice. Place the ice in the carafe, skip step 4, and brew normally.

 

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a Cinco de Pyro

April 29th, 2016 by

Cinco de Pyro small

Margaritas are great and all, but this tequila cocktail involves ice cream, coffee, and fire. Considered an after dinner drink, the Cinco de Pyro (aka “Mexican coffee”) is more conducive to starting the party than winding things down. For a less sweet version, substitute whipped cream for ice cream.

Ingredients (per drink)

1 ½ oz. reposado tequila (high proof)
½ oz. Kahlua coffee liqueur
Hot coffee, we used our Mexican Altura
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Instructions

Add the Kahlua to your mug and top with hot coffee, leaving room at the top for the tequila and ice cream. Add the tequila to a heat-proof pitcher or sauce boat, and light. Carefully pour the flaming tequila into your glass and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Green Tea Mojito Bars

April 22nd, 2016 by

Green Tea Mojito Bars

One of our favorite teas this time of year is our Moroccan Mint blend of herbal peppermint and high quality Pinhead Gunpowder green tea. Delicious hot or iced, it’s perfect for spring’s crazy temperature changes. We’ve been wanting to try this tea in a cocktail, and a mojito seemed the perfect choice. Just add rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. The only thing better would be all those ingredients plus shortbread. Our shipping manager Lori found a recipe for Cuban mojito shortbread bars, and substituted fresh mint with our Moroccan Mint. The results were sweet, tart, decadent, delicious.

Ingredients

3 teaspoons Moroccan Mint looseleaf tea, roughly ground
1 cup cold butter, chopped
½ cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup almond meal
pinch kosher salt
3 large egg yolks
1-14 oz. can fat free sweetened condensed milk
¾ cup lime juice
2 tsp rum extract (or rum)
powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

For the shortbread

Preheat oven to 350° F. Blend together the butter, sugar, salt, flours, and half the dry tea. Press the shortbread dough evenly into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan lined with parchment paper, allowing the paper to hang over for easy lifting later for cutting. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Allow the shortbread crust to cool for about 10 minutes.

For the custard

In the food processor, add the egg yolks, condensed milk, rum extract, lime juice, rum extract and the remaining tea leaves. Pulse until combined and pour over the baked shortbread base. Bake for another 20 minutes or until the custard appears to be set. Cool completely and cut into squares. Top with powdered sugar just before serving.

Cold Fashioned Recipe

April 7th, 2016 by

The old fashioned cocktail recipe hasn’t changed much since the 1860s (or earlier) for a reason. When made well, it’s perfect. Coffee and whiskey are great partners however, and we like this caffeinated twist perfect for cold brew season.

Cold Fashioned

Ingredients 

1 sugar cube

2-3 dashes Angostura bitters

2 oz bourbon or rye

1 oz cold brewed coffee (or chilled espresso)

Ice

Twist of lemon

Instructions

Place sugar cube and bitters in a rocks glass. Add a splash of the cold brew and muddle well. Add the bourbon or rye, followed by the cold brew and ice. Stir until chilled. Garnish with a twist of lemon.