Island Girl Kombucha is a fermented living probiotic drink which is made in Sanibel Island, off the coast of Florida in the USA. The Island Girl Heirloom Kombucha Scoby was originally grown from Kombucha bought on tap in Sanibel Island, Florida. The story is a lady bought it on tap, grew some Kombucha Scoby babies and started selling them to others. That is the story anyway, no one really knows for sure where the original Island Girl Scoby came from. You can buy our Island Girl Heirloom Kombucha Scoby from our shop here.
This variety differs because it comes from a generation of islanders who have brewed Kombucha using Oolong tea. Over generations, this changed the bacterial makeup completely of the Kombucha Scoby originally used. Creating this unique heirloom variety of the Kombucha Scoby.
It brews a mild, fruity tasting Kombucha with added health benefits that come from drinking oolong tea. We are proud to have the Island Girl Heirloom Kombucha Scoby in our collection. It is no more difficult to work with than normal Kombucha. However, oolong tea tea can be a little harder to find. We also find the Island Girl Kombucha Scoby grows a little slower than a traditional Kombucha Scoby and can take an extra few days to ferment. We trust that if you purchase the Island Girl Heirloom Kombucha Scoby from us, you keep the original heirloom variety pure by only ever feeding it Oolong tea.
Oolong” comes from the Chinese Wu Long, which means “The Black Dragon.” And rightly so - Oolong Tea is a complex, intriguing and multi-faceted tea – as mystical as its name suggests.
The oolong tea making process is a tricky one! It can take up to a dozen different steps over a period of two days.
It’s not just down to the quality of the fields, the atmosphere and growing conditions – although these do of course impact the leaves. It’s down to the skill of the processing.
The end result is a tea that strengthens and evolves with each brew, revealing several layers of flavours from the subtle to the dark, rich and smoky. Just like the mythical black dragon it is named for!
Your order will contain a single Island Girl Heirloom Kombucha Scoby and some starter tea. This is enough to make a 1 litre of Island Girl Kombucha. Don't worry though; the culture grows reasonably fast so your be making much more in no time at all.
Once you receive your Island Girl Heirloom Kombucha Scoby from us, it's best to get it fermenting as soon as possible. However, it will keep in the original packaging for some time (weeks). You can remove it from the original packaging and place the scoby starter tea liquid together in a sealed glass jar. It will keep this way for several months.
You probably notice some brown patches on your Island Girl Heirloom Kombucha Scoby and some brown, string-like objects floating around in your starter tea. Don't worry; these are simply yeasts and a normal part of the Kombucha process. People often mistake these for mould, which they are not. So don't panic when you see them. If you want further reassurance on the yeasts found when making Kombucha, please do get in touch with us.
You need something to brew your Kombucha in. We recommend using something glass. Glass is much easier to clean and keep sterile. Plastic tends to degrade over time and is prone to scratches which can harbour unwanted bacteria. Plastic also carries a risk of chemical contamination from the materials contained inside of it such as BPA. A glass Kilner style jam jar is perfect to use.
You also need a plastic strainer and a plastic stirring spoon. We do not recommend using metal, Kombucha is quite acidic and can react to coming into contact with metal.
We also recommend you buy a water filter to remove the chlorine from your tap water. You can use bottled water, but this tends to get expensive.
You also need something to cover your jar with. We recommend paper kitchen towels as they are easy to discard and replace. You can also use a muslin cloth or similar if you wish. Rubber bands also come in handy to secure the cover to the jar.
You need a metal saucepan to heat the water in.
You want to be able to check the temperature of your heated water; we recommend a brewing thermometer for this.
You also need some bottles to store your Kombucha in. Again we recommend using glass bottles. We find swing/flip lid style bottlhes suitable for fermentation work best with Kombucha. If you are worried about explosions and glass, you can use plastic bottles. Plastic tends to degrade quickly. It also carries a risk breaking down into the mixture due to the acidness of Kombucha. Make sure you use BPA free plastic.
It is important when using glass bottles to check and burp (release some of the gas build up) daily to minimise the risk of explosions.
It is useful to get a plastic funnel to help pour the liquid into the bottles.
Glass/plastic measuring Jug
It is also useful to have something to decant your strained mixture into. Glass or plastic measuring jugs are perfect.
What ingredients do I need?
You only need 3 ingredients to make Island Girl Kombucha, Oolong tea, water and sugar. You can use either loose tea or tea bags. We prefer to use organic loose tea and organic raw cane sugar here at Freshly Fermented.
The water used must not be chlorinated. This is very important as chlorine will damage and possibly kill your Kombucha Scoby.
We recommend while starting out with your first batch of Kombucha that you only use cane sugar. Although you can use a variety of different types of sugar to make Kombucha, some of these sugar’s carry a risk of harming your Island Girl Heirloom Kombucha Scoby.
Add 1 litre of non-chlorinated water to your saucepan and add 60g of sugar and 3 teaspoons of tea (3 teabags). Stir the mixture and then begin to heat the water. You do not need to bring the water to boiling point. Doing so can ruin the flavour of your Kombucha. Ideally, you want the mixture to be between 65 to 80 Celsius. You can use your thermometer to check. Ensure you stir the mixture regularly as the water heats up.
Allow the tea to steep for around 10 minutes. You now need to strain out any tea leaves that may be left in the mixture. It is important to do this as any remaining tea leaves may go mouldy and can contaminate your Kombucha. Don't over steep your tea as this will lead to a bitter taste.
Next, allow your mixture cool back down to room temperature (21 Celsius). This is very important, never place your Kombucha Scoby into the warm/hot water, this can damage it.
Pour your cooled mixture into your fermentation jar. Add the starter tea we sent you with your order. It is important to add starter tea to each batch of Kombucha you brew. This helps reduce the risk of contamination from pathogens, and other unwanted bacteria buy ensuring established Kombucha bacteria is the first to arrive into the mixture.
Add your Island Girl Heirloom Kombucha Scoby, cover the jar and leave it at room temperature (21 Celsius) for 5-12 days. At around 5 days the Kombucha will still be fairly sweet, at 12 it will have become more tart. This is a taste preference that you will acquire in your time making Kombucha. Personally, we prefer our Kombucha at around the 7-day mark.
The temperature will play a large part in the brewing process. During the warm summer months, a much shorter time is required to make Kombucha. During the winter it will take much longer.
Never leave any fermenting product in direct sunlight. This can lead to unwanted bacteria and pathogens forming.
Remove the Island Girl Heirloom Kombucha Scoby from the jar, remembering to take a little of the Kombucha to use as the starter tea for your next batch. It is always best to take the starter tea from the top of the Kombucha mixture, as this contains the most bacteria.
We recommend you use a clean, sterile jar for each batch of Kombucha that you brew.
Using your plastic funnel, pour the remaining Kombucha liquid into your glass bottles and then seal them by closing the swing top caps. You can at this stage choose to add additional flavourings to your Kombucha. This is optional, but many find experimenting with different types of fruit great addition to making Kombucha Tea. We like to use fresh ginger ourselves. Experiment with different flavours, Google has many recipes online.
Leaving the bottled Kombucha at room temperature (21 Celsius) for another 24-72 hours will allow the Kombucha to carbonate. This is optional, and you can drink you Kombucha right away.
During the colder winter months it can take longer to carbonate. Anything from 3-5 days.
Place your bottles in the fridge to cool. Be very careful when opening the bottles. Kombucha produces an extremely fizzy beverage that is prone to exploding out the bottle.
What is that floating in my bottle?
Kombucha is a living product and continues to ferment even with the scoby removed. Often a new scoby will begin to form at the top of your bottle. You may also find strands of brown yeast floating around. These will do you no harm, but many prefer to strain the Kombucha from the bottle into a glass before drinking.
You can store Kombucha in the fridge for around 7 days, at this point you find it starts to turn into vinegar. You can use that vinegar as a starter tea however if this does happen.
A baby Scoby will form on each batch of Kombucha made. This does not always happen, but its usually to be expected. That baby Scoby can be used to make another separate batch of Kombucha. Follow all the instructions above using this new baby Scoby in place of the Kombucha Scoby we sent you. Just remember to add starter tea from the previous batch, This is VERY important!
The Island Girl Heirloom Kombucha Scoby will multiply at an amazing rate. Eventually, you will have more than you need. You can make a scoby hotel. Simple make a batch of tea as normal and place your excess Scoby into the tea. You might need a larger jar to hold them all. Seal the jar to restrict the air flow; this will slow down the fermentation process. You can leave your Scoby in this hotel for several months.
If you’re planning on going on holiday, you’re probably concerned about leaving your Island Girl Heirloom Kombucha Scoby unattended. Don’t worry though. Place them into a fresh batch of tea, water and sugar. Then cover them as normal. You can leave a Kombucha Scoby unattended for up to 4 weeks. The Kombucha will have turned to vinegar, so we don’t advise drinking it. It can however still be used as a starter tea, so don’t throw it away!
Island Girl Heirloom Kombucha Scoby is very hardy. It's unlikely they would have died during the shipping process. If you are experiencing problems, please do get in touch with us. Don't worry, were always more than happy to resend another if required.
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Where stated, many of our products are vegan friendly.