four walls, no walls, you and me.

Kombucha Lives!
December 21, 2009, 3:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

After not so much research, I got fed up with how little info there was on brewing kombucha using heat mats. All the websites that had info were basically trying to sell you something. Boo to that. I decided what the heck, I’ll just go get one and learn by trial and error. Sounds easier than it seems. I scoured all the local Lowes/Home Depots (ok, so maybe just 3) looking for a heat mat but each time all I got was a weird look and directions to the garden department where I got another wierd look. Finally one nice lady at Lowes told me to try a real nursery. I didn’t know of any nursery’s in the area so I googled and found that Hydrofarm has a list of distributors! One of then was even located conveniently down the street from my work!

I ended up buying a seedling heat mat from a hydroponic store (not a nursery) which was probably why I never noticed it was there even though I’ve driven past it probably a million times. I called ahead and found that they had it in stock and for only $20! I drove down after work to pick it up.

First, let me say a few things about this store. It’s a hydroponics store which means they carry supplies for people who grow plants in water, hence hydroponic. However, one’s understanding of the word “plant” can be interpreted in a variety of ways. I’m not making any claims, I’ll just leave it at that.

So I walk in and all 8 people behind the counter immediately stop what they’re doing and stare at me. Not weird at all. Also, I’m the only customer in the place. Also, if I were to run into any of them in the street, I might be a little afraid. However, the woman who I spoke to on the phone and who handled my order in the store was very nice. She had misquoted me the price but honored it, although she said she would have given me a discount anyway so it all ended up being the same in the end.

Anyway, I went home and immediately plugged it in, dumped a bottle of GT’s Original into a glass jar, and made it nice and cozy on the mat. Online retailers that market these mats to kombucha growers will charge you an arm and a leg, but also sell it with a thermometer for temperature control. In my opinion, you don’t really need all that. The wattage is low enough that it never really gets *too* warm.

I have all this set up in a wooden box since there’s nowhere really dark that’s also close to an outlet. Works really well. On the bottom of the box I have the heat mat, on top of that the jar of kombucha, and the lid held slightly open by the cord that is attached to the mat. I was afraid that it wouldn’t get enough air with such a tiny opening but it wasn’t a problem.

The warning says you shouldn’t put anything directly on top of the mat but I did and it’s fine. Also, if you don’t do it that way, I doubt it will ever really warm up the mix enough to get it growing. At times I thought it got a little too warm since there was condensation on the inside of the jar, and it was warm to the touch, but I guess it ended up being just right because within the week I had a nice thin SCOBY! It has a hole in the middle but it is definitely a SCOBY! The hole was caused by the shape of the jar, which curves up toward the middle. It’s a prety big jar (2 gallon) so one bottle of GT’s wasn’t enough to fill it up past the curve in the middle, thus a donut shaped SCOBY. No big deal.

A few days ago I brewed some tea (organic white tea), mixed it with sugar, and let it cool overnight. It showed a slight oily film but not as much as other teas. Last time I used white tea I got great results so I’m not going to mess with a good thing! Right now I’m just waiting to see what happens. Hopefully the SCOBY will get thicker and in a few weeks I’ll have some nice new kombucha to drink!


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