Last weekend I gave a talk about you-know-what at my favorite local fermentation shop. They have a wonderful community of homebrewers who come together every month to share their production and talk beer. It’s a community that I have to admit to feeling a little jealous of. They brew in a variety of different styles, give each other feedback and most importantly, give each other support. I gave a general overview of some of my favorite ferments, and I brought a few things for them to try. I’ll be sharing the recipes for most of those in coming weeks and today, I’ll share one of my favorite ways to flavor kombucha.
I keep two or more types of kombucha going at all times. I have my continuous brews of sencha and now oolong and a side batch of whatever tea I’ve decided to ferment that week. My husband is a bit of a fiend, and I admit I like having it on hand for those moments when I feel preventative (or restorative) medicine is called for. Lately I’ve been a bit more indulgent with my flavors. An embarrassment of berry riches has made me lazy, and at the risk of sounding unappreciative of summer’s bounty, bored. So last week, I decided to go back to one of my winter favorites and give it a bit of summer produce to assuage my guilt.
Although the rain this year has been unkind to my tomato plants, my hot peppers have been abundant and delicious. I have lots on hand, but I particularly like this recipe with ring of fire cayenne peppers. Feel free to try whatever you’ve got growing or what is available at your farmers market. Jalepeños would probably be a great choice!
MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE KOMBUCHA
Yields one quart
One trick for a completely knockout hocho ‘booch is using high quality cocoa nibs. I used (insanely expensive) nibs from Mast Brothers this time, and I do think the final product was a bit tastier than with regular ol’ organic, fair trade nibs, but I PROMISE it will be good any way you do it, so try it with whatever you nibs you have access to, and prepare to write me a thank-you note.
I like to make small batches of different flavors to suit my nightly preferences, but you can definitely scale this up. Just double the amounts to get a flavorful half gallon! The best part is that you can reuse the flavorings for a second and third brew! Just steep them for slightly longer each time.
As always, remember that fermenting in glass has its risks. Make sure that you are checking the carbonation levels periodically, and I don’t recommend leaving it for more than one day. If the jar lid is very hard to push in, loosen the ring and allow air to escape before retightening. If you don’t care about carbonation in your final product, you can leave the ring loose from the beginning. That will mitigate the risk of explosions.
- 3.5 cups oolong tea kombucha, SCOBY removed
- 2.5 Tablespoons cocoa nibs
- 2 small, hot peppers, such as ring of fire cayenne, stems removed
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1 small pinch powdered cinnamon (optional)
- Pour finished kombucha into a mason jar or other appropriately sized container with a decent seal
- Stir in sugar and powdered cinnamon, if using
- Add cocoa nibs, hot peppers and cinnamon sticks
- Put the lid on the jar and seal it tightly
- Let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Strain out the tea and bottle and chill as you normally would (I usually keep mine in a mason jar when I do a secondary fermentation).
- Add fresh kombucha to the flavorings and repeat!