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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Paul, Mark, and Luke - Scoby Notes

I named our first Self-Contained Organism of Bacteria and Yeast, Paul, in memory of the famous octopus  Paul, who lived a short time after predicting the outcomes of eight World Cup Soccer games.

Past feats aside, Paul seemed a good name.

So Paul begat Mark, and Mark begat Luke, and soon kambucha was exploding literally from every vessel at house Potter. I've concocted many superb tasting drinks in this manner, without keeping so much as a pencil scrap of a note about process.

Invention happens spontaneously, when one is not recording results. The recording of results inevitably mire any process in a protracted program of exhausting all possibilities.

One knows this when one follows one's genius around the house, and one's genius in this case is a flat rubbery slimy organism used to ferment tea.

A Kambucha SCOBY represents life, as unique as that of a cow that produces rich cream, or a tomato plant that yields exceptional fruit. This log shall transcribe that life. Here I write everything Paul is fed, everything taken from Paul in the way of harvest, and jot for posterity every note that I can think of to better understand the mysterious brewing process involving bacteria and yeast.

Paul sired a blessed two year lineage in this house, descended from a SCOBY mare supplied by Steven Rodriguez, he has since been divided into three vats.

I'll name his sons Mark or Luke. At times they have all been fed grape, rose liquor, pineapple, blueberry, pomegranate, acai berry, but always the base diet has been a tea and sugar mixture.

The flavors produced by Paul have been so extraordinary that I've reluctantly taken up a blog post to document what I'm doing here, because in reality I have no idea. Steve R. says I'm a mad scientist just mixing stuff together and never creating a record or a label.  We both dally in ceramics. He's very careful about glaze recipe, I'm not.  I contend in my defense that the greatest learning occurs when records have not been created.

So I'm now keeping records but skeptically, knowing myself, not for long.

Imitators will find that duplication of my results is nigh impossible. The SCOBY bacteria and yeast have a memory for everything that was done to them, and they retain genes to digest certain compounds in case they are encountered again. The digestive process then runs as a result of the SCOBY's experience with other fruits and nectars and teas which make up its diet.

It may be possible however to notice that a rose kambucha brewed with Rooibos tea after a diet of blueberry and pomegranate is especially flavorful. That may be the extent of the benefit of this note taking process.

Otherwise, just as I've said, it is a record of Paul's life.


SCOBY #1 - Paul - record-keeping commenced 6/13/15

6/13/15 - Bottled previous mixture of black tea, sugar and blueberry pomegranate juice. taste is pleasantly acidic, fresh and tart.


P100 - 8 Bottles - 6/13/15 8:00 PM

(6) added 2 tbsp Knudsen Currant Juice
(1) no addition, plain.
(1) no addition, includes lees from vat.

[Taste: 6/21/15 - Large Bottle. Fruity, somewhat tart, the currant lends a distinctive sweetness and berry accent, beneath the mint broad base makes the flavor velvety smooth. No head to speak of. Very pleasing.]


Added approximately 11 oz. Knudsen Currant Juice to Paul.

6/14/15 - Replenished Paul with  1 large rounded bottom metal pot of tea mixture consisting of:
(6) English Teashop Brand Pomegranate Rooibos Acai Berry Tea Bags
(5) Tsp. Black tea
(4) 2/3 Scoops of White Sugar

Pre Bottling Flavor Addition: 4 Scoops of Blueberry Coulis then back into incubation until next bottling.


SCOBY # 2 - I've dubbed this Scoby, Mark, record-keeping commenced 6/15/15

Monday June 15, 2015 - Mark is quite tart from additions of raspberry pomegranate juice in the last iteration. A bit too tart for taste, so prior to bottling I conducted a fluid exchange with Luke, who was last seen digesting a load of homemade mint extract and sugar.

Recent Base: Raspberry Pomegranate & Mint

M100 - 6/18/15 8:00 PM
(3) Large Bottles - no additions
(2) Small Brown Bottles - Blueberry coulis addition
(1) Small Brown Bottle - Frozen Ginger addition.
(1) Large Bottle - Blueberry coulis addition
(2) Large Bottles - Ginger addition
(1) Very Small Lunch Bottle - Blueberry coulis addition (Ami takes for her lunch)


[Taste: 6/21/15 - 1 Small bottle, velvety smooth Ginger Mint. No berry notes. Must have done ginger mint only. An excellent result.]


Pre-Brew Flavor: After bottling, 4 scoops of blueberry Coulis went into Mark

6/21/2015 evening - Replenished Mark with Large Round Bottomed Pot of:
(5) English Teashop Brand Pomegranate Rooibos Acai Berry Tea Bags
(6) Tsp Darjeeling Tea from Mark Aronson
(1 1/2) Tsp. Indian Black Tea
(3) Scoops White Sugar

Blended Bottling - Sunday June 28, 2015

Brewed Replenishment - Sunday June 28, 2015

Large Flat-bottomed Pot
3 Black Tea
1 Hibiscus Tea
3 Darjeeling Tea
4 2/3rd Scoops Sugar


SCOBY #3 - Luke, record-keeping commenced 6/15/15

Luke's history is much like the other three, a mix of teas and flavorings over three years and many seasons. He was brewed recently (x4 days) with black tea and sugar and a large extract of garden grown mint mixed with sugar. A fluid exchange was conducted with Mark on this day, though no SCOBY material was swapped. This was an attempt to blend the fruity tartness of Mark with the minty immature sweetness of Luke. The resulting bottling will probably taste best after at least another week of 2nd stage fermentation.

Recent Base: Grape, Pomegranate Raspberry, then Mint

L100 - 7 Bottles 6/15/15 4:00 PM

(2) Striped Large Bottles, no additions.
(4) Striped Large Bottles, no additions (1 of these has heavy lees)
(3) Small Brown Bottles. no additions.

6/16/15 - 7:30 AM Replenished Luke with 1 large straight sided metal pot of tea mixture, consisting of:

(6) English Teashop Brand Pomegranate Rooibos Acai Berry Tea Bags
(5) Tsp. Black tea
(4) 2/3 Scoops of White Sugar

Blended Bottling - Sunday June 28, 2015

Brewed Replenishment - Sunday June 28, 2015

Large Round-bottomed Pot
3 Black Tea
5 Hibiscus Tea
1 Darjeeling Tea
4 2/3rd Scoops Sugar


Blended Bottling

Sunday June 28, 2015

Mark and Luke -

(8) Large Bottles
(6) Small Brown Bottles

Mixture of 60% Mark, 40% Luke.  Mark depleted, Luke 30% full. Before bottling Mark was overly tart with heavy blueberry accents, Luke was very mild, with light blueberry accent, and medium mint flavor.


At this point the SCOBY notes stop, without explanation, even though production of flavorful life-giving beverages continues to this day. Perhaps the cessation of note-taking was due to a poetic approximation of effort spent versus gain recorded. No matter, yeasty fermentations of life continue indefinitely, and will ferment our bodies long into the future.

Sparkling Jasmine with Ginger, Ginger Rose, Pakistani Rose, Raspberry Reduction, Raspberry Ginger, Rose Candied Ginger, Ginger Grape, Mango Apricot,Ginger Peach, Passion Fruit Papaya, Cinnamon Plum, Strawberry, Quince, Dandelion, Pineapple . . . .

We eat what we dream.

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