Monthly Archives: April 2015
Exciting News! We are moving! We have made a lot of changes over the last 12 months to better suit our personal and professional goals. In November, we halted production of our 12-oz bottle line. This decision was carefully considered. After years of experience with the bottle program, we decided that it did not fully support our company’s mission guidelines of being an environmentally sustainable operation. Environmental sustainability is something we at KBBK are committed to. No matter how hard we tried, there was always an immense amount of waste in the bottle program on multiple levels from production and glass all the way up to the sales and consumer level. The cost of this waste was passed all the way down the chain resulting in an inflated cost per bottle to customers. It’s hard to watch all of that waste when there is a better way!
By dropping the bottles we were able to put our focus on more sustainable kombucha products: our Kombucha On-Tap Program and our Kombucha Home Brew Supplies. Now we are brewing up the best, most sustainable kombucha for on-tap purchases in reusable growlers or by the glass and we are teaching more people than ever to brew their own at home.
Now it is time to further hone our vision and make KBBK the very best it can be. This time not just for the business and the environment, but for our family and employees too. Next month, KBBK will begin operating out of our new space just outside of Kingston, NY. By moving upstate, we will greatly reduce expenses from the high costs associated with producing products in the city while providing a clean, safe, spacious environment for our company, employees and products to grow. Our new space, the KBBK Fermentation Shop, will be a learning center, brew shop, lab, and fulfillment center housed in a beautiful, clean, mountain environment. And all are welcome! With more space to explore, we want it to be a destination for fermentation enthusiasts everywhere. Keg production will remain in New York City at our facility in Long Island City.
Along with this move, Jessica and I and our two sons, Rider and Paxis, will be moving upstate as well. This will give our sons the environment they need to grow, learn and play with all of the “loose parts” that nature provides and that we believe are essential to a developing mind.
In addition to our family, we are also excited to have some of our longtime KBBK employees joining us on this adventure! We’re a 2-hour drive from the heart of Manhattan, easily accessible by car, train or bus, and surrounded by mountains and trees. What better place in the world to be? We are so pleased that our crew is onboard.
All of us at KBBK welcome a visit from you and yours at our new home in Kingston and thank you for your continued support on this great fermented mission. Drop by anytime and share a pint of refreshing hand-crafted kombucha with us.
For a long time, white tea was a complete mystery to me. To make a distinction between a white and a green tea was like comparing apples... to apples. But with a little investigation, a Silver Needle Tea-off at Tea-Drunk, and a lot of drinking, some of the nature of white teas became clearer.
The least processed of the teas, this style most famously hails from the Fujian province of China. Made up of the buds, the leaves, or a combination of both, the plant is withered and baked, traits that it has in common with the production of black tea.
While there are specific varietals and cultivars that may be preferred to others before being processed into a final product, every style of tea can be made from any Camellia sinensis plant. The genetics utilized for a specific style of tea are selected by the manufacturer and are often traditional. Teas from certain plants and unique environments (terroir) contribute to the tea's flavor, body and aroma.
So, for example, you could take leaves from a Tieguanyin varietal (usually made into oolong tea) and process them into a black tea, or any of the others, for that matter. The best white tea, however, comes from the Fujian province.
The development of white teas can be traced back to the end of a long era of consuming tea as a powder rather than, as we're familiar with today, an infusion. It was in these early days of white teas that the leaves were the primary constituent of the tea's pluck - it wasn't until the late 19th century that the buds of tea plants came to be part of white tea production (Bai Hao Yin Zhen, or Silver Needle, is only buds). Other varieties utilize the bud and the first two leaves past the bud (Bai Mudan), or sometimes simply the leaves (Shou Mei, Gong Mei).
Of all varieties of white teas, the first to be plucked is strictly buds, beginning in early March, followed by Bai Mudan and the others.
Developed late in the 18th century, the style is rather young – understandable, possibly, when you consider the relatively simple fashion in which it is processed. Soon after plucking, the leaves are withered on bamboo frames and dried slowly, which helps to preserve the shape and tiny hairs on the buds. The result of the minimal processing of this tea is a bulky, unkempt appearance in the case of the leaf-containing teas, or the striking, platinum beauty and uniformity of silver needle varieties.
When steeping a white tea, you can expect not the vegetal flavors found in green teas, or the astringency. What pervades your palate in white teas is spicy, even herbal - bay, marjoram, oregano and even cinnamon and chicory are invoked; strikingly, the flavor of black tea is also very noticeable. With aging, fruity flavors reveal themselves, such as muscatel grape and apricot. There is a dry nuttiness, like birch bark and chestnuts, that contributes to this once-exclusive tea’s character. Lush, but also somehow dusty, this tea is sharp, yet not affronting. It's luxurious, crisp and refreshing.
'Buching with White Tea
White tea alone can make excellent kombucha, but some aspect of this style can make it difficult to support the proliferation of a SCOBY. Among my favorite kombuchas I've made was with a Silver Bud White Pu-Erh that's been aging since 2003 (true pu-erh or not). I've found that while standalone white tea kombucha can be delicious, I also love this tea in blends.
For example, KBBK's Straight Up utilizes equal parts black, green and white teas. This results in a balanced kombucha that is not too heavily skewed towards the apple and malt flavors contributed by black tea.
One of my favorite ways to use white tea is in a blend with yerba mate. The result is a smoky, herbaceous kombucha that is suggestive of peaches and citrus.
With the addition of other herbs (following some guidelines) the result can be magnificent, uplifting kombucha that trumps anything store-bought 'buch has to offer, the white tea adding some herbal character and nutrients for the culture.
It is important, as a kombucha brewer, to explore the facets of every tea so that you can blend and brew with breadth and comprehensive character that will keep you and those lucky enough to try your brew surprised and delighted. So, try brewing with white tea and start experimenting with blending as well. Clarity and refreshing contentment will be your reward!
At Kombucha Brooklyn we get a little sentimental about SCOBYs. So much so that the thought of trash-heaping the little guys is unbearable. So, when life gives you SCOBYs...
In the interest of respect and reverence, we have embraced our propensity to consume them. 'Buch isn't just a drink! It can be a tasty, conversation-inducing ingredient in so many dishes that there's never really a wrong way to eat them. Not to mention that you can cook with kombucha in just as many ways!
In KBBK founders' 2013 book Kombucha!: The Amazing Probiotic Tea that Cleanses, Heals, Energizes and Detoxifies, many SCOBY and 'buch recipes are outlined in an effort to open minds, cleanse bodies, and bring kombucha full circle. Recipes such as Carrot-Ginger-SCOBY Soup, SCOBY Tempura Salad, KomQuinoa Pilaf with SCOBY and Roasted Root Vegetables, and Super Live Miso Soup with SCOBY Noodles have become beloved staples of SCOBY-kitchen repertoire.
So, we thought we'd recap a few of the ways we've used SCOBYs here around the office. A little food smut never hurt anyone, and we'll take full responsibility for your cravings!
SCOBY Rancher Snacks are a delicious way to use up a bunch of SCOBY very quickly, and it's a very friendly snack that's amenable to the most stalwart palates.
This is one of those meals that probably could never happen the same way twice. Lunch is an epic adventure here. We cooked rice, diced SCOBY and mixed it into the rice with some Kombucha Breath of Fire (a pepper-kombucha vinegar concoction that is in constant rotation here). Then, we mixed fresh avocado with curry spices, served it with the rice, and topped the whole thing with a fried egg and scallions, and voila! It was an improv meal home run.
A delicious and warming Fall food, SCOBY and Red Pepper-Stuffed Acorn Squash is as comforting as SCOBY foods get.
While this dish doesn't actually contain SCOBYs, their byproduct, kombucha vinegar, is used in haute fashion for this fantastic dessert concoction devised by KBBK's resident extraordinary chef and office-master Will.
This is among our all-time favorite uses for SCOBY. The light acidity of SCOBY combined with miso (extra fermentation points!), seaweed, mushrooms and tofu make a delectable and light soup that you'll be dreaming about months down the road. This is one of the recipes featured on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.
Much like brewing kombucha, experimentation is rewarded many times over in the satisfaction of friends and family in sharing delicious and novel foods. Consider the above a reminder and a jumping-off point for the fact that being a probiotic pioneer is fun, healthy, and wholesome!
For some of these recipes and many more, check out the book Kombucha!: The Amazing Probiotic Tea that Cleanses, Heals, Energizes and Detoxifies.
Share any ideas, recipes or photos in the comments section below, or on our Facebook page!