Home Brewer Profile
Brewing since: December 2014
Favorite home-brews: Watermelon Mint, Strawberry Rosehip, Ginger Orange Hibiscus, Blueberry Mango, Cucumber Lemonade.
Elli, who works at a vegan/vegetarian restaurant and shoots freelance photography, started brewing kombucha in December of 2014, having already been brewing kefir for a few months. Elli likes her brews on the sweeter side, and gets creative with flavors that she enjoys sharing with her roommate, girlfriend and friends. As Elli points out, “It seems to make people happy!”
Kombucha Hunter: How long ago did you start brewing and what made you start?
Elli Garlin: I began fermenting my own water kefir a few months before kombucha, and my addiction to fermenting quickly began to grow. Kombucha seemed like the next step! I got my water kefir grains and my very first kombucha scoby from a girl I met on Kijiji [Canada’s largest classifieds site].
KH: What kind of supplies do you use as part of your home-brewing set-up?
EG: The supplies I use for my brews are two gallon-sized Mason jars which I got from Canadian Tire. For bottling, I use smaller sized Mason jars. If I'm bringing my kombucha to friends or my girlfriend, I use things like cold pressed juice bottles or Grolsch beer bottles (with the flip top!). Anything that's glass, really.
KH: Do you like your brews on the sweeter or tarter side?
EG: I tend to prefer my brews a bit on the sweeter side. I typically keep my first ferment in for about two weeks.
KH: What have been some kombucha brewing failures that you have learned from?
EG: In late August, Toronto, was going through an intense heat wave. My two brews looked very different than usual. The scobys looked sad and small, and when I finally took them out, their bottom sides were covered in bubbles...almost like bubble wrap on one side. Those didn't reproduce at all, but thankfully I had a couple extra scobys kicking around in a jar with some starter tea. Another failure I encountered was when I switched teas. I've always used a matcha green tea blend for my brews, but when I ran out, I tried switching to a black tea. Two batches went by and nothing seemed to work. The brews tasted decent, but the new scobys were not working out. I switched back to the matcha green tea blend after about a month, and my brews went back to normal. I haven't switched teas again ever since.
KH: What are some of your other interests and passions?
EG: Other than home-brewing, I am interested in other aspects of healthy living. I have been vegan for a bit over three years now, and work at an awesome vegan & vegetarian restaurant in Toronto. I am also a freelance photographer. My favorite thing to shoot is live music.
KH: What kind of food do you like pairing your home brews with?
EG: It does always taste best cold on a hot summer's day on my balcony, while eating a vibrant vegan meal. Incorporating all the colors is the spice of life.
KH: What's the best piece of advice you can give to novice kombucha home brewers?
EG: I’ve helped two friends in the past get involved with home brewing, and I always equip them with a chart of the ratios they'll need, depending on how big of a brew they want to start off with. I always advise to start small, and build from there. Be patient. No, it won't get you drunk. And YES, you're going to face some bumps in the road. But most of all? Have fun and be creative!