Something new for us, brewing our own kombucha. What the heck is kombucha? Well, kombucha is a slightly effervescent fermented drink made with a combination of sweetened black and/or green tea. It is produced by fermenting the tea using a SCOBY, Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria Yeast. Kombucha is not only delicious but it is used as a functional food as it contains b-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acetic, gluconic, and lactic acids, which all have numerous health benefits.
Many people know, that other than from whole, unprocessed fruits, we have removed all sugar and sweeteners, real and artificial, from our diet. So, you may be wondering how we can make a drink which begins with sweetened tea. When making kombucha, the sugar is used to feed the SCOBY and once fully fermented, the sugar is used up.
To add some sweetness and extra effervescence to the drink, a second fermentation is done using whole fruit, which then also helps to add wonderful new flavors to the kombucha.
- 4 tea bags each of black tea and green tea (for loose leaf, 1 tsp = 1 bag of tea)
- 1 cup white cane sugar
- One healthy SCOBY
- 1 cup starter liquid (kombucha from bottle or previous batch)
- purified, spring, or ionized water
Boil 2 cups of water and add the tea. Allow the tea to steep for 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags and stir in the sugar until it’s dissolved. Add approximately 4 cups of room temperature water to the tea to cool it to room temperature. In a glass, one gallon vessel (which has been cleaned with vinegar, not soap) add the tea and then fill the vessel with water, leaving 1-2 inches at the top. Add the mother SCOBY and the 1 cup of starter liquid. Cover with a cloth and secure the cloth with a rubber band. Set the container in a warm, darker place where it will get plenty of air flow and can stay undisturbed. For the next 7-10 days give your brew lots of encouragement and love but don’t move or disturb. At the 2 week mark there should be a nice thick baby SCOBY on the surface. Taste your brew by carefully removing the cloth and using a straw, slide the straw down the side of the vessel and gather some liquid by placing your finger over the end of the straw to hold some liquid in there and remove the straw and taste. If the brew is still sweet, cover and let is continue fermenting for a few more days, tasting each day until it has the flavor desired. Follow directions below.
Second fermentation, if desired:
- fresh, dried or frozen fruit
- 100% fruit juice
- flavorings of your choice, extracts, fresh ginger, herbal fruit teas, etc.
Once the kombucha has reached your desired flavor, remove the baby and mother SCOBY to a glass plate or container and cover to keep clean and insect free. Strain the kombucha through coffee filters or multiple layers of cheese cloth to remove any particles floating in the liquid. Place the desired flavorings in glass bottles which have air-tight lids and then fill to 1/2 to 1-inch from the top. Do not leave too much headspace otherwise it will not carbonate properly. Seal the bottles and place in a warm dark place. As there is a chance the bottles could pop or explode, a cooler or box is a good choice to prevent a possible mess. At least once, if not twice a day, burp the bottles to release the accumulated gas. Allow the bottles to ferment for 3 – 7 days tasting after the third day, until it reaches desired flavor. Place the bottles in the refrigerator to stop the fermentation process. I choose to keep the fruit in the bottles but if desired, the fruit can be strained out.
- Sanitize all equipment with hot water and vinegar, not soap.
- Air flow is important.
- Keep kombucha out of direct sunlight.
- If you see mold, throw the SCOBY and all liquid away.
- Other than when steeping your tea, do not use metal around the kombucha or SCOBY.
- Give your kombucha lots of love, it’s a living organism and like plants, feels the energy in the room.