Kombucha. That delicious fermented, fizzy, slightly sweet, refreshing tea that all the yogi’s seem to drink. You can buy it for a pretty penny in a health food store or some grocery stores, but really it is so easy and cheap to make its a shame if you don’t.
Kombucha is described above, but what exactly is it? It is a fermented tea, using a ‘Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast’ or a SCOBY. The process of fermentation rids the tea of any sugar and creates the fizzy deliciousness associated with the drink. Kombucha has many health benefits; it is rich in antioxidants, probiotics, aids digestion and detoxifies the liver, kidneys and other organs.
My favourite part about Kombucha is how easy and cheap it is to make, the taste, and that it is virtually sugar free. I don’t drink sugar filled drinks, juice or even “zero calorie” drinks because while something might be zero calorie that doesn’t mean its good for you. If there is any residual sugar left over from fermentation I would take that along with the health benefits of kombucha over juice and chemicals. It is refreshing, reminds me a bit of a wine cooler and has completely replaced any alcohol I would normally leisurely drink.
There is a slight alcohol content, this unfortunately isn’t something you can measure with a home brew, but it will likely be less than 1%. So its up to you whether to drink it while pregnant or breastfeeding, or to give to children. I did all three of these things as I stick to only one glass at a time anyway. If you have never had it before I would experiment with one cup first then move on to drinking more at a time- it can “get things working” if you catch my drift.
So, to make Kombucha you will need a few supplies.
1 pot for boiling water that will hold about a gallon of water
Slightly less than 1 gallon of water.
1 cup of starter fluid (plain Kombucha)
1 Gallon glass jar (must be glass)
5 black tea bags
1 Cup of organic sugar
4 pop-top bottles for 2nd fermentation
Fruit of your choice for flavouring
First off, fill your pot with the gallon of water and bring to a boil.
Add your tea bags and 1 cup of sugar and steep for 5 minutes.
Remove tea bags and let it cool completely. If it is too hot it will kill the SCOBY
Place your SCOBY and starter fluid in your gallon glass jar.
Add your cooled down black tea to the glass jar with the SCOBY and starter fluid.
Place cheesecloth or a thin cloth on top and secure with a rubber band to allow air flow.
Put in a dark place thats room temperature, or on top of your kitchen cupboards and let it ferment for 1-2 weeks. Longer the fermentation the stronger the taste. So it depends on your preference.
You might notice a vinegary smell, this is normal its all part of the process. Your SCOBY can double in size, and you will see another baby SCOBY growing off of the mother. This is great! The SCOBY can turn sideways, sit at the top or bottom and this is all fine. You may also see brown strings in the tea, this is also normal.
After a week or two has passed, take your gallon jar out and remove the SCOBY. You can filter out your Kombucha if you wish, but I just leave it and string out any brown bits. Your extra SCOBY can be split and you can give it to your friend, or keep it in another jar as part of a SCOBY hotel. Or compost it, dehydrate it, candy it and eat it, or throw it away. Whatever you want to do.
Next is the 2nd fermentation. This is the process of flavouring your Kombucha and it takes 2-7 days. So bottle your Kombucha into the pop top bottles and add a few tablespoons of fruit. My favourites are lemon ginger, ginger peach, blueberry, strawberry and apple cinnamon. You can add just about anything. You can also add a small tsp of sugar at this point to each bottle to assure it gets that extra fizzy-ness. Make sure you keep a cup of plain kombucha for a starter fluid for your next batch and add your SCOBY back into your glass gallon jar along with this starter fluid.
You can make a new batch right away, or just leave it as is until you’re running low on ‘buch.
Make sure to release the carbonation from the pop-top bottles each day or you will have a bit of a mess. If you forget to, just open it outside and bring a towel. For some reason, strawberries always fizz more for me than blueberries or lemons, most likely because of the sugar content.
I like to ferment mine for 7 and 2 days for each fermentation. After I place in the fridge and this slows down any extra fermentation. However if I don’t get to it right away I will filter out any berries or whatever I used for my 2nd fermentation as I don’t like it to get too fermented. This is simply personal preference.
Pop top bottles aren’t necessary, but they do keep the carbonation in and I like that. If you’re local to me, I got mine at Water Pure and Simple for about $5 a piece, but any wine or beer making store should carry these.