Have you heard about Kombucha? It seems to be a new thing people are talking about, but in fact, it’s an ancient thing and has been around for thousands of years.
If you don’t know what kombucha is, it is basically a fermented tea drink, made from black or green tea, sugar, water and a SCOBY, which is a really weird, mushroomy thing that floats around and feeds off the sugar, causing the tea to ferment.
Why would someone drink this strange beverage? Well, apart from tasting pretty good, it’s excellent for you. It is full of probiotics, or ‘good’ bacteria which are great for your gut health. A healthy gut has been shown to play a huge role in your overall health, affecting everything from digestion to weight loss.
Kombucha is also detoxifying, anti-microbial, anti-ageing and supports your joints and nervous system. It pretty wonderful, actually. And here’s the best part – you don’t have to spend a fortune on this wonder tonic, because as it turns out, it’s pretty simple to make your own!
How To Make Kombucha
So, all you need to make your own batch of kombucha is green or black tea (tea bags are fine), raw sugar, water, starter culture and a SCOBY. The problem is, generally you can’t buy a SCOBY. You have to be given one, from someone who is already making kombucha and has a big SCOBY to share with you.
SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. I’m not gonna lie to you here, either – they aren’t pretty. But they are useful! So, if you don’t know where to get one, you can also grow your own. Just get a 330ml bottle of ready-made kombucha (make sure it’s a plain one) and empty into a large glass jar with 1 cup of strong, sweet tea mixture made from 2 black or green tea bags and about 1/4 cup sugar.
Wait until this is cool to combine with the kombucha. Cover the jar with a tea towel or cloth, secure with a rubber band and put it in a warmish place to grow. In about a week, you should have a SCOBY floating on top of the liquid in your jar, and the liquid itself is also now a starter culture.
Once your SCOBY is looking fairly thick its ready to go into a new container to make a bigger batch of kombucha. I use a 3-liter glass jar to make mine. So, first, brew your tea. For the 3 liter jar, I use 6 tea bags and 3/4 cup of sugar. I use organic tea and organic sugar, but I’m sure it would work fine with normal ingredients too.
Brew the tea for about 15 minutes and dissolve the sugar in this mixture. Then, let it cool. Once cooled, pour it into the jar along with 1/2 to 1 cup of starter culture, and the SCOBY. Fill with water to just below the rim (maybe 1 inch or so below).
Next, the same as before, cover the jar with a cloth or tea towel. Make sure you secure it well and don’t let the cloth touch the liquid or the SCOBY because otherwise fruit flies can get in and you’ll have to throw the whole thing out and start again (this has happened to me twice!). Put it somewhere it won’t be disturbed, and between 7 – 10 days it should be ready.
I like to do a second fermentation, which I’ll go into next. First, watch the video below to see this process in action and check out a SCOBY.
Once you have left you kombucha to develop over a week or so, check it to see how it tastes. It should be kind of vinegary but still a little sweet.
How long you leave it is really up to you, as the taste changes over time. Once its good to go, though, you can add stuff to it to flavor it.
Just make sure you take out 1 cup of the liquid before adding anything to the jar, as you will need this for your next batch. Take the SCOBY out too and put him on a clean plate until you have mixed up the next batch.
I usually add the juice of one lemon and a knob of minced ginger. Then we bottle the kombucha in swing top 1-litre bottles and leave them to ferment further for 3 – 4 days.
This makes the kombucha lovely and fizzy, but you don’t have to do this step. When it has fizzed up to your liking, store it in the fridge to stop the fermentation.