The amazing fermented superdrink!
Kombucha has been heralded as the amazing elixir of life. It has been known to help prevent cancer, aid digestion, and is supposedly good for your metabolism, helps high blood pressure, diabetes, constipation, candida, strengthening your gut, good for your joints, skin conditions, balancing hormones, alertness, brain function, concentration. The best thing about Kombucha is that it is a live drink that is packed full of good bacteria to help your digestion.. and good digestion means good vitamin and mineral assimilation from all your food.. so Kombucha is helping you make the most of all those good nutrients you are putting in your body. 100ml of Kombucha has approximately 3 trillion* or more good bacteria compared to 5 or so million* in your average probiotic tablet.
Making Kombucha is basically just fermenting sweet tea with a ‘mother’ or SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast).
Always make sure you are using CLEAN and if possible sterilised utensils, jars and bowls when preparing Kombucha. Glass is preferable, or stainless steel, or wooden spoons but not reactive metal. Hygiene is paramount for the safety of experimenting with fermentation. Special care should always be taken. You want to make sure you are growing the right kind of bacteria!
3 litres of filtered water (make sure you use filtered or spring water. Ordinary tap water has chlorine and other chemicals added to it to stop bacteria growing in it… not good for Kombucha!)
4-5 organic tea bags (use english breakfast for a darker tea, or green tea for a lighter tea. Oolong is good too. Don’t use any herbal teas at this point.. it must be real tea. If you like your tea strong.. use more bags or if you like it weak, use less.. experiment with what suits your tastebuds)
1/2 cup - 1 cup of organic sugar (The sugar is what the bacteria feeds on to ferment. By the time you drink it, it will have much less sugar in it but you do need to use sugar. The longer you ferment and the more 'vinegar' tasting it becomes, the lower the sugar content)
1/2 cup of Kombucha from your last batch
1 x SCOBY or 'mother'
Using approx 1 litre of the water, mix up a nice strong tea and stir in the sugar until it’s dissolved. Steep for 15 minutes or longer until it’s finished brewing.
Pour in another 2 litres of cold filtered water.
(You can experiment with different quantities of water vs tea vs sugar to suit your tastebuds but this recipe is a good start)
Once the temperature is below your body temp… add this mixture to a large sterilised glass container. The larger the surface area of the container the better. Kombucha needs oxygen to ferment so find a nice large wide mouth vessel. I’ve heard people use fishbowls or large vases are good.
Add 1/2 cup of a previous batch of Kombucha and the SCOBY. Make sure you add some from the previous batch. This helps acidify the batch and helps prevents any unwanted cultures from surviving and allowing the Kombucha to flourish. Your mother should eventually float to the top. Cover with a muslin cloth and keep away from sunlight and odours or away from where other bad bacteria may lurk.. avoid keeping your Kombucha near a rubbish bin or dirty laundry.
Over the process of fermenting another mother will grow on the surface. The more batches you make the more your mother will grow or baby mothers will grow.. they are great for giving away to friends!!
Depending on the temperature of the room, your Kombucha should take 7-12 days to ferment. It will ferment quicker in summer and slower in winter. Best to start tasting it after 7 days to see how you like it. If you let it go longer it will become a bit vinegary if it’s not ready yet it will still be too sweet. If you're trying to cut sugar out of your diet as much as possible try fermenting it until it is very tart and most of the sugar has been consumed by the culture. Then you can experiment with healthy sweeteners in the second ferment.
I like to stop mine when it’s just the right taste.. usually around 10-14 days.. but I do like it tangy.
Your Kombucha can now be bottled and is ready to drink!
you can flavour it or do a second ferment!
I love experimenting with different flavours. You can add fresh fruit or flavoured teas. A combo of both. Sometimes you can just flavour it, bottle it and pop it in the fridge or if you want to make it a bit fizzy you can do a second ferment.
Add your chosen flavouring to the bottle and fill the bottle with Kombucha until it’s 2/3 full. Make sure you leave room at the top of the bottle to allow for the fermentation.. otherwise you could have explosions!!
If you want to make it fizzy, choose an air tight pop top bottle or a recycled grolsch bottle. You can get air tight pop tops from pretty much any supermarket or $2 shop.
Make sure it’s a good quality bottle though and not made of glass that will break easily because the anaerobic method of second fermentation does create carbon dioxide in the bottle and thus creates a pressure.
Once you’ve added your chosen flavour and the Kombucha, store the sealed bottled in a dark cupboard for 1-4 days. The sweeter it is the more pressure it will create as the sugar continues to ferment so be wary when opening the bottle.. they can explode! When you’re starting out, try just 1 day second ferment until you get the hang of it.
If the Kombucha is a bit vinegary when you are doing the second ferment, you can add a little more sugar or honey to help the second ferment get it’s fizziness and to make it a bit more palatable. Some fruits have more sugars in them naturally than others so be mindful of this when experimenting. I did a pineapple second ferment and left it for 5 days.. result… Kombucha and pineapple all over my kitchen! Ceiling! In my hair! Everywhere!!
If the Kombucha is sweet enough already when starting the second ferment then no need to add any more sugar.
Some of my favourite second ferment flavours are: passionfruit and ginger, chai spice tea and ginger, blueberry vanilla and cinnamon, pomegranate and cinnamon, ginger raspberry.
Celestial seasonings Bengal Spice tea is a great flavour to second ferment with. I usually add half half of this and Kombucha when doing the second ferment. When flavouring you only need to add about 10-20% of the fruit to 80-90% Kombucha per batch.
*Figures are approximate and vary from batch to batch.
Disclaimer: Do your research about whether cultured food and beverages are right for you. Be careful when experimenting with cultures and do so at your own risk. I have never had any problems with my own experiments but every batch and environment is different and take care with your own preparations.