A bunch of people have been asking me about my Kombucha making adventures since I posted on Instagram a while back. The truth is that it is fairly new to me and I have been experimenting with different brewing lengths and different flavours. I am now really happy with the delicious kombucha that I’m making and am ready to share this simple recipe with you!
Please note that every batch of kombucha will be different as you are fermenting a live organism. What you produce will greatly be affected by the environment it is fermented in; the equipment shape and material, the temperature, the sanitation etc. Please use your good judgement and never consume kombucha that appears or smells unpleasant.
Kombucha is a probiotic like yoghurt, sauerkraut and kefir. It is said to be loaded with beneficial bacteria which can assist with your immunity, digestion (keep you regular) and overall gut health. Some store bought brands can be high in added sugar and very expensive. My local health food store sells single serving bottles for $8.95. I make six of the same size bottle for the cost of 8 teabags and a cup of sugar (after having sorted my equipment). That’s quite a saving on this delicious gut friendly beverage!
3.8L brewing jar made of glass (glass is by the far the most preferred option as it won’t react to the acidity of the brew)
cheesecloth/gauze/tight-weave dish towel to cover the top of the jar but allow the mixture to breathe
elastic band or string to secure the material tightly and prevent bugs or flies from finding their way in
6 bottles to store kombucha in (I use Grolsh bottles as they are perfect for this)
8 teabags of black tea, preferably organic - black tea is the traditional option and I like the bold taste English Breakfast offers but you could use Oolong, Red, White or Green tea (not herbal tea though - it typically doesn’t contain the right nutrients to nourish the SCOBY and may also contain essential oils that could harm the SCOBY)
1 cup of cane sugar - pesticide free/organic
1 SCOBY (see below)
1 cup of starter liquid (kombucha from a previous batch)
water - filtered water is preferred
OPTIONAL: fruit for flavouring
So, what is a SCOBY?
SCOBY is short for “Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast”. It is the gelatinous substance that acts as the mother culture or the home for the bacteria and yeast that transform your batch of sweet tea into a batch of beautiful fizzy Kombucha. You can purchase dehydrated starter cultures online or if you know of someone who brews their own kombucha, you can ask them for a SCOBY as a new one grows with each batch so they should be able to spare you one in the near future if not immediately.
Boil enough water to almost fill your brewing jar, leave enough space to eventually add the cup of starter liquid and the SCOBY.
Add the cup of sugar to the hot water and stir until it has dissolved.
Add the teabags to the hot sugar water. You can take them out after 15 minutes or, as I do for a stronger taste, leave the teabags in until the liquid has cooled.
Leave the liquid to cool to between 60 -70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the teabags and add the starter liquid and SCOBY.
Secure the gauze to the the top of the jar with the plastic band or string. Spray the gauze with some white vinegar to protect it from mould.
Leave out of direct sunlight for 7-10 days. I leave it for 10 days as I don’t like it too sweet. If you leave it for a shorter amount of time it will be a bit sweeter.
Remove the SCOBY and a cup or so of liquid to use as the starter liquid for your next batch.
Decant the kombucha liquid into the bottles you wish to store it in and for a bit of fizz, do a second ferment by leaving these sealed bottles out of direct sunlight for a further three days.
OPTIONAL: add flavours to your bottles (my faves are ginger, kiwi & mint, blueberries, you can get creative and experiment with whatever takes your fancy. Let me know what awesome combinations you come up with!)
After these three days, “burp” your kombucha by opening each bottle and gently letting a bit of gas out. These can now go in the fridge and are ready to be enjoyed.
Tips on handling the SCOBY
Thoroughly wash your hands ensuring they are clean. Rinse them in white distilled vinegar. Alternatively use clean sandwich bags as gloves to pick up and handle the SCOBY. Keep an eye on the health of your SCOBY. The oldest layer is on the bottom and the newest is on the top. If it gets too thick, the kombucha will start to taste vinegary so you will want to peel it apart to separate it and discard the oldest layer.
Kombucha is a great alternative to light beer as it has similar substance and is not dissimilar to some ciders in taste. It's a beautifully refreshing drink to crack open after a hot day. I hope you enjoy making/drinking your own kombucha as much as I enjoy it! Do let me know what wonderful flavour combinations you come up with :)