Kombucha

Wow. This fizzy, tangy drink is a fermented, probiotic, gut-healing tea that’s super-easy to make at home.

I first learned about kombucha from the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast, and when it turned up in the fridge at my local organic store, I bought it to try. After one sip, I was addicted.

Usually I just drink water, to avoid drinking calories and to keep my intake of sugar and fake sweeteners pretty much at zero. But with kombucha, I have a drink to enjoy with a pre-dinner snack or at social gatherings, and I can trust that it’s only doing me good.

The recipe for home-made kombucha that I followed is from www.thekitchn.com, and it includes some good background information about what kombucha is as well as how to make it.

You need a scoby!

You’ll need to buy or grow a scoby, which is a jelly-like disc of cellulose formed by the bacteria and yeast in the kombucha. I grew my own, following the instructions from www.thekitchn.com, and it worked out brilliantly. It’s the creamy coloured stuff floating on top of the kombucha “tea” in the pictures below.

I grew my scoby in a cupboard in my kitchen that I don’t open very often, which provides a dark and still place for the scoby to thrive. It simply began with some store-bought kombucha drink, sugar, water and tea. It took about two weeks for the scoby to grow out of the mixture.

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Making kombucha is easy…

I’m not going to post the instructions for making kombucha here, as I’d just be duplicating what www.thekitchn.com already has done brilliantly. So go ahead and get the details here, and I’ll just share photos of the progress of making my own kombucha below.

I boiled 2 litres of water, then turned off the heat and added 2/3 cup rapidura sugar, 3 teabags of standard black tea, and about 2 tbps of jasmine green tea. But I’ve also experimented with raw sugar from cane, and with other herbal teas like lime-mint and rosehip. I’m also going to try ginger tea too.

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This is the tea brew, cooling to room temperature, before I add the scoby and 2/3 cup of the previous batch of kombucha to start the fermentation:

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And fermentation begins:

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After a week, I tasted the brew and liked the balance of sweet versus tang, so poured out most of the kombucha into 500ml bottles I saved from store-bought ‘booch’ (you sound cooler when you shorten it to ‘booch’). I am also experimenting with trying just 4 or 5 days when the weather is warmer, because I’ve noticed the new scoby grows quite rapidly when it’s warmer.

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These bottles sit on the bench for about 2 to 3 days, for bubbles to form, then in the fridge they go until chilled, ready to drink and enjoy.

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Note that each batch grows a new scoby. The old scoby can be used again, so I give this to friends who want to start out, otherwise it goes into the compost. I can’t bring myself to eat it, as some people apparently do.

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