Kombucha is a fizzy fermented tea based drink, I call it the ‘healthy soft drink’. It requires just four ingredients (tea, water, sugar and SCOBY mushroom) and really is super easy to make. A SCOBY (also know as ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast’) is a pancake like mushroom that metabolises the sugar and tea resulting in a beverage consisting of billions of probiotics.
Once the batch is brewed, you can add your own flavours, from berries to ginger, it really is a delightful vitamin and mineral rich drink!
What you will need
3 litres water
3/4 cup organic sugar
3 teaspoons (or bags) of organic black tea
3 litre glass jar (with wide top)
Cheesecloth or coffee filter (for top of glass jar)
Large elastic band
1 bottle raw kombucha (original flavour)
Glass bottles with clip lids
How to make a SCOBY
Before beginning. rinse the 3L glass jar with hot water 3-4 times, do not use soap, just water
1) Get out your purchased bottle of kombucha, make sure it is unpasteurised and not flavoured. Pour the entire bottle into the 3L glass jar, cover with coffee filter and secure with elastic band. Store in a warm place (but out of direct sunlight) of the house, around 24°C, if it’s cold weather, on top of the fridge is a good spot.
2)It will take about three weeks to grow a SCOBY. You will notice a white flat pancake form on top of the jar and the mixture will smell like vinegar, this means your Mother SCOBY has formed! Keep checking on it every few days, making sure that there is no mould, if there is you will need to start again.
How to make kombucha
1) Boil 3 litres of water, once boiled, remove from the stove and add tea, let the tea sit for 15-20 minutes.
2) Strain the water into large bowl (making sure no tea leaves enter bowl and the bowl has been rinsed with hot water) add the sugar, stir until dissolved. Put aside until cool. The tea mixture must be cool before the next step
3) Wash your hands well, making sure they are clean of any soap. Rinse a plate with hot water, carefully remove the SCOBY from the jar and place on the plate. Pour the new tea mixture into the 3L glass jar which already has the original kombucha mixture.
4) Carefully pick up the SCOBY and place it into the jar (it may sink to the bottom, this is okay, if the mixture has completely cooled, it will be fine). Place the coffee filter on top and secure the elastic band. Put back into the storage spot.
5) It will take 7-10 days to make the final kombucha. At 7 days (this is when I find the best flavour), have a taste, the longer you leave it the more tart it will become.
6) Using a clean plate, carefully (with washed hands) pick up the SCOBYs, there will be another SCOBY now, which is known as the ‘baby’. Put the baby into a glass jar with some of the kombucha mixture and the mother onto the plate. The mother will be thicker. To brew more kombucha, use the mother, along with 1 cup of the mixture you have just made and begin at step 1 again. You can do the same with the baby (in a separate 3L jar) or give it away for someone else to use.
7) Rinse the bottles (I use the ones with the clip lids) well with hot water. Using a funnel, pour mixture into each bottle, be sure to leave a 50ml gap so there is room for the kombucha to fizz. Make sure that the lid is on tight as this will give you better results with your kombucha. If you prefer less fizz put your kombucha straight into the fridge. For more carbonation, leave the kombucha at room temperature for 2-3 days (after you have flavoured it, see below), this is how I like it, it taste just like soda only healthy!
How to flavour your kombucha
Kombucha has very little sugar, as it is metabolised by the SCOBY, and can be quite tart. I like to add a tiny bit of sweetness from fruit by playing around with different flavours. For every cup of kombucha add 1 tbsp of fruit (fresh or frozen) or fruit juice or 1 1/2 tsp of dried fruit. Adding sugar will also help the kombucha to become more carbonated, giving you that delightful fizziness.
A favourite flavour of mine is ginger. For every cup of kombucha add 1 1/2 tsp freshly sliced ginger, 1 1/2 tsp water and 1/4 tsp of honey (or organic sugar). Remember, even though you are adding sugar, it will be almost sugar free as the SCOBY metabolises the sugar. Put the water, ginger and sugar in a small bowl, mix for a few minutes so that the water takes on the ginger flavour, strain and pour into the bottle of kombucha. I also add a slice of ginger to the bottle of kombucha for extra flavour.
The size bottle you store your kombucha in will determine how much flavouring you need to add. Mine is usually stored in 500ml bottles so I simply double the amounts above. Explore different flavours until you find your favourites. I like berries in the summer time, as they can be really refreshing, and ginger in the cooler weather.
Enjoy your healthy drink with meals to aid proper digestion and assimilation of vitamins and minerals from your food. A cup or two a day is a good amount.