How to make Kombucha
When I first saw a SCOBY I was like, ‘What on earth is that? A placenta?’ It grossed me out just to look at it, and then I had to touch it!
Once I got the hang of how to make kombucha, and noticed the benefits of the fermented probiotic-rich tea drink, I overcame my fear of the thing and now treat my SCOBIES as my babies, nurturing them, feeding them and praising them for giving me such delicious drinks week after week.
A SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. And that’s exactly what it is! It’s the living home for the bacteria and yeast that transforms sweet tea into tangy, fizzy kombucha!
What I love about SCOBIES is that they multiply … and multiply. You can keep increasing your quantity of beverages you’re making each week, or you can simply gift these to neighbours or friends.
Kombucha is traditionally made with black tea (or green tea, which is also amazing!) but I tend to make my kombucha with (mostly) rooibos tea to avoid too much caffeine (especially for my little ones), but also because I just love the taste.
So what is all the fuss about? Kombucha (also known as the tea of immortality) not only has a carbonated iced-tea taste, but has plenty of health benefits! It is a rich source of probiotic which provide healthy bacteria for a healthy gut. Probiotics improve digestion, inflammation and even weight loss. Kombucha also has disease-fighting antioxidants which your body needs to protect your cells from damage.
There isn’t ONLY ONE WAY to make kombucha. I play with quantities, flavours and fermentation time … and once you get the basics down you can have so much fun making it your own.
3L Glass jar
Muslin cloth with elastic (kitchen towel or coffee filter will do)
Plastic / silicone sieve
Plastic / silicone funnel
Wooden spoon (no metal to be used)
Bottles with lids (eg Grolsh style glass bottles, or jars with tight fitting lids)
(Makes 2 litres)
1 SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) – get one from a friend or you can buy a starter kit online
1 Cup Starter Tea ie Kombucha (either store-bought / from your last batch / or usually comes with a SCOBY)
¾ Cup Sugar (Most recipes call for 1 Cup but I find ¾ cup is sufficient) – Don’t worry, the sugar gets eaten by the culture!
6 Organic Rooibos Teabags (or equivalent loose tea leaves)
2 Organic caffeinated Ceylon teabags (English Breakfast / Black tea or equivalent loose tea leaves)
Add any of the following to each bottle and play with combinations until you find your favourite:
Fruit Juice (apple, mango, berry, cranberry, orange, grapefruit)
Fruit pieces (blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, mango, pineapple – this one makes it really fizz!)
Lemon (I squeeze lemon juice in the bottle and also add some rind)
Herbs & spices (try chai spices, basil, lavender, cinnamon)
There are many ways to put this all together, so feel free to work out a system that works best for you. Here are some guidelines:
Place your rooibos and Ceylon teabags in a heat-resistant glass jug and cover with boiling water and let it steep for at least 15 minutes.
In a separate jug/bowl add the sugar and cover with boiling water. Stir until dissolved.
Once the tea and sugar solution have cooled completely to room temperature pour the tea and sugar solution into a 3L glass jar.
Pour in the starter tea (kombucha) and top up the glass jar with cold, filtered water.
Slide in your SCOBY with clean hands (I wash my hands with vinegar before touching the SCOBY). The SCOBY has a will of its own. It may either sink to the bottom or float to the top. It may also develop brown stringy bits floating beneath it, and will eventually form another layer (I call it a baby) either beneath or on top of the original SCOBY. This can eventually be separated and used to make a separate batch or give it away.
Cover the mouth of the jar with muslin cloth, paper towel, or a coffee filter and an elastic band to keep out fruit flies.
Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Leave it to ferment for 7 to 10 days, checking the kombucha and the scoby periodically. In warmer months it takes 6-7 days to reach the perfect balance between sweet & sour. In winter I leave it for about 10 days.
Pour the kombucha into clean glass bottles with a cap / lid (Grolsh bottles work well or I use a 2 litre glass jar with lid for a big batch) through a funnel and sieve (to avoid the strands pouring into the bottles). Leave about an inch or two from the top of the bottle to allow for fruit and fizz. Keep about 1 cup of the kombucha in the jar with the SCOBY. You will use this to start the next batch.
Once you have poured the kombucha into the bottles, this is when the fun begins.
I sometimes drink the kombucha at this stage, or move on to the SECOND FERMENTATION stage where I add my flavours such as a bit of fruit juice, fruit pieces, or chunks of ginger with lemon juice.
Leave at room temperature for a few days until the brew is even more fizzy.
Place in the fridge after a couple days to stop it carbonating any further and consume within one month.
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