Kombucha Low Down
So what is Kombucha? If you have been following my instagram stories (instagram.com/healthytravelmama) you’ve seen my recent obsession with brewing and fermenting my own Kombucha. No doubt you can find some at your local grocery store typically in the produce section. I started drinking kombucha in 2009 when a friend recommended it to me for some stomach issues I was having at the time and I was instantly hooked. I drank the synergy brand for the longest time but those puppies run about $3-4 a bottle and that really adds up. I have no idea why I waited 10 years to actually start brewing this myself but it has saved me SO much money and since moving to the UK I haven’t found a brand I really enjoy here. Taking matters into my own hands and brewing my kombucha seemed daunting at first until I learned how simple and fun it actually is! Before we jump into making our own let me explain a little what kombucha is.
Kombucha is best described as a probiotic health drink, it is a fermented tea with whats called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) inside that aids the fermentation process. When placed in brewed tea with sugar, the SCOBY’s bacteria breaks down the sugar in the tea and converts them into carbon dioxide, alcohol and acids. During this fermentation process the amount of probiotics increases which helps your gut maintain a healthy biome. Healthy biome leads to better digestion and aids in common problems such as depression, weight loss, lowered cholesterol, increased immunity and so much more. So with that said let’s get into the recipe! if you would like to hear more about the science behind this or the benefits please leave a comment below and I would love to do a follow up post!
-1 Large canning jar or glass vessel
-1 cup Kombucha (Previously brewed)
-8 Tea bags (Green, Black or white tea only)
-1-1 1/2 cup Organic Cane Sugar
-Clean cloth and rubber band to put on top of jar
1.Fill Large jar with boiling water or only half way if you are in a pinch for time.
2. Add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.
3. Steep tea bags in the water for a MINIMUM of 10 minutes, the longer you let the tea steep the stronger it will be. I tend to leave mine for 30 minutes to an hour. Cover with cloth during this process to keep out any bugs.
4. Remove tea bags and let sit until it reaches room temperature or cool enough as to not kill the SCOBY. In a pinch for time? Fill jar only half way with boiling water and after bags have steeped fill the rest with cold water to cool down quicker.
5. Place breathable cloth on top and rubber band to secure it in place.
6. Place in your kitchen or somewhere at room temperature and in normal natural light, no need to hide in the dark. Depending on your homes natural temperature it could take longer or shorter to ferment. If your house is a little on the warmer side you could see a quicker ferment as soon as 5 days. You’ll need to observe this over your first few batches to see how things develop in your situation.
7. Let sit a minimum of 7 days and as long as 30 days. The longer it sits to ferment the less sweet it will become as the bacteria eats the sugar. If you like yours on the sweeter side like I do then 7-10 days will be plenty.
8. Taste your tea! This will tell you if it’s too sweet or starting to become too bitter. Once it reaches a vinegary tasting point there is no going back and probably won’t be that good so keep monitoring it every couple days.
9. At your liking? Bottle it up! Remove your SCOBY and 1 cup of the tea to use on another batch in the future. I use dark flip top glass bottle for bottling mine (linked below) and have never had an issue with the carbonation forming.
At this point your tea is ready for whats called the second ferment. You may have noticed little bubbles rising in your jar and that natural carbonation forming is great, nothing is wrong with your tea so don’t be concerned. You can drink it as is if you don’t wish to second ferment, it is perfectly safe to consume at that point. If you choose to want more bubbles and even some flavor second fermenting is where you add those flavors! I have been a fan of pineapple and apple pear lately. I will write another little post on the second fermentation process so let me know what kind of flavors you like so I can incorporate some fun recipes.
-It is is ok for your SCOBY to be ugly. Unless there is fuzz growing on top or bugs in it you are good to go.
-Your SCOBY will grow a SECOND one every single batch. You will start with the one SCOBY and end with two. This is great to continue the process but after a while you will have quite and few. There is also other uses for SCOBY’s I have yet to explore so as I do so I will be sure to write about it. I’ve even read you can make SCOBY jerky!
-ALWAYS wash your hands during any part of the process that you are handling the SCOBY. Your SCOBY is a live organism and adding your excess germs could be detrimental for it’s health and ability to create great kombucha.
-DO NOT use metal canning top or lid that comes with jars, you’re kombucha needs to be able to breathe so make sure you use a cloth.
-Many people dislike using fluoridated water or tap, use which ever kind of water you are most comfortable with, I use water from my Brita filter.
-When you start to have quite a few SCOBY’s from other batches you can create a “SCOBY Hotel”. Which is basically a jar filled with your SCOBY’s and tea. These will ensure you have plenty of SCOBY’s to use in the future.