This is number one in my series of probiotic elixirs and I am starting with kombucha.
I have been in love with kombucha for my very first sip … I am addicted so it seemed only natural to make it myself. Kombucha has great health benefits and probiotic goodness and while this certainly interested me, it was the amazing taste and the fizz that made me fall in love with this delightful elixir – I couldn’t stop drinking it. Once I discovered how to flavour my bucha a whole new world of flavours opened up. i was thrilled to discover it is super easy to make and home – so simple made of basics ingredients: tea and sugar, and of course, a scoby.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha starts out as a sweet sugar tea and it is then fermented with the help of a scoby. SCOBY is an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” It’s very similar to the mother’s you use to make vinegar though they do look different.The scoby eats most of the sugar in the tea, transforming the tea into a refreshingly fizzy and slightly sour fermented drink. Kombucha is low in calories and sugar.
There is a lot of discussion about why the scoby forms a jelly-like layer of cellulose on the top. I like the one that argues it protects the fermenting tea from the air and helps maintain a healthy environment for the scoby inside the jar and this keeps unfriendly bacteria out.
Scoby’s look weird no doubt about it but don’t let it put you of. They float, they are rubbery, a bit slippery and often have brown stringy bits hanging from them, but like magic the scoby transforms sugary tea into something fizzy and sour. It’s totally wild and wonderful. Pretty awesome to be sure.
- 2 litre glass jar
- food grade cheesecloth – something to secure it around the top of the jar
- 2 litre or bigger non-metallic bowl
- a funnel
- a strainer
- 2 x 1 litre glass bottles with flip tops or use plastic soda bottles
- 160 gms of sugar
- 4 – 5 teabags
- 2 litres of water
- 1 cup of starter tea
- 1 scoby
- Pour 2 litres of bowling water into a bowl (preferably non – metallic) and stir in the sugar to dissolve.
- Drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled (I do it overnight and place the plate on the top)
- Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea.
- Stir in the starter tea – 1 cup of mother brew called starter from your last batch of kombucha or use store bought kombucha. The starter tea makes the liquid acidic, which prevents unfriendly bacteria from taking up residence in the first few days of fermentation.
- Add your scoby to your jar then fill with tea to about 5cm form the top.
- Leave for around 7 – 10 days in a place out of direct sunlight. After 7 days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that suits you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.
- Take out the scoby before bottling then strain and bottle – remember to keep 1 cup of starter brew.
- Store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate.
- Refrigerate the finished kombucha.
It’s not unusual for the scoby to float at the top, bottom, or even sideways during fermentation. A new cream-colored layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. It usually attaches to the old scoby, but often they are separate. You may also see brown stringy bits floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles collecting around the scoby. These are all normal signs of healthy fermentation. At some point you will need to reduce the amount of scoby in your jar. You can either gift a scoby to a friend or feed it to your chickens or put it in your compost bin.
Kombucha starts with a neutral aroma and then will smell more vinegary as brewing progresses. If it starts to smell rotten, cheesy or or unpleasant, this is a sign that something has gone wrong with your brew. If you see no signs of mold on the scoby, discard the liquid and start again with fresh sugary tea. If signs of mold appear discard both the scoby and the liquid as you need to begin again with new ingredients.
A scoby will last a very long time. I have had mine for 5 years. If your scoby becomes black it has passed its use by date please discard it. If it develops green or black mold, it is has become infected again discard it and begin again.
Photo credit: Klara Avsenik – Unsplash; Megumi Nachev – Unsplash