Have you tried Kombucha yet? The delicious fermented tea has become a popular drink option in super markets, health food stores and cafes across the country and for good reason. Praised for it’s health benefits, packed full of antioxidants and probiotics, Kombucha is not only tasty but good for you too.
If you’re new to kombucha, then to put it simply, kombucha is simply fermented tea. What is fermentation you say? Fermentation is the process whereby microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast break down organic compounds (such as carbohydrates – i.e. sugars) into other simpler molecules. If you’re a little turned off by that thought, then it might surprise you to know that a lot of the common everyday foods you are familiar with such as bread, yoghurt, cheese, wine and beer owe their characteristic flavour to fermentation.
The human body can be considered a super organism comprised of thousands of cells, with bacteria estimated to outnumber human cells by 10 to 1. The gut itself is estimated to contain some 1000 distinct different bacterial species hosting some 100,000,000,000,000 micro organisms. It’s no surprise then that science has had a tough time proving that improving gut health can have a beneficial impact on your health, but recent studies have started to show just this, with links to a treatment for MS, protecting against type 1 diabetes, improving autism symptoms, influencing weight loss, treating peanut allergies, treating heart disease, improving cancer treatments and even affecting your brain!
Due to its popularity, commercial Kombucha can be quite expensive, costing up to $4 per bottle. The good news is, it’s relatively simple to make a big batch of your own Kombucha at home to last you. While a lot of people have been brewing their own Kombucha for years, it is definitely growing in popularity with many more jumping on the bandwagon and growing their own scoby’s to brew the tasty, healthy drink themselves.
If you want to take the leap and try your hand at making a brew, you can follow our simple instructions below for a delicious raspberry drink filled with antioxidants and probiotics.
What you will need:
- 2 litre glass jar
- 1 Kombucha scoby*
- 1 cup of fermented kombucha tea or vinegar^
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 3 teabags or 3 tablespoons of loose leaf black tea
- Boiling water
- Thin piece of cloth, such as cheese cloth or paper towel
*Kombucha scoby: This actually stands for “Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria & Yeast”, it is a living colony of bacteria and is what will eat the sweetened tea to create an acidic beverage filled with antioxidants and probiotics. A scoby may also be referred to as a ‘mother’ or ‘mushroom’. You can purchase scoby’s from health food stores or ask a friend who is already brewing their own Kombucha, they will probably be quite happy to let you take a spare scoby off their hands. ^Kombucha tea or vinegar: This is a previous batch of Kombucha (the vinegar is created when a tea brew has been left to brew for a longer period of time and become more acidic to create a vinegar). Again, this can be purchased from health food stores or may be acquired from a friend’s previous batch.
- Clean your hands and the glass jar before starting. Wash with water and then a final rinse in white vinegar.
- Pour sugar into the jar and top with boiling water (Ensure you leave enough room for the scoby and cup of Kombucha or vinegar – roughly 5cm or so).
- Add tea bags or tea strainer to the jar and leave to steep for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, remove the tea.
- Leave the sweet tea to cool completely to room temperature. If the scoby is added to hot water, it will die.
- Add the scoby and starter liquid to the tea.
- Cover the jar with a thin piece of cloth or paper towel and secure with a rubber band to ensure no bugs can get into the jar, this also allows the Kombucha to breathe.
- Place the jar in a relatively warm place away from any rubbish bins or composts. If the Kombucha is placed near any compost, the mould spores may contaminate the scoby. It is important to keep the Kombucha out of direct sunlight and in a spot that is not too cold or too hot.
- Leave the Kombucha to ferment for 7 – 20 days (this will take less time in the warmer months).
Fermenting time: The brewing time will be based on your personal taste preference, the longer it is left to ferment, the more acidic it will taste, eventually turning into Kombucha vinegar. After 8 days, you should start tasting your brew daily (ensure you rinse the spoon with white vinegar first), once it is at your preferred taste you can remove the scoby and a cup of the Kombucha to start a second batch and repeat the steps above. Your Kombucha can be bottled and enjoyed at this stage, however to make a raspberry Kombucha, you will need to complete a second ferment.
Recipe for Raspberry Kombucha A raspberry Kombucha is a delicious refreshing drink that is sweet and a little bit tangy, has a beautiful rich colour and is guaranteed to go down well with your friends and family.
What you will need:
- 1 Litre of Kombucha to your taste from previous batch
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries
- Add the raspberries to the jar with Kombucha.
- Place the lid on the jar so that it is airtight.
- Allow the Kombucha to steep for another 2-3 days. Be sure not to leave longer than this to prevent over pressurising your jar as it may explode.
- Taste the Kombucha and if you are happy with the flavour, remove the raspberries and bottle your delicious Kombucha.
Tip – Sealing your jar will prevent the gas created during your second ferment from escaping and will result in a carbonated “fizzy” taste. The raspberries can also be saved to use in smoothies, if you are not going to use them straight away freeze them so they do not spoil. If you are new to Kombucha, you should drink only a small amount at a time to allow your body to slowly adjust to the new beneficial microbes.
Additional notes on brewing Kombucha:
- APPEARANCE: During fermentation your SCOBY may develop brown stringy bits that hang from it. This is normal. It is also normal for your scoby to float or sink in the jar, have light or dark brown patches appear or develop holes or bumps. These changes generally reflect changes in your environment. If your scoby develops black or green mould you should throw away the batch and the scoby as it has become infected and start again with new ingredients.
- AROMA: Your kombucha will start out as a sweet smelling tea and gradually become more acidic and vinegary as the process continues. Rotton smells, the smells of off cheese or otherwise unpleasant aromas are a sign something has gone wrong and you should discard the batch and the scoby and start again with new ingredients.
- LIFESPAN: A scoby can last a long time, but it is a living organism so wont last forever. If your scoby turns black this is a sign it has passed its lifespan and should be replaced.
- BREWING EQUIPMENT: As kombucha can become quite acidic, you should avoid brewing in containers that react with acid such as steels and metals. Over time small amounts of the metal can react with the kombucha brew giving your brew a metallic taste. Glass is a great option and our preference.
- BREWING: If you have tried a number of times to make kombucha, but find you constantly end up with any of the above problems, consider your brewing methods. Kombucha is a living organism and you are feeding that organism a sweet tasty treat to eat. Any other organisms that exist on everything in your home (including your hands) will also want this treat and the only way to save it all for your scoby is to sterilise everything that will touch your kombucha. This means your glass jar, spoons, your hands and any other equipment. If you are confident everything is sterile and are still having problems, then check your scoby supply or the location where you store your kombucha to ferment.
Good luck and enjoy your healthy and tasty brew!