How to Make Kombucha
By Rose Langbein
Keep your gut happy and healthy.
Kombucha is a fermented tea that's great for your gut and surprisingly easy to make. You'll need to beg, borrow or buy a piece of scoby (symbiotic colony of organic bacteria and yeast) from someone who already makes kombucha, or they can be ordered online for home delivery. This is a live bacteria, which means you need to look after it. Think of it like a small child that needs to be fed (sugar), sheltered (no direct sunlight) and kept warm (not in the fridge). It will grow a new layer on the surface of the liquid with each batch, and to be honest can look a little freaky, but don't let that deter you from brewing your own kombucha at home – it's fun, much more affordable and environmentally sustainable than buying kombucha, and a great opportunity to learn more about fermented foods.
You can use this recipe as a basic guideline and be a bit creative with it – everyone likes to brew their 'booch a little differently. The amount of sugar you use, the type of tea you use, how long you brew it for, and what additional flavours you choose to add will all affect the outcome of your brew.
What you will need:
½ cup sugar
3-4 green tea bags and/or fruit tea bags
1 cup kombucha (from your previous brew, or use unpasteurized neutral-flavoured store-bought kombucha)
a large jar (2 litres) for brewing
a piece of breathable cloth, such as muslin
string or a large rubber band, to secure cloth
Boil a kettle of water. Place sugar and tea bags in the jar. Fill jar almost to the top with boiling water. Give it a good stir to dissolve the sugar, then leave to steep until the water has cooled to room temperature. Remove tea bags from jar. Add kombucha. Add scoby. Cover with a clean, breathable cloth and secure with a rubber band or string.
Set aside in a warm place, out of direct sunlight for 7-10 days until bubbles start to form under the scoby and the kombucha is fizzy but not vinegary. Don't use metal implements when touching your scoby as they can damage it. Don't be alarmed if the scoby moves around a bit during fermentation, and if brown stringy bits start floating around beneath the scoby – this is all normal and part of the fermentation process.
A new layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. This will likely attach to the old scoby but it's okay if they separate. Once the kombucha tastes good, remove the scoby and a cup of liquid from the jar to use for your next brew, then strain your brewed kombucha through a muslin cloth into glass bottles.
Leave them at room temperature for a few days if you want them to get bubblier, then transfer to the fridge. At this stage you can add any juice, fruit or herbs you may want to use as flavouring (strawberries and mint are delicious, as are lemon and ginger). It will keep in the fridge for about a month. Pour through a strainer when serving to remove any stringy bits.
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