How to make kombucha

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After mastering the art of making sauerkraut and kefir, it was time to move on to this refreshingly, tangy beverage, kombucha. And I’ve since turned into a kombuchaholic.

Kombucha is crafted by fermenting sweetened tea using a culture known as a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) or “mother” that looks like a giant mushroom. It took me a long time to make kombucha because the SCOBY freaked me out a bit. But once I got over that, it was simple to make and I realise that there was nothing scary about that slimy, shiny pancake looking thing. You actually grow to love it, and you give it a name and feed it. It really becomes your baby.

To make the kombucha, you simply add a SCOBY to room temperature sweetened tea with some finished kombucha. In just over a week, the sweet tea ferments and turns into a living health drink. Don’t worry about the sugar content because the bacteria consumes most of the sugar during fermentation. So basically, the longer it ferments the less sugar it will contain.

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You can’t make kombucha without a SCOBY. This shiny pancake looking thing is the foundation of kombucha making. Obtaining a SCOBY is easy if you know someone who makes kombucha because every new kombucha produces a new SCOBY so they are bound to have extra SCOBY babies ready for a new family. ¬†You can also check with your local health food store, that’s where I found mine for free. You could also go on Facebook and look for a local fermentation group and find someone near you with an abundance of supply. Last resort is to purchase one online or grow your own from store-bought kombucha.

Like other live fermented food, Kombucha is beneficial to health. It is is good for gut health, detoxifies the body, and reduces sugar cravings. Some people have also reported miracles to this delicious drink, but no need to get all hyped up about it. Take it easy, try some and see how it makes YOU feel.

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Ingredients

12 cups of water/3 litres
3/4 cup cane sugar
6 teabags
3/4 cup kombucha
1 SCOBY
Glass jar (to fit 3 litres)
A clean tea towel to cover the kombucha and rubber band.

Method

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then turn off the heat. Add the tea bags and steep for 10-15 minutes. Remove the the tea bags, add in the sugar and mix until dissolved.

Let it cool to room temperature, then pour into a glass jar. Add the kombucha and scoby, and cover with a tea towel secured with a rubber band. The tea towel keeps dust, mold, and flies out. Store in a warm and dark place at a room temperature between 21 to 29 degrees.

Now it’s time to wait for the magic to take place, let it sit on the counter top for 7-15 days.¬†After a few days, you will notice a skin forming on top of the kombucha – don’t panic this is the new SCOBY being formed.

Taste the kombucha every couple of days from the 5th day, if it’s still too sweet let it go for longer then taste it again after a few days. The tea should be tart not sweet.

Once the tea is fermented to your taste, transfer to glass bottles and keep refrigerated. Remember to reserve some of the tea for your next batch. You should now have a new SCOBY. Start a new batch, and use either of them or both.

You could also do a second ferment (2F), where you add flavour to it when you bottle it up and leave it at the count for another 12-24 hrs. This increases carbonation and fizziness.

To avoid bottle explosion during 2F, please only use bottles which are suitable for fermentation.

Additional notes

Your SCOBY may float or sink to the bottom, this is perfectly fine and makes no difference to your kombucha.

If you notice mold on your SCOBY, throw out both the tea and SCOBY. This is very rare and I haven’t come across it.

When you ferment your kombucha for too long it turns into vinegar. I once had one batch turn into vinegar after four weeks. You will know from the taste if you have fermented it for too long, just use it as you would any other vinegar.

Experiment and have fun.