I’ve been experimenting with fermenting lately.
For about 6-8 months I’ve been brewing Kombucha. I have to tell you, my husband initially found my obsession quite bizarre. This was probably due to the whole SCOBY thing, which I admit does look a little gross. More about the SCOBY later…
So what is Kombucha?
Basically Kombucha is a fermented tea-based drink that uses a starter culture (SCOBY) to produce a beverage with probiotic properties and is low in sugar. Depending on the brew it can be fizzy (or not fizzy at all) and the taste can vary from tangy (like a vinegary tang) to a sweet tangy flavour. You can also flavour your Kombucha after the fermenting process to give it a different flavor all together.
You may have heard of Kombucha already because all of a sudden it’s super popular.
Most health food stores, and even my local IGA stock it. In places like About Life you will find close to a million different brands of Kombucha (well not quite a million but a lot). Commercial varieties come both pasteurised and unpasteurised. For children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems it may be best to drink the commercial pasteurised Kombucha. I’m not a Kombucha expert so before you start chugging it down you should check that it’s right for you.
I changed my diet earlier this year in an attempt to cut out sugar. As part of this journey I completed the I Quit Sugar 8 Week program and found Sarah Wilson and the IQS tea were into the whole Kombucha thing too. I got my first SCOBY from Alice Nichols from The Whole Daily (check out her blog she is fabulous) and since then I have been brewing my own Kombucha.
Kombucha is said to have many health benefits but there isn’t much research to back this up. Kombucha is made by adding a SCOBY to a sweetened tea mixture. The SCOBY is officially known as a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. The SCOBY often call the ‘Mother’ eats the sugar in the tea to ‘create’ the Kombucha beverage. IQS have a great post on their website which explains all the health benefits, but I drink it mainly because it’s low in sugar and good for your gut.
So if you are keen to have a crack at brewing your own Kombucha I have put some instructions below. This is how I brew my Kombucha but I encourage you to do your research to find the method that suits you. There’s a great book I reviewed recently called Fermentation for Beginners which is brilliant. Brewing your own Kombucha works out cheaper but you need to make sure that you do it correctly and under highly sanitary conditions.
- 2 litres of water (filtered rain water is best but I use tap)
- 4 tea bags (I use organic black tea)
- 1 cup of raw organic sugar
- 1/2 cup starter culture (Kombucha from a previous batch or from a commercially bought bottle)
- I boil the water in a big saucepan on the stove. Once the water is boiling I turn off the heat and place 4 tea bags in the water and let it steep for 15 minutes.
- Remove the teabags with a wooden spoon (I use wooden utensils as after research found that plastic and metal were not good to use). I then let the tea cool slightly before adding a cup of sugar. Stir through the sugar until completely dissolved. I’ve seen other recipes that use less sugar but I have found this amount of sugar produces the flavour I prefer.
- Once the sweetened tea mixture is completely cool I pour it into a tall glass jar. I them carefully place the SCOBY and the starter culture into the jar with the sweetened tea mixture.
- I place a piece of cheesecloth over the top of the jar and secure it with a rubber band. This keeps out dust, fruit flies and other yucky stuff. I usually place the container in the cupboard above my oven. It’s good to place it out of direct sunlight but were it can ‘breath’.
- I let my Kombucha brew for about 10-14 days. After 10-14 days I put the Kombucha into individual bottles. I use the empty (cleaned) bottles of the commercial Kombucha I have bought. You can then pop the bottles in your fridge.
- To make the Kombucha fizzy you may have to do a second ferment. The second ferment is done by I placing the Kombucha in individual bottles and keep them at room temperature in the cupboard for another 2-4 days.
But hey I don’t have a SCOBY or starter culture!
As I said I got my first scoby from Alice Nichols at the whole Daily. The wonderful Alice sells Kombucha starter kits for $35. It has all you need to get you started.
A few weird things
- Well the SCOBY it’s just plain weird.
- A new SCOBY will form at the top of your container. So you will get a ‘baby’ SCOBY every batch of Kombucha you brew. I have a SCOBY hotel, yep a hotel for your SCOBY. Check out this blog for more info on that!
- There will be stringy brown things floating in your Kobucha. These are normal sediment things and harmless but I actually like to strain these out (but I’m one of those people who hate orange juice with ‘bits’ in it).
Happy to answer any questions or would love to hear about your Kombucha obsession (don’t tell me I’m the only one).
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, naturopath or kombucha ‘expert’ so please check with with your doctor if you are unsure about consuming and brewing Kombucha. [Bit formal but…] Mummahh and Amanda Duncan (me) take no responsibility or liability for use of information in this post.