What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is fermented tea (green or black). It is a refreshingly fizzy, slightly bitter beverage that is relatively low in calories and sugar. The closest comparison I could come up with is cloudy silcillian lemonade. Kombucha starts out as a very sugary mix of tea and water. The scoby (bacteria & yeast) then eats the vast majority of the sugar in the fermentation process. It does also contain a little bit of alcohol as a by-product of the fermentation process. It is usually no more than 1% alcohol. Bottling a finished batch of kombucha and preparing the next should only take about 20 minutes every seven to ten days.
What is a scoby?
There is no getting around the fact that a scoby looks weird and not particularly appetising. It floats, it’s rubbery and very slippery. It can be light or dark brown in colour and stringy bits dangle from it, somewhat resembling a jelly fish. But as unpleasant as it looks it is essential for the fermentation process. It transforms sugary tea into kombucha. The bacteria and yeast form this jelly-like layer of cellulose at the top of the kombucha. It also protects the fermenting tea from the air and unfriendly bacteria. You can purchase a scoby from loads of home brew kombucha companies or get one from a friend like I did. The passing on of a kombucha is apparently a very spiritual process and you must name your scoby before the fermentation process. Mine is called George, everyone say hi George.
What are the health benefits?
- Aids digestion.
- Promotes good gut health.
- Packed with probiotics, like kefir, kimchi etc… (Gluconacetobacter 85%, Acetobacter 2%, Lactobacillus 30%, Zygosaccharomyces 95%). (Found by an article in the journal Food Microbiology).
- Very high in Glucaric acid (recent studies have shown that glucaric acid helps prevent cancer).
- Contains glucosamines, currently being used to treat arthritis and other joint pains.
- It possesses mood stabilising properties and is therefore being used to treat anxiety & depression.
- Strengthens the immune system through antioxidants.
- Boost energy through enzymes and b vitamins.
- 1 scoby
- 2L of water
- 5 green tea bags
- 140g of granulated cane sugar
- Boil the kettle.
- Add your tea bags and sugar to your fermenting container.
- Pour over the hot water and stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Allow it to steep until the water has cooled to room temperature. Depending on the size of your pot, this may take some time. I used 2L of water and mine took around 6 hours to cool. Equally feel free to leave it over night or pop it in the fridge.
- Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose leaf tea.
- Add your scoby light side up. Don't worry if it sinks, floats or hovers somewhere in between. As long as your scoby is healthy your kombucha will be healthy.
- Cover with a cheesecloth, tightly woven cloth, coffee filter, or paper towels and secure with an elastic band.
- Store in a dry and moderately warm environment, out of sun light. I put mine within a 2 meter radius of our house boiler and my friend keeps hers next to her aga.
- A new layer of scoby should start forming on the top surface of the kombucha within a few days of fermentation. It will usually attach itself to the old scoby, but it's ok if they separate. You may also see brown stringy bits floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles forming around the scoby. This is all normal and signs of a healthy fermentation process.
- Leave your kombucha to ferment for 7 days then strain off a sip and taste. Do this for the 7th, 8th, 9th & 10th day of fermentation. This will not only act as a learning process but a decision making process. Over these 4 days you will notice a slight change in colour, flavour and fizziness. It will be slightly lighter in colour, less sweet and more fizzy. I take mine off every 8 days, but how often you strain your batch is up to you.
- Strain off 1.5L into an airtight bottle and store at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate.
- Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.
- Prepare 1.5L of tea and sugar mixture as outlined above, leave to cool. Then add the cooled and strained tea to the 0.5L of kombucha left in the fermentation jar.
- Repeat every 8 days or so.
Kombucha will begin with a neutral aroma and then smell progressively more vinegary as brewing progresses.
Don't get the scoby or kombucha near metal. Metals, especially reactive metals such as aluminium, give the kombucha a metallic flavour and will gradually weaken your scoby.
Must keep out of sun light.
Don't put your strained kombucha straight in the fridge after fermentation. It needs time to carbonate (get fizzy).
The sugar gradually gets eaten up by the scoby in the fermentation process so the longer you ferment your kombucha the tarter it will taste and the shorter you ferment the sweeter it will taste.
Black tea tends to be the easiest and most reliable for the scoby to ferment into kombucha, but once your scoby is going strong, you can try green tea, white tea, oolong tea etc... but be sure to use at least a few bags of black tea in the mix to make sure the scoby is getting all the nutrients it needs. Avoid any teas that contain oils, like earl grey or flavoured teas.
Take care of your gut and your wallet with a HealthyJon kombucha.