I guess I have been doing a series on fermentation here! Check out my recent articles on Yogurt, Sourdough, and Kefir. Today it is Kombucha…
You have likely seen pricey bottles of Kombucha tea in health stores. What is Kombucha exactly and why is it such a hot health food item right now?
Kombucha is actually a fermented tea that has been held in high esteem for its healthy and medicinal properties for a long time. It is antimicrobial, hepatoprotective (protects your liver), antioxidative, full of B vitamins, and it contains both live yeast and live bacteria that is beneficial to our bodies. All of these properties make it a wonderful drink for those who are experiencing illness and immunity problems, especially those who need to heal and normalize a gut imbalance. It has been used medicinally for centuries in many different cultures and is still going strong in this regard today.
Since Kombucha can be pricey to buy in stores many people are opting to make it themselves at home. Instead of $5 for a small bottle you can make your own for less than $1.50 a gallon. The process and the guidelines can seem daunting at first but once you churn out your first few batches of this delicious tea you you will be an old pro.
What you Need to Make the Kombucha Tea
The first thing you need is a Kombucha culture. They are often called a mushroom, mother culture, or SCOBY, which is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. Just as you add kefir grains to milk to ferment it and make kefir drinks you need a culture for this fermented tea as well. The Kombucha mother/culture looks like a flat grayish white pancake that floats on top of the tea and you need one of these to get started making your own. You can grow one but most people choose to either get one from a friend who makes Kombucha or from an online source who sells live cultures. When you get them from an online source they come dehydrated and you have to rehydrate them before use. You can then use the same culture over and over.
In addition to the mother culture you will need 2-3 black or green tea bags, a quart size glass jar, organic unbleached cane sugar (white), and a towel or paper coffee filter to cover the jar. Using other teas or sweeteners can throw off the pH level of your tea and make it unsafe to drink.
How to Make Your Own Kombucha Tea
Add a ¼ cup of the sugar to your jar and a cup of very hot or boiling water. Swirl the jar around for a few seconds to dissolve the sugar and then pour in more hot water until the jar is ¾ full. Put your tea bags in the jar and let it steep for 10 to 20 minutes. Let it cool completely. For your very first batch add ½ cup of vinegar. On subsequent batches forgo the vinegar and instead add a ½ cup of tea from a previous batch of Kombucha. Now add your mother culture to the jar and cover with your coffee filter. A rubber band around the rim to seal it closed is helpful because a sugar tea on the counter can attract bugs.
Let it sit in a warm spot (at least 70 degrees) for at least six days and on up to thirty. As long as you have a new culture that has formed at the top it is ready to drink. The culture will form over time via a white/gray haze that forms on the top of the jar. If you spot any green, black or orange, coloring then that is most likely mold and you will need to toss it and start over.
How long you let it sit depends on the flavor you like. At around six days of fermentation it will be fairly sweet. Thirty days will result in a sour tea with more health benefits. Choose the fermentation time that best suits you. You can also add concentrated juices to add flavor. We personally add concentrated cherry juice to make Cherry Kombucha and we add chia seeds to ours as well. We love all the variety!
For more info on making Kombucha check out Kombucha Phenomenon: The Miracle Health Tea: How to Safely Make and Use Kombucha.
Top Photo Credit: dontodd