I’ve been addicted to kombucha from the first sip. It was the way it tasted – sweet and sour, and fizzy! I couldn’t believe that something this delicious could also be healthy due to probiotics inside of it. Or that I could make it at home with a few ingredients!
Justinas though has a different story becoming addicted to this drink. At first when I told him about this delicious drink he didn’t seemed impressed. But after he actually tried it in Asia, he started to love it and has brew in large quantities ever since.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is known as the “Immortal Life Elixir” by the Chinese and originated 2,000 years ago. This beverage has basic ingredients such as yeast, sugar and tea. The bacteria and yeast eat most of the sugar in the tea, transforming the tea into a refreshingly fizzy, slightly sour fermented (but mostly non-alcoholic) beverage that is relatively low in calories and sugar.
The resulting liquid contains vinegar, B vitamins and chemical compounds – probiotics.
“SCOBY” is actually an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”. It’s rubbery and a bit slippery, brown stringy bits hang from it, and it transforms sugary tea into something magical.
It protects the fermenting tea from the air and helps maintain a very specific environment inside the jar that is shielded from outsiders, other unfriendly bacteria. I like the idea that it’s a mobile home for friendly bacteria and yeast, traveling from one jar to another.
So you probably started wandering – what’s actually in kombucha? Apart from probiotics and vitamins there are claims that it prevents a variety health problems. It boosts your immune system as it’s naturally high in antioxidants this way it naturally supports the immune system. Kombucha helps to improve your digestion too. While it contains billions of beneficial bacteria, enzymes and acids that help to keep the gut in balance.
Some people find it a healthier substitute for sodas, satisfying that craving for a fizzy drink. This fizzy fermented tea is an attractive alternative to other carbonated beverages and provides probiotics and nutrients not present in soda. Kombucha also contains less sugar than soft drinks. The sugar in the recipe is simply the food for the beneficial bacteria and is largely consumed during the fermentation process.
Recipe for Brewing
Makes about 3 litres
- 3 L water
- 1 cup sugar (regular granulated sugar)
- 8 bags green or black tea (or 2 tablespoons loose tea)
- 1 cup starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought kombucha (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored)
- 1 scoby per fermentation jar (you can get it from a friendly kombucha brewer or purchase online)
- Optional flavoring extras for bottling
- 1 to 2 cups chopped fruit
- 2 to 3 cups fruit juice
- 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh herbs or spicesEquipment
- Stock pot
- 3 L glass jar
- Tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels)
- Bottles: 4 250 ml glass bottles with swing-top bottles
- Small funnel
STEP 1: Mix all ingredients: boiled water, sugar and tea. Put it aside to cool to the room temperature
STEP 2: Add the SCOBY to the lukewarm tea. Leave the culture in tea for 7 to 10 days.
STEP 3: Taste you kombucha before bottling to ensure a perfect balance of fizziness and flavour. And if it’s perfect, start the bottling. Remove the scoby from the jar and set it on a clean plate. Check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick. Measure out 1 cup of komucha from this batch and set it aside for the next batch.
STEP 4: Store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. You can add desirable flavours if you like to. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.
P.S. It’s not unusual for the scoby to float at the top, bottom, or even sideways during fermentation. A new cream-colored layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. It usually attaches to the old scoby, but it’s ok if they separate.
Good luck and tell us how did it go at the comments below!
All words by Eisve Treciakauskaite and all images by Justinas Lekavicius, unless otherwise noted.