Kombucha is a fermented drink made from a Scoby (mushroom), black tea and sugar. It is purported to have many healing and health giving qualities - read all about it here. You can make your own for a fraction of the store- bought cost with this recipe.
1. A large 4 litre ceramic or glass container, or Mason style jar – some discount shops have them with taps for less than $20.00.
2. Wooden stirrer
3. Lightweight cover (clean stocking works perfectly) with rubber band to attach.
1. Scoby - (this is the mushroom/culture that ferments the tea). You can obtain Scobies from friends, Gumtree, EBay and searching the Internet.
2. Black tea – 2 tablespoons of loose or 8 small tea bags.
3. Starter tea – from a previous batch of Kombucha, bought bottle of Kombucha. If unavailable you can use distilled white vinegar (spend that extra 2 dollars for naturally brewed) or pasteurised Apple Cider Vinegar.
4. Filtered water – 4 Litres. If you can’t get filtered – make sure you boil it for 5 minutes (put the tea in to brew at the same time).
5. Sugar – 1 cup
1. Thoroughly clean hands and all equipment.
2. Make sweet tea. If your water is not filtered add all water, tea and sugar to a large saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes. If your water is filtered use enough boiled water to make a decent brew and add the sugar. All liquid needs to be at room temperature before adding to the Scoby or you will kill it (Scoby is a living culture full of good bacteria – probiotics).
3. Add cooled and strained tea to the fermenting jar.
4. Add scoby to the fermenting jar.
5. Cover the top of the fermenting jar with a breathable yet protective fabric (stockings, nylon mesh, muslin, thin cotton etc...)
6. Place in warm, dim lit area of the kitchen.
7. Start tasting after 3 days but don’t be surprised if it takes 7 days to be ready. It will have a sweet and sour taste and be almost pleasant.
8. Choose to keep as is in the fridge as Kombucha tea or continue on to make Kombucha Soda.
9. Remove the liquid out of the 4 litre jar, leaving about 2 cups for the new starter tea - remember to keep the scoby as well.
10. If keeping as tea you can bottle it up in sterile bottles or jars and ensure that the lids are on.
1. Flavouring of choice – fruit juice, herbs, spices, herb tea or vitamised fruit. I use about 2 cups full. A very popular flavour is grated ginger to make ginger beer.
2. If and only if, you have not used fruit or fruit juice as the flavouring - add ¼ - ¾ cup of natural sweetener such as sugar, honey, or molasses to sweeten and cause fermentation. I have added stevia leaves but I don’t think they aid fermentation.
The Kombucha tea should taste quite sweet but not sickly. About the same as two heaped teaspoons of sugar in a cup of tea or coffee.
1. If there is room in your jar you can add straight to the jar, otherwise use plastic bowls or a clean new bucket for mixing. Never use metal though brief contact with stainless steel seems harmless.
2. Dissolve any sweetener and completely cool before adding.
3. Mix flavourings of your choice and taste test. The mixture will retain most of the flavour but it will change slightly. The fermentation process will use up a lot of the sugar so that your end result should taste a bit sweet.
4. Check after day 2 but it might take a few more days in cold weather. Check after 1 day in hot weather. To check – slowly open the lid over a sink and taste it. It should be quite bubbly similar to soft drink. When it is ready pour the Kombucha Soda into bottles with plastic tops and refrigerate. It will stop fermenting once it is refrigerated.
Congratulations on making your first lot of Kombucha Soda and may you continue to enjoy it for a very long time.
Notes and trouble shooting
• To begin with stick with black tea. When you have a spare scoby you can practice with Rooibos (pronounced royboss) and other green teas. I use Rooibos because it does not have caffeine and has many other purported health qualities. Just ensure that the scoby also has time in brewed black tea to survive.
• It is important not to add anything to the Scoby that could harm it. Remember that although the Scoby is made up of thousands of good bacteria – it is still bacteria. Honey, cinnamon, mint, ginger and even green tea could all negatively affect the Scoby. You can use any of these during the second ferment.
• Your Scoby mother will grow another Scoby baby in the 4 litre jar. It will look like a slimy jelly but it will be ok. It will eventually settle into the diameter of your jar and happily float on top.
• If you forget to use the brew on time it may turn into vinegar. An extra cup or two of sweet black tea may save it. If not – congratulations; you have just made your first Kombucha vinegar. Sweeten it, spice it and use it for salad dressings, pickles, sauces etc...