I love kombucha and have been brewing it for years. In a few words, Kombucha is a fermented carbonated beverage with live probiotic activity, like live yogurt.
Kombucha is claimed to have several beneficial effects on health, but I do not know about that. I just like a fizzy drink now and then. Apparently some people have died from it, so I guess I like living on the edge.
You can easily find out info about how to make kombucha, the process is quite straight forward and does not need to be as complicated as some people make it to be. The only trick is getting the “scoby” or starter culture. Ask around. I exchanged some homemade sauerkraut for a scoby once.
See what I mean as an example, taken from the web:
- A fresh kombucha culture starter, organic if possible.
- A pot to heat the water/sugar solution. This can be metal for this step.
- Distilled water (the best choice) or well water, never city water
- Cane sugar or other natural sugar, we suggest organic cane sugar
- Tea (Camellia Sinensis) – This may be green,white, or black tea, or a mixture thereof, we again suggest organic tea.
- Clean cheese cloth (you can double this up if it seems to thin) or clean T-shirt, cut to size.
Organic culture starter, honestly? A clean cheese cloth? What’s wrong with your good old colander? What no kettle? Who still uses a pot to boil water? Oh, it may be made of metal, thank God, because I recently smashed my pottery cooking utensils my grandma left me…
Stop nitpicking, get brewing!
Get a a glass jar (I use a 5l jar), make sure it’s washed. No, you do not have to sterilize it, it’s OK, really as long as it is glass or food grade plastic. Remember people have died, right?
Throw some black tea in there (I use 8 tbsp), and some sugar (I use 2 cups) and add a couple of liters of boiling water, or whatever your kettle can boil. Let the tea brew for a while, 20 min or so. Strain it, cool it. It’s that bloody simple. Then just add cold water to top up the glass jar, because water that’s too hot will kill the scoby, that’s about the only thing to worry about.
Now add about a cup of brewed kombucha from a previous batch or even a commercial kombucha drink (just like making sourdough bread for you folks that still dare eat yummy bread), or a scoby you got off a friend, or, if really clueless, a scoby you bought at the health food store. There will be a tiny scoby, a vile looking mushroom thingy, floating in each of your brewed kombucha bottles. As they say “Scoby happens”, just don’t drink it, or do, what do I know?
That’s it put the jar with the lid loosely in place to prevent creepy crawlies taking a swim in it and keep it in a dark place in your kitchen. The fermentation process might take 8-14 days, depending on room temperature. If you need to stop the fermentation, either drink the tea or store it in the fridge. Low temperatures never really stop the fermentation, but they slow it down substantially.
How do you know when it’s ready? Some people use Ph strips (haha, I kid you not!), I just taste it. It should start to taste slightly vinegar-ish…
This is where brewing experience comes in. Wait too long, and it tastes horid… or be too hasty and it still tastes sweet. The scoby feeds on the sugar and releases CO2, hence the bubbles. Your brewed Kombucha will end being about 0,5% alcohol, go easy on it, OK?
From this point, you have 2 choices. Bottle it or make a double fermentation, like I do.
I mix 2/3 kombucha with 1/3 apple juice and pressed ginger, and let the stuff ferment again, because that’s the taste I like. You can experiment and be creative.
As you’ll see in the video, after you’ve bottle kombucha, it still keeps fermenting because of the fruit juice. So do not close the lid tight, let the stuff ferment away for 2-3 days, then close the lid tight for 1 day and put in the fridge, or on your balcony like I do, since it is winter here.
This works well for me, I end up with a dry bubbly tasty drink. Cheers!
Always be careful when opening a bottle, be ready for a mess…