What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a slightly alcoholic, fermented tea that’s most commonly known for its health benefits. It was originally consumed in China more than 2,200 years ago and nowadays can be found on the drinks menu at most cafes, bars and restaurants as well as supermarkets and grocery stores.
Kombucha can vary in taste depending on how long it has been fermenting – the longer it’s left, the more vinegar its flavour - although its best described as a tangy version of apple cider.
What is kombucha made from?
Kombucha is made by adding a ‘mother’ or scoby (a culture that is made that stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) to black tea that’s been brewed with sugar. Over time, the bacteria and yeast ferment the tea and sugar to create a fizzy tonic.
What are the benefits of kombucha?
As the scoby slowly ferments the tea solution, it produces several compounds that are beneficial to the functioning of the digestive system and our health in general. These include: acetic acid (also found in vinegar), which can kill many potentially harmful micro-organisms, B vitamins, folic acid, tea polyphenols and antioxidants.
Kombucha is also rich in probiotics (aka, the ‘good’ bacteria that help colonise the gut.) Research suggests probiotics can keep us regular, stabilise our mood and stress levels and boost immunity.
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What is the process of making kombucha?
Here’s a thorough step-by-step guide to homemade kombucha via kombuchakamp.com:
- 4 litres purified water
- 4-6 tea bags or 4-6 teaspoons loose leaf tea
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 1-2 cups (250-500ml) strong starter liquid, aka well-fermented kombucha
- Pot or tea kettle
- Brewing vessel at least 3.75l in size
- Stirring spoon
- Tight weave cloth cover (no cheesecloth) and rubber band
- Bottles with tightly closing lids
- Boil 4 cups (1 litre) of purified water.
- Add hot water and tea bags to pot or brewing vessel.
- Steep 7-15 minutes, then remove tea bags.
- Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
- If the vessel is empty, add 2-3 quarts (2-3 litres) of purified water, then add the hot tea solution. (Adding cold water first helps keep the vessel from heating up) or if the tea was made in the vessel, then simply add 2-3 litres of purified water.
- Check to make sure the tea is body temperature or below. A clean finger is the perfect tool!
- Once it is, add scoby and starter liquid.
- Cover with cloth cover and rubber band.
- Place the container in a warm, ventilated area out of direct sunlight for 7- 21 days (depends on taste). 24-29°C is the best range, 27°C is ideal. (Note: The scoby may rise to the top or sink to the bottom - this doesn’t matter as the new culture will always form at the top.)
- After 7 days, or when you are ready to taste your kombucha, gently insert a straw beneath the scoby and take a sip. If too tart, then reduce your brewing cycle next time. If too sweet, allow to brew for a few more days. Continue to taste every day or so until you reach your optimum flavour preference.
- Set aside your SCOBY(s) and starter liquid (2 cups if possible) for the second fermentation from the top of the current brew. You may put them in any vessel.
- Decant and flavour your kombucha (optional) with fruit, juice or flowers.
How do you store kombucha?
As long as no mould is present, kombucha should never go ‘bad’ once bottled. However, it may eventually be too sour to enjoy. Refrigerate to slow this process.
Where do you find a scoby?
Many online retailers, such as goodbrew.com.au have scoby starter kits for sale at a good price, as well as everything else you may need for brewing. As scobys quickly multiply when making regular batches, you could also ask a friend for one they don’t need.
Your scoby should naturally develop a shiny, gelatinous texture as it grows. Any batch that develops mould should be discarded as this can be harmful if consumed.
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