It’s Kombucha time!
When I was away skiing in Austria, there were bottles of Kombucha at breakfast, so this became a new morning ritual, together with the Bircher! I had occasionally bought small bottles of Kombucha from Abel and Cole with my veg box, but in order to have a daily dose, it would be quite expensive. So why not make my own? Apparently I needed a scoby, and some patience!
Yes, it’s all about gut health and digestion.
You all know I’m into gut health by including raw fermented foods into my diet. Sauerkraut is lovely, but not something I like to eat every day! Personally, I’m not keen on milk made kefir, although I haven’t tried kefir water yet. Now Kombucha, that’s another story! Fermented tea! I love it. Originating in China about 2000 years ago, this is something very powerful. Not only does it aid digestion, it can help with arthritis, IBS, and help maintain a healthy immune system. It’s a natural probiotic and some say it is useful in the prevention of cancer. It is a mild diuretic and detoxifying agent, so start slowly, especially if you have been unwell or suffer from gastric issues.
This is my take on this great drink, although you can google away for many different ideas and recipes. Good healthy bugs to keep your gut happy. Everyone is talking about it. In the UK we seem to be very slow on the uptake, as this great drink has been in the Far East and the US for many years, just as sauerkraut has been part of Scandinavian life for ever!
A Scoby is a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.
You will need a scoby!I bought mine from Mia’s Organic Cultures® on Amazon. I chose an organic one, and ended up learning so much from the lovely lady who supplied it. She’s not connected on social media, but very responsive to emails…… and I sent a few!
You will need:
- Organic Tea – 8 bags or 3 tablespoons of loose. For my first batch I used English Breakfast, then I used white tea – which is very high in antioxidants. You can use green tea, but I would add couple of bags of a black tea as well.
- Sugar – I used organic coconut palm sugar. Please don’t use refined sugar!
- A cup of starter kombucha – either from a previous batch, or if this is your first time, your scoby should have arrived in enough liquid to start you off.
- Filtered water – 4 litres – I have used high pH Kangen Water, but it really speeds up the ferment!
- A scoby – Make Sure it’s ORGANIC. As I said, I purchased online, but if you time it right, I can give you one of mine when it makes a baby!
- A glass jar – at least a gallon in size – I purchased again from Amazon- top tip: order two – to save postage when you realise you should have two batches on the go!
You need 4 litres of tea that has been steeped in a cup of sugar. There is no point boiling that much water and then waiting for it to cool. I make mine with two litres of boiling water. Steep the tea for 5 minutes, strain if you have used leaves, then add the sugar until dissolved. Pour into your fermenting jar. Then add room temperature water to top up to 4 litres. I like to use glass, as it seems wrong using plastic that could leach PCB into the lovely organic kombucha. Add a cup of a previous mix. If it’s your first time, your scoby will have arrived in some starter liquid.
Then, add the scoby! Cover with a linen cloth and an elastic band, and place somewhere that it won’t be disturbed. Generally, it should take 7 – 10 days to evolve. During this time the scoby will eat the sugar and the liquid will start to ferment. It may float about in the jar, or sink to the bottom.
My kitchen is quite warm, so my first batch took only five days. Check the taste. It should not be sweet, nor should it taste of vinegar. If it does taste vinegary, then it’s gone too far, but will still have the same properties – like cider vinegar. It just won’t be as pleasant to drink, so you may need to dilute it. Just keep an eye on it. Top Tip – when you taste, dip right under the scoby. You’ll get false reading of acidity if you are too near it.
Your Kombucha won’t look the same as the shop bought ones.
I was concerned that my first batch was very dark. Apparently this is due to the dark coconut palm sugar and type of tea I used, but the brew also lightens as it ferments.
When it tastes right, decant it in to glass bottles. The ones with the flip lids are best.
If you add the sediment from the bottom of the jar, this will grow little scobies in your bottles, which is perfectly safe to drink, but if I am giving it to a new drinker, I would strain it. It’s a little like finding the ‘mother’ in apple cider vinegar. Safe, good for you, but it looks a bit odd!
This is now the second ferment.
If you want to add some fruit or ginger, this is the time to do it. For me, I like my brew as it comes. Nothing added, but recently I have added a few blueberries and strawberries. This seems to speed up the second ferment, and actually makes it taste a little like Pimms! Always leave about an inch at the top of the bottle to allow for gas bubbles. Set aside for about 2 – 3 days and then refrigerate. It won’t be as fizzy as beer, it’s a light fermenting fizz. Your kombucha will last about a month, but if you drink 250ml each day it won’t last long. If you leave it in the fridge it will continue to ferment but much slower.
So start another batch.
Always take a cup of your brewed kombucha to be the starter of your next batch. When you remove your used scoby, it may have made a baby! Just look underneath! Remove the baby and keep it in some saved tea. This is known as a Scoby Hotel! Your scoby will stay alive if you feed it occasionally with some sugar and tea solution. There are a few trouble shooting points
If your scoby develops mould or starts to smell unpleasant, pop it in the compost and start again with a fresh one. The same if it turns black, although, it will often have brown patches and sometimes holes. It is a living organism, so expect it to look like mould!
Sometimes, if she is used quickly in succession, a baby won’t be produced. It may be worth resting her in the hotel for a while. I find that if my ferment is fast, I don’t get a baby. It’s tricky to slow it down in the summer though.
Any questions? Get in touch and I will try to help.