If I asked you to sample a fermented tea beverage made with the assistance of a sugar consuming symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, you’d probably look at me with deep suspicion (or disgust) and walk away. However this delicious drink commonly called Kombucha packs a powerful hit of probiotic goodness in each bubbly mouthful. It is also very low in sugar, making it a great alternative to heavily sweetened soft drinks (or fizzy liquid candy as they should be called).
Most health food stores will stock it in a variety of flavours, however it is incredibly simple to make it at home. This is my approach to making Kombucha using a method called continuous fermentation.
You will need:
- Organic black tea bags
- Organic green tea bags
- Around 200g of organic raw sugar
- A large sterilised glass vessel of at least 3 litre capacity (I use a 5 litre vat that has a tap on the front, however many simply use a large glass jar)
- Muslin cloth or a tea towel
- A SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria & Yeast) – this can usually be purchased from specialty health food stores and is stored in the fridge. It looks like a jelly fish (minus the tentacles) and will typically be stored in a sealed bag immersed in Kombucha liquid. You can also ask a friend who is already making Kombucha if they have a spare SCOBY, as they will produce additional colonies during the fermentation process. If your SCOBY does not come with Kombucha liquid, you will need to purchase a bottle of unflavoured Kombucha to add in.
To make the Kombucha, follow these steps:
- Boil 2 litres of water
- Add 65g of sugar to each litre of water (so 130g in total for this batch) and dissolve in a clean saucepan or bowl
- Add 2 black tea bags and 1 green tea bag for every 2 litres of water and steep for 10 minutes, then remove
- Allow the tea to cool completely, as heat will destroy your SCOBY
- Pour the cooled sweetened tea into your glass vessel and the place the SCOBY in the liquid along with about 200ml of unflavoured Kombucha
- Place your muslin or tea towel over the top of the vessel and use a rubber band to hold it in place around the top
- Leave at room temperature for 7 days away from sources of heat such as sunlight
- Siphon off a litre of Kombucha at a time and store in the fridge in a separate glass bottle (leave the SCOBY in the main vessel)
- For every litre of Kombucha you remove, simply top up your vessel with another litre of cooled sweetened tea (65g of sugar with 1 each of a black and green tea bag steeped for 10 minutes)
- Once the fermentation is under way (after the initial 7 day start) you typically only need 2-3 days for the SCOBY to ferment the new batch of sweetened tea, which will then be ready to siphon off again.
If you want to add some flavour, you can chop up some fruit (such as peach or mango) and add to the bottle of already fermented Kombucha. Leave this at room temperature for another 2-3 days and the beneficial organisms will consume most of the sugar in the fruit (you should leave the top of the bottle open and covered with a cloth to ensure pressure from the gas produced during fermentation doesn’t explode your bottle!). You can then place this in the fridge and drink when cool.
Remember, if you are new to consuming fermented products you should start slow (1/4 of a cup per day) and build up to an ideal amount of 1-2 cups per day.
Enjoy the fizzy probiotic goodness!