Kombucha has swiftly become my favourite beverage, with it’s distinct tart yet sweet flavour and effervescent mouth feel. But that’s not the only thing I love about it; known as the ”Immortal Health Elixir” by the Chinese, Kombucha is loaded with antioxidants, B vitamins and good bacteria called probiotics which are essential for a healthy gut and optimized immune system. I initially started drinking it in order to help clear my post-pill acne, but have decided to continue consuming it as a sort of a health tonic everyday.
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that dates back 2000 years to ancient China, and was used to treat inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and prevent cancer. More recently, kombucha has been used as an at-home remedy for acne, fatigue, hypertension, headaches, and constipation. It starts out as a sugary tea, which is then fermented with the help of a starter culture also known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast). During the fermentation, the SCOBY uses the sugar as food, transforming the tea into a refreshing fizzy drink with a slightly sour taste and vinegary aroma.
Why is it good for me?
Following on from what I’ve mentioned above, kombucha has been said to have many health benefits that can be attributed to the high levels of probiotics. These bacteria line your digestive tract and support your immune system, as they absorb nutrients and fight infection and illness. But besides the probiotics, kombucha also contains powerful antioxidants and can help to detoxify the body and protect against disease. These antioxidants counteract free radicals that create mayhem in the digestive system. Kombucha also contains high levels of beneficial acid, amino acids and enzymes, which aid in digestion.
How to make kombucha
Buying plastic bottles of kombucha every week seemed unethical, not to mention expensive, so I decided to make my own and I wanted to show all of you how to make it too. It’s super easy!
What you will need:
- 3 litres of water
- 8 black tea bags
- 1.5 cups white sugar
- 2 cups of starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought kombucha
- 1 SCOBY (from a friend or see recipe below to make your own)
- 3+ litre stainless steel pot
- 3 litre glass jar (sterilized with hot water)
- Tightly woven cloth (eg. clean napkin), coffee filters or paper towels
- Rubber band/string
- 3 one litre glass bottles with airtight lids (sterilized with hot water)
- Small funnel
Brew tea. Bring water to the boil. Remove from heat and stir in sugar until dissolved. Add tea bags and allow to steep until water cools.
Add starter tea. Once tea has cooled, remove tea bags and stir in the starter tea. The starter tea makes the liquid too acidic for bad bacteria to live in.
Transfer tea to jar and add SCOBY. Pour the mixture into the glass jar. Sterilize your hands with vinegar and gently place the SCOBY into the liquid.
To make your own SCOBY:
- Brew 1 litre of tea using 3 tea bags and half a cup of sugar as outlined above.
- Allow to cool, remove tea bags and stir in a cup of previously brewed or store-bought kombucha.
- Pour mixture into jar, cover mouth as outlined below, and store at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 7 days.
- A new SCOBY should form. Discard the liquid and begin a new batch.
Cover mouth of jar. Place cloth/filter over mouth of jar and use a rubber band or string to tightly secure it in place.
Ferment for 5-7 days. Store jar at room temperature, preferably in a dark place like a cupboard, or at least out of direct sunlight. Check on kombucha periodically.
Remove SCOBY. Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of tea for your next batch of kombucha, as outlined above. With sterilized hands, gently remove SCOBY and place in a bowl. You will notice another layer has formed, almost identical to the first one, known as the baby. Slowly separate baby SCOBY and discard it or give it to a friend to start their own batch.
Bottle kombucha. Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch. Using a funnel, pour the rest of the kombucha into bottles.
Carbonate and refrigerate. Store bottled kombucha at room temperature and out of direct sunlight for 1-3 days. Then refrigerate and consume within two weeks.
That’s it! You now have an endless supply of kombucha. Add some mint and lemon to taste, kick back and enjoy. I really want to start flavouring my kombucha during a second fermentation period, where you add fruit or herbs in the jar and allow to infuse over 1-3 days. Think mixed berry infused kombucha or lemon and ginger flavoured kombucha. Mmmmm…