Kombucha

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Kombucha-2

Kombucha

One of the discoveries which has helped me transtion from being a former wine maker to a very occasional drinker (1-2 glasses of wine a month) has been the wonderful world of kombucha.

Especially fermenting kombucha at home.

It’s so much fun!

And much easier and more accessible than making wine.

Plus I love that with my own ferments I can create a kombucha that has much less sugar than the commercial types. And tastes more like a refreshing wine than a sickly soft drink.

Makes: 2 litres (2 quart)
Takes: 2 weeks +

75g (3oz) sugar
2 tea bags or other flavourings
1 scoby
500mL (14oz) commercial or home made kombucha

1. Bring 1.5L (1.5 quart) water and sugar to the boil in a large saucepan. Stir to make sure sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add tea bags. Cover and allow to steep for 30 minutes (longer if you like strong tea!).

2. Remove tea bags and allow the tea to cool until it is no longer hot to touch. Warm is OK. Less than 45C (115F). You don’t want to burn your scoby! I often leave it overnight.

3. Place scoby, kombucha and your new tea in a large jar. Cover with paper towel or cheesecloth or other cloth to allow air to get in but no bugs. Leave somewhere warm but not in direct sunlight. I leave mine on my kitchen bench.

4. Leave your kombucha to ferment for 10-14 days or until the sugar level is to your liking. The length of time really depends on the temperature. In Summer it can ferment in a week and in Winter I’ve had some batches ferment for 3-4 weeks.

5. When you’re happy with the sweetness level it’s time to bottle. Rinse your bottles with a little of the kombucha. Then fill leaving about 2cm (almost an inch) of air at the top so there is some air for the secondary fermentation. I sometimes add flavourings here (see variations for ideas).

6. You can refrigerate and drink your kombucha now.

7. If you want the kombucha to be fizzy, leave it in the bottles in a warm place for another 2-4 weeks (again this depends on the temperature). It is possible that the bottles can explode if you have bottled the kombuchq when there is still lots of sugar remaining. This hasn’t ever happened to me but if you’re worried it’s a good idea to keep your secondary fermentation in an enclosed space like an esky (cooler bag) or box.

8. When the kombucha is lightly gassy, refrigerate and enjoy. Once fermented kombucha keeps for months and months in the fridge. It will continue to slowly ferment over time. I have had bottles that weren’t gassy at all become lovely and sparkly after 6 months in the fridge.

9. Remember to save some kombucha for your next batch!

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Variations & Substitutions

different flavours for the tea – The tea is just about flavour so feel free to use any type of tea you fancy. Green tea, chamomile, earl grey. My favourite in summer is Lemon Verbena leaves which I steep overnight and in Winter my favourite is Rosemary + Ginger or just plain Ginger. For the batch size above you need about 15g (0.5oz) flavourings as a rough guide but there is no need to be exact. Ground turmeric made a very brightly coloured if slightly medicinal batch.

different flavours for bottling – chopped fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, lemon verbena leaves, chopped lemon (deseeded with the peel left on), lime, lime juice, any fruit juice, rosemary leaves. If you think it will taste good, try it!

no scoby – I haven’t done this but you can grow your own scopy using a bottle of commercial kombucha. Detailed instructions and recipe over here.

larger batch – for my 9L (9.5quart) fermentation crock I make my tea with 400g (14oz) sugar, 6L water and 50g (2oz) flavouring (or 6 Irish breakfast tea bags). I then top up the fermentation crock with 1-2L cold filtered water.

Questions + Answers

Why do I need kombucha to make a new batch?
It’s important to use some old kombucha for every new batch to acidify your tea. This makes it difficult for any spoilage microbes to grow and favours your scoby.

What is this scoby?
It’s a weird looking rubbery mass of yeast and bacteria that floats on top of the kombucha. The word SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast.

Where can I get a scoby?
From a friend. Or health food store. I’m sure you would also be able to find them online. Or you can grow your own from a commercial bottle of kombucha (instructions here).

Do I need to use special water?
I just use rainwater from our tank. If I was living in a city I would use filtered water for the flavour.

Do I need to sterilize everything?
No. The tea is sterilised by boiling. Then the acid added from the old kombucha is enough to discourage any spoilage / pathogenic bugs.

I have this little rubbery thing growing in my bottles of kombucha?
That’s a new baby scoby! Congratulations. I just drink them for the extra probiotics but you can discard if it grosses you out.

Do I need to use organic ingredients?
I don’t bother but if it makes you feel better you can.

More Questions?

Leave a comment below. I’d love to help!

Kombucha

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

jules May 14, 2020

A question from Ellen…

‘When I do the second ferment can I just add real whole uncooked raspberries or do I have to use some kind of sugary raspberry juice?’

ANSWER:
It’s fine to add fresh fruit because the acidity of the kombucha will kill any mould or yeast. The reason people use syrups for the seondary fermentation is to boost the sugar so you get more bubbles.

Jx

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Sandra Carrick March 5, 2020

Hi Jules,
So glad to see this recipe. I’ve been anxiously awaiting your kombucha and look forward to testing it out. One thing you didn’t mention, where does one obtain a Scobi?

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Sandra Carrick March 5, 2020

Actually, I was wondering about the Scoby you can buy in the store which is dried. Does that work? Or is it better to use a wet one.

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jules March 6, 2020

Yay Sandy!

Kombucha is so much fun! I haven’t seen dried scobies but am sure they would be fine.

I got mine from my health food store. But you can order online – or just follow the link I included in the variations – you can grow your own scoby from a commercial bottle of kombucha – lots of options!

Let me know how you get on
Jx

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