What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is an ancient fermented naturally sparkling tea beverage. It is full of healthy yeast and bacteria (probiotics), antioxidants and vitamins. It is made with caffeinated tea, sugar and a SCOBY (a fermenting culture that has been made from a previous batch of kombucha). SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. It looks like a beige rubbery slippery pancake.
Although kombucha is made with sugar and caffeine, there is very little left, if any after the fermentation period. The sugar and caffeine is used to ‘feed’ the SCOBY. The longer it ferments the less sweet and more vinegary the kombucha will be. The SCOBY feeds on the sugar and caffeine and in turn produces valuable substances including glucuronic acid, glucon acid, lactic acid, vitamins, and amino acids.
Store bought kombucha can be very sweet as it is flavoured and sometimes sugar is added after the fermentation process. Additionally, many companies will add carbonation. Not all home-brewed kombucha will be bubbly. It’s usually a slight bubble, sometimes it’s very minimal.
Kombucha also contains small amounts of alcohol. The longer it ferments the more alcohol it will contain. However, it is usually only trace amounts. It is safe to give to children.
Anytime the kombucha is left out at room temperature it will continue to ferment, even without the SCOBY present. Once you have reached the desirable flavour, your should refrigerate your kombucha. Leaving the bottled kombucha out in room temperature after it has been bottled and sealed with a lid, will aid in the naturally occurring effervescence.
If natural kombucha flavour isn’t for you, you can add flavours from juices and teas after the fermentation process prior to bottling. Beware of the kombuchas that you can buy at health food or grocery stores. They are typically sweetened and carbonation is added. Making your own kombucha is the way to go for optimal health.
Benefits of Kombucha
Kombucha is made of probiotics (healthy bacteria) that is fantastic for gut-health. It is also loaded with antioxidants and vitamins to assist in the detoxification process within the body and also boost immunity.
The most noticeable health benefit you will discover is for digestive health. The probiotics help fight harmful yeast and promotes healthy bacteria within your stomach lining and digestive tracts. You should become more regular after drinking kombucha.
Kombucha is said to be a cure-all. For conditions ranging from insomnia, intestinal disorders, arthritis, cancer, chronic fatigue,etc,
Additional health benefits include mental clarity, energy and detoxification. It detoxifies by method of the enzymes as it reduces the pancreatic load and ease the burden on our liver.
Finally, it is a great immunity boost! It is a great source of amino acids, vitamins and enzymes that will support your general health.
History of Kombucha
Recently, kombucha has been very popular but it said to have existed since 212BC. It originated in Asia and was referred to as the Remedy for Immorality. It later then spread to India and Russia then Japan. It was known to be responsible for astonishing health, longevity and well-being. The tea was quite popular across Europe until World War II with the shortage of tea and sugar.
What Could Go Wrong?
If not handled or brewed properly, you could grow mold that looks like dark coloured fuzz. It can be green, black, white or grey. If you notice fuzz on your SCOBY or in your kombucha, throw it out and start from scratch. Mold tends not to grow in acidic environments so having enough of the starter will help prevent this.
- 1 cup organic sucanat or raw sugar
- organic black / green tea – 8 bags or 10 grams of loose tea. (must be caffeinated)
- ½ cup – 1 cup of ripe kombucha (or 10% of the total mixture)
- 1 kombucha mother culture
- 16 cups of filtered or spring water
- 1 large pot
- 1 1+ gallon glass jar
- additional jars for bottling the fermented tea
- 1 paper towel, cotton cloth or cheese cloth
- 1 rubber band
- 1 wood or plastic spoon
- glass measuring cup
- Boil 8 cups of filtered water on the stove with 1 cup of sugar.
- Once the sugar has dissolved add in the tea bags or leaves.
- Let the tea steep for about 20 minutes.
- If you use tea bags, remove the tea bags from the pot with a plastic or wooden spoon. If you used loose tea, stain the tealeaves from the pot.
- Add the remaining 8 cups of filtered water to the pot and let cool.
- Once the tea is cool add it into the glass jar leaving 2-3 inches at the top.
- Add in the ½ cup – 1 cup ripe kombucha.
- Place the mother culture into the tea solution
- Cover the mouth of the jar with the cloth and secure with the rubber band.
- Keep it covered the entire time
- Place the jar in a well-ventilated area that is a warm, peaceful area away from direct sunlight.
- After 7 days, remove the cloth and smell the tea or taste it with a plastic or wooden spoon.
- If it is sweet and not vinegary, it’s not ready.
- Check again at 12 days. If it smells and tastes slightly vinegary then it is probably read. You can leave it longer, but the tea will start to get really tart and can hard for some (most) to handle.
- The tea should taste good, otherwise you won’t drink it.
- If the tea is ready to be processed you can pour out into glass jars. Always keep minimum ½ cup of ripe kombucha.
- The SCOBY should have formed another layer, AKA a “daughter”.
- You can now use both of these SCOBYs to make 2 batches.
- Rinse the SCOBYSs and keep them in the ripe tea. You can either gently pull them apart and make 2 batches or keep them together and let it grow.
- If are want to brew another batch right away – set aside the SCOBY and the ripe kombucha.
- If you want to wait before your next brew you can put the SCOBY and ½ - 1 cup of ripe kombucha in a glass jar and store it in the fridge. Make sure SCOBY is covered in liquid.
- The longer the tea ferments the more vinegary it gets and the less sweet it will be. If the tea is sweet is not truly as healthy or beneficial as tea that has been fermenting longer and has more of a vinegary taste and bite. If the tea is sweet, the SCOBY hasn’t eaten the sugar or the caffeine from the tea.
- Use vinegar for cleaning the glass jar. Don’t use soap.
- Ensure your hands are clean.
- Do not let metal touch the SCOBY.
- Always use a plastic or wooden spoon.
- For every SCOBY you need minimum ½ cup of starter. The larger the SCOBY the more liquid you will need to speed up the process.
- Store kombucha and cultures in glass (never metal).
- You can flavor your kombucha after it has fermented. Add fresh fruit, juice or tea.
- Keep the brew in a temperature of between 27-29 degrees celcius.
- Keep the brew away from smoke, toxins and pollutants.