As far as alternative health drinks go, kombucha has hit a popularity peak and is now available in most supermarkets. However, there are plenty of reasons why you’re better off making it at home.
That’s not to say you can’t buy small batch-made kombucha at your local farmers’ market or health food store and be drinking a quality product. You could well be. It’s just worth either quality testing your local brew or starting your own brew. And you can actually do both at the same time.
What is kombucha?
A fizzy, probiotic, usually home-made tonic made with a base of black tea, sugar and water. It is fermented using a SCOBY (Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast) which is a funny looking zoogleal “mat” that sits atop your brew.
Your healthful living friend stays on your bench at room temperature and needs your attention around once every seven to 10 days, at which point you decant your delicious liquid brew.
Kombucha provides your gut with a range of probiotic bacteria and yeasts, and your body with glucuronic acid – a powerful aid to the body’s detoxifying process.
Your kombucha SCOBY will grow as you feed and care for it, and soon you’ll have enough to share with friends, your pets, your stock animals, or your compost.
Make your own at home
If you obtain a SCOBY from a friend or buy one online, then you can start to brew straight away. Simply follow the recipe below and you’ll be drinking your own homemade kombucha in no time.
If you don’t have access to a SCOBY but you saw a good looking locally-made kombucha in your favourite café, then there is a simple way you can grow your own.
How to grow a SCOBY
Buy an extra bottle of kombucha next time you’re out, and take it home. Pour the contents into a wide mouth jar or bowl (glass or ceramic only) and let it sit for a week or maybe two.
If it’s a quality brew then a kombucha SCOBY will start to form on the top and you can use this as your starter. Then simply follow the recipe below.
I’ve heard it from other brewers who have tried using supermarket kombucha to grow a SCOBY that they just don’t work. This means they may have altered the product for it to be shelf stable and may have removed some of the probiotic qualities – the main reason you’re drinking kombucha in the first place.
- 1 SCOBY
- ½ cup of previous kombucha brew
- 3 litres of filtered water
- 4 teaspoons of loose leaf black tea
- 1 cup of raw organic sugar
- Boil water in a pot on the stove, add sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Turn off the heat and add the tea.
- Let it cool completely and strain into a bowl or wide mouth jar.
- Add half a cup of your last kombucha batch (or what was in the brew you bought) and place the SCOBY on top.
- Cover with a cloth and leave on the bench for seven to 10 days.
- Taste your brew and if you can still taste the tea and sugar then it’s not ready. If it tastes like vinegar then it’s fermented a bit too much. Aim for fizzy, slightly acidic and delicious.
- When ready, place your SCOBY on a clean plate, and decant and bottle your kombucha drink in quality flip-top beer brewing bottles (the cheap ones don’t work as well). Store in the fridge or drink straight away.
Be a bit more adventurous with your kombucha flavours and add something extra to your decanted bottles and leave it on the bench for a further few days to go through a second ferment.
Try mint leaves, berries, apple, ginger, chamomile or chai spices. The possibilities are endless. Add about a handful/quarter cup of berries to a 750ml of kombucha. Enjoy!