What is Kombucha Tea?
More than 5,000 years ago, the Ancient Chinese developed what they called Divine Tea by fermenting tea that had been produced from fresh tea leaves. Ever since, the Chinese have used this Divine Tea as a remedy for promoting good health. As for its origins, kombucha is traditionally associated with Asia, Russia and Germany and has been drunk by the Chinese for many hundreds of years. It became a popular drink globally by the late 1990’s.
Kombucha consists of tea, sugar, clean water and a SCOBY. “SCOBY” stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. The sugar feeds the yeast and bacteria which form the SCOBY layer — the very identifiable, thick, mushroomy layer that rests on the top of the kombucha and makes it what it is. This SCOBY adds the flavor, acidity and enables the fermentation of the tea which creates the multiple health benefits that we love. It also contains a small amount of alcohol (only .5%-3% depending on fermentation), gluconic, acetic, lactic acids and some substances that discourage bacteria. Many people describe the taste of kombucha as sweet and acidic, almost like soda with a slight vinegar taste. I actually think it tastes a little like ginger ale or ginger beer. I love it. Of course you can add other flavours too. Oh and don’t worry about the sugar, your Scoby will consume this, it’s what feeds her. By the time you drink it, there is minimal sugar in your Kombucha Tea. This fantastic fermented drink is helping people all over the world enjoy greater well-being (better digestion, improved assimilation and elimination, alkalising the blood are just a few to mention).
Why drink Kombucha Tea?
If you’re into health food, you may have heard of this drink called ‘kombucha’. Kombucha is a fermented tea which has become very popular for lots of health conscious people. Advocates claim that it can enhances cognition, stimulates immune function, supports weight loss, can be applied as a therapy for almost any ailment, and even promotes longevity. I don’t know about all these things but I definitely know that it certainly makes me feel better. It helps me with reflux type heart burn, it is a fantastic liver detox, it reduces the severity of yeast infections and actually rids your body of many uncomfortable problems. It also is a really, really nice drink that you can have instead of ‘soft drink’ or ‘coffee’. Yeah that’s right, you can drink this anytime and feel comfortable that you are drinking something ‘good’.
How Kombucha is made – A simple Kombucha Recipe and Method.
I make my Kombucha using the continuous brew method. That is, once you have your set up working, simply replace the sugary tea you consume with new tea, and the cycle goes on and on. It is actually really easy.
I’ll step you through how I do it and give you my easy recipe below.
To get your Kombucha started, you’ll need a ‘Scoby’, which stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. Scoby is your best friend, believe me. She’s gross and looks horrible, but you’ll learn to love your ‘Scoby’. You’ll also need some starter tea.
You can buy your Starter Tea and Scoby, HERE.
You’ll also need good quality Organic Tea either Black Tea or Green Tea, you can even do this with Rooibos Tea and Coconut Water, although I haven’t tried the later yet. Of course there are many others that you can research for yourself once you get going.
Your ‘Scoby’, feeds off Sugar. You’ll require a good ‘organic raw sugar’ for this and the main bulk of your tea is water. Ensure your water is of good quality and I prefer to ‘boil’ mine to ensure there is no risk of unwanted bacteria entering your fermenting jar.
Lastly, you’ll need a fermenting jar, to get started. You’ll probably end up with a few kombucha fermenting jars over a period of time, like I do. These jars don’t need to be anything special either. I like to use glass jars so that you can see what’s going on in the jar, but I also have a pottery urn that I use. Whatever type of jar you choose, it needs to have a tap on the bottom. You will place a filter paper of some form over the top of the jar while fermenting, so your ‘Scoby’ can breathe and you’ll secure the filter with an elastic band to prevent any unwanted visitors, such as bugs and flies from entering your brew. These little critters love Kombucha, so you’ll want to keep them out!!
My whole family drinks Kombucha now and we all like it, it just makes you feel great and really does improve your immune system and gut health among many other benefits. You can flavour your Kombucha with fresh fruits, ginger, juice and just about anything you can think of if you’d rather a ‘flavoured’ kombucha over the raw version.
Here is my Kombucha Recipe and Method
8-10 Organic Tea Bags. Choose a good quality one that you like. You can use all Black Tea or all Green Tea or do 50/50 and use 4 of each type, this is up to you and you can try different ones.
3/4 Cup of Organic Raw Sugar
2 Ltrs of Boiling Water
1 Cup of Starter Tea
1 Fermenting Jar with a Tap
How to Make your Kombucha Tea
Boil your water and fill a 2 Ltr Jug with the water. Tie the ends of the tea bags together and using a large spoon, hang the tea bags over the spoon and dangle into the boiling hot water. At the same time place the 3/4 Cup of Organic Raw Sugar into the jug and allow to steep for a good 10-15 minutes allowing all the tea to infuse into the water. Stir it really well to ensure all the sugar has dissolved.
Allow this ‘Tea’ to cool below 40 degrees celsius. This will take a couple of hours, so I like to do this late at night and make my Kombucha the next morning and allow it to cool to room temperature in it’s own time. No good rushing these things. If you add your scoby to tea that is too hot, you’ll really upset her and possible cause her to die. I’ve found that if you add her to cooled tea, she will float on top, perfectly. Warm Tea and she’ll sit in the tea. It really doesn’t matter where she sits though, she will do her thing regardless. You will grow a new ‘Scoby’ every time you make a new batch. Before you know it you’ll have ‘Scoby’ Babies everywhere.
When your tea has cooled, add it into your fermenting jar. Place your ‘Scoby’ and Starter Tea into the fermenting jar and you’re done.
Place a filter over the top of your jar and secure it with an elastic band. I like to use two layers of paper towel, ensuring it doesn’t get wet or a double layer of cheese cloth. A doubled over piece of CLEAN chux also works well as a filter. Just ensure that bugs or even ants can’t get into the jar.
Place your new Kombucha Fermenting Jar in an out of the way place, maybe on the back of your kitchen bench where you don’t need to disturb it, out of direct sunlight.
Your Kombucha Tea is now going to do it’s thing, it’ll ferment away like a dream. Very easy. Every couple of days commencing on day 3, try tasting your tea. It should taste a little tangy, tart with a slight vinegar taste. But you don’t want it to be too strong. I like mine at day 5. Keep tasting it every day until you are happy with the taste. The longer you leave it, the stronger it will get until it is very vinegary. There is no hard and fast rule here, just keep tasting it. You’ll know when it’s time.
When your Kombucha tastes the way you want it to, grab some good quality fermenting jars or bottles and syphon it into your jars. This is your first ferment and can be consumed immediately. Place your jars on the kitchen bench and allow them to ferment a further 1-2 days to go through a 2nd Ferment, during this time your Kombucha will develop beautiful ‘bubbles’ and ‘gas’. It’s during this time that if you wanted to add another flavour, you add it into the bottom of your bottles before filling them up. I like to add just a small piece of fresh ginger and lemon. Beautiful. Once it’s stood for a couple of days and your brew has undergone a 2nd Ferment, place the bottles into the fridge to chill. Oh yum, I hope you love it. You don’t need to add other flavours, leave some plain, so you can see what the raw Kombucha tastes like.
As with any fermented food, go easy the first couple of days or your stomach will hate you. Trial about 100ml a day for three days and then slowly increase the amount you have so you slowly introduce the good bacteria into your body. You will probably notice quite a few changes in your body over the first week as your body goes through a complete detox. It’s fantastic and I highly recommend you do this – to better your health.
Don’t just take my word for it, read other blogs. I’m sure you’ll get hooked on this golden stuff called ‘Kombucha Tea’ – it’s real and it’s brilliant.
Add your ‘Scoby’ to cooled tea every time. I’ve found that she will float on top perfectly this way.
The position of your Scoby once added to your tea can vary, and doesn’t matter. She can sink to the bottom, be suspended in the middle, be sideways, whatever position it doesn’t matter. You’ll get a new scoby forming in your Kombucha Jar, to the width of your jar, with every new brew you make.
Your scoby looks like a creamy coloured disc that will get thicker and thicker. Rarely does anything go wrong with a Scoby. Any discolouration like a black or green mould should be investigated, but again it’s probably fine and your Tea will be beautiful. If you are ever really concerned, just start again.
Your scoby can be divided and shared between new vessels or given away to friends and family to start their own Kombucha Tea. Ensure you wash your hands very well before touching your Scoby as you do not want to introduce germs and bacteria to the jar that may contaminate your beautiful Kombucha.
If your starter batch takes a while to form a ‘Scoby’, don’t stress as it can take a couple of weeks for a new batch to take hold properly. Soon enough you’ll have an established Kombucha Tea, Fermenting.
When bottling your Kombucha Tea after the 1st Ferment, ensure to use good quality jars or bottles. The kind with the metal pull down lids for fermenting, as these will release the gas if it builds to much, preventing a burst bottle in your kitchen or fridge. Plus they look great. You can purchase all kinds of fermenting bottles for this purpose.
Have fun with this, anything goes. It’s all about getting healthy, increasing the good bacteria in your digestive system can truly help ward off illness and make you feel better. Read up on the benefits too. I’m sure you’ll agree that Kombucha Tea is a great, healthy way to reduce and eliminate toxins from our bodies, it sure does make you feel good too.
Any jar can be a fermenting jar, just ensure it’s got a tap on the bottom for filling your 2nd Ferment jars/bottles, it just makes life easy.
I’m happy to answer any questions about this, in order to help you get started. Just send us an email. Thanks for reading.
Recipe by Yvonne Cowell 2017