Kombucha tea is the universal cure-all of beverages. Tired? Kombucha. Cranky? Kombucha. Thirsty? Kombucha. Had that extra cocktail at the party last night? Kombucha.
The fact is, kombucha does have some wonderful health benefits and is also a great source of probiotics. We all know that we need probiotics for healthy bacteria in our gut. Just in case you’re not hip to the probiotic scene, these are organisms such as bacteria and yeast that can be obtained through food or supplements. You can also get them by eating probiotic-rich foods and one of the best sources is, you guessed it, kombucha. This fizzy beverage also contains glucaronic acid, which is known to detoxify the liver.
Kombucha is made from a SCOBY, a Symbiotic Cultured Organism of Bacteria and Yeast. You can buy a SCOBY online or you can grow your own from any store-bought kombucha.
To grow a SCOBY, take some leftover kombucha (1/3 cup is plenty), and place it into a small glass or mason jar. Add one tablespoon of plain white sugar and cover it with a cheesecloth or any breathable cloth. Leave the jar out until you see a baby SCOBY forming. This could take anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks depending on the weather conditions in your house. Warmer climates will usually make the SCOBY form quickly.
Once you have a healthy SCOBY, you’re ready to make your tea. You will need:
1 very clean gallon jar
8 -10 bags of black tea
1/2 cup kombucha
Cheesecloth or another type of breathable cloth
Empty kombucha or mason jars
It’s all shockingly easy. Make a gallon of tea. Add one cup of sugar — plain white sugar. Not honey. Sugar.
This is important because the sugar is food for your SCOBY. It’s how the probiotics are made. Dissolve the sugar in your tea until you see no traces of it. It’s also essential to use black tea, as the tannins also feed the SCOBY. Let your tea cool for several hours until it’s room temperature. Then add your SCOBY (with your very clean hands) to your cooled tea.
Make sure you don’t add your SCOBY to hot tea — this will kill it! Add the 1/2 cup of kombucha to the mix. Cover your gallon jar with cheesecloth and now … we wait!
Keep your kombucha mixture in a room that isn’t cold and isn’t hot. A room-temperature room, if you will. Kombucha can take anywhere from 7 to 21 days until it’s ready for stage two. You can smell test your kombucha or taste test it with a clean straw that you slide under the SCOBY. When the kombucha mixture tastes tart, it’s ready. You may also see bubbles forming. Don’t be concerned if your kombucha look so fizzy it resembles brewing champagne in a gallon jug.
If you like fizzy kombucha, you will want to do a second fermentation because sadly the kombucha often goes flat when you decant it into the drinking jars. So when you have determined that your kombucha is ready, you’ll decant it into jars, close those jars tightly, and let the kombucha sit again.
If you like flavored kombucha, this would also be the stage where you can add fruit juice or ginger to your decanted kombucha, right into the bottle before you close it up. It usually takes about 2 to 7 days for the second fermentation. It is really all to your taste, so remember to get creative!
Ginger kombucha is a crowd-pleaser, but if you’ve got a sweet tooth apple or pineapple juice works well, too. Be sure to use real juice. Not high fructose corn syrup “juice.” Once you’ve reached a fermentation level that makes you happy, chill your kombucha in the refrigerator and enjoy!
Photo credit: Paul Delmont
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