Kombucha is way cooler than it used to be.
Kombucha and I have a complicated relationship that began tumultuously about 25 years ago. I am of firm belief that my Mum was one of the primary fore-bearers of the hipster movement. As children, my brother and I woke up each morning to a bowl of steaming oatmeal, chased down with a glass of prune juice. (To keep us regular.) Washed down by another glass of stinging nettle tea. (To cleanse our blood.) Ceremoniously followed by a large glass of homemade kombucha. (To fortify us with energy and vitamin B.) It was the liquid breakfast of champions. Needless to say, my friends regretted sleeping over come breakfast time.
Fast-forward 25 years and my girls now greet their day with glasses of my own homemade kombucha. (I have even managed to sneak stinging nettle tea into them. However, I do draw the line at prune juice.) Perhaps it really is true what they say about becoming your mother as you get older…
Either way, in today’s day and age, the majority of people know about kombucha and it’s benefits, therefore elevating my girls’ status to that of the cool-hipster-crunchy-kid. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. (I’ll have to confer with my Mum and see if she ever gave herself similar pep-talks. Who knows…perhaps my kombucha-making is damaging my girls’ social standing. But the vitamin B, people! My kids have so much energy!)
Turns out, though, that my Mum was on to something back in the day. Kombucha is full of amazing health-benefits, probiotics and vitamins, besides also being super tasty! If you’re still on the fence about it, give this recipe a try. It’s easy to make and way cheaper than the health-food aisle variety. And who knows – your kids (and their friends) may actually even like it.
Kombucha – for Beginners
- clean Mason jar
- coffee filter and elastic
- large glass bowl
- measuring cups
- wooden spoon
- ½ – 1 cup kombucha starter (this is previously fermented fresh kombucha tea from a previous batch)
- 4 cups tea (this can be black or green tea – loose leaf or in bag form. Feel free to experiment with other tea flavours as well. Just be wary of using any tea containing milk, soy or a high level of oil as this can compromise the health of your SCOBY.)
- ¼ – ⅓ cup white sugar (maple syrup can also be used, although will alter the taste a bit.)
- 1 SCOBY (this stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria. It is the home to the bacteria that converts the sweet tea into fizzy, fermented kombucha.)
- Pour your already prepared kombucha starter and the SCOBY into your glass Mason jar.
- Brew the tea of your choice. Allow it to steep for at least 10 minutes. (It does not matter if it steeps for longer – that is fine. I have often walked away from my tea brewing for at least half an hour. You just want to make sure that it is still warm for the next step, so that the sugar will dissolve.)
- Remove the tea bags (or loose leaves alternatively). Add the sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved into the tea. Allow the sweetened tea to come to room temperature. (This is very important. If you added the hot/warm sweetened tea to your glass jar containing your SCOBY and kombucha starter, the heat could cause your SCOBY to die.)
- Once the sweetened tea is at room temperature, add it to your Mason jar containing the SCOBY and kombucha starter.
- Place a coffee filter secured with a rubber band over the opening of your jar and place the jar in a darkened spot. (I keep mine in a cupboard. Some people keep it above the fridge. The main thing is, you want air circulation and to avoid direct sunlight.)
- Allow to ferment for 7-14 days. (The length of fermentation depends on the temperature and personal taste. I find that because our house is warmer in the summer, the fermentation process takes less time – closer to the 7 day mark. However, in the winter when our house is much cooler, the fermentation period can take closer to 10-14 days. It also depends on how tart you like your kombucha. We prefer ours more on the tangy side, so we ferment it for longer. However, if you prefer your kombucha sweeter, simply ferment it for less time.)
- When desired tartness is reached, strain your kombucha. Remember to leave the SCOBY and 1 cup of kombucha in your glass jar. This will be the starter for your next batch. The remaining kombucha can be refrigerated for drinking. (Optional – you can proceed with a second ferment at this time, if desired. For beginner purposes though, I would recommend stopping here until you get a handle on how the initial brewing process works.)
- Repeat the process all over again for the next batch.
- feel free to cover your fermenting kombucha with a piece of cotton cloth or a tea towel instead of a coffee filter. Since the SCOBY is a living organism, it needs to breathe. Therefore, do not use a screw on cap on your Mason jar. The SCOBY will then be deprived of oxygen and not thrive. You can also use cheesecloth instead of a coffee filter, however, make sure that the cheesecloth has a finer mesh. If the holes are too large, fruit flies are attracted to the sweetness of the brew and can end up in your fermenting kombucha. Yuck!
- make sure that your kombucha is never kept in a metal vessel, whether when fermenting or when in your refrigerator. The acidity of kombucha can damage the metal container. Of more concern, the acidity in the kombucha can cause the metal to leech into the brew, thus poisoning the SCOBY and the drinker.
- with each brew, the SCOBY will create a new “baby” SCOBY. To separate the mother SCOBY from the baby, simply peel the baby one off. It should be much thinner than the mother SCOBY and likely filmy and transparent. You can compost it or create a SCOBY hotel to host all your baby SCOBYs from each batch. The benefit of having a SCOBY hotel is that you always have lots of SCOBYs on hand in the event that your mother SCOBY deteriorates.