The kombucha craze has been steadily increasing and catching on, which is amazing but there are a few things you need to know about this beautiful little gut health beverage.
Kombucha is a type of tea that has been fermented using a SCOBY (That blob in the jar is actually a living Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast, or a SCOBY).
The fermentation process makes it a good source of probiotics, which have many health benefits. Depending on the type of tea you use will decide the levels of nutrients and antioxidants found in the kombucha.
I’ve been making kombucha for years and notice a considerable difference when I drink it regularly and here’s why:
Probiotics – It is loaded with “good” bacteria and can help keep you regular, improve digestion, and boost your immunity.
Nutrients – contains phytochemicals or phytonutrients that have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, which may promote healthy liver and kidney function. Kombucha is also rich in B-vitamins and folic acid, which is key for helping the body produce and maintain healthy new cells. Because of these nutrients it is said to detoxify and help increase energy levels.
You may notice that you see bottled kombucha sold at most stores now and while this is great alternative to most other sodas or high-sugar juices, nothing quite compares to a homemade batch.
Everything changes when something becomes mass produced. We lose some of the nutrients, fermentation and quality when it goes through the bottling process. Companies must suppress or stop yeast fermentation and culturing in order to prevent continued carbonation or the bottles could explode due to the pressure. This process leaves you with commercial kombucha which, yes it is still good, typically has high acid and/or suppressed culture, and less varieties of bacteria and yeast.
It’s also ridiculously expensive in the shops and you’re usually paying for something of lesser quality than you could make yourself.
The process is simple and really cool to observe.
**Please note I am giving you the simplified version and you can find more details on the type of water and tea by looking up other kombucha recipes.
Scoby & Starter Tea: This refers to the kombucha mushroom (also called a ‘scoby’ or ‘mother’) along with the liquid in the bag it is submerged in. Don’t toss the liquid, the liquid is the ‘starter tea’.
• Water: One quart (4 cups) of water. Non or low-chlorinated, spring and/or filtered water is preferable.
• Sugar: White, or organic cane sugar (as in organic white). About 1/4 cup – 1/3 cup total (4-6 tablespoons) total. **White sugar is by the best and don’t worry it gets metabolized by the SCOBY so the sugar content will decrease of the fermentation process
• Tea: Green or Black tea (the regular, caffeinated* kind, most any brand will do).
*Do not use decaffeinated tea
*Do not use metal utensils or jar lids during the process; wooden/plastic spoons, glass jars with plastic lids, etc.
1. Boil 4 cups (1 quart) of water for about 5 minutes to remove impurities
2. Once it is boiling, remove it from the heat, and then add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of white sugar. The reason you remove it from the heat is that the sugar will start to caramelize if it continues to boil.
3. Once the sugar is dissolved, add 2-3 tea bags of either Black or Green tea. Steep and let sit until it has cooled to room temperature. Remove tea bags.
4. Place your Kombucha mushroom and starter tea (the liquid it was immersed in, in the packaging) in a quart sized or larger glass jar.
5. Add the cooled sweet tea mixture (water, sugar, tea) you just made to the jar. Make sure the tea has cooled to room temperature. Also, make sure to leave at least an inch from the top of the jar to allow the baby mushroom to grow and breath (don’t fill to the brim).
6. After all the ingredients are in the jar, you need to cover the top of the jar with a cloth, paper towel or parchment paper held by elastic. This is so the Kombucha can breathe and to make sure nothing can contaminate it.
7. Time to let it rest and do its thing! Find a place for your Kombucha out of direct sunlight. A cupboard is just fine. Make sure not to disturb it. It takes around 5 to 10 days (being shorter in the summer and longer in the winter). You can start tasting it in around 5 days. If it tastes very sweet, it probably needs more time to consume the sugar. The longer you brew it, the more acidic it will taste. It’s mostly a matter of preference with how tart and zesty you like it.
Note: The scoby/mushroom can either sink or float depending on many different factors. It doesn’t really matter though. After a few days, you should start to see new layer of culture growing at the top surface. That’s the start of the new baby scoby and will thicken as time goes on!
8. Once you find your desired taste, remove the old scoby and the newly formed baby scoby. Sometimes they are attached to each other, but you should be able to separate them with clean hands or some gentle tongs. Many times you will see dead yeast strains floating around (not worms!:) just strings of yeast). Although harmless, you can strain them out before drinking the kombucha if you wish.
9. Pour most of the finished tea into container(s). Save about 10% (about 1/3-1/2 cup) for your next batch. That is your starter tea. To get the finished tea nice and fizzy, you need to put the finished kombucha tea in a container*, fill it almost to the top and then put a tight lid on it for about 2 to 5 days at room temperature.
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