Kombucha; known as ‘The Tea of Immortality’ by the Chinese and consumed there for at least two thousand years, with its origins lost in the mists of time, is a ancient fermented beverage that I am happy to consume today.
The tasty beverage contains vitamins, particularly B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as amino acids, minerals, enzymes and health-giving organic acids organic acids like Glucuronic acid; a powerful detoxifier that binds to toxins, supporting the liver cells to break down and excrete toxins from the body, also Acetic acid which gives Kombucha its distinct vinegar flavour, which has potent anti-bacterial (is a powerful preservative and inhibits harmful bacteria) and anti-inflammatory properties, and is associated with health benefits such as blood sugar regulation, promoting weight regulation, and may help control blood pressure.
Due to the fermentation process involved in creating kombucha, it also contains a large number of living healthy bacteria, to help restore the natural balance of gut bacteria and its protective effects; supporting your immune system, since 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, and its extended effects of brain and nervous system health.
Despite the many health claims made for kombucha from people who have been using kombucha over many years, there is very little research on the benefits of kombucha and the chemical and microbiological composition of the tea are quite complex.
So, although it is simple to make yourself and is very rewarding, it is extremely important to carefully follow the instructions for activating and making kombucha tea at home with the starter culture (happykombucha.co.uk provide excellent advice) and to use sterile equipment, clean working spaces and high-quality ingredients in order to have control over the growth of microorganisms and to prevent unwanted contamination.
The Kombucha starter culture, called a ‘scoby’ which stands for ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts’, is placed in black or green tea (can also use white tea or oolong tea, and its taste will depend on what kind of tea you use) and organic raw cane sugar, but don’t worry most of of the sugar will be “eaten” by the yeast during the fermentation process, with very little sugar left in the beverage by the time you consume it!
And, if you’re concerned about the alcohol content produced by the fermentation process, only minute quantities of alcohol remains in the kombucha brew.as the bacteria in the culture turn most of the alcohol to organic acids.
Kombucha needs to be introduced to your system in small amounts when you are new to it. A small cup per day for a week is ideal, this can be increased to a larger glass in the second week and then in the third week if you want to you can drink more, then you can drink up to a pint per day if you wish.
The recipe below is for a basic, unflavored kombucha brew, but you can try adding a variety of flavours to suit your taste or just to experiment, such as freshly squeezed lemon, ginger, berries.
How to Make Kombucha
You Will Need:
• 2 litres Pure water
• 3 litre wide mouth glass container (I use Kilner flip-top jars) and a tight weaved cotton or muslin cloth and elastic band to cover your jar
• 6 organic tea bags – green, white or black tea; NOT herb or flavoured tea
• 160-200g organic raw cane sugar
- Boil your water in the kettle or pot
- Pour water into pot and add 6 tea bags and sugar
- Stir to dissolve sugar
- Let sit for 30 minutes
- Remove tea bags and let sit until room temperature (when you put your finger in it feels ever so slightly cool)
- Put your tea into a glass container
- Gently add your scoby.
- NOTE: Metal must never touch the scoby. I recommend removing rings, bracelets or any
other metal that might come into contact with it. Never use metal spoons or bowls. As the scoby is slippery, a tea cloth on the counter is a good idea too.
- Your scoby will either float to the top, sink to the bottom, or hang out in the middle of the jar. All of these are equally good.
- Put a piece of muslin cloth on top of the jar and secure with a rubber band
- Now place your jar in a location where it won’t be disturbed. It should be out of direct sunlight and in a place where it is warm; approximately 70-78F (21-25C). Cooler temperatures slow fermentation and higher temperatures speed it up.
Bottling and Making More
- After 8 to 10 days, your kombucha will have gone from a clear tea mix to a cloudy kombucha.
- On the 8th day pour a small amount of the kombucha into a cup and test. If it has a fruity
flavour, instead of like tea, then your kombucha is ready. If it is tea like, wait another day or two. Your Kombucha will take between 6 to 14 days to brew. You can brew it longer if you want a stronger kombucha flavour or you can now pour your kombucha into smaller jars.
- Remember to leave your scoby covered in a bath of the kombucha that you just made.
- Put the remaining kombucha in the fridge to drink at your own pace. The longer you leave it in the fridge, the stronger it will get, but it won’t go off.
- If you are not ready to make more kombucha yet, cover the jar that the scoby and kombucha is in and leave it sitting in its own juice. When you are ready to brew some more kombucha, follow the same directions as before and remember to put BOTH the scoby and the kombucha juice into the new brew together.
- Kombucha needs to be introduced to your system in small amounts when you are new to it. A cup per day for a week is ideal and this can be increased to a larger glass in the second week and then in the third week if you want to you can drink more, then you can drink up to a pint per day if you wish..
- Kombucha can be mixed with juice, fruit and other flavours.
During your brewing you will notice that a new scoby will start to form as a thin white layer on the top of your brew. This baby scoby will either be separate from the mother or fused to the mother. Continue to make your kombucha with the mother and baby together until the baby is about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick. At this point the baby scoby can be given to a friend so that they can begin to make their own kombucha, or you can replace the mother with the baby scoby and begin to ferment as before.
On the other hand, you may wish to make larger batches of kombucha and can use both the mother and baby together and double the amounts. Keeping the mother hasn’t caused any reported problems or contamination. According to some sources, the mother can keep fermenting new kombucha batches for about another month after its first use but will then become inactive and should be thrown away.
And, please remember, a scoby is a living organism.