Everything has its moment in the sun and at the minute it seems that Kombucha is having its time in the limelight. We love a bit of Kombucha, or “the Booch” as we call it, and use it as an alternative to beer as it really is a great refreshing drink, which has the added benefit of being good for you at the same time. Kombucha is reported to have lots of good things like probiotics and healthy gut bacteria and anything that gives you a little bit of a boost is fine by us. Best of all it’s really easy to make.
Many people think the key to making Kombucha is the Scoby, and there is some truth in that, however, far more important is having some existing Kombucha ready made before taking the next step. The Scoby (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) is a weird rubber like raft that most often floats at the top of the brewing Kombucha, gradually getting thicker with each passing day. There is little doubt that this is important but this is actually not the key to it all, the real key is in the bacteria and yeast already in the liquid from a previous Kombucha. So before you get going you need to buy your first, and potentially only, bottle of Kombucha and we would recommend a simple unflavoured one to start with. The only other outlay you may need to make is a large jar (we recommend a glass screw top Gallon jar) and some glass bottles.
Before we begin, it is important that you don’t use any metal spoons or bowls while making your Kombucha, rather use glass or ceramic as metal actually kills, or at least negatively affects, the Kombucha. So once you have your brewing vessels sorted you first need to boil about 2.5 liters of water and then leave this to completely cool. This part of the process is actually only done to get rid of some of the chemicals in tap water but is worth the bother. Once the water is cool, put the kettle on with another litre of water bringing it to the boil. Once it has boiled it is time to make tea. It is a personal choice what tea you use here and you don’t have to be precious about using loose tea, but we really like Darjeeling loose leaf tea which we brew at a ratio of 1 teaspoon per 250ml of water. So for us we add 4 teaspoons of tea (a teaspoon is about the same as 1 teabag) to a litre of boiling water and leave it for 30 minutes. Once brewed we then transfer this (straining out the leaves) to our clean gallon jar and then mix in 250g of white sugar until it is fully dissolved. Now added the cooled 2.5 litres of water into the same jar and check that the water is now at room temp or lower. If it is still a bit too hot just leave it to cool as it will come to no harm. Once you are happy that it is cool enough add your bought Kombucha (Scoby from the bottle as well) to the mix and give it a stir with a wooden spoon. The goal now is to leave the Kombucha to brew for 7-10 days but left uncovered it will attract fruit flies so simply use a bit of tight weave cloth to cover the jar and put an elastic band over the top to stop them getting in. Now find a place that is warm and out of the sun and leave you Kombucha there for 7 days but check in every day or so just to see things are moving along nicely. What you should hopefully start to see is some light brown yeast forming at the bottom and a few bubbles rising up, after a few more days a thin transparent film should begin to form on the top of the mixture which will thicken to make a pearl white Scoby. There should be no mould, no black bits or anything suspicious about this and if there is please do just start again. Once 10 days have passed lift the cloth and have a taste (a straw or small ceramic cup can be used) being careful not to damage or suck up the Scoby, if it is to your liking move on, if not let it brew a day or two more, sampling as you go along. Once you are happy, carefully lift the Scoby out into a glass bowl and add a couple of cups of the brewed Kombucha to the bowl as well and then bottle the rest. If you like some fizz add a teaspoon of sugar to each bottle and leave for 3 days somewhere warm and then refrigerate, or simple bottle and refrigerate for a still version. Now start the process again, but this time when you add the Kombucha gently add the Scoby to the surface first and then pour the Kombucha over the top. As this brews you will see the Scoby really thicken up and become far less delicate.
That’s it really, however, there are more things you can do. You can add flavours into the brewing process by adding fresh fruits, you can use different teas (Green Tea, White Tea but not fruit tea) you can even be generous and split your Scoby when it is thick enough and donate it to a friend. What ever you do let us know if it is a winner, as we would love to try it out too.
It really is that simple and much cheaper than buying it pre made from a shop. Happy, healthy drinking.