I recently discovered the most fascinating drink – Kombucha. It is a beverage that delivers massive quantities of healthy bacteria and yeast into your digestive tract, and also helps the liver with detoxification. It has had a following for hundreds of years. Apparently Geishas drank this tea to help maintain their beautiful complexion and slim figures. Hello!? Um yeah, I’ll take some Geisha skin – thank you. People claim it helps with everything from occasional digestive problems to bad eyesight. Me? I have not had any miracle brought on by my consumption of massive quantities of this excellently fermented beverage, but I will tell you this – I freaking love it!! It is deliciously effervescent and I like the idea that I am doing something good for my body by drinking it, not just loading more crap into an ‘already overrun with processed crap’ system.. It is the perfect beverage to accompany dinner, or can be simply enjoyed as an afternoon tea. It is a must have; In particular if the legends are true and it does indeed help you live a long and healthy life.
What you need to brew it yourself: SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), Sugar – processed white is just fine here, and tea. Easy Peasy!! The Scoby is the flat round little disc shaped culture that is absolutely necessary for the fermentation process. The Scoby is what turns your sweet tea into Kombucha!! You can purchase a SCOBY from Etsy, or a number of health food stores online. I paid $5 for mine on Etsy.
Boil your water. Then pour your boiling water into a container with the sugar. I use 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup of sugar per gallon of water. Then place your tea bags in your water and sugar mixture and allow to steep until mixture is room temp. Remove tea bags and place Scoby, along with about 1 cup of tea saved from your last batch, into the sweet tea. Cover with paper towel or coffee filter and affix to jar with rubber band or string. Let sit undisturbed for 3-14 days, depending on how sweet you like your Kombucha – which is of course, personal preference. It should taste slightly tart, perhaps a bit like apple cider or vinegar, delicious! I like mine after about 7 days; but if it is warm (e.g. summertime) it may take less time than that. Store in airtight containers in the fridge; I use old Pellegrino bottles.
One more note – If you don’t have extra tea from your last brew session, or simply forgot to save some, Don’t fret!! I have made many successful batches of Kombucha without the cup of ‘starter tea’ and have not had any problems at all. Supposedly it just helps establish a favorable environment for the good yeasties and bacteria immediately, thus reduces the risk of sluggish fermentation. But, like I said I have done it plenty of times and still had a good outcome.
After your brew period has passed and you are ready bottle your Kombucha, there will be a fresh new SCOBY on the top of your brew. This is known as the baby. Sometimes the baby attaches itself to the mother (the original SCOBY) if the mother is also floating on the top of the brew and you can simply remove it from the mother. Use the baby as the SCOBY in your next batch and throw away the mother, or reuse the mother and make twice the Kombucha this time. Or better yet – give it to a friend and share the Kombucha love!!
Happy Brewing, beautiful people!!