What is Kombucha?
The origins of Kombucha can be traced back to 220 B.C. It is said to have first appeared on the coast of the Bohai Sea in Northeast China, where it is traditional and still extremely common. It then spread to Germany, Russia, and other areas of Eastern Europe by the early twentieth century. Kombucha is now widely homebrewed around the world, as well as distilled and marketed commercially by a number of companies.
Kombucha is a fermented, lightly effervescent, sweetened black or green tea beverage that is famous for its alleged health benefits. To differentiate it from the bacteria and yeast culture, the beverage is often referred to as kombucha tea.
Kombucha became popular in the United States in the 1990's. Its popularity reached heights when enthusiasts began sharing their Scobies along with giving testimonies of the drinks' perceived health benefits with other people so everyone could brew the tea at home. Today, it is commercially made, bottled and sold is many many places, all across America.
An absolutely integral ingredient to making Kombucha tea is black tea. The stronger, the better and what better than to use our strong Assam orthodox and CTC black teas or even our Darjeeling black teas if you enjoy milder flavors!
Step by step recipe
- 3 1/2 quarts water
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 bags black tea (or 2 tablespoons loose tea)
- 2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought kombucha (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored)
- 1 scoby per fermentation jar, purchased or homemade
Optional flavoring extras for bottling
- Fruit, fruit juice, honey and herbs
- Stock pot
- 1-gallon glass jar or two 2-quart glass jars
- Tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), cloth filters like cheesecloth to cover the jar
- Clean soda or glass bottles
- Small funnel
- Boil and steep the black tea: Bring the water to a boil. After it has come to a boil, remove it from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Put in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled. Depending on the size of your pot, this will take a few hours.
- Adding the starter tea: Once the tea has cooled, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Then stir in the starter tea. (The starter tea makes the liquid acidic, which prevents unfriendly bacteria from taking up residence in the first few days of fermentation.)
- Pour tea into jars and add the scoby: Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar or if you use two jars, then you will need two scoby’s. Gently slide the scoby into the jar with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of tightly-woven cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels and secure with a rubber band.
- Ferment for a week to 10 days: Keep the jar at room temperature, somewhere it is out of direct sunlight and won't get disturbed. Ferment for a week to 10 days. Keep checking the kombucha and the scoby periodically.
- Checking the Kombucha: After 7 days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.
- Remove the scoby: Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch of kombucha, as outlined above. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. As you do, check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick.
- Bottle the kombucha: Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch. Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if needed) into bottles using the small funnel, along with any juice, herbs, or fruit you may want to use as flavoring. Leave about a half inch of head room in each bottle. (Or, one can infuse the kombucha with flavorings for a day or two in another covered jar, strain, and then bottle it. This makes a cleaner kombucha without bits in it.)
- Carbonate and store the kombucha: Store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.
Things to note
1. What is a scoby?
A SCOBY, which stands for "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast," is a fermentation and primary kombucha-making ingredient. The SCOBY's appearance varies, but it's usually thick, round, rubbery, and opaque, with a faint vinegar-like odor. The SCOBY's dish-like structure is mostly made up of cellulose, a form of insoluble fiber.
2. Does Kombucha have alcohol?
It does have almost 1% of alcohol per batch however, it is absolutely not enough to do anything to you unless you have multiple bottles back to back.
3. Does the sugar add calories?
No, absolutely not! That is why it is the perfect drink for a health junkie. The suger simply helps in the fermentation process.
4. How long does one homemade batch last?
One should consume a homemade batch within one month.
5. During and after fermentation, avoid prolonged contact between the kombucha and metal. This can alter the taste of your kombucha and, over time, weaken the scoby.
6. The scoby can end up floating sideways or have little brown strings and discoloration, this is all completely normal. The kombucha will taste sulphuric if something is wrong with the ratio of the ingredients or the scoby has developed mold.