Kombucha is a delicious effervescent fermented sweetened tea beverage. It has been used for thousands of years to detoxify the body, cleanse the liver, for arthritis pain, and even treat cancer. The Chinese called it an “immortal health elixir”!!
To brew kombucha, you will need a SCOBY – symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Some people call it the kombucha “mother” or mushroom and it is the element which turns the sweetened tea into a living, fermented, enzyme rich beverage. I received my SCOBY from a dear friend of mine, so it wouldn’t hurt to ask around and see if anyone you know might have one. I have noticed that there are a few people on etsy selling SCOBY and entire startup kits, so if you can’t find one locally – support someone on etsy!
The Kombucha Recipe
(makes about 2 quarts)
3 quarts filtered water
1 cup sugar
4 tea bags of organic black tea (or 4 teaspoons loose leaf black tea)
½ cup kombucha from a previous culture
1 kombucha SCOBY
Process: Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add sugar and simmer until it has totally dissolved. Remove tea from heat, add the tea bags, and allow the tea to steep until water has cooled. Remove the tea bags and throw them into your compost bin. Pour the liquid into a 4 quart glass bowl, add the ½ cup of kombucha from previous batch, and then place the SCOBY on top of the liquid. Make an X over the top of the bowl with masking tape and cover it loosely with a cloth towel. (The masking tape ensures that the cloth will not fall into the kombucha.) Transfer the bowl to a warm, dark place, away from contaminants. In about 7-10 days your kombucha will be ready!
The perfect kombucha is slightly sour and fizzy, but still has a little sweetness, and it won’t taste like tea at all. It tastes a little like vinegar, in my opinion. Now you can either transfer the kombucha to covered glass containers (mason jars) and put them in the refrigerator or my preferred method is to put it in a wine bottle, cork it, and leave it out. I rarely put it in the refrigerator, and even after it has been opened several times, it still remains fizzy and as good as the day I opened it.
Once the kombucha is ready, you will see a SECOND spongy cake. This is a second SCOBY! You can keep it to use yourself, or give it to a friend. Store your kombucha SCOBY in a glass container with a ½ cup or more of the kombucha you just made. It can be used dozens of times before going bad. If it starts turning black or if the kombucha you make does not properly sour, then the SCOBY may have been contaminated. I like to keep a backup SCOBY in a separate jar for myself in case this happens… but it hasn’t happened yet!
A note about sugar – It is best to use white sugar because it gives the highest content of glucuronic acid to your tea. I have tried making kombucha with brown sugar and it did not ferment very well and was only slightly sour. In my experience, cheap white sugar works best!