Kombucha - Fermented Tea: A Brewing Guide
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from a variety of white, green and black teas, filtered water and organic raw sugar. It requires a starting culture called a SCOBY which stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeasts, this is essentially the good bacteria that is similar to a dietary probiotic. Your SCOBY will keep living as long as you look after it by feeding it (with the tea mixture) every now and then, or for those more ambitious, on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
Kombucha is way of gaining daily dietary probiotics that you can easily make yourself at home. It helps to restore balance in the gut bacteria which helps reduce bloating, upset tummies, constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, and other gut symptoms. It also helps to cleanse the body and detox organs, strengthen the immune system, improving skin and boosting mood. It’s an all round tonic and a delicious drink too!
You can drink a glass a day for overall health or you can have a little with each meal to assist in digestion. It’s also an effective way to switch from soda or soft drink to a naturally effervescent health drink.
Ingredients / Equipment you will need
1 x 5 L glass or ceramic container/jar
4 x 1 L glass bottles
Cloth cover (for jar)
Wooden or stainless steel Stirring Spoon
SCOBY starter culture (in some starter liquid – approx. 10%)
35g organic tea – can be white, green or black
350g organic granulated raw sugar
5 L filtered water (Chlorine and contaminate free)
- Sterilise all glass jars, bottles, saucepan and utensils (boiling water is fine)
- Place saucepan on medium heat and bring 1 L filtered water to boil, turn heat down to low and stir in sugar. Continue stirring until dissolved (don’t stop stirring or the sugar can burn)
- Remove from heat and add tea or tea bags to the saucepan, allow to steep for 10 – 20 minutes.
- Remove tea and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Add the sugared tea water to the 5 L jar with the SCOBY and the 10% starter liquid (that should have come with the SCOBY), fill up the rest of the jar with filtered water – leaving some air space at the top for the SCOBY to breath.
- Place a piece of cloth on top and tie in place with twine.
- Keep jar in a cool dark place (e.g. cupboard) for 1 – 2 weeks. Depending on the temperature it may ferment quicker or slower. You can test your brew by using a clean straw or spoon to taste. If it is too sweet let it brew longer, too sour means its been brewed too long however you can still drink it or use it as vinegar.
- If your Kombucha taste is to your liking, decanting by holding the SCOBY in the jar and pouring the liquid into the 1L sterilized glass bottles to store in the cupboard or fridge. You can now seal these bottles with a cap. (The floaty bits are good! See the notes below)
- OPTIONAL EXTRA STEP: For added flavor and effervescence, after decanting you can add in an extra ingredient e.g.
- Fresh Ginger and Turmeric Juice
- Fresh Berries juiced
- Fresh Mint
- Decant into 1L bottles with these extra ingredients and let sit with cap on for a further 3 days to get nice and bubbly. ENJOY!
- You can drink the ‘floaty bits’ . This is some of the SCOBY culture that has grown and is a concentrated shot of probiotics, super good for you so go ahead and drink away!
- You can put your SCOBY to ‘sleep’ by putting the SCOBY and 10 – 20 % of the liquid in the fridge
- You can easily share your SCOBY with others, as it will grow ‘babies’ that you can gently separate (with some of the liquid) and place in a new jar to start a new batch.
- The more SCOBY you have the quicker it will ferment.
- The warmer the temperature the faster it will ferment – the colder the slower it will ferment.
- You can change up the tea, even using herbal teas, however you need to include some caffeinated tea (white, green or black) every few brews to keep your SCOBY alive and happy.
- Sugar and the tea are what feed the SCOBY
- Make sure to sterilize (in boiling water) all jars, bottle, utensils and hands that may come in contact with the tea or SCOBY
- Always use filtered water for brewing Kombucha as the chlorine and other contaminates can disrupt or harm the SCOBY.
- Avoid using plastics when handling or bottling SCOBY or Kombucha tea as the BPA, phathates & other chemicals in the plastic can harm the good bacteria. It’s best to use glass, ceramic, wood and/or stainless steel.
- The SCOBY needs to have access to oxygen to ‘breath’, hence why we do not seal it off completely with a lid when fermenting – we just use the cloth to keep the bugs out. Once you decant you can seal it off with a cap and it will assist in making it effervescent.