Gut Health

Making Kombucha (Part 1)

What is kombucha?

 Essentially, kombucha is fermentation of tea and sugar. It is rich in probiotics, B vitamins and antioxidants, and as an added bonus, the fermentation process causes a fizziness similar to soft drink, without all of the preservatives and sugars. Kombucha has been around for over a thousand years, with China, during the Qin Dynasty, believed to be the country of origin.

What are the health benefits?

 Some of the believed health benefits include; helping to detox the liver (enzymes and bacterial acids), promote healthy joints (it contains glucosamine), assist with digestion and gut health (from the probiotics), gives the immune system a boost and helps increase energy levels (anti-oxidants). Kombucha is a living drink created from tea and sugar, with the use of a SCOBY and some starter tea from a previous batch, or from a homemade scoby.

What on earth is a SCOBY?

 SCOBY is an acronym for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. It’s the bacteria and yeast that work together to produce the fermentation of the sugar and tea. Once the SCOBY digests the sugar and in turn, creates a variety of acids, amino acids, enzymes and vitamins. The actual SCOBY looks like a creamy coloured, rubbery substance that will become the same shape as the container it is brewing in (it really looks and feels quite strange the first time you encounter it).

To begin brewing your own kombucha, you will first need to access a SCOBY. It is possible to buy them online, but it is really, really easy to grow one at home, and it’s kind of awesome to watch.

 

How to grow a SCOBY at home

  1. I just went to the shop and bought a bottle of original flavor kombucha. It needs to be the original flavor with nothing added to it. You also need to make sure the kombucha you are buying has living enzymes in it still. The bottles that you find in the fridge section are usually ok. I have grown a scoby at home from the original Mojo kombucha, as well as the Remedy kombucha, both are pretty easy to access.
  2. Then I sterilized a glass jar with hot water and white vinegar. Don’t use soap or any antibacterial dishwashing liquid as it can kill the good bacteria that is in the kombucha. You also want to make sure that nothing metallic is going to be touching your scoby, they really don’t like that.
  3. Then put the original flavor kombucha in the jar, cover the top with a piece of paper towel so it can breathe and seal it with an elastic band.
  4. Then all you do is leave it on the bench, out of direct sunlight, where it wouldn’t get moved around too much, and leave it there.

 

It is pretty warm in my house, so it only took around four days for my SCOBY to grow. It was really thin and transparent, but ready to move on to the next step and start brewing my first batch of kombucha. In a cooler place, it would probably take longer to grow, but it will work if you use a good quality brand of kombucha. You can let the scoby continue to thicken in the jar if you prefer, however, it doesn’t need to be too thick to start the bigger batch of kombucha.

 

So, what’s the next step?

The next step is to get the equipment that you are going to need to brew a bigger batch of kombucha. I use a big glass jar with a spigot on it, but nothing metal as it interferes with the bacteria, green tea/black tea and raw sugar.

 

Recipe:

13 cups of water/ 3250 g water

1 cup raw sugar/ 212g raw sugar

8 tea bags (green or black)

 

Thermomix method:

Place 1000g of water into the thermomix bowl, with the sugar. Heat at 65 degrees for 15 mins, speed 1.

After this time, the sugar will be dissolved.

IMG_0976

Place the 8 teabags into the sugar water to steep. The green tea will only need around 3-5 mins, otherwise it will get bitter. The black tea will also only need around the same, otherwise it gets very dark and strong.

Remove the teabags and set the sweet tea aside.

Pour the rest of the water into the jar that will house the kombucha, then add in the sweet tea mixture.

The scoby and starter liquid can now be added. And that’s it, now you just cover the top of the jar with a breathable cloth and secure it so it won’t fall off (or in).

 

Regular method:

Place 4 cups of the water into a saucepan with the sugar.

Heat over low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. It is best if the water doesn’t boil, as it will need to be cooled down below 60 degrees before it can come into contact with the scoby and starter liquid, as the heat can kill the bacteria that is needed.

Once the sugar is dissolved, turn the heat off, and add the tea bags to steep. The green tea will only need around 3-5 mins, otherwise it will get bitter. The black tea will also only need around the same, otherwise it gets very dark and strong.

Remove the teabags and set the sweet tea aside.

Pour the rest of the water into the jar that will house the kombucha, then add in the sweet tea mixture.

The scoby and starter liquid can now be added. And that’s it, now you just cover the top of the jar with a breathable cloth and secure it so it won’t fall off (or in).

 

Then what?…….Now you place the jar in an area that has no direct sunlight, but not too dark, so that it can begin to ferment. In the colder weather, this will take longer that in the hotter months (maybe around 2 weeks). The only way to tell when the kombucha is ready, is to taste it. I like mine to quite tart tasting, as it means that most of the sugar has been eaten by the bacteria. If you are new to drinking kombucha, then you might like it to be a bit less tart. I would recommend testing a small amount of the kombucha every couple of days after the first week (in hotter months I would check it after the first 3 days).

Once it is to a taste you like, it can be bottled in glass or plastic bottles that can withstand the pressure of carbonation. If you want to make it fizzier, or add a flavor then you will need to do a second ferment. But this article is already long enough, so I’ll make another post about the second ferment.

Keep your kombucha in the fridge to stop the fermenting, so it doesn’t explode. Plus, it’s just nicer cold.

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