The brilliant Adam from Jarr Kombucha came to the office this week to teach us to make kombucha, which we’ve just started serving in the deli. It’s a surprisingly simple process, so we wanted to show you guys how to do it at home. The recipe is below but before I’ve shared a couple of questions I asked him, which I thought might be helpful for everyone.
What is Kombucha?
– Kombucha is fermented tea, which dates back to 221 BC during the Qin Dynasty in China. It worked its way to Japan in 414 AD and then across the Silk Road into Russia and Ukraine before reaching Europe and making its way into the US.
– It’s ingredients are simple; tea, sugar, water and a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast)
Why is it good for you?
– It contains beneficial acids (acetic, gluconic, citric, lactic, glucuronic) that are produced through the fermentation process and aid in digestion, as well as vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants from the tea with which it is brewed
What’s a SCOBY?
Most people believe the “SCOBY” is the white pancake-like material that grows on top of your Kombucha brew, but this is simply a byproduct (cellulose pellicle) of the fermentation process and is unnecessary for your brew if you have enough starter liquid. The true SCOBY is the starter liquid, AKA Kombucha from a previous batch. The starter liquid is rich in bacteria, yeast and beneficial acids; the necessary components for properly acidifying your brew and kick starting the fermentation process. If you don’t have access to starter liquid, I would recommend purchasing a cellulose pellicle from happy kombucha, which will in fact work well for your first brew, as the starter liquid will be housed in the cellulose.
Do’s and Don’ts of brewing Kombucha
– Sterilise your brewing vessel and utensils before starting (you can simply use boiling water or white spirit vinegar)
– Use glass for brewing at home, fermentation grade stainless steel if scaling up
– Once brewed, keep your booch nice and warm: ideally between 21 and 27 degrees celsius (near a radiator or on heating pads ideally). Lower temperatures (21-23) mean a slower, less sour Kombucha, higher temperatures (24-27) mean a faster fermentation
– Keep your brew in a space with proper air flow (a small fan circulating air is ideal)
– Taste your brew after about 7 days to see how the fermentation is going
– If you’re going on holiday your Kombucha can simply be stored in the fridge with a lid, which will halt the fermentation temporarily
– Never store your Kombucha in direct sunlight, UV rays can damage the bacteria content and disrupt the fermentation
– Never ferment above 30 degrees – the yeast in the Kombucha will go crazy and create funky flavours, alcohol and will become unbalanced
– Keep your Kombucha away from smoke – cigarettes, BBQ, cooking, etc. should be kept away from your brewing vessel
– Keep your brewing vessel away from flowering plants – they can cross pollinate with your brew if stored too close by
– Always cool down your tea before adding your starter liquid – water above 35 degrees will kill the bacteria
How to Flavour
– This video is one of the best that I can find for flavouring
– Once your Kombucha is finished brewing (it tastes as you would like it to after 10 – 21 days of fermenting) you can add fruit or fruit juice for flavouring + fizz. You can use fresh fruit or fruit juice and we recommend making it 5% – 10% of the total liquid content, although some flavours, like ginger or turmeric, require less
– The fructose (a type of natural sugar) from the fruit will convert into C02 in a closed environment, leading to natural fizz
– To add it, you’ll need some reusable glass bottles with caps capable of withstanding pressure (our large empty Jarr Kombucha bottles are perfect). Fill the bottle or bottles about 3/4 of the way with your finished original Kombucha, then add the chopped up fruit or juice to the 3/4th filled bottles of original Kombucha and put the cap back on
– You will want to leave the bottle at room temperature for at least 3 days, each morning “burping” the bottle to remove pressure (opening the cap, letting our C02 and putting the cap back on)
-After 3 days you can taste the Kombucha and see if it is fizzy enough for you, the longer you leave it, the fizzier it will get until it’s just right for your tastes
How long does it last?
– Kombucha will actually last indefinitely as it’s acidic enough to protect it from outside contaminants – so as long as it’s kept refrigerated it can be enjoyed for as long as you’d like!
– We find our Kombucha is best enjoyed within 5 days of opening a bottle so that it keeps its fizziness and consistency but it’s entirely up to you
– Once it’s ready, place it in the fridge and you’re good to go
How to enjoy it
– Kombucha is best enjoyed cold and fizzy in our opinion, but sometimes fizziness is inconsistent when it comes to home brewing. It’s just as healthy if you have it flat though!
– We enjoy ours either straight out of the bottle, poured into a glass or over ice, but it’s also delicious in cocktails, here are a couple simple ingredients that work well together:
1) Passion fruit kombucha, fresh lime juice, cachaca, agave nectar, celery and salted rim, cracked pepper
2) Ginger kombucha, muddled raspberries, vodka, fresh lime, agave nectar
3) Original kombucha, demerara rum, fresh lime juice + limes, fresh mint leaves, agave nectar
1 kombucha culture / S.C.O.B.Y
Starter liquid i.e. 200 ml of original, unflavoured kombucha or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. (If you purchase your S.C.O.B.Y online, it will most likely come with enough starter liquid for a 2-litre batch.)
2 litres of filtered water
4–6 tea bags (8–12 grams) organic tea bags (black, green, white or oolong)
160g organic granulated cane sugar
Glass jar capable of holding 2 litres
Breathable cotton cloth to place over the jar
A warm and airy space to let your booch brew
Boil filtered water. While you‘re waiting, drop the tea bags into your glass jar. Pour 500ml of boiled water into the jar (1/4 of your total brew). Mix the tea bags for about 10 minutes.
Remove the tea bags or loose-leaf tea with a clean utensil and add the sugar to your tea. Mix until dissolved.
Top up your sweet tea mixture with extra filtered water to bring the liquid to a total of 2 litres.
Make sure your tea is cool, it must be below 29°C, before adding your S.C.O.B.Y and starter liquid to the jar.
Cover with the cloth and place in warm space (ideally between 23 and 27°C) for 10 – 14 days.