Following on from our blog on ‘The Health Benefits Of Fermented Foods’ we discovered that fermentation is the process of converting carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using microorganisms – yeast or bacteria – under anaerobic conditions – which is the absence of oxygen. We would all be aware of the most common foods where fermentation occurs; cheese, vinegar, olives, yoghurt, beer, wine & cider but recently we have seen the rise in popularity in fermented foods such as Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kombucha & Miso. These foods would be known for having very strong & distinctive tastes. One in particular, Kombucha, is a popular fermented drink on the rise and renowned for its funky flavours available on the market and commended for its low sugar content and containing ‘good bacteria’.
As it’s more readily available in shops across the country, it can be quite expensive to buy due to the fact it can be quite time-consuming to make. The positive about Kombucha is that it’s very simple and affordable to make yourself at home or in your establishment! We decided to test out making our very own Kombucha in the office to see how ‘easy’ it really is. We firstly bought a SCOBY, which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, which is used to produce this drink. You can buy a SCOBY starter online on most websites! If you’re interested in attempting to make your own Kombucha at home, check out the easy recipe we used and exactly what you need to get to make the perfect Kombucha.
- 3 ½ water
- 1 cup sugar (regular granulated sugar works best)
- 8 bags black tea, green tea, or a mix (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 online)
Optional flavoring extras for bottling:
- 1 to 2 cups chopped fruit
- 2 to 3 cups fruit juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons flavored tea (like hibiscus or Earl Grey)
- Make the tea base by firstly mixing boiled water & sugar! Then, drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled down completely (this may take a few hours) Otherwise, you can place the tea pot in ice to speed the process up.
- Add the starter tea: Once the tea has cooled down completely, remove the tea bags. 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.)
- Transfer to jars and add the scoby: Pour the mixture into a 3 litre glass jar and gently slide the scoby into the jar with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers tightly-woven cheese cloth!
- Ferment for 7 to 10 days: Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won't get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, checking the kombucha and the scoby periodically.
It's not unusual for the scoby to float at the top, bottom, or even sideways during fermentation. A new cream-colored layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. It usually attaches to the old scoby, but it's ok if they separate. You may also see brown stringy bits floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles collecting around the scoby. This is all normal and signs of healthy fermentation.
- After 7 days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a small bit from the jar into a small cup! When it reaches a balance between sweetness & tartness, it’s 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 finished 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 desired) 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. (Alternatively, infuse the kombucha with flavorings for a day or two in another covered jar, strain, and then bottle. This makes a cleaner kombucha without "bits" in it.)
- Carbonate and refrigerate the finished kombucha: Store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Until you get a feel for how quickly your kombucha carbonates, it's helpful to keep it in plastic bottles; the kombucha is carbonated when the bottles feel rock solid. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.
Have you began making your own Kombucha or you have your own fool-proof recipe you'd like to share? We'd love to hear from you! Let us know on Facebook or Twitter! Stay connected with our Instagram to see our up-coming Kombucha video on how we got on making our own here at Hugh Jordan!