Kombucha

Homemade Kombucha (Cultured Tea)

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Allergy Egg, Fish, Milk, Peanuts, Shellfish, Soy, Tree Nuts, Wheat
Dietary Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegetarian
Meal type Beverage
Misc Serve Cold
Kombucha is a fermented probiotic beverage. The caffeine and sugar are "eaten" during the fermentation process and what you are left with is a tangy vinegar-like beverage. The taste of your kombucha will depend on the tea used and the fermentation length. The SCOBY is a bacterial and yeast starter culture that includes beneficial probiotics such as Acetobacter, Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, Gluconacetobacter and Zygosaccharomyces strains. Drinking kombucha provides many more helpful. For more information on Kombucha or to order a starter culture see the Cultures for Health website: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha-yeast-bacteria

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups water (boiling hot)
  • 3-4 organic black tea bags (caffeinated tea (decaf won't work))
  • 1/2 cup ogranic sugar (white sugar works the best)
  • 1 cup kombucha from last batch (for first time see Note below)
  • 1 Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY)
  • 2-3 cups water (room temperature)

Note

Kombucha is a fermented probiotic beverage. The caffeine and sugar are "eaten" during the fermentation process and what you are left with is a tangy vinegar-like beverage. The taste of your kombucha will depend on the tea used and the fermentation length. The SCOBY is a bacterial and yeast starter culture that includes beneficial probiotics such as Acetobacter, Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, Gluconacetobacter and Zygosaccharomyces strains. Drinking kombucha provides many more helpful bacteria for your digestive tract than yogurt.

For more information on Kombucha or to order a starter culture see the Cultures for Health website: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha-yeast-bacteria

To get started you can purchase a dehydrated scoby online, obtain one from a friend or grow your own. Growing your own takes quite a bit longer but it's typically a fifth of the price of an online purchase.

To grow your own scoby: Purchase a bottle of kombucha (I like GT Original). Pour that kombucha into a quart size ball jar. Steep 1 tea bag into 1 cup of water and add in 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Once your tea has steeped and cooled add it to the kombucha and wait a week for the SCOBY to form.

I use a SCOBY for 1-3 batches then either toss it into the compost bin, eat it, or feed it to my dog. If your SCOBY baby has attached to your mother, no worries, simply cut them in 1/2 with scissors.

Directions

Initial fermentation
Step 1. Place the sugar into a 1/2 gallon ball jar (or split into two 1-quart jars). Add in 2-4 cups of boiling water and stir if needed to ensure all sugar is dissolved. Add your tea bags and let your tea steep till room temperature (I let mine steep overnight).
Step 2. Remove the tea bags.
Step 3. Add in the SCOBY and 1 cup of kombucha from the last batch as a starter. Top off your jar till the water line is about 6 or 6 1/2 cups total.
Step 4. Cover your jar with a non-bleached coffee filter, paper towel or cheese cloth, securing it with a rubber band or your ball jar ring (not the metal top).
Step 5. Let this mixture ferment for 10-16 days depending on your taste preferences. I do not ferment in direct light, but in a room that has ambient natural light. The longer the fermentation the less sugar will be left. A three week fermentation is pretty vinegary for my taste. I ferment for 2 weeks as my preferred taste.
Step 6. After your 10-16 day fermentation, remove the new "baby" SCOBY that forms (typically on the top) and 1 cup from this batch of kombucha to start another round. Drink the rest or proceed to a secondary fermentation to create a fizzier drink. You can discard the "mother" SCOBY, eat it, put it in your compost, or use it again to double your batch.
Optional secondary fermentation
Step 7. Pour the fermented kombucha (after you have removed the SCOBY and 1 cup of tea as a starter) into smaller serving size containers. I use 2-cup size ball jars or clean 16 oz jars. Jars must have lids. Leave a little bit of room (like 1/3-1/2 cup) for flavoring if wanted.
Step 8. Add additional optional flavoring such as fruit, 1/4 cup fruit juice, 1/4 strongly flavored tea, or 1-2 TBST lemon juice. I often use grated ginger or ginger tea, blueberries (about 6-8), or some sweet fruit herbal tea like cherry.
Step 9. Close the jar tightly and let this secondary fermentation sit for an additional couple of days to add carbonation.
Step 10. Transfer your finished kombucha to the refrigerator for storage. Kombucha will be drinkable for up to six months. The tea will still ferment in the fridge, just at a much slower rate.
First time - Growing a SCOBY
Step 11. If you don't have a SCOBY from a friend or neighbor, no problem, you can grow one. Purchase a bottle of Kombucha from the store. Original flavor is best, and I personally like the GT brand best for growing a new SCOBY. Transfer that liquid into a larger bottle.
Step 12. Add 1 cup cooled sweetened tea (1 black tea bag, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 cup water) to the kombucha.
Step 13. Cover with a coffee filter or paper towel and secure with a rubber band. A SCOBY should grow within a week to you to use as a starter.
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