Kombucha Basics for Beginners
I’ll admit it - kombucha was something that I never really had much interest in. Given that it’s quite a pricey beverage, it was never something that I was tempted to splurge on. I always thought of it as the drink of the hippies and health freaks and honestly, the thought of a SCOBY floating atop my drink just put me off entirely.
Then came the day when I took a dive straight into the unknown and tasted it. The tart, vinegary deliciousness that covered my taste buds was almost ethereal and after finding out about all the probiotic benefits of this fizzy favorite, I was sold!
Although I enjoy the refreshing taste of kombucha, brewing it was something that I never even bothered considering. That is until I started working for SpaZa and I discovered the many uses for dish covers. It was then when I decided to look into the process of making homemade kombucha and how our dish covers could be used to enhance the process. And while there are a million methods of brewing and a million more tips and tricks, this is what I’ve learnt works for me and will hopefully work for you.
A few basics before you begin:
- Kombucha is fermented tea that dates back for centuries. It’s made by adding a SCOBY (a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to sweetened tea.
- It takes some time to brew and will need to be left to ferment for several weeks before it can be enjoyed.
- You’ll need a viable SCOBY before fermentation can begin. You can either make your own or obtain a SCOBY from a reputable source.
How to make a SCOBY from scratch:
- Gather together your ingredients and tools - 7 cups of water, ½ cup of sugar, 4 bags of black tea, 1 cup of plain unpasteurized kombucha, a large canning jar and a jug cover.
- Make the sweet tea by steeping the tea bags in boiling water for 20 minutes and completely dissolving the sugar. Let the tea cool to room temperature and pour into your canning jar.
- Next, pour a cup of your unpasteurized kombucha into the canning jar and cover with the dish cover.
- Store the canning jar in a room-temperature area that’s out of direct sunlight.
- Keep the jar there for 2 to 4 weeks, checking the SCOBY every few days until bubbles form on the surface of the tea and a thin, whitish, jelly-like film develops across the top of the liquid. Over time, the film will become almost opaque in color. The SCOBY is ready when it’s grown into a 6,35 mm (¼ inch) thick puck.
- Your SCOBY is now ready to be used in your first batch of kombucha.
How to make your first batch of kombucha:
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a pot. Turn off the heat and add 6 to 8 tea bags. Steep for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the tea bags and add 1 cup of sugar and 8 cups of cold water. Stir to dissolve the sugar granules.
- Pour the cool tea into a glass brewing jar, then add 1 to 2 cups of cold water.
- When the tea is at room temperature, pour in the SCOBY and 1 ½ to 2 cups of the starter liquid that the SCOBY was sitting in.
- Cover the jar with a dish cover and place in a room temperature area.
- After 1 week, gently push your SCOBY to the side with a straw and take a sip of the liquid. If it’s as tart as you like, you’re ready to proceed to the next step. If you would like a sharper, more vinegary taste, allow the tea to ferment for a longer time.
- When you’re happy with the taste, move the SCOBY to another jar and with 1 ½ to 2 cups of the brewing liquid (this will be your SCOBY’s home until it’s ready to be used again).
- If you would like to flavor your kombucha, portion your brew into smaller bottles, seal tightly and allow to ferment for a further 3-7 days, depending on how much fizz you would like in your drink. Don’t forget to taste your kombucha every few days.
A few extra tips:
Allow your booch to breathe. Kombucha requires breathing room and air. This is why our dish covers offer the perfect solution for this. They’re breathable, allowing adequate ventilation while keeping out bugs and other contaminants.
Flavor your kombucha with organic juice. When flavoring your base kombucha, it’s best to use organic 100% juice and bottle the flavored kombucha in a swing top jar. This will allow for great flavor and adequate carbonation.
PLEASE NOTE: Leaving your kombucha to ferment for too long in a sealed jar can result in a build-up of pressure and could cause the bottle to explode or liquid to gush out. Make sure to open your jar over the sink or outside.
Keep it clean. This is an incredibly important step that many people neglect. Be careful when handling anything that comes into contact with your brew and make sure that all your tools and jars are clean before starting the process. Contaminants of any kind could cause mold on your SCOBY, in which case you would have to toss it and start over. Trial and error is a huge part of the process so learn from your mistakes along the way and make sure to clean in between steps.
While brewing your own kombucha can be a time-consuming exercise, it’s also extremely rewarding. Make sure to be patient through the process and before you know it, you’ll be a master at making your own kombucha. Happy brewing!