Kombucha. The What, Why and How.

Wait, but what is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a sweetened fermented tea, often flavored, with natural effervescence. That means, it is naturally fizzy. As a fermented beverage it has a very slight amount of alcohol. Some varieties, however, are created with more alcohol and known as hard kombucha.

Kombucha is an ancient drink thought to originate by the Qin Dynasty in China around the year 220 BC. Before becoming popular in the western world, it was a staple among many Russian homes and known as tea mushroom.

Today, it is herald by many around the world for its probiotic benefits and refreshing taste.

 

Wait, but why?

There are many reasons to enjoy kombucha. Like the previous generations of Russians, you could enjoy simply as a refreshing beverage in place of carbonated sodas. However, in the west, kombucha has gained popularity as a health drink. This is due to the probiotics released during the fermentation process.

As the bacteria and yeast from the SCOBY breaks down the sugar in the tea, probiotic bacteria is released. Probiotic bacteria is similar to the good bacteria found in our guts. As a result, kombucha is very beneficial for gut health and aids in overall gut health and common bowel concerns. Due to the link of the gut and digestive system, it may also help with digestion.

Kombucha is also similar to vinegar, and a longer fermentation period can actually create ‘kombucha vinegar.’ Just like vinegar, kombucha also has whats known as acetic acid which is known to fight a range of bacteria and can help fight infections.

Kombucha also contains antioxidants. Antioxidants are very beneficial to the liver as well as fighting free radicals.

When made with green tea, kombucha will also contain all the benefits of green tea.

Other benefits may include reduced risk of cancer and heart disease as well as management of type II diabetes and mental health.

 

What do I need?

Now that your ready to give it a try you’ll need a few things to get started. First, and most importantly, you’ll need a SCOBY. thats a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. This is what’s responsible for breaking down the sweetened tea and turning it into kombucha. You can buy one, grab one from friend, or purchase one.

You will also need a jar, fabric to cover the opening of the jar, and a rubber band to go around the rim and hold the fabric down. The size of the jar will depend on how much kombucha you want to make, the size of your SCOBY, and amount of kombucha or vinegar you have to start with. I suggest to start small with a quart size jar and to build up if you so desire. I currently brew in a 2 gallon jar. That is correct, I am not messing around.

A wooden spoon, unflavored black or green tea and tea bags (if you use loose tea), sugar, filtered water, tea kettle, and bottles are needed as well.

Let's Get Started.

The process is quite simple.  I will tell you the steps and at the end I will have the amounts needed based on the size jar you are  brewing in.

With your brewed kombucha or vinegar and your SCOBY in a clean jar, start to boil some water. As the water boils, prepare you steeping container- I use a large mixing bowl. Measure out and add your sugar into the bowl. Measure out your loose tea and place in a steeping bag, or use prepared tea bags. When your water is steaming, pour into the steeping container and mix to dissolve the sugar. Add the tea and let steep for 15 minutes. Remove the tea and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, add to your brewing jar where the SCOBY and prepared Kombucha or vinegar is housed.

Let sit about a week. It can be longer, but will become tarter and develop more of a vinegar taste. Optionally, you can taste a bit each day until you find the flavor is perfect for you.

When your kombucha is brewed to perfection, bottle it all up except for the amount needed to make the next batch (see ingredient amounts at the end). At this point you can flavor your kombucha by adding fruit or juices to the bottles. Afterwards, close up your bottles and let sit at room temperature for 2 days. This is the second ferment and is important for creating the signature fizz as well as letting the flavors combine with the kombucha.

After 2 days, refrigerate and enjoy cold. Do not shake though!!

 

Ratios

1 Quart Batch:

1/2c. vinegar or brewed kombucha

1.5 tsp loose tea or 2 tea bags

1/4 c sugar

2-3 cups hot water

1/2 Gallon Batch

1c. brewed kombucha

3 tsp loose tea or 3 tea bags

1/2c. sugar

6-7 c. hot water

1 Gallon Batch

2c. brewed kombucha

6 tsp loose tea or 6 tea bags

1 c. sugar

13-14 c. hot water