Kombucha is an ancient, traditional fermented drink, rich in probiotics and anti-oxidants. Traditionally it is fermented from black tea and sugar, but you can substitute green tea for the black tea. Kombucha tea has been a prized beverage for over 2000 years by traditional cultures for its health-promoting properties.
The fermentation process is achieved by a SCOBY – a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. The sugar in the tea solution is fermented by the SCOBY to produce a nutrient rich drink. The fermentation process takes roughly 7-12 days depending on temperature and the strength of the SCOBY.
Over 90% of the sugar is consumed by the bacteria and yeast during fermentation. This produces a drink that is low in sugar, despite sugar being one of the original ingredients.
The health benefits of kombucha will be the subject of another post. Let’s get on to how you make it.
What You Need for Making Kombucha
To start a batch of kombucha, you will need the following ingredients:
- Filtered water (Chlorine and fluoride free)
- SCOBY in a cup full of starter tea
- Tea – either normal tea or green tea
- Jug to steep the tea
- Glass jar for the fermentation process
- Cotton cloth with elastic to cover the top of the jar
- Wooden spoon to stir
Clean filtered water is best to use for the kombucha, as chlorine and other chemicals will kill the bacteria on the SCOBY.
You can obtain a SCOBY in starter tea from a friend who is fermenting kombucha, or you can try the links below to purchase online.
The tea can be normal black tea, or you can use green tea (my preference). Green tea produces a lighter, flavourful kombucha. The sugar should be white sugar. Brown sugar does not seem to work as well.
The jar for fermentation must be glass, NOT metal or ceramic. Metal causes a reaction which kills the SCOBY. Lead can leech out of ceramics and into the tea.
Making the Batch of Kombucha
I generally make 1 litre batches at a time, but you can increase that according to your consumption.
Use the following quantities to make a 1 litre batch of kombucha.
- 2 tea bags (or 1.5 teaspoons of loose tea)
- ¼ cup of sugar
- 1 litre filtered water
- ½ to 1 cup starter tea with SCOBY
Boil the 1 litre of water. Pour the water into a jug with the sugar. Stir the water with the wooden spoon till the sugar dissolves. Place the tea bags in the sugar water and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. The longer you leave the tea in the water, the stronger the tea will be.
Remove the tea bags after the required time and let the tea cool to room temperature.
Pour the tea into the glass jar.
Add starter tea from a previous batch, or purchased online (see below) and the SCOBY to the liquid.
Cover the jar with the cotton cloth and secure with a rubber band.
Allow the mixture to sit undisturbed at 20 to 30 Celsius (68-85°F), out of direct sunlight, for 7-12 days. The longer you leave it, the stronger and more vinegary the taste becomes.
Pour kombucha off the top of the jar to consume or to flavor in a second ferment. Keep the SCOBY and enough liquid from the bottom of the jar. This will be your starter tea for fermenting the next batch of kombucha.
Flavouring the kombucha in a second ferment will be the topic of another post, so stay tuned! If you are interested in other probiotic fermented foods, check out out post on How To Make Kefir Yoghurt!
Should you struggle to source kombucha Scoby and starter tea, you may also consider getting a complete startup kit like one of these.
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