09 Dec Make Your Own Kombucha!
Kombucha: You may have heard of it before, but what the heck is it?
By Clarity practitioner & gut health enthusiast, Courtney Bignell
Kombucha (or ‘tea mushroom’) is a drink made by fermenting black or green tea leaves and sugar. The fermentation process is carried out by a live scoby—a symbiotic culture of bacteria (the good kind) and yeast. The scoby—or ‘tea mushroom’—may seem like a gelatinous mess at first, but it will slowly grab at your heart strings when you take on this fermentation process yourself and you realise how INCREDIBLY cool it is!
My number one reason for taking on this new elixir giving pet was to improve my gut health. As someone who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), I found that drinking a little Kombucha every day greatly decreases any IBS related symptoms and flare ups, reduces bloating and generally aids in digestion.
There are a number of other benefits that others have claimed it can do such as: optimising acid-alkaline balance in the digestive tract which enables nutrient absorption and waste removal, aids in immune system support and provides the body with B vitamins which improve overall energy.
Check more out about it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ashley-koff/kombucha-and-kefirs-hype_b_519195.html
You can even use the scoby as a source of vegan leather! Whoa: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/11/30/scientists-designers-and-students-are-making-vegan-leather-fr/
Taking care of your little sco-baby is pretty simple. Below is the recipe that I like to use, but it’s not an exact science. There are many ways to go about it, you can find heaps of recipes just by googling. There is the option of drinking the liquid straight from the first fermentation process, but you can also do a second ferment to add in some yummy flavours and make it fizz!!
FIRST FERMENT—What you will need:
2 Tbsp Black tea leaves (loose)
¼ cup of white sugar
¼ – ½ cup of previously fermented kombucha liquid
1L of boiling water
1L jug (glass, ceramic or plastic is fine. No metal)
A glass bowl/jar to ferment in
Muslin/cheesecloth/chux for covering your container
First some tips: your little sco-baby is quite sensitive. Your hands must be clean at all times and you mustn’t touch it to any metal; fermenting in a metal bowl or container is a no-no. Also, you must use boiled and cooled water, or a mix of boiling and cool filtered water to ferment. The chemicals in water straight out of the tap will kill your scoby.
Now to it!
First up: boil 1 L of water.
Into your jug add the tea leaves, sugar and boiling water. Leave to steep and cool to room temperature.
While waiting, play with crazy cat who has been biting your toes and generally getting under your feet as you’re moving through the kitchen. When cat is sleepy, the tea brew should have cooled.
When cooled, strain liquid into the glass container that you will use for fermenting. Discard tea leaves. Add to this mixture ¼ — ½ cup of previously fermented kombucha liquid.
**IMPORTANT to remember to save some of the liquid from the previous batch you have made**
Add in your scoby. If this is your first time just chuck it on in there! If you’ve made a previous batch and the scoby-mamma has through the miracle of birth made another sco-baby then you may like to separate them. If you listen closely while you’re separating them they may sing you the song of their people.
The mother is the bottom scoby, the baby is the one on top. Keep the mother to put in this batch of kombucha. You can give the baby to a friend, keep it to make MOOOAR kombucha, chuck it in the compost or put it straight into your garden or pot-plants, it makes a great fertilizer. You want to keep your mother for a while, some people recommend changing from mother to baby every 4 or 5 batches, but honestly I just change it over to the new baby when the mother is starting to look a bit too chunky. The bigger the scoby, the faster it’ll ferment the liquid so if you’re kombucha is starting to taste like vinegar quite quickly, it’s time to change!
Cover with muslin or cheese cloth; this allows for air flow but keeps out dust and foreign bits, fasten with an elastic band. Place on benchtop out of direct sunlight, leave for at least 1 week. When the kombucha is ready it should no longer taste sweet.
After a week you’re kombucha is either ready to drink, or ready for the second fermentation process. If you like the taste of the kombucha as is, put into a sealable jar and put it in the fridge. If you want to add amazing flavours then proceed with the second ferment!
SECOND FERMENT—what you will need:
1L apple juice (non-concentrate and no colours/flavours is best)
5 good slices of ginger
1 cinnamon stick
Large sealable jars
Remaining kombucha liquid (after removing ¼ — ½ for the next batch of first ferment)
The second ferment can be flavoured with pretty much anything. I like to use apple juice as it gives it a simple base to which you can add other flavours such as berries, lemon or ginger and spices—which is my favourite. With the extra fizz the second ferment produces and by adding ginger and spices, it makes for a spiced ginger beer flavour which is pretty delicious!
In a sealable jar add in 1:1 ratio of remaining kombucha liquid and apple juice. Do not over fill, only fill to about ¾ of the jar’s capacity, use more than one jar if necessary. Add ginger, cloves and cinnamon stick. Seal and leave on bench top for 2 days or until the liquid has gone fizzy and doesn’t taste as sweet. After this time put it in the refrigerator, this slows the fermentation process and keeps your kombucha tasting yummy! It will continue to ferment in the fridge however, when it starts to taste like vinegar is usually when I give it the ditch (after a week or so), but honestly it doesn’t usually last that long!
NOTE: during the second ferment you will want to open the jar once or twice a day to prevent the pressure building too much, it can cause glass jars to break. Alternatively, you can always use a plastic container to prevent breakage. Recycling 1.25L soft drink bottles works a charm.