One of my absolute favourite ferments to teach is brewing kombucha. It's perfect for the first-time fermenter because it's easy, inexpensive, delicious and you can take breaks without a fuss.
Kombucha is an easy ferment because you don't need fancy equipment, the starter culture isn't fussy and it doesn't need to be constantly fed meaning that you can take breaks, (more on how to do that to come). If you've been buying your kombucha from the health food store, you know how quickly the cost adds up. Some brands charge $6 for a bottle. Brewing your own is very inexpensive, costing just pennies a glass!
All you need to brew kombucha is your starter culture or SCOBY (acronym for a 'symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), organic tea, sugar, glass brewing vessel, napkin, rubber band and glass jars to store your finished brew. You can either purchase or grow your SCOBY.
Purchasing a SCOBY
You can find SCOBY's online or at some health food stores. Before you buy, ask around, you may have friends who are brewing that can share culture with you. If you're keen, you can also grow your own using a bottle of kombucha.
Growing your own SCOBY
Pour a bottle of organic, unflavoured kombucha into a 2 litre glass mason jar and add 1 cup of sweetened (use 2 heaping Tbsp of sugar) organic green or black tea. Make sure both kombucha and tea are room temperature when you combine. Cover with a napkin, secure with a rubber band and leave in a warm spot for 2 weeks or more until your SCOBY has grown on the top to a thickness of a few centimetres. Use SCOBY and the liquid for your first brew.
How to brew kombucha
Once you've obtained your scoby and starter fluid, follow the steps in the video below.
Adding Flavour – Double Fermentation
You can add fun flavours to your ferment as well as additional fizz by adding an optional extra step, often called a double ferment. Here's a video to show you how,
Storing your SCOBY
One of the best things about kombucha is how easy it is to take a break from brewing. Whereas some starters need to be fed almost daily and can only be stored for a week, kombucha can be stored for several months without feeding! To take a break, place your SCOBY (you can store multiple ones in the same jar) in a 2 litre mason jar and fill to 2/3 with brewed kombucha. Add room temperature sweetened tea, to within 1 inch of rim and cover with a napkin, secured with rubber band, and store in your refrigerator. The cold will slow the fermentation process down and your kombucha will happily wait for several months until your ready to brew again.
Enjoying your Kombucha
Kombucha is a good source of probiotic bacteria and digestive acids. If you are new to fermented foods, you may want to begin slowly starting with a 1/4 cup and building up to larger amounts. I like to drink kombucha before a meal to help boost my stomach acid and to enhance digestion.
Thanks for reading and watching! Get in touch if you have any questions and if you'd like to learn how to brew in person (and receive a starter kit), come to one of Kombucha Brewing Workshops.
Next week, I'll show you how to brew Beet Kvass! This super nourishing ferment is wonderful for digestion and benefits the blood and liver.