Kombucha is a delicious elixir for the immune system made from a colony of healthy yeast and bacteria growing symbiotically and feeding on sweetened green tea. As with beer, wine, cheese, yogurt, pickles, soy sauce and vinegar, kombucha is produced by a process of fermentation, which allows micro-organisms to act on foods. Kombucha contains organic acids, active enzymes (aiding in digestion), probiotics (healthy bacteria for your gut), amino acids and antioxidants (the yeast processes sugar into acids and vitamins).
and enjoy your Scoby, do!
What you will need:
–1/2 gal (or 2 quarts) Distilled Water
–3 bags (or 2-3 tsp loose leaf) Organic Green Tea
–3/4 cup Organic white sugar
–2 cups of “starter tea” (This is just kombucha, usually the bottom of the barrel where yeasty goodness is concentrated. Can be with or without Mother.)
Let’s do it:
–White vinegar cleans utensils, pot and glass containers.
–Using a stainless steel pot, bring water to rapid boil for 1-2 min.
–Cool to 180 degrees (give or take).
–Dissolve 3/4 cup sugar.
–Steep 3 tea bags (or 2-3 tsp loose leaf) for at least 5-10 minutes.
–Let cool to just above room temp (80 degrees is ideal; above 85 is too hot). It takes several hours for cooling to happen, so you can leave it overnight if you like.
–Remove tea bags/strain loose leaf.
–Optional: Now, you may want to add a tablespoon of white or apple cider vinegar (not raw) to get things going if this is a new brew or the last one was on the sweet side.
–Add “starter tea” and give a stir, being conscious of your mother if you\’ve got one!
–Wipe down the lid of your jar. Make sure any exposed glass above the tea is dry (Critters like sugar and you don’t want to attract any contaminants!). Wrap a t-shirt/paper towel/coffee filter over the lid and rubber band in place. A t-shirt works well because it will drape over the whole jar and protect the brew from strong sunlight. I like to use coffee filters too.
–Place jar in a warm, quiet spot out of direct sunlight. Temps should be between 75 and 85 degrees. The warmer it is, the quicker it ferments and stays healthy. Leave for 7-14 days.
Kombucha is ready when it tastes good to you! I like to harvest early to keep some of that tender sweetness. This makes for a very complex and wonderful taste. If a brew gets too vinegary, you can add fruit juice or more sweet tea and brew again! Mother should be at least 1/8” – 1/4” thick at harvest. When disturbed, a new baby layer will begin to form on top. You can separate these for sharing or the colonization of another jar. As the mother ages (after a number of brews) she will need to be retired to your compost pile.
Bottle kombucha for drinking (I like to use wine bottles, but watch those corks – contents are under pressure!). Leave several cups of starter tea in the jar with your mother. Now you are ready to add fresh sweet tea and go again! Make adjustments to each new brew based on your harvest from the previous batch.
Now is the fun part: you can add anything you like to flavor your kombucha! I have found that blueberry juice and ginger is a great combination. Carbonated apple cider is also delectable. If you want to add more carbonation, harvest when kombucha is still sweet, add optional flavoring and seal bottles without air for two weeks. Russell says, “Less carbonation = more healthy. More carbonation = more fun!”
You can leave kombucha at room temp or put it in the fridge, which will nearly halt fermentation. When left at room temp, often you will find a little baby scoby forming at the surface. I look forward to these, but if you don’t want to drink it down, use it to brew a tender new batch and watch the tender darling turn into a full fledged Mother!
Remember: Kombucha doesn’t like metal or plastic, so avoid prolonged exposure to these elements (it actually leaches toxins from these vessels). Glass works best. Ceramic must be sealed with an unleaded/non metallic glaze.
White or black tea is also an option. I find it is best to start simple and move into experimenting. Black tea will shorten the life of the Mother: as she ages she darkens and will be ready for the compost when coffee colored.
These are all things that I have learned from my research and experience with kombucha. I love sharing the magic of the Mother with any one who is curious! I hope the instruction is helpful in getting you started on the road to your own exploration and relationship with zoogleal mats everywhere! And remember the most important thing: LOVE YOUR MOTHER!!
(: Happy Mother\’s Day! 😉