In this weeks episode I introduce you to fermentation!  And there is no better way to start brewing than working with kombucha. 

What Is Kombucha Tea?

Is a fermented, sour, fizzy drink that is as good for you as it is delicious. It is made with a SCOBY, very remarkably similar to a mother used in apple cider vinegar

The SCOBY

SCOBYSymbiotic Culture of Bacteria and YeastThis is a living mother, it looks like a slimy mushroom, so do not be alarmed.  You will need a wide ope- glass jar.  It needs that open space for oxygen, theSCOBY will fill the entire surface of the jar and have babies….  you can get rid of thebabies, give them away, or keep them and your kombucha will ferment faster.  Youwill also need a cloth to cover the mouth of the jar, and a rubber band to keep it inplace. 

The Basics

You will also need, plain white sugar, and plain black tea. The SCOBY needs tea forthe tannins and the sugar to live. It will metabolize both so don’t be alarmed, the teamixture we make has a high content of sugar…. however, when it comes time forbottling the sugar should be metabolized and your kombucha not sweet. So, make sure to taste beforehand, and be aware that the colder it is the longer it takes to ferment also. It iseasy though, so don’t be overwhelmed you just need to follow a few simpleinstructions and you’ll be brewing in no time.  

Step 1

Recipe1 litre of water (filtered)1/3 cup of white sugar4 bags of black tea You steep the tea and sugar in the hot water for 10 mins.  This is enough time torelease the tannin, any longer and it becomes quite bitter. When the tea and sugar mixture has cooled, room temp, add it to the jar, then placethe SCOBY on top, then the starter tea on top of that.  The starter tea is a cup of theprevious batch of kombucha, it just makes the environment acidic enough for theSCOBY to survive.   

Storing your kombucha

Then you cover the jar with the cloth, secure that with the rubber band, then place ina dark spot (direct sunlight can kill the SCOBY) and leave it alone for at least 1week.  You will need to store your kombucha in a dark spot with stable temperatures.  I prefer my pantry.  It is in the middle of the house and dark. In that time the SCOBY will move around, create bubbles, and show life.  If itsinks to the bottom of the jar, and stays there, it is not viable.   When the kombucha is ready, it is time to do a second ferment.

STEP 2

Basically,  this is whenyou can add some flavours. For this you will need an extra bottle.   Remove the SCOBY and take 1 or 2 cups of starter tea/culture depending on theamount you are making and put in a bowl.   This you will save to repeat the processabove.

Flavours

With the left over tea, this is your kombucha, you can strain into a bottle then addany flavours you like.  Some suggestions I like are;blueberries and vanillaapple cinnamon and honeylemon peppermint and ginger  strawberry and lavenderWith your second ferment you want to include the best quality ingredients you can,organic, etc.  the initial ferment of tea and sugar doesn’t matter, the second fermentdoes.  Then bottle that for a day or so and you’ll be ready to go. 

Tips and Tricks

Make sure to ‘burp’ yourbottles if you leave the second ferment longer. As there is natural carbonation thisprevents your bottles bursting. Then grab your SCOBY and starter tea and repeat step 1The main thing to look out for is mould. This is rare but can happen. It looks likebread mould, you cannot mistake it, and if in doubt leave for another week and see if themould remains. Because it’s a weird looking thing, some people mistake the dredgetails, babies, for mould. These look like wispy jelly fish legs… and are completelynormal. The mould is different again, and if you’re in doubt you can send me a pic andIn the past five years, I’ve gotten mould once, and that was because I removed toomuch SCOBY for the amount I was brewing, usually it shouldn’t be a problembecause of all the good bacteria fighting off any nasties. If you have mould you mustditch the entire thing.

Important points to remember

The jar must be GLASSThe water FILTEREDThe flavoured ingredients must be good quality (you dont need much of those)Store your SCOBY in a dark spot that has an even temp, I store mine in my pantry. If there is MOLD you must throw the whole thing away, SCOBY and kombucha.It is a true elixir of health, good for everyone.  But start of slow, one cup a day andbuild up, just to avoid ‘slothing off’.

It takes me around 15 mins to do the above and bottle 6 litres a week.  And if Idont feel like it, or need a break, I have left them for months and theyve been fine.  It can stay in the pantry for at least 3 weeks, and in the fridge for months. With time the SCOBY gets really dark, it becomes stained by the tea,  sometimes if abag splits then it also has tiny grains of tea, all fine.

Quiz!

How much do you love your guts?  Take our QUIZ to find out!

Resources

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/research/advancements-in-research/fundamentals/in-depth/the-gut-where-bacteria-and-immune-system-meet

https://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/guide-difference-fermented-foods-probiotics/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6117398/

https://www.bustle.com/p/how-effective-are-probiotics-they-might-not-work-as-well-for-everyone-a-new-study-says-11859800

Images Unsplash Photos for Everyone

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