Kombucha 101

I remember learning about Kombucha online and then immediately finding a SCOBY @ Harvest Community Foods, literally steps away from my apartment. The bright-eyed clerk behind the counter set me up with the same enthusiasm I now understand and share today. It was a validating “yes, stars are aligning” moment  – what a genuine display of the fermentation culture! Bewitched by the slice of symbiotic culture swimming in it’s own juices, I knew then I was on the road to experimentation and discovery

Blast from the past: 2014, when all my friends refused to try the weird things from my kitchen. Oh, some things just don’t change!

….That was circa 2014. Fast forward, after a few accidents and 100s of batches, I now love sharing my booch story, how easy it really is and have become your local SCOBY/Booch pusher. Kombucha was sort of the “gateway” ferment that opened a whole world of gut promoting elixirs and homemades  – methods predating any pre-packaged goods. Working with nature, a delicious batch of booch is a fine reward all on its own, but it is in the process where empowerment lies! I apply the same precautions with all ferments: start with quality ingredients, stay clean but not sterile and always reserve surplus/a backup.

So, get your hands dirty (figuratively!!) and try making your own kombucha at home. Check out some tips and a simple recipe after the jump!

UPDATE: I now have SCOBYs to share, if you are in 604 / 778 give me a shout 

 

What is Kombucha?

  • Sweetened green/black tea fermented into a crisp, tart, fizzy drink
  • Produced by a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast)
  • Dating back as early as China’s Qin Dynasty ~200 BC, regained popularity after sugar and tea became available post World War II
  • Full of probiotics +  gut healing enzymes and acids 
  • Improves circulation, digestion, reduce inflammation and clear toxins from the body
  • Naturally acidic, leaving the body more alkaline (much like lemon water!)
  • Great for curbing sugar/pop cravings!

 

 

What do you need to make Kombucha?

  • SCOBY
  • 2 cups of starter tea (the acidic tea from a previous batch)
  • 2 tbsp OR 8 tea bags of organic green or black tea*
  • 1 gallon glass jar
  • White sugar
  • Water
  • Food safe mesh cover (clean towel, cheesecloth, coffee filter)
  • Bottles with swing cap (optional for 2nd fermentation)

*Stay away from flavoured or scented teas. Although, SCOBYs are somewhat adaptive, there have been Kombuchas brewed without any tea at all. Always slowly introduce a new tea and make sure you have a backup first before testing. Let me know how your experiments go! I would love to hear your results.

 

HELP, My SCOBY Looks Funky!

SCOBY is a self-perpetuating culture that’s more resilient than you think. Sometimes the baby looks the same as the mother, sometimes it’s thin, holey, bubbly, tinted/brown or doesn’t float. It’s like each SCOBY has a story of it’s own. It needs the ideal conditions to thrive, but at the end of the day, we do not have full control. Temperature, contaminants, or poor quality ingredients can exhaust the mother in due time.

 

I’ll have to get a shot of my OG mother, she’s itty-bitty, brown and beautiful!

 

Signs of Bad SCOBY (Bad as in BAD kind of bad)

  • white/green/blue/black disks floating on top
  • dry/dusty/fuzzy substance on surface

Not limited to the signs above, Kombucha may grow mold if the brew is not in an ideal acidic and warm environment. Warm environment also means a faster brew – win win!

When in doubt throw it out! Don’t be discouraged if your starter goes south. Learning the hows and whys from those mistakes will help you get closer to your end goal!

 

 

Tips & DIY Ideas 

  • Use organic ingredients and non-metal equipment when possible 

    Some of the SCOBY gang chilling in the 5-star SCOBY Hotel!
  • Homemade kombucha will lose it’s potency if you store it in the fridge. Try adding some ice cubes for a cool booch!
  • Set up a SCOBY “Hotel” (NEW POST) for happy SCOBYs
  • Flavour your booch with other juices, teas, or herbs during the 2nd fermentation
  • Want more carbonation? Add more sugar during the 2nd fermentation process

 

Now getting the the basics down on paper, there is quite a bit to drink in.  Don’t be intimidated! Trust. You will be enjoying a fresh batch of homemade booch in no time!

Note: If you are a child, are pregnant, have a compromised immune system, or have kidney disease, it may be advisable to talk with your doctor before beginning to drink kombucha.

 

Print Recipe
Kombucha
Try your hand at making an effervescent fermented tea beverage!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 7+ days
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Tools
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 7+ days
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Tools
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Bring the 16 cups of water to a boil for 20 minutes.
  2. Add tea/tea bags and sugar. Mix to combine well and let cool.
  3. When the tea mixture is at room temperature*, transfer into the 1 gallon wide-mouth glass jar.
  4. Add SCOBY and the starter tea. Stir and combine.
  5. Cover and secure the jar with cheesecloth to avoid contaminants from falling in. Keek out of direct sunlight in room temperature. Check back around 6-7 days.
  6. The tea will go from sweet to tart as it ferments. Eventually will turn into vinegar. Tasting the tea with clean utensil is the best way to find your sweet spot!
  7. Save the scoby and 1-2 cups of the fermented tea for the next batch.
  8. OPTIONAL: bottling the kombucha in flip cap glass bottles for more carbonation. This step is called "2nd fermentation". At this time, you are free to experiment with added flavours such as juices, fruits or herbs. "Burp" the bottles every 1-2 days depending on your room temp - gas will build up and accidents could happen! Keep in fridge for long term storage.**
Recipe Notes

Make sure you start with a clean work area and tools.

*Adding the SCOBY into hot tea will harm or kill it! Do make sure the tea is cool enough first.

Throughout the process I like to keep the sweet tea covered as much as possible to avoid contaminants.

Metal can damage the kombucha SCOBY, use glass or wood when possible.

** The beverage you've made is alive! Lactic acid bacteria declines dramatically after just 2 days of refrigeration. If you want all the health benefits, its best to enjoy your booch fresh!

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