Here at Mondays, we loooove kombucha. The taste is addictive, like fizzy apple champagne with a delightful cidery twang. This sparkling effervescent tea is insanely simple to make - if you can afford some tea and raw sugar, then you have access to one of the most incredible probiotic beverages on the planet, continuously.
We are excited to share with you an in depth guide, everything you need to know about this awesome health tonic and how to brew your own at home!
SO WHAT IS KOMBUCHA?
Kombucha is an antioxidant rich immune boosting beverage coined the “Immortal Health Elixir”. It's a rich source of antioxidants, B vitamins, glucaric acids and probiotics which aid in digestion, gut health, joint care and detoxification. Like all fermented foods, is extraordinarily rich in enzymes and beneficial bacteria and therefore a dream come true for your gastrointestinal function. It helps to re-establish the natural ecology of the intestinal flora, which in turn boosts immunity and allows the body absorb nutrients and eliminate waste with ease.
W're not kombucha experts, so we can't state that Kombucha 'heals' this ailment and that. With Kombucha, it's more about bringing the body back into balance so that your immunity can work its magic on your ailments. You can read more about the specific ways it supports health here. From a historical perspective, it has been extensively studied and consumed the world over for more than 2000 years. Since we started enjoying kombucha two years ago, we have personally noticed improvements in mood, energy, digestion and skin.
SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) + TEA + SUGAR + BREW TIME = KOMBUCHA
The Scoby is what makes it all happen. AKA the “Culture,” “Mother, “Mushroom" or “Full Moon” - it's the mothership, a complex organism made of bacteria and yeast working in harmony to convert your tea and sugar into Kombucha. It's that freaky looking thing you see in the 2 larger jars below. But don't be afraid! The scoby is perfectly safe, clean and easy to handle. Pretty soon you'll love it like a pet, feeding it and caring for it with gratitude because it's so damn good to you!
SHARING THE SCOBY
Every time you make a brew (which takes between 4 days and even 3 weeks depending on your preference), the scoby feeds, grows and makes a new layer. Pretty soon you'll have a scoby too thick for your jar, which is where the community love comes in. You've mastered the art of Kombucha, now it's time to give your layers away and pass on your knowledge!
SO, HOW TO MAKE KOMBUCHA TEA!
To make 2 litres, you'll need:
* A note on tea. Kombucha thrives on real tea (camellia sinensis). There are a number of teas made from this plant: black, green, white, pekoe, oolong, Darjeeling etc. Herbal teas derived from other plants will not nourish the scoby. Having said that, some people have reported success with rooibus, rosehip and some others. Know that there may be a higher chance of contaminating your kombucha mushroom cultures by using herbal teas or plants, particularly those containing oils (like peppermint) so use a backup culture for any experiments!
* A note on sugar. We use raw cane sugar. I started with 1/2, and reduced to 1/3 because we prefer the less sweeter taste. You can experiment with other sugars but your scoby actually finds raw and white sugar the easiest to digest. While the tea is fermenting, the scoby consumes most of it and the final kombucha tea is very low in sugar. Finally, avoid using honey because it's anti-bacterial properties can mess with the beneficial bacteria.
* Obtaining a Scoby. The most common way is from a friend. Or, you can purchase online and it comes to you either dehydrated or in a pouch filled with sugar tea. Or, if you have access to bottled raw kombucha from your local health food store, it is possible to grow your own kombucha scoby. The process is relatively simple: essentially you will be taking a bottle of kombucha and allowing it to ferment further which will result in a new baby kombucha scoby.
* Hygiene. When working with kombucha, it is important not to introduce competing bacteria to the brew. Wash and rinse your hands well prior to working with the tea mixture or the scoby. Also be sure to thoroughly clean and rinse the container and all utensils that will come in contact with the scoby - NEVER with harsh chemicals, white vinegar and very hot water will do the trick.
* Glass. Use either glass, ceramic or porcelain. Don't use metal for your vessel or utensils - it's advisable to take off any rings when working with your Kombucha too.
You can add flavour to your harvested bottled kombucha, but not the main vessel. This way you protect the scoby from contamination by keeping its brew pure (sugar tea only). To the bottles add 1-2 Tbsp of herbs, ginger, fruit, juice etc. Seal and leave for a second fermentation period for 2-5 days before consuming.
The ultimate kombucha vessel...
... would HAVE to be a large dispenser with a spigot as pictured. We upgraded to this from a regular jar and now its easier than ever to refresh the brew. We simply empty it through the spigot into bottles, and top it up through the top with cooled sugar tea. By using such a vessel, you never have to tamper with the scoby which keeps it healthy and uncontaminated.
We prefer glass to ceramic vessels because its easier to see what's going on and to check the health of the scoby.
Be sure to find a dispenser with a PLASTIC spigot. You don't want metal in contact with the brew.
NOW ITS TIME TO SHARE THE LOVE!
If you have a ever growing scoby that you would like to share, or if you know of where one might be able to pick one up, please do share! Also, check out the Facebook group 'Fermenting Freaks Forever! New Zealand' a community of fermentation loving New Zealanders who
would be more than happy to help you out!