The Kombucha culture is the live substance which is put into the sweet tea to ferment and convert it into Kombucha tea. The culture is probably best known as a Kombucha mushroom. However this is not quite correct – it is a colony of bacteria and yeast. called a zoogleal mat. To make Kombucha, a portion of a zoogleal mat known as the “mother” is used to ferment the sugars in a sweet tea. It is also known as scoby – which stands for – Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast.
Kombucha requires real tea for it to ferment… Different types of tea yield different tastes from a light flavour to a strong cider like flavour.
GREEN TEA is an excellent choice with its light flavour. It also has many health benefits. It is full of antioxidants. It lowers your risk of cancer – in particular breast cancer. It eases the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, stabilises cholesterol levels, prevents cardiovascular disease, promotes weight loss, boosts the immune system, reduces tooth decay, effective in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, slows the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, fights the cause of allergies in your body, helps to fend off infections, slows the aging process to prevent wrinkles.
Black tea contains antioxidants which prevent the damage caused by free radicals. Black tea reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes, it can be used in the fight against cancer, it is also believed to delay the aging process, it can help to burn fat and speed up metabolism, and it helps reduce bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol.
WHITE TEA is the least processed tea. Tea buds are picked in the early spring before opening. White tea stands out for having most nutrients due to the minimal process it endures, making it the healthiest tea available. It has one of the highest concentrations of beneficial antioxidants that provide innumerable health benefits. White tea has a concentration of antioxidants that is three times higher than in green tea, so it boosts your metabolism making you burn fat faster. White tea will lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels reducing the risk of stroke, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Kombucha is incubated at room temperature in sweetened tea and usually takes between 7 and 14 days. During incubation the thin slimy mushroom floats in the tea and replicates itself by producing a “baby” on top of the original mushroom. This can be removed and cultivated to produce further batches of the mushroom. Kombucha tea is acidic and you should not use lead-glazed pots in which to ferment your tea or store the tea in lead crystal containers as there is a potential risk of lead poisoning if you do.
There are many recipes for making kombucha tea but this is a popular basic tried and tested one for you to start with. It is easy and effective.
- You will need a suitable brewing container to hold about 5 litres.
- A piece of porous material that will cover the top of the container with some overlap and an elastic band to hold the material in place.
- 4 litres of water which should be boiled and cooled or filtered.
- 6 teaspoons of loose tea – black or green.
- 320g ordinary household sugar.
- A healthy Kombucha culture.
- 400ml of ready brewed Kombucha or 60ml of distilled vinegar.
- Suitable bottles
Make your nutrient (sweet tea) solution – this is the liquid that feeds the culture and is turned into the finished Kombucha tea.
To make the nutrient take approximately 1 litre of water which should be filtered or have already been boiled for at least 5 minutes. After boiling add the sugar and tea and stir until the sugar dissolves.
Put the other 3 litres and the extra glass of cool water into your brewing container.
Strain the tea after 15 minutes and add the infusion to the rest of the water in the brewing container.
The tea should be between 20 – 30 degrees centigrade (room temperature).
If you have it too hot you could kill your new culture.
When the temperature is right put the culture in the liquid. It may float or sink. It doesn’t matter – it will work either way. Add 400ml of finished Kombucha tea or 60ml of distilled vinegar if you don’t have the tea.
Cover the top of the container with the material and use the elastic band to hold it in place. This will allow air to enter but will keep insects out.
Keep the container somewhere where it can be undisturbed for about a week with a constant temperature, away from tobacco smoke and strong smells.
After 5 days you should have a new baby culture forming on top of your brew and the tea might be almost ready.
At this stage you can taste the brew. You are looking to achieve a slightly sharp (acidic) taste – not sweet. If it is not ready yet replace the cover and leave it for another day and then taste again. Kombucha tea should be fermented to a pH of 3.0or less. Some people use pH strips, however after a while your taste buds will tell you when it is correct.
The length of brewing time can vary between 5 days and 2 weeks. Once you have the right taste it is time to bottle the tea. ALWAYS USE STERILIZED BOTTLES.
With clean hand, take the two cultures out – the new baby and the original mother and place them on a clean plate.
Fill your bottles to the rim; do not leave any air gaps. Pour a little on the resting cultures whilst you work.
Cork the bottles label and date. Many people use plastic bottles as they allow for expansion. I prefer to use glass bottles. However glass can explode if left for a long time. The industry standard for glass bottles and ferments are ones with a long narrow neck to limit and control over-fermentation and for brown or coloured bottles to prevent harmful sunlight spoiling the ferment. (Long term store away from children and pets preferably in a cool shed or garage).
Save about 10% of the tea for your next batch.
Keep the bottles at room temperature for 5 days. This allows the build up of CO2 (gas) that makes the drinks fizzy and allows the tea to mature and develop a more mellow taste.
After 5 days you can store the bottles somewhere cool. Your Kombucha is ready to drink.
MAKING A NEW BATCH
Make a new batch of sweet tea or use the reserved tea from your previous brew. When it is cool add it to a jar of culture. Cover the jar with a clean cloth and rubber band and allow it to ferment as before.
For the first two or three batches use the mother and the baby together until the new scoby thickens up. Initially they can be very thin, but with each new brewing a new layer will form on top and your scoby will get thicker.
When it is between ¼ and ½ an inch thick, you can gently separate the mother and baby and use the mother to start off a new brew.
Each scoby will grow with each brew, gradually getting thicker. You can separate them in another jar of sweet tea which you can store in the fridge to slow down fermentation.
HOW MUCH TO DRINK
A ¼ to ½ glass a day – you need to work out your own level and what works for you. Kombucha is a great detoxifier and drinking too much too soon can cause discomfort. Work up slowly week by week from ¼ of a glass (60ml) in divided doses. At 20ml x 3 times daily any discomfort can be avoided. Symptoms can include headaches, stomach aches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, mild diarrhea, pimples, rashes and wind. These are temporary cleansing effects lasting from a day to a week or so in basically healthy people. Drink plenty of water to counteract them. People with disease conditions may experience a healing crisis if they drink too much too soon. Kombucha effects appear to begin in the weakest part of the body, then the second weakest and so on.
When the kombucha has finished fermenting remove the culture. If you wish to flavour your fermented tea this is the time to do so. The flavour combinations are endless. Some popular choices are:-
Put about ½ cup of selected fruit or juice into a quart size mason jar; add herbs or spices if you wish.
Pour 3 cups of fermented kombucha over the fruit juice, herbs and spices. Replace cover and secure with elastic band. Allow to ferment for a further 2 – 3 days. This will flavour your tea and add effervescence.
After 3 days strain the tea and place the flavoured tea in the refrigerator.
KOMBUCHA TEA has a 2,000 year history as a tonic or elixir and is believed to have originated in China.
SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF DRINKING KOMBUCHA TEA:
- Increases energy levels
- Stimulates the immune system
- Prevents acid reflux
- Assists with weight loss
- Improves circulation
- Improves skin tone and completion
- Fades sun spots
- Relieves constipation
- Strengthens hair
- Reduces the severity of hangovers
Do not drink kombucha tea if you are pregnant or a nursing mother or give it to children under 5 years of age.
Always work in sterile conditions, use common sense and good hygiene when brewing your own tea. A good kombucha tea always has a vinegar smell not a musty or mouldy odour.
Large enough to brew up to 2 litres in only a few days.