|My kombucha brewery. Different batches at various stages.|
Kombucha is a lacto-fermented drink that has been embibed for centuries (or more) in the far east, and more recently by the health "nuts" and traditional food enthusiasts worldwide. This tasty beverage is made by adding a kombucha "mushroom" (also known as a SCOBY or tea mushroom) to sweetened tea, tranforming it from a standard drink to a probiotic that is an antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and downright tasty, making it the perfect soft drink replacement with numerous purported health claims.
To make kombucha, you first need to obtain either a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast ) or grow your own from purchased Kombucha tea (click here to learn to grow your own SCOBY). If you know any kombucha makers, they'll likely pass on a SCOBY, as each batch of kombucha results in yet another “baby” mushroom, and you can only use so many. You can also get from people in online kombucha communities like this one- Kombucha Yahoo Group . Because of some laws the Ministry of Health in my country, I was unable to purchase Kombucha tea and didn't know anyone locally who had mushrooms, so my kombucha plans were put on hold until a friend's mother brought her a tea mushroom from the States... and since then, I haven't looked back.
Kombucha growing has a small learning curve, but once you've got the basics down, you can make so many variations of this superb concoction that you'll never want to buy those cheimical filled fizzy drinks again.
2. Add a few teabags of regular black tea and let it seep. You want the tea to be very dark, much darker than you'd usually drink tea. I usually put between 3 and 5 bags of tea, depending on the brand. Lipton brand is the strongest, I've discovered, and I can use only 3 bags, but with the knockoffs, I need to add 5.
4. Add your Kombucha mushroom to your tea. Depending on the mushroom, it will either sink to the bottom or float up to the top. This makes no difference. Eventually, it will most likely float up to the top.
|This is what the mushroom will look like. This is two together in a batch of ready kombucha. I stored it here until I used it for my new batch. Kombucha needs to be stored in tea with sugar at all times or it will die.|
6. Cover with a cheese cloth or cloth napkin. Put a rubber band tightly around, making sure there are no gaps so that no bugs come in. I once found bugs walking across the surface of my tea; another time I found some dead bugs floating within. Make sure that they have no opening to get in.
|And now the wait begins. The larger the batch, the longer it takes to be ready. I assume this big batch will take at least a week, if not more, to be ready.|
8. When your kombucha is ready, it will most likely have grown a “baby” mushroom across the top of your tea, often attached to the “mother”. You can separate these two and use both to make separate batches of kombucha tea. Disturbing the kombucha tea while it is fermenting will make the baby not form, or take longer to form. If you're having difficulty growing a baby, try to just let your kombucha sit without touching it, for as long as it takes before you see a new baby stretched across the top of a jar.
9. I usually like to have 4 or 5 batches going regularly, because we usually finish a batch the same day we start it, and I like to be able to have kombucha daily. This way I have one batch ready each day.
Once your kombucha is ready, you can pour it into another jar, minus the mushroom, and do a secondary ferment to make it even more fizzy and adjust the taste, but I'll get into that in another post.
Warning: Do not contaminate your mushroom. Only put your mushroom in plain black or green tea unless you want to risk killing it. This organizm is a fickle thing and can die under the wrong conditions, or get moldy if you introduce inappropriate things to the mix.
Note: Kombucha works as a detoxifier. Some people feel a slight discomfort (headaches, sometimes) the first few times they have kombucha, especially if they have many toxins in their body. (Having mercury/amalgam fillings can make you more likely to feel this discomfort.) If such is the case, start off drinking smaller amounts of kombucha and work your way up. A good starting “dose” is half a cup, but if that causes problems, have as little as a quarter of a cup each day. I have no amalgam fillings and I try to eat healthier foods; perhaps this is why I've been spared the discomfort when first starting off drinking kombucha, but I did want to give a word of warning in case you weren't as lucky. Don't stop drinking the kombucha because of the effect- if you're having a reaction, it means that the toxins are coming out, and it is especially important for you to detox and drink kombucha.
To read more about kombucha than you ever wanted to know, check out KombuchaFuel.com. It's where I learned most of what I know about kombucha.
Have you ever had kombucha before? If you could get your hands on a mushroom, do you think you'd attempt to make kombucha?
Linking up to Real Food Wednesday, Pennywise Platter Thursday and Works for Me Wednesday.