Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Kombucha Tea

I have been brewing kombucha tea for about six weeks now and I love it. It tastes wonderful and is very fizzy!

It is basically a sweeten tea that has a kombucha sponge like culture, sometimes called a scoby or mushroom. This culture of beneficial yeasts and bacteria float on the surface of the tea, like in the photo above.
A new layer of culture grows on top of the previous or mother culture after each batch. These can be gently separated to have multiple scobys to share with friends. These can even be fed to the hens if you find you have too many!

It is very economical to brew your own kombucha at home as it is just the cost of black tea and sugar. The culture feeds on the sugar during fermentation and this results in a very low sugar probiotic drink at a fraction of the price of bought kombucha. It is thought to be very beneficial for restoring gut health. 
To start brewing, find a friend or look online for someone willing to share a culture. Then make up a batch of tea and allow it to cool. Add in your scoby.
Keep the container covered with a paper towel or cloth and elastic band to allow it to breath yet keeping out flies/dust. Store in a warm place like your kitchen or hot press.

Use about three tablespoons of sugar and two tea bags to a litre of water. 
Make sure the tea has cooled down and teabags have been removed before adding your scoby, otherwise you might kill it.
The longer you leave it to brew, the stronger the flavour will be. After a month it will taste vinegar like. With experience you will know how long to brew to obtain the best flavour for your palette. 
Always add some tea from the previous batch when making up a new batch of tea. This changes the ph and gives the scoby an advantage over yeasts and bacteria that will be naturally present in your home. 

The first fermentation with the scoby can take about a week depending on the tempature. The warmer, the quicker it will ferment. Once this stage is complete I remove two thirds of the tea and replace this with fresh sweet cooled tea. This leave a third of the kombucha tea to maintain the ph in the new batch. 

I then pour the kombucha tea into flip top brew bottles and leave enough space in the bottle to add a fruit juice of my choosing. The sugar in this juice will cause a second fermentation which will produce the fizz, it also gives it a lovely flavour.
Allow the bottles to sit out for two days and then chill in the fridge ready for use. 

Word of warning: allows open your bottles in the sink with a towel over the lid. They can be very fizzy! And I have spent evenings washing down the ceiling and walls.

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