Make your own Kombucha

 
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Glenn Townend with his Kombucha

In the last few months I’ve been making my own kombucha. It’s certainly much more affordable than buying it in shops—not to mention that it’s often hard to find and cheap imitations abound. Real kombucha is a natural fermented tea that is full of probiotics similar to yoghurt (fermented milk), sauerkraut or kimchi (fermented cabbage) or fermented coconut as traditionally consumed in some parts of the South Pacific. Like these foods, kombucha is full of natural probiotics produced by a natural culture and is considered by many to be good for gut health — some say it reduces weight because it eats sugars in the gut. Just check out the debate raging on the internet; you’ll have to make your own decision about the health benefits. All I can say, as someone who has had long-term gut issues, is that, since I began regularly having yoghurt in the morning and kombucha in the afternoon, I have far fewer digestive issues.

What you’ll need

  • Large pot
  • Stove
  • Large Mason jar
  • Piece of cloth
  • Rubber band or string
  • Glass bottles

Ingredients

  • 3 litres of water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 8 organic green tea bags
  • Kombucha “scoby”
  • 2 cups cut fruit (strawberries, raspberries, apples etc.)

Here’s how to make your own kombucha:

  • Boil 3 litres of water
  • Add ¾ of a cup of sugar and dissolve it
  • Steep 8 organic green tea bags in the hot sugary water (black tea is traditional or why not try a caffeine-free alternative such as Rooibos tea?)
  • Let the mixture cool for a few hours (or overnight) to room temperature
  • Remove the tea bags from the liquid
  • Transfer mixture to a large mason jar or similar glass container, adding about 100 ml “starter kombucha” left over from a previous batch along with the active kombucha “scoby”—a live bacterial blob that looks a lot like an undercooked pancake. (Having a kombucha-brewing friend helps here! Otherwise search online for kombucha starter kits.)
  • Cover the top of the jar with a piece of cloth, securing it with a rubber band or string—the mixture needs to breathe, but you don’t want dust in it. Leave in a dark place at room temperature for a week. During the week the scoby eats the sugar and tea and leaves its probiotics. At the end of the week you chill the drink in glass bottles and drink as desired. It self-carbonates so is very refreshing.

Before I chill the kombucha I add pieces of different fruits or herbs (up to 2 cups to the 3 litres) so the kombucha has an infused flavour. My favourite flavours include ginger and lemon, blueberries and mint, pear, mint and ginger. You can use strawberries, raspberries, apple, rosemary — experiment to suit your taste buds! If you add flavouring, let the glass bottles sit for another 24 hours before you chill them.