How to make your own Kombucha
Story by Jest Sidloski
Kombucha is centuries-old drink that is gaining popularity across Canada. But what is it? Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is brewed around the world, at home and commercially. Using tea as a base, a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and flavouring ingredients are added, such as fruit, which also help feed the live bacteria and yeast.
I started brewing Kombucha several years ago when my local store started selling an easy to use kit. The kit consists of the "mother" also known as a Scoby or mushroom, a food grade porcelain jar with a spout, cloth to cover and a recipe book. I experimented for several months before I created this truly Canadian recipe. The process outlined below is called "Continuous Brew Kombucha".
BEFORE YOU START
You will need:
- Jar (food grade porcelain or glass) large enough to hold 4L of water.
- Plastic or wooden stir stick (washed and sanitized before use)
- Rubber Band or canning jar ring
- Canning Jars, 500ML
- Unchlorinated (Distilled) Water, 4L of water
- Cane or White Sugar, 1 cup
- Tea Bags (Green), 8 bags
- Kombucha Scoby
- Saskatoon Berries
SASKATOON HONEY KOMBUCHA
Bring 4L water to a gentle boil, turn heat off once it starts boiling and then add 8 green tea bags. Steep the bags for about 15 minutes and then remove the bags and compost them. Add 1 cup of sugar to warm water and mix. Allow tea to cool and add to glass or ceramic container. Allow liquid to further cool (to room temperature) and add Kombucha Culture (Scoby, Mother, Mushroom) to the liquid. Stir very gently. Cover the top of the container with cloth and secure with rubber band or large canning ring. It is important you find a steady temperature in your house (23 -28 c, out of direct sunlight) and leave the kombucha to ferment without moving it. You will want to leave the kombucha alone for about two weeks- in this time the Scoby actually consumes the sugars in the fermentation process.
During the two week period of fermentation you will smell hints of vinegar in the area where it is fermenting. It is important not to use cheese cloth as your cover as kombucha can attract fruit flies and they can get in and ruin your batch if you use cheese cloth. You can leave your first batch to ferment for longer than two weeks, however the longer it sits the less sweet and more vinegary it will taste.
Your Kombucha is 'now finally ready to bottle! I recommend using glass canning jars. After you pour the liquid into the 500ml canning jar, add 3 teaspoons of washed saskatoon berries and 1 tablespoon of honey. Seal your canning jar.
When you pour your liquid into canning jars it is important that you leave liquid covering the current Scoby in your large container, so you can immediately start your next batch. I find each batch after is ready much quicker as the active culture helps the process of the new batch.
With fruit and honey mixed in to your canning jars and the canning jars now sealed, I do a second ferment in the same brew location as your large container for 2-3 days. This allows carbonation to build and your drink to become sweet and fizzy. After 2-3 days you can move the jars into your fridge until chilled. Once chilled you can strain the fruit out and enjoy your cold Kombucha beverage.
IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER:
Kombucha can go awry during the process, especially if you are a beginner. Follow all food safety protocols, use clean equipment, wash hands frequently during the process, do not allow bacteria or airborne particles to get into the container. And if you notice black spots on your Scoby, inspect carefully and discard if you believe it has molded. Do not consume if you feel the Kombucha has went awry.
Caution: This information concerns a live bacterial culture drink. Check with your doctor before undertaking to make or consume Kombucha.
Jest Sidloski Is Director of Marketing, Customer Experience and E-Commerce for Peavey Industries. He is passionate about urban farming, backyard chickens and bees, and making useful and healthy things from scratch.