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RECIPE: How to make kombucha


2 jars of kombucha fermenting with bottles ready for bottling

I’m a complete newbie to making kombucha, but was lucky enough to have access to the kombucha care instructions which attendees of our Kombucha Workshops go home with and OH MY GOODNESS it worked out so well! I may have even finished off almost an entire pint and a half in one sitting. Just note, this is not recommended if you're new to living fermented foods, there may be some unwelcome side effects otherwise!


Kombucha is a fermented drink traditionally made by adding a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to sweetened tea and leaving it to ferment. The bacteria and yeast work together to transform the sugars into acids and other beneficial by-products and a small amount of alcohol. Sugars are the food for the microbes and so is an essential part of the brew. Usually kombucha goes through a primary fermentation with the SCOBY and a secondary fermentation in the bottle. You can add all sorts of flavours to kombucha during the secondary fermentation - we love ginger or lemon juice, raspberries and rosemary! The result is a delicious, tangy, fizzy drink that makes a rather sophisticated alternative to your usual tipple with the benefit of being alive and so supporting gut health.


Now, when I say this was a lot easier than I expected, I really mean it. The thought of making kombucha seemed quite overwhelming at first, this took all of half an hour to make, with the longest part being the wait for waiting the water to cool down. Get your SCOBY out and the kettle on and you can see what I mean!


Ingredients

Water x 850ml

Sugar x 60g (preferably white, granulated)

Green teabags x 2 (you can also use black tea or a blend)

SCOBY plus starter liquid x 150ml


Equipment

Kettle

Large, clean glass jar

Muslin

Elastic band

Jug

Sieve

Bottle

Optional: funnel


Method


1.     Boil the kettle and pour onto two green tea bags in a jug until you've added roughly half the total water (425ml), add 60g of sugar and stir to dissolve. This amount of sugar is 6% of the total volume of liquid we're adding (water plus liquid SCOBY). You can use between 5-8% sugar depending on your taste.

2.     Using clean hands move your SCOBY into a clean jar (if it has lots of layers you can separate them and make some more batches at the same time to test out what flavours you like best).

3.     After around 10 mins squeeze out the liquid from your teabags and discard, add the rest of the water, and allow to cool to room temperature or so it's warm but not hot to the touch. Hot water will harm the beneficial bacteria and yeasts in your SCOBY.

4. Once cool, pour into the jar with your SCOBY, and cover the top with a muslin and elastic band. Keep this mixture in a warm place - this is called primary fermentation. You’ll need to mix/swirl it every now and then, and after 5-10 days you can taste it to see if you’d like to keep it brewing. If you have a cool house or are fermenting in the winter this might take longer.


Jars of kombucha fermenting in a warm airing cupboard
I leave my kombucha to ferment in my airing cupboard

5. The aim is to have a drink that's acidic but also has some sweetness. The perfect balance of sweet/sour is the sweet-spot we think makes the best kombucha.

6.     Once you've got the taste you'd like you can bottle your kombucha and either drink it straight away or leave it for secondary fermentation. To bottle, make sure all your equipment is clean and then pour through a sieve into your bottle using a funnel or spout of a jug. Leave a few inches of space at the top to allow for gasses to be released. Make sure to save about 10-20% of the fermented liquid and SCOBY which you can then use to make a brand new batch. If you're drinking it right away store it in the fridge to slow fermentation down.

7. If you're doing a secondary fermentation now's your chance to add flavourings if you'd like (100% fruit juice or cordial - just make sure there's no sweeteners in them - fresh or dried fruit, herbs and more). Adjust the amount you use to your taste, but as a rough guide for juices we add around 5% of the total volume you're putting in the bottle. You can also add a tiny amount of sugar to 'prime' the bottle to make sure it gets nice and fizzy. For a 500ml bottle we'd add about a quarter teaspoon of sugar, giving it a shake to dissolve. Then leave somewhere warm for a few days to a week, giving it a taste regularly. Once you love the taste pop it in the fridge and enjoy!


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