Kombucha is a fermented beverage that includes beneficial bacteria and yeasts to your digestive health! The gut is ground zero for autoimmune disorders and is the chair of our immune system. How well we digest our food, how much of the nutrients from our food becoming consumed, and several other essential things for optimum health are dictated by the health of our gut.
So – I decided to incorporate Kombucha in my diet. I would purchase a bottle here and there, occasionally I enjoyed the taste, other times I felt it had fermented too long and did not taste so good anymore! One of them I’d bought literally tasted like beer! Since you can never be really certain how the taste will come out when you start a store-bought bottle, I decided to create my own. I seem to have problems with Camellia sinensis, that is the botanical name for the plant used to create Oolong, Black Tea, Green Tea, White Tea and Pu’erh teas.
So, while the vast majority of Kombucha recipes you find online let you brew a black, black, green or white tea to create your Kombucha, this is not an option for me. The rationale behind the tea, besides flavor, is that it’s slightly acidic. This might help prevent the growth of bacteria or yeasts you do not wish to have in your beverage. Rather than the tea, I used a little extra Apple Cider Vinegar.
First, I had a SCOBY. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. They seem like a flat whitish colored jellyfish type material with small stringers coming off the base of these and may also be known as”the Mother”. So, I took the jar of Kombucha I’d bought that tasted more like beer and put it into a glass canning jar. I dissolved about 1/4 cup honey in a cup or two of water and after that has been at room temperature I place it to the glass canning jar (gotta feed the SCOBY and they like to consume sugars!) .
I then secured a paper towel using a rubberband to the peak of the jar (SCOBY should breathe, and they could create a carbonation effect on your beverage which may build up sufficient power to break the glass, so don’t seal it off). After a week I had a great small SCOBY! Now that I had a SCOBY, I wanted a larger jar which had a spout at the bottom so I do not need to disturb my SCOBY whenever I need a drink. It was to be a gallon jar, so I place 6 cups of water and one cup of honey in a huge pot and began dissolving the honey to the water. I then rinsed out the jar with water, and took apple cider vinegar and then splashed it all over the inside of the jar.
You don’t need to clean anything with soap which you’re using for brewing your Kombucha since the soap could ruin the very germs you are trying to breed! Once it was well rinsed, I put 2 cups of apple cider vinegar into the jar. I like to use Bragg’s because it contains “the Mother” that helps the SCOBY to grow. Once my honey was squeezed into the water, and permitted to cool to room temperature, I poured it all to the large jar. I rinsed my hands nicely with Apple Cider Vinegar, and took down my small jar, eliminated the paper towel, and carefully lifted out the tiny SCOBY that was growing on top.
I used a spoon to scoop out some of the liquid and double check taste (being the first product tasted like beer) and to my surprise it was much better. So I poured the liquid out of the little jar into the huge jar and gently set the SCOBY on top. It seems little in its new home! I included the paper towel with a rubber band and put the jar of Kombucha in its permanent home.
Now I wait a week and see if it is ready to drink! Kombucha done this manner, without tea, should taste much like a sweet vinegar. It’s great to taste test it frequently as it will eat the sugars out of the honey. If it’s tasting too strongly of vinegar to your liking, then make a few extra honey water to add. If it’s too sweet, add more apple cider vinegar, or let it sit longer to consume the sugars. Your SCOBY is a living organism. It can’t handle direct sunlight, being sealed from air, or soap on your hands or utensils you’re using in its dwelling.
It can’t handle extreme heat or cold temperatures, so be certain to bring your dissolved honey to room temperature prior to adding it to your jar, and do not brew it in the fridge. Heat can damage and kill the beneficial microorganisms. Cold puts them in a dormant state but they’ll wake up and get busy again as soon as they warm back up. Your SCOBY may opt to float on top of your jar, or someplace in the middle, or even hang out down in the bottom of the jar. All of these are perfectly acceptable locations for your SCOBY to be.
Your SCOBY may be white or off white/gray, but when it starts going green or black and smelling “off” then it very well may be time to have a new SCOBY since it may have been contaminated with something that’s not beneficial for you! OK – so you have made this lovely drink of living organisms sitting beautifully in your counter top. Since we did not use any tea, our Kombucha is not already flavored. And because we used a jar with a spout, we don’t have to disturb our SCOBY to drink a few! These are equally beneficial, because now you can find any drink you want (provided it is not piping hot as that will kill the beneficial microorganisms) and include some Kombucha in the tap directly to your drink!
Want more “carbonation” on your drink? Put your juice and Kombucha to a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Keep it at room temperature (the warmer the temperature the quicker the procedure works, so summer will be a far shorter brew compared to winter) and wait. Sometimes a couple of hours is sufficient, other times you may want a week. It is possible to bottle a bunch at the same time this way and after it hits the ideal amount of carbonation place it in the fridge to keep it out of carbonating further.
Be careful however, because the pressure builds as the carbonation develops, and may actually burst the jar! Some people like to have a plastic tester jar on the counter beside their own glass bottled Kombucha. Once the plastic jar feels like the pressure has built up enough (it becomes more firm because of the strain ) you know that it’s time to place your glass bottles in the refrigerator. TIP: use a thicker glass to your Kombucha bottles so that it can hold up to more pressure. I use the bottles out of my shop bought Kombucha, rinse them well with water and apple cider vinegar, and they are prepared for re-use! Have you got a favourite recipe for your Kombucha? Please don’t hesitate to share!