What is kombucha?
In short, it’s fermented sweet tea. It’s fizzy, sweet and tangy all in one go, and it’s easy to customise with flavours of your choosing. Aside from its refreshing, thirst-quenching qualities, kombucha is hailed as being great for gut and intestinal health, owing to its high level of probiotics. If you’ve upped your intake of kimchi, whole yoghurt and proper fermented sourdough, kombucha is the next piece of the good bacteria puzzle.
How does the process work?
If you’ve made your own sourdough, the process of making kombucha won’t seem so foreign as the same fermentation process is applied here. You start by adding a mother culture called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and some starter liquid (a small amount of kombucha) to sweetened black tea. Don’t be grossed out, if you’ve ever noticed fine wispy strands in vinegar before, that is basically a SCOBY (or a mother) too. You can pick up a SCOBY kit from any health food store or ask around – if your friends have made their own ‘buch, they’ll be able to give you some of their SCOBY.
The scoby – a layered, rubbery- looking disc – feeds on the sugar and tannins in the tea, causing it to ferment and develop its characteristic apple-cider vinegary, catch-at-the-back-of-your-throat tang. The drink then undergoes secondary fermentation, becoming more effervescent.
In terms of the tea used, you can theoretically use any tea you like, but black tea reportedly has the SCOBY’s preferred nutrients. If you like, you can infuse kombucha with herbal teas at a later stage.
Important things to note:
- Keep your SCOBY healthy and all your equipment clean by washing everything out with plain vinegar and boiling water.
- If you notice any black mould or spots, discard everything and start again with a new SCOBY and well-sterilised equipment.
- The sky is the limit with flavour combinations. Try adding flavoured teas, fresh fruit and herbs and spices, such as fresh ginger.