One of the most favorite healthy drinks at the moment is Kombucha. A refreshing drink of this brew can make your day! But is kombucha good for you? In this article you will find the answers to questions you might have about this special drink and after reviewing these questions, we hope you might be into making your own before the summer ends.
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha exists already for some years. In the past it was being consumed for its detoxifying and energising properties. Nowadays it is being homebrewed all over the world. So what is it?
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from either a green or black tea base. The fermentation process starts as soon as you add a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) and sugar to the teas base. During some days the combination of sugar and the SCOBY, makes the drink ferment.
After leaving the drink by itself for some days, about a week or so, you can start bottling it and ad some flavours you like. This will be the second fermentation. Right after you bottled the drink, you could start a new process with the same SCOBY. But after knowing these things about Kombucha, the following question still remains: Why drink it?
Why Drink Kombucha?
It is a refreshing drink you can have all year around and it’s also a fun process. As soon as the drink is ready to be bottled, there are so many flavours you can add to it. The longer you keep it in the bottle before you drink it, the more fizzy the drink gets. The drink starts to carbonate. This is called the second fermentation process.
If you drink it for the first time, it might taste a bit vinegary. But make sure you drink a few different samples so you can get used to the taste and you might start liking it!
Is Drinking Kombucha Healthy?
Well, it’s not a magic potion or something what cures all your illnesses. We can say that drinking Kombucha can have some potential benefits. Its process creates good type of bacteria. Besides the probiotic properties it has, the drink contains also a source of B Vitamins, mini acids and organic acids.
We life in a time period where most people want to know where their food and drinks come from. The healthier we live, the longer we can be around! At least, that’s what we want. Drinking Kombucha can do a lot of good for our body, although there are different opinions about that. It hasn’t been scientifically proven (yet) that it has good health benefits. We drink it because we like it!
Where to Get the Ingredients to Make Your Own Kombucha?
Before you start to make your own Kombucha, there are a few items you need before you can start the process. Most of the items you can find easily, the hardest thing to get might be the SCOBY and the starter. But with a little research on Google what is available in your area, it wouldn’t be a big of a problem to get what you need.
What do you need?
- Find a big glass jar where you can process the Kombucha drink in. Make sure that you clean it properly before using. The best is to clean it in a dishwasher.
- If it’s the first time you are making it, you need a starter. If you made it already for some time, you can use 1 cup of the plain Kombucha drink. This contains the bacteria you need in combination with the SCOBY to start the process.
- Get a clean wooden spoon which hasn’t been in contact with soap, only with water.
- Find a SCOBY. Maybe a friend can share his SCOBY with you or you can get a part of it (how to get a part of it, I will explain later). Or just get it in one of the health stores.
How to Make Kombucha?
To get acquainted with the drink, you could buy it at the supermarket. But how much more fun it is if you are able to make it yourself! And it is super easy, you only have to make sure you work clean! You are dealing with life bacterias so you don’t want to mess with that.
Most of the recipes are similar to each other. Minor differences in the amount of water or tea bags. I will share the recipe I use, but feel free to go through the internet for more ideas and suggestions.
- 1 cup of sugar
- 8 tea bags, black or green
- 4 litres of clean water
- Cup of plain raw Kombucha or a starter culture if you don’t have a left over from the previous batch
Add 1 cup of sugar with 8 tea bags (either black or green) to 4 litres of boiling water.
Let this chill until room temperature and add it then to your glass jar with the SCOBY and the cup of plain raw Kombucha (or a starter culture if you don’t have a left over).
You could add water to this drink so your jar is topped off.
Cover the jar with a cloth, NOT WITH A LID. It needs to breath during the fermentation process.
Let this sit for about 10 days or so. This depends on individual taste. Some try with a straw to see how vinegary the drink became. The more vinegary you want, the longer you let it sit.
It is important to keep the jar out of direct sunlight and away from excessive heat or cold.
What to Do When the First Process Is Finished?
When the Kombucha finished the first fermentation process, the drink is ready to be bottled for the second fermentation process! Another fun thing to do. Strain the drink before you put it into bottles with a cheesecloth or something similar.
To give flavor to the drink, you have two options: give flavor to the Kombucha in a second large jar or you can bottle it into smaller bottles. In that way you can add different flavors to the different bottles and it’s easier to poor it out into a glass.
As soon as you bottled it, it needs to sit outside of the fridge for a few days. Leave it for about 3-4 days and this time with a lid! The combination of the closed bottle, the Kombucha and the sugar starts to carbonate. The more fizzy you like, the longer you keep the lid on. Use a lid that fits the bottle and doesn’t let the gas escape. The gas is needed in order to ferment the drink for the second time.
Keep an eye out on the bottles. Because of the pressure that exists in the bottle, it can explode. To avoid that, you just leave some air out once in a while if you expect it do explode and close it of again. But do this only if it’s really needed. Best is to leave the drink alone.
As soon as you refrigerate the drink, the fermentation will stop and the danger it can explode is not as real anymore. But to be sure, keep checking the bottles to avoid accidents.
Whatever jar or bottle you use, make sure they are clean. Consider to use these kinds of bottles:
- Strong glass bottles should withstand the pressure that is building up from exploding.
- Bottles which are easy to clean and have a large opening.
- Swing-top bottles.
Amazing Flavors You Can Add to the Kombucha
When you found the perfect bottle, you can add numerous flavors to the drink. This is a personal matter. If you add fruit, remember that the fermentation process goes a lot quicker! As soon as you open the bottle, all the gas will cause the drink to leave the bottle. It’s is like a soda which you open after you shook the can!
Whatever you add, remember to use a ratio of 20% juice and 80% Kombucha. This is a suggestion of course. Also the choice of ingredients is based on your personal taste. What I like to add, is the following:
- fresh mint
- fresh fruits
- anis seed
I like to combine all the flavors I mentioned above. Mint goes very well with ginger and apple. Actually, if you like mint, it goes well with many flavors. Fresh fruits like strawberry, apple, peach, nectarine, pomegranate and orange juice give a really fresh flavor to the drink. You could use pack of juice instead. Make this your fun personal project, see what you will add a next and what you won’t add never again!
Now you need to have a little bit more patients, because the added goods need to work with the Kombucha in order to let it ferment. So wait another 3-4 days and it’s ready to drink!
What to Do With the SCOBY After the Bottling Process?
The SCOBY looks like a rubbery pancake which will float on top of the Kombucha. Every fermentation round, the SCOBY will get thicker. So making Kombucha can be an ongoing process and you can reuse the same SCOBY over and over.
If the SCOBY gets to thick, it is really easy to peel a layer of. Then you have two SCOBY’s. One you could share with someone else, or just make more batches of Kombucha! Every process you will see this happening. You can leave the layers on, it’s up to you to peel it off or not. But again, if you touch the SCOBY, work very clean!!
So just don’t throw it away as soon as you start bottling the drink after the first fermentation process. Either continue a new badge or give the SCOBY to someone who is looking for it.
You could even store the SCOBY in your fridge if you are not able to make a new badge for some time. Put it in a clean container or jar, leave a bit of the plain raw Kombucha with it so it swims in this flued and leave it in your fridge. Cover it with either a loose lid or a cloth. It doesn’t really ferment, but just to be safe. It is still a living thing.
Can I store Kombucha in plastic bottles?
You could store Kombucha in plastic bottles. But know that plastic bottles may contain undesirable chemicals which can harm the Kombucha. Since plastic is also easily damaged, hidden bacterias can be the result to spoil the drink as well. Another reason not to choose for plastic bottles, is when the carbonation builds up in the bottle, the plastic might stretch and deform and loses his strength.
Is it necessary to use sugar to make Kombucha?
To get the fermentation process started, sugar is needed. Otherwise the work of the SCOBY is useless. As soon as you bottle the drink for the second fermentation process, little sugar is left. The longer you ferment the product, the lesser sugar it contains. The sugar also prevents the batch from spoiling. So you can’t make sugar-free Kombucha. The best is to use white sugar.
Why refrigerate Kombucha after it has been bottled?
The fermentation process continues as long as bacteria and yeast have sugars to feed on. As soon as you refrigerate the drink, the cold temperature keeps them less active and besides this, it guarantees the quality of the drink. Also the carbonation process stops so the danger of an explosion of one of the bottles, is way less.
What is the jellyfish doing in my drink?!
At one point, either during the fermentation process or after the bottling, something is floating in the drink. It looks like a jellyfish, or a gel-like mass. It doesn’t do any harm. It just arises because the bacteria continues to flourish and creates this kind of mass. Either drink it or throw it out!
My Kombucha is changing color, what does it mean?
When your Kombucha during its fermentation process is producing a cloudy layer on top, it means that a new baby Kombucha culture is starting. It shows that the process is going as it should be. When you see brown stringy particles appearing in your Kombucha, it is not bad. These are yeast particles. You could strain them if you like.