Kombucha is known as “The Tea of Immortality”. Originating from China, it is said to have gotten it’s name “Kombucha” from Japan, now often affectionately referred to as “booch”. A lovely fizzy fermented tea, it has been popular around the world for centuries. Despite some ups and downs due to it’s long history, Kombucha has seen a surge of sales and is quickly becoming an influential player in the domestic beverage economy with the global market expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15% from 2016 to 2022*! This has led to kombucha gaining a reputation as “artisanal” and therefore becoming quite expensive compared to a pop or average tea.
We first tried kombucha at a local hot yoga studio, where we made the honest mistake of assuming that the kombucha from the dispenser at the front desk was free, happily filling our bottles – ugh not so much…the next time we went, we noticed a little sign beside the dispenser expressing the exorbitant price applied for all who craved a drink that seems to be the jam to yoga’s peanut butter.
It wasn’t until last Christmas when Fraser was gifted his very first “mother” SCOBY and starter tea that the mission to create our very own booch began. If you are drinking it because you enjoy it’s slight effervescence and sweet-tart flavour, want an easy hangover cure (it’s a liver detoxifier and contains probiotics to aid in digestion), or are trying to side-step a pop addiction, we hope this will satisfy both your taste and bank account!
- 1 gallon glass jar or 2 half gallon jars
- 1 or 2 cotton clothes (we used old t-shirts)
- 1 large stockpot (for steeping tea)
- Additional very large stockpot or bowl to put steeped tea in
- Mesh strainer
- Large measuring cups
- Slotted spoon
- Timer, we just use our phones or the oven
- Thermometer (not critical, but important for those perfectionists)
- Rubber bands
- Plastic funnel
- Pop-bottles with a tight seal (finding the right bottles is critical as it helps with the second stage of fermentation)
- 14 C water
- 16-20 tea bags; or 8 tablespoons loose leaf black tea or green tea (we use Chaiwala chai – our favourite tea!)
- 1 C cane/granulated sugar
- 2 cups of starter tea*
- 1 or 2 SCOBY
- Flavouring fruit or vegetable of your choice
- SCOBY (pictured above)
- Kombucha tea cultures multiply like rabbits! Every time you brew a new batch of kombucha tea a new starter culture (a SCOBY will form. The original starter culture (“the mother”) and the new starter culture (“the baby or in our case grandbabies”) can each be used to brew a new batch of kombucha tea.
- Starter tea is simply finished Kombucha. Where do you get starter tea?
- A friend- we were gifted ours from our friend Michelle who has been brewing her own homemade Komucha for months!
- Use equal portion of distilled white vinegar in place of starter tea
- Buy a bottled, raw, unflavoured komucha tea from the grocery store
- For a mild flavor, brew the kombucha for a shorter time. For a bolder, more vinegary flavor, brew the kombucha for a longer time
- You want to start with heating 6 cups of water to 100°C (212°F) for black tea, or 77°C (170°F) for green tea. Once the water reaches the appropriate temperature, remove from the heat and add either the black or green tea (depending on your preference). Steep the tea for 2 minutes and then stir the tea around with a slotted spoon and steep for another 2 minutes, a total of 4 minutes. Keep the tea covered with a lid, this will ensure that the temperature remains constant and allows the tea to become more flavourful.
- After it has stepped for 4 minutes, remove the tea bags with tongs or pour the tea through a mesh strainer into another large stockpot. Compost the tea leaves.
- Next, add 1 cup of sugar. This seems like a lot, we know. But the tea needs to sugar, this is what the SCOBY ‘eats’/ The fermentation process is driven by the bacteria and yeast thriving on the sugars.
- Add the remaining 8 cups of water, stir. This will help cool the tea down. You MUST wait until the tea has completely cooled (22°C/72°F or cooler), if you add the SCOBY to the tea when it is still warm, it can harm it.
- After the tea has cooled, add the starter tea and stir. Pour the entire batch of tea into the 1-gallon glass container or divide in half and pour into two ½ gallon containers.
- With rinsed hands, carefully lay the SCOBY on the surface of the tea. If you are using two glass containers, separate the layers if you can, by peeling them apart into two thinner round SCOBY’s. If this is not possible, cut the SCOBY into two round circles with a sharp knife. If the SCOBY doesn’t float to the top, do not worry, give it some time and you will see over the next few days, the magic will happen and it will all be okay.
- Cover the opening in the container with the cotton cloth (we used an old t-shirt). Place your container in a warm, dark area in your house for 7 days undisturbed to ferment. Do not store in direct sunlight. A tip – to make it even more fizzy, tie a dish towel around the container, like you are wrapping your kombucha in a blanket, so it ferments quicker.
- After a week, taste the kombucha. Using a straw, stick the straw along the side of the container, between the glass and the SCOBY. Have a sip. How does it taste? Too sweet? Let it sit for a few more days. If it tastes just right, bring it carefully to the kitchen and get ready for the second fermentation stage.
- You can skip the next part if you love the taste of unflavoured booch but we find this next stage really makes it fizzier and more flavourful.
- The flavours you use are totally up to you, in the past we have used ginger, orange grapefruit, carrot ginger, and apple fennel. They have all tasted great! Decide on what flavours you want and prepare those flavours by cutting the fruits into small pieces so they can fit into the bottle. The batch we took pictures of was flavoured with fennel and apples.
- We find that adding the actual fruit is an easier way to tell how much flavouring you have added. Alternatively, you can juice the fruit before you add it, but this may make your booch too strong if you aren’t familiar with how much juice you like.
- Place a plastic funnel on top of your first pop bottle, using a 4 cup measuring cup, fill it up with kombucha from the 1 gallon container, and pour it slowly into the pop bottle. The size of the pop bottle is all up to you. Currently, we have 2 large bottles and a bunch of smaller bottles that we can grab and take with us for the day.
- Once all the bottles are filled with the bubbly goodness, seal the bottles with the pop top and place in the same place you had your kombucha jar and let them ferment for 2 days.
- It is important to ‘burp’ the bottles after the first day of fermenting. To do this, you simply carefully and slowly open the bottles and close them again. This will release some of the gas and stop the bottles from exploding and making a mess all over the place.
- After the 2 days, they should be ready to sip and enjoy. Please be careful when opening them for the first time. I usually place them in the fridge for a few hours to let them chill out. If you don’t want to do this, simply open them slowly over a sink. Think of them as a can of coke that has been shooken up. You want to release the gas slowly so the liquid doesn’t go everywhere.
- Enjoy! 🙂