Kombucha 101: How to Make Kombucha from Scratch
My love for kombucha started in Bondi Beach - no surprise there.
Pierre and I had decided to move back home after a 10 month adventure and we moved into the cutest (old), spacious (or maybe not), north facing (super hot) apartment right near all the action (super noisy). Jokes aside, it was the best. After hanging out in London for a few months it was nice to be by the beach and relax. I released my inner hippy that had been suppressed for a little too long. Spending my weekends at the Farmer's Market buying baskets of beautiful 'straight from the farm, picked this morning' ingredients and whipping up real food creations in the kitchen.
It’s fair to say Lunch Lady Lou was bought to life in that apartment. Prior to Bondi the idea was there but a piece was missing, the piece was found in Bondi maybe even at the bottom of a kombucha bottle.I'd been hearing a few people bang on about kombucha but I didn't quite understand why anyone would want to drink it. I knew it was 'good for me' but I'm a strong believer food is only good for you if you enjoy it. What's the point in drinking pure 100% organic brown slush dusted with angel love if it tastes like 100% crap? I find a bottle, conveniently right across the road from my house - oh Bondi. Its flavoured with ginger AND lemon, its like they made that bottle especially for me.
To describe it in one word - heaven and in true Lunch Lady Lou style when I like something I love it. I get, it's fair to say obsessed and it's all or nothing. So I'm guzzling back kombucha like its going out of fashion. Pierre is thinking 'here she goes again' but secretly he's totally loving the 'booch too.
This drink is great, its fizzy, refreshing and chilled, flavoured however you like and really great if you'd prefer to skip some alcohol and need a buffer drink to do it. Kombucha is fizzy, kind of like soft drink without all of the added sugar, numbers and preservatives.
The next bombshell was figuring out how easy is to make. It ticks all of the Lunch Lady Lou laziness, no fuss cooking boxes.
Its a set and forget recipe and its super cheap too, all you need to do is get a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).
So what is kombucha anyway?
Kombucha is a tea. You can brew it with black, green or white tea which is then fermented with the help of sugar and the SCOBY.The sugar is important as thats what the SCOBY feeds on and promotes the fermentation. The SCOBY looks a little scary. Its jelly like, brown and has stringy bits hanging on it - that's all good though. The SCOBY lives usually on top of the liquid and each time you brew a new batch, a new baby SCOBY grows.
Why is kombucha so good for you?
Fermented foods are great for our gut. Fermented foods also add an army of good bacteria into the gut, helping to overtake the 'bad bacteria' that can live there caused by a number of things including poor diet choices. Good gut bacteria is SO IMPORTANT for our health and is the army we need to fight off germs that can make us sick. Think of kombucha as a natural probiotic.
How to make Kombucha at home
There are a few what-if's when it comes to brewing kombucha. I've tried to pre-empt questions below that I had when I first started brewing.
How do I get my first scoby? You can make your own - here.
Where can I buy kombucha? You can buy kombucha from any health store, most farmers markets will have it too or healthy cafes.
I don't want to make my own SCOBY where can I buy one? Ask a friend if you know someone brewing, its likely they have a heap spare. There are quite a few online shops to buy from, try The Whole Daily, Love Ur Belly, Pink Farm, Nourish Me Organics, The Good Brew.
How do I flavour my kombucha? You can flavour your kombucha by doing a second ferment. Once your 7-10 days of brewing is up, remove the SCOBY and add flavourings. Then brew for another 1-14 days until you achieve the flavour you like. Then strain the solids, bottle and refrigerate. Just remember to save yourself some more starter tea first before beginning your second ferment.
I want to know more about kombucha, where should I read? Kombucha Camp and Cultures for Health are 2 online that I like. I've also referred to Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz.
What teas can I use? Black, green or white. Stay away from flavoured teas and early grey as the contain oils.
Is there alcohol in kombucha? In short, yes. Yeast fermenting sugar creates alcohol. However the brewing time is short and the alcohol is minimal but do your research if you'd like to know more.
I have fruit flies hanging around There are a few tried and tested methods. What worked the best for me was adding some kombucha to a small glass jar, then adding a few pumps of liquid soap. The flies are attracted to the kombucha but get stuck in the jar because the soap is slippery. This has worked so well for me and its now a summer staple in the house, kombucha brewing or not.If you have fruit flies on your cloth, they're likely to have made their way into your jar. Throw the batch out and start again.
I left my kombucha longer than 10 days, does that matter? Kind of yes and kind of no. This depends on your tastebuds.
It may be too vinegary to drink, but perfectly fine to use as a salad dressing. The average brewing time is about 10 days for a mild taste. Some people do brew theirs for months.
What else can I do with kombucha besides drink it? You can use your kombucha anyway you would normal vinegar. Cleaning, salad dressing, as a hair tonic after shampoo. There are so many more uses, get googling.