writer: Ona Rihu
Pictures: Ona rihu
I believe at this point we’ve all heard of kombucha and it’s health benefits. It’s believed to be originated from the north-eastern region of China, anywhere from 2,000 to 200 years ago. I like the idea of brewing my own, antioxidant and delicious kombucha, so I’ve been practising for a few months now.
At first, my batches of kombucha were flat, but fermented. There was not much flavor, and I had trouble finding ways to make it better. However, with the warm weather my kombucha has elevated to a whole other level! I added a second fermentation, where I add fruit juice and let the kombucha ferment in airtight bottles, opening them daily to avoid too much pressure building up. Now my kombucha is bubbly, flavorful and perfect to drink on it’s own or in cocktails or mocktails.
Now, as you can probably tell, i’m no expert. I’m here as an example of someone who is not very careful with measurements or fermentation times, but still made it work! So if you’ve been thinking about starting a little kombucha brewery in your kitchen, i’m here to encourage you.
Ingredients: Black tea, organic sugar, & fruit juice of your choice.
You’ll also need a large glass container (3-5l), a scoby, a breathable cloth, some yarn and a bit of patience!
step 1: Boil water and brew some strong tea. I use loose leaf tea, but if you’re using tea bags i’d say 3-8 teabags is good, depending on how strong you want it. Using flavoured black tea is also a good option since it gives the kombucha a deeper flavor profile. While the water is still hot, add your sugar. Honestly, I’m very bad at measuring ingredients but I use about 3dl of sugar in a 3l batch. And don’t worry, the scoby uses the sugar as “fuel” to ferment the drink so once it’s finished, the amount of sugar is not as high as 3dl/3l.
step 2: Important! Let your tea cool down before pouring it into your glass jar, since glass and boiling water are not a good mix (I’ve managed to make one explode, learn from me)
step 3: Pour your room temperature tea into a large (and very clean!) glass container, and add your scoby, along with a bit of kombucha from the previous batch it came with. (If you don’t have a scoby, i think you can order one online, there are also some starter kits sold in health food stores! ) I got mine from a friend. The thing about kombucha is that the scoby multiplies itself so every batch also creates another scoby, which you can use to make even more kombucha or gift it to a friend! Feel free to dm me and ask if i have any loose scoby’s in my fridge if you’re in Helsinki!
step 4: Cover the container with a breathable cloth, and tie some yarn around it to hold it in place. Place the kombucha somewhere where it’s not in the way and leave it for 2-3 weeks!
step 5: Once you feel like the kombucha has fermented enough (you can taste it!) pour it into glass or plastic bottles (a funnel is a friend here) and add your fresh fruit juice. I love to use citrus fruits and add ginger, but there really is no limits here. You can add herbs, berries, and make up the wildest combinations you can imagine! Again, I don’t really measure the fruit juice but i’d say i add about 1/2 dl per 0,5l bottle. I use glass bottles since I don’t like plastic, but here you have to be careful with the fizziness so your bottles don’t explode. Open them daily to let out the pressure and you should be fine! You can also use plastic if you want. Let the kombucha sit for 4-7 days, and once it’s ready, place it in the fridge and enjoy! There might be bits of scoby floating in the final product, so don’t hesitate to strain it before drinking.
The scoby can be stored in the fridge in a container that has some kombucha. It’ll stay good for maybe a week or two, until you’re ready to make a new batch!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. There’s also tons of information online, in case I left something out (which I probably did). Good luck!