Fizzy, fantastic kombucha: recipe
This quantity of tea will make enough kombucha to fill about four 500 ml bottles, with enough liquid left over to act as a starter for the next batch. If you find yourself running low on leftover liquid, make a little extra tea next time. You’ll want to have at least a few cups of liquid remaining in the jar each time. The more starter liquid, the faster the tea will brew. The less, the longer.
There are two different brewing methods: continuous brewing and batch. I use the batch method.
10 cups filtered water
4 bags black tea
1 cup white sugar
1 cup kombucha
1 SCOBY or piece of SCOBY, at least a few inches in width
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a pot large enough to hold all 10 cups. Add tea and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and add sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add the remaining filtered water and let the mixture cool.
Add the tea to a large glass jar. Add the kombucha and then place your SCOBY on top. (It’s OK if it sinks.) Cover the jar with a cloth and secure with a rubber band. Place jar in a dark, cool place for seven days.
To flavor and finish processing the kombucha: Using a funnel, place 2 tbsp. fruit puree in a 500 ml bottle with a flip-top closure. Place a strainer inside the funnel (optional) and then pour the fermented kombucha tea into the bottle, leaving between 3-5 cm of air at the top. Repeat with remaining bottles.
Quickly seal each bottle after adding the kombucha, which should be fizzy from the fermentation. Leave at room temperature for at least two days or up to five. Refrigerate the bottles and, when ready to drink, strain and serve.
Adapted from recipes by Chelsea Barrett and from Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory in ‘The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea.‘
Even though we consume fermented products every day, the process of how bacteria and yeast transform milk into cheese or yogurt, flour into bread and cocoa beans into chocolate is still a mystery to most of us. Here is what Crum and LaGory have to say about some of the most common inquiries:
Why drink kombucha in the first place?
Because it’s delicious is my first response, but a close second are the countless health benefits, starting with the good-for-you bacteria found in the SCOBY. Those microorganisms feed the flora in your intestines, which doesn’t just help your digestive system but your immune system as well.
According to Crum’s and LaGory’s book, kombucha is an adaptogen, “a plant-based derivative that normalizes and balances the body, benefiting the entire physiology rather than a specific organ or system,” they write. It’s a source of antioxidants, vitamin C, B vitamins and acids that detoxify the liver.
I’ll share one anecdote from my sister: For the past few years, she had been dealing with a gluten sensitivity, but now that she is drinking kombucha nearly every day, she can eat a piece of regular bread or pizza without having the same stomach troubles.
Is kombucha alcoholic?
Kombucha has trace amounts of alcohol, usually less than one percent, and is not considered alcoholic in the same sense of beer or wine. It is not inebriating and OK for children to drink. If you overferment the tea, it turns into something more like vinegar, not booze. However, there is a fermented tang to the drink that might not be suitable for people who have struggled with alcoholism.
Can anyone drink kombucha?
People with compromised immune systems should be cautious about consuming any kind of fermented foods, but at the same time, those people could have the most to benefit from increasing the amount of good bacteria in their system.
As you might assume in our hypercautious parenting culture, many American doctors do not encourage pregnant and breastfeeding women to drink kombucha. Most kombucha-drinking parents introduce a diluted kombucha to their kids around 1 year of age, sometimes earlier.
“Scientific studies have been conducted for (well over 100 years), and millions of homebrewers have made batch after batch, yet there is not a single case of fatality from kombucha on record,” the authors write. Compare that to peanuts, which cause dozens of deaths a year.
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