Recipe: How to make your own berry kombucha
Brewing this popular fermented drink at home is easy, cheap and oh-so-satisfying.
Recipe: Nicola Galloway
Kombucha is a popular fermented drink made using a SCOBY and sweet black tea. The caffeine and sugar in the tea are the food for the bacteria and yeast and mostly consumed during the fermentation process.
Kombucha SCOBY can be sourced from a kombucha-making friend or online. Alternatively, use a store-bought bottle of unflavoured kombucha (non-pasteurized) to produce a SCOBY.
Pour the kombucha into a 1-litre jar, cover with cheesecloth and leave until a thin 1-2mm SCOBY grows on the surface (about a week). Then proceed with the recipe.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Fermentation time: 6 to 10 days
1 cup boiled water
¼ cup white or raw sugar*
2 teaspoons loose black tea or 3 tea bags
3 cups cold water (non-chlorinated)
½ cup prepared unflavoured kombucha left over from a previous batch
In a large jug combine the boiling water with the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the tea and leave to infuse for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain into a large 1.5-litre jar, discard the tea leaves or bags and add the cold water. Check the temperature is lower than blood temperature (37°C).
Add the prepared kombucha and SCOBY. Cover with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Leave to ferment at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 6 to 10 days.
The kombucha is ready to bottle when it has a pleasant, sweetly sour taste and gentle carbonation (bubbles).
*White or raw sugar works best but unrefined sugars can be used (increase by 1 tablespoon per litre and allow extra time for fermentation to take place).
BOTTLE THE KOMBUCHA
Decant the kombucha into clean bottles (flip-tops work best) and add flavourings if desired. Raspberries are a particularly good addition for increasing carbonation.
per 500ml bottle add:
4–5 fresh or frozen raspberries, blueberries or blackcurrants
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger or turmeric root
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
2–3 fruit wedges, i.e. orange, peach, feijoa, apple, pear
Leave bottles at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 2 to 3 days, which results in a gently fizzy drink. Store in the fridge.
LOOKING AFTER THE SCOBY
The most effective way to look after a SCOBY is to create a “continual brew”, making a new batch once the ready kombucha is bottled. If taking a kombucha “holiday”, the SCOBY can be stored in the pantry along with 1 to 2 cups of brewed kombucha for up to 3 months.
During fermentation, a new layer of SCOBY is produced on the surface, which can be peeled off and stored in a jar along with ½ cup of prepared kombucha to give to a friend. If the SCOBY gets very thick (over 2cm) peel away some of the light brown layers on the bottom.
Kombucha and kvass are fermented drinks and full of living micro-organisms. When introducing fermented beverages to the diet for the first time, start with a small glass, 50 to 100ml a day.
These drinks are not recommended for pregnant women or young children as the fermentation produces a small amount of alcohol (less than 1 per cent).