Kombucha 101

November 23, 2018

Kombucha 101

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This post about my baby kombucha can serve you as an intro how to make it. As a starting cheat sheet before you start reading about it yourself. I started being captivated by it half a year ago, when I was still living in a tent in Celje.

There is just something so dreamy, bubbly and good in it. 


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FAQ

What is kombcuha?
Fermented tea.

What do I need to start brewing kombucha?
You need SCOBY and starting liquid. And tea and sugar. 

What is SCOBY?
SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. It’s that “shroom” floating around the liquid. And the main thingy that makes kombucha. 


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SCOBY (not pretty but it does the job)


Why is kombucha good?
Because it is very rich with probiotics that take care of the health of your gut. 

Does kombucha contain alcohol?
Depends on each kombucha but in average it contains 0.5% of alcohol. 


Primary fermentation
 

In primary fermentation we need SCOBY, starting liquid, sugar and tea. 

Which sweetened can you use?
You can use white sugar without a problem. If you want to use some other sweetened such as honey, coconut sugar etc. you can read more about it on the internet. For example on this link.

What type of tea can you use?
So first thing I need to emphasize –  don’t use flavored teas. Extra aromas, dried fruit and similar ingredients can harm SCOBY. Green, black, mate – they all work nicely. If you want to use some other type of tea check the suggestions on the internet. 
 

Basic ratio

I use the following ratio for brewing. You can play around it, but this one works really good for me. 

1 l water + 2 g tea + 50 g sugar
 

Preparation

Start heating the water (to approximately 80ºC), then add tea and sugar and stir. You can leave it from 20 minutes to 24 hours – that is the matter of your own taste and experimenting. Then you drain the tea and cool it down. After that you mix your cooled down sweet tea with SCOBY and starting liquid. Store everything in a jar, cover with mesh and tighten with a rubber band. 

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We are ready for primary fermentation!

 
Note

Because my SCOBY is quite big I make my batch in a 4 l jar. So for one batch I use 3,5 l water*, 8 g of tea and 200 g of sugar. If you are starting with a smaller SCOBY start with 2 l liquid. 

*Why not 4 l? Because we need to take into account also the starting liquid and SCOBY that take up some space.

 
What now?

You really need to keep SCOBY in a dark place otherwise some weird bacterias might develop. Also he likes it warm. 27ºC is the optimal temperature. If you don’t have dark warm place you can put it in a textile bag and place it in the kitchen.  

And now that everything is set the brewing of kombucha has started. But I can’t tell you how long it will take. It depends on the size of SCOBY, temperature of the room, your taste, retrograde Mercury … For example my batch needs 5 days to become as sour as I want to. So taste it! And when you will say “Yum, that’s it!”, the primary fermentation is finished. 

When it is done pour the kombucha in another jar. In the same one you can repeat the process of primary fermentation. Because it really sucks if you run out of kombucha. 

If you don’t want to repeat the primary fermentation you can put SCOBY with some starting liquid to rest in warm dark place. It will wait for you there until you want to start again. If this period will be too long – add some sweet tea after a while.  
 
 


Secundary fermentation
 

The liquid that you poured away, that we can start calling kombucha, is already ready to drink. But if you want to add flavor to it and extra bubbles then I suggest you secondary fermentation. 

You can actually add any flavor you want. I already tried rosemary, thyme, basil, orange peel, persimmon, lemon puree, cardamom, honey, celery, apples … 

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My secondary fermentation with thyme. 


This is really an opportunity for your own creativity to develop a flavor you really love.  

I also suggest you add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar or honey or some other sweetener per 3 l of kombucha. The sugar will mostly dissolve and add more bubbles. 

Cover the glass in which you make secondary fermentation with a top.

Leave the secondary fermentation in a warm dark place for a day or two. Then strain the kombucha, pour into liter jars, cover with tops and put in the fridge. You can drink it right away but it will get deeper flavor after few days. 
 


The use of kombucha doesn’t stop here! You can play with it and make refreshing beverages, coctails. And if in any case you brewed a way too sour batch, you can use it as a vinegar. 


 
PS.: I was taught a lot about it by coworkers Turjak and Kosec. It was also nice to read “The Big Book of Kombucha by Hannah Crum”.

PS1.: As a student of this process I will be very happy to hear your experiences, comments and everything in general below in comments. 

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