Here in Eastern Canada we sure received a bashing this winter, from one snow storm after another. With so much snow on the ground there’s not much to be done outside. Once the animals are taken care of and the wood stove attended to, I like to look for some new recipes and ideas to try out in the kitchen.
I’m always looking for foods that not only taste good but are also good for the body. Right now, there seems to be a new craze for fermented foods. Well, it’s not really new – fermenting is an ancient way of preserving food that is enjoying a revival. Scientists have done their thing and have found strong evidence that fermented foods and drinks are very beneficial to include regularly in our diets and so ‘foodies’ everywhere are giving it a try.
Kombucha has been on my ‘to do’ list for quite some time and this winter I found myself a SCOBY.
Let me explain:
Kombucha is a refreshing beverage made by fermenting sweet black tea for a week or two. Called the “Immortal Health Elixir” by the Ancient Chinese, Kombucha has been around for more than 2,000 years and has a rich anecdotal history of health benefits; it is reputed to aid the body in detoxification, help with digestive issues, and contains immune boosting properties.
But first you have to have a SCOBY; an acronym for Symbiotic Culture (or Colony) of Bacteria and Yeast. You can order one online but the easiest way is to find a friend that is already making Kombucha and ask them for one (each batch of Kombucha produces a new SCOBY). I am lucky to have a friend in Bear River who makes fermented drinks, so a quick drive into the village and I was ready to get started.
Once you have your SCOBY, which looks a bit like a creature from ‘The Deep’, you need to make your tea.
Use any black or green tea, but nothing with volatile oils such as Earl Grey and not herbal teas. I made a gallon of tea, using 2 tablespoons of loose Assam tea leaves, to which I added 1 cup of sugar. Let it cool, strain out the tea leaves and add the SCOBY. You also need to add 2 cups of saved Kombucha from the previous batch so don’t forget to ask your friend for that as well. The jar needs to be glass or ceramic and never let the SCOBY come into contact with metal or you will kill it. Cover lightly with something that will let the air in but not the dust – I used a paper coffee filter. Put the jar on the shelf and forget about it for a week. Pretty easy!
After a week you may want to taste the Kombucha to see if it has fermented out all the sugar and reached a taste that you enjoy. I found 10 days to be about right. The resulting drink is slightly fizzy and the taste resembles apple juice with a slightly vinegary taste but not in an unpleasant way. The longer it’s left the more vinegary it will become.
Take out the SCOBY and reserve 2 cups of liquid to start your next batch. Strain and bottle the remaining liquid. At this stage you can add other flavours, I added ginger and lemon which was delicious. Unpastuerized apple juice is another good addition. Kombucha will continue to get fizzy, so use bottles that can withstand the pressure!
Kombucha is not intended to be an alcholic drink but I’m guessing that if you added more sugar and fermented it a second time, it would indeed become mildly alcholic.
Perhaps that’s the next experiment? I’ll let you know how it turns out.
If you want to try it yourself, here’s the recipe, taken from Kombucha Kamp.
Kombucha Tea Recipe – 1-Gallon
Scale up or down depending on the size of your vessel
- 1 cup sugar
- 4-6 bags tea – for loose leaf, 1 bag of tea = 1 tsp
- 1 cup starter liquid
- purified/bottled water
- tea kettle
- fermentation jar
- cloth cover
- rubber band
- Boil 4 cups of water.
- Add hot water & tea bags to pot or brewing vessel.
- Steep 5-7 minutes, then remove tea bags.
- Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Fill vessel most of the way with purified water, leaving just 1-2 inches from the top for breathing room with purified cold water.
- Add SCOBY and starter liquid.
- Cover with cloth cover and secure with the rubber band.
- Say a prayer, send good vibes, commune with your culture (optional but recommended).
- Set in a warm location out of direct sunlight.
- Do not disturb for 7 days.
- After 7 days, or when you are ready to taste your Kombucha, gently insert a straw beneath the SCOBY and take a sip. If too tart, then reduce your brewing cycle next time. If too sweet, allow to brew for a few more days. Continue to taste every day or so until you reach your optimum flavor preference. Your own Kombucha Tea Recipe may vary.
- Decant & flavor (optional).
- Drink as desired!
For more information on Kombucha, check out the following books. Click on the images to see more.