Remember a while back when I told you I took a class on fermentation? Yes, I seriously took a class on fermentation. We learned how to make Kombucha and Sauerkraut from scratch. Turns out the process is actually quite easy but I was nervous nonetheless.
A lot of the people taking the class were there because they had a intense and expensive addiction to Kombucha. Kombucha is incredibly pricey. You can get some better deals at the smaller health food stores in Toronto (usually in Kensington Market) but if you like variety then Whole Foods is your best bet. The average price for a 16 oz bottle of Kombucha at Whole Foods? Between $3.00 and $6.00 dollars. They don’t call it Whole Paycheck for no reason…
But I am definitely getting ahead of myself here. Some of you are probably thinking, what the heck is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fizzy tea made by fermenting sweetened tea with a culture of yeasts and bacteria called the SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast). Basically you brew up a big batch of tea, add sugar, add it into a big jar (or crock if you’re more professional) with the SCOBY, cover with a cloth and let it sit for 1-2 weeks.
One very thick SCOBY!
While the mixture sits the yeast and bacteria eat the sugar and in the process produces a range of organic acids that are good for the body, a host of vitamins, particularly B vitamins and vitamin C; as well as amino acids and enzymes. And of course there are all the benefits of the probiotic bacterial organisms themselves.
The taste of the final product generally depends on on the amount of time it was allowed to ferment and whether or not flavouring was added. The longer you let the tea ferment the more vinegary and fizzy the flavour and less time makes a sweeter less fizzy tea. This is because the longer the brew sits out the more time the SCOBY has to eat up the sugar. The health benefits are higher the longer you ferment (closer to 2 weeks) but some people don’t love the taste. A tea which has sat out for less time is still good for you! Overall I would say that it tastes very similar to apple cider champagne.
If you’ve seen flavoured Kombucha teas out there that is because the tea has undergone a second fermentation with some sort of flavouring added. Usually fresh fruit or spices.
Why drink Kombucha?
1) Kombucha is a probiotic- meaning it provides your gut with healthy bacteria. Introducing living probiotics into the body helps aid with digestion and detox (yogurt has the same benefits). In this case, kombucha is often used to offset people who have recently taken antibiotics.
2) Kombucha improves immune function-even though Kombucha itself is acidic it is actually a weak acid so once it is consumed it will bind to other minerals and alkalize the body. The overall result being that the digestive system has a better pH balance. A more stable pH balance is associated with an increase in immune function. Lemons and apple cider vinegar (which I drink everyday) work in a similar way.
3) Kombucha itself is tea-there are so many benefits associated with tea consumption. The benefits differ depending on the type of tea (black, green, oolong, white etc…) but all tea contains amino acids, vitamins, minerals, caffeine, and theanine. This means that kombucha can possibly help improve weight loss, increase mood and energy, and reduce high blood pressure.
4) Kombucha is a healthier and lower calorie and sugar alternative to soda-As I mentioned before Kombucha has a fizzy taste so it can give you that same “bite” soda has but it is significantly better for you. True, there is sugar but most of the sugar is eaten up by the bacteria so it isn’t nearly as bad as a can of coke!
Have I convinced you yet? Making Kombucha at home is less scary than you think. If you’re interested in giving it a try then follow my recipe below. I flavoured mine with orange juice but if you prefer a different taste try another type of fruit or spice (ginger is delicious!) or opt out of the second fermentation entirely. The possibilities are endless!
1/2 cup already brewed Kombucha (can use store bought)
2 large oranges
Bring water to a boil. Turn off kettle/stove once water has boiled. Add tea bags and sugar to water and let cool to room temperature.
In a large jar or crock (I used a large pickle jar) add the SCOBY and 1/2 cup of Kombucha starter.
Once tea/sugar mixture has cooled to room temperature add to jar. Cover jar with a cotton rag or dish cloth and secure with a rubber band.
Leave in a cool, dark place for 7-14 days. I left mine for 8 days.
Once you think your Kombucha is ready wash your hands thoroughly and remove the SCOBY by hand, which should have floated to the top of your jar. You can store the SCOBY in a bit of already brewed Kombucha in the fridge. Your first brew of Kombucha tea is ready!
If undergoing a second fermentation divide Kombucha into smaller jars (I used 4 smaller mason jars) and squeeze in fresh orange juice from half an orange into each (or whatever flavour preference).
Secure jars with lid and let sit in a cool, dark place for another 3-4 days.
Your Kombucha is done! You can store in the fridge for as long as you like until ready to drink.
Do you drink Kombucha? Do you buy it or make it yourself? How about flavours? Do you prefer yours plain or with fruit or spices added?
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