Around here on the Traditional Catholic Homestead we like to have lots of things in the fermentation crock so to speak. One of our favorites, adults and kids alike, is kombucha. What is kombucha? Well, in a nutshell, it’s a sweet tea that is fermented so that much of the sugar is used up in the end product. How does it do that? There is a “mushroom”, as many call it, that holds the key. The mushroom is really a SCOBY (symbiotic combination of bacteria & yeast). This SCOBY is responsible for turning that very sweet tea into a slightly sour drink full of good probiotics.
Kombucha has been around since ancient times. Apparently, the first brewed kombucha came from China. It is said to have many health properties ranging anywhere from chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, even to baldness. As for me, I don’t know about the health benefits other than a good dose of probiotics, I just know our family likes it. So we brew it once or twice a week. We are currently fermenting it in a 2 gallon crock. We chose this one because of the great reviews it got and how solid it is made.
To make our kombucha, we generally boil up about 1 1/2 gallons of water. We will have left about a 1/2 gallon of the previous batch in the drink dispenser (fermenting crock with a spigot) with the SCOBY. We then steep the tea (I usually use black tea, but my husband gets quite creative with tea and herbs) for about 15 minutes. Add about 1-2 cups of sugar and mix until dissolved. The white sugar I hear is the best for this type of fermentation. Honey, molasses and agave are not usually suggested for brewing kombucha although, you will find some people do it anyway. Then you need to put your sweet tea in a water bath to cool it to room temperature. This is how we usually do it but there are times when we can’t tend to the hot, sweet tea right away and just leave it to cool to room temperature on its own. When your tea is room temperature pour it into your reserve of the old batch along with the SCOBY and be patient. When it is quite warm in our house our tea can be done in 2-3 days. When our house is on the cooler side it can take up to a week. You can taste your brew every day or every other day depending on how fast it seems to be fermenting. And start drinking when it has reached your preference of sourness. Some like it more on the sweet side, we prefer it more on the sour side.
If you are looking to start your own batch of kombucha. Try word of mouth, many people are now brewing this wildly, popular drink. Close relatives or friends may have a batch brewing in their own homes and would be happy to share some extra SCOBY with you. Or you can look it up on the web, many companies sell kombucha kits to get you started right away. Or another option closer to home might be your local health food store. Either way you go, you could likely be brewing by the end of the week. I hope you pick some up and try it out. It is an easy way to get some probiotics in your diet. Happy brewing! And let us know how it goes!