Over the past few months I’ve become a bit skeptical about Kombucha. As I’ve done research on the topic, I’ve noticed that everyone seems to be quoting each other, and there seems to be very little historical evidence backing the claims that it has been consumed for thousands of years.
This is the first red flag for me when it comes to any food or drink… has it stood the test of time? Maybe it really has been consumed in Asia as an ancient method of ridding illness, and maybe not, to this point… I haven’t seen hard evidence.
As far as nutrition goes, I do believe that it contains lactic acid bacteria (believed to act as a pro-biotic), however the claims made beyond that seem to lack scientific evidence.
With that being said, I am also concerned with the high amount of living yeast in the drink. While I don’t pretend to be an expert on the topic, there have been reports of some kombucha containing a specific strain of yeast (candida) that may pose issues if consumed.
Point being… yes, there is likely to be living pro-biotic bacteria in kombucha, but there are plenty of other ways that I now prefer to get my daily fix of the stuff–like yogurt. With that being said, I do love the taste of kombucha, but for now I’ll patiently wait on the sidelines for science to catch up with the topic… maybe someday I’ll go back to enjoying my occasional homemade “ginger-bomb ‘buch”.
It should be noted though, that the “dangers” that some people attribute to kombucha seem to be as far fetched as some of the health claims. From what I can gather, there have been only 2 deaths attributed to the consumption of Kombucha… and when you consider that 3,000 people are estimated to die from food borne illness each you in America, I guess that isn’t very high.
In any case… if you have calculated the potential cost/benefits of this fizzy drink (which is acctually pretty dang tasty) and are interested in making your own, here you go:
The fermenting process for Kombucha is quite simple…
a few weeks at room temperature
Basically the only special thing you need is a $12 kombucha SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) that looks like a rubber blob that can either by bought online (here).
This SCOBY is then added into a container of sweetened black tea and left to sit in a warm spot for a couple weeks. During this time the bacteria and the yeast metabolize the sugar in the tea and produce lactic acid (pro-biotic bacteria) and carbon dioxide (carbonation!). The end result is a slightly carbonate tangy beverage with hardly any sugar.
1. Boil 1 quart of water
2. Seep 5 bags of black tea or 5 tsp of loose leaf tea for 6 minutes-ish
3. Dissolve 1 cup of sugar in tea
4. Pour tea into wide mouth brewing vessel
5. Add purified water to tea- little less than 3 quarts
The idea is to have about a gallon of liquid all together, including your SCOBY and 2 cups of previously brewed kombucha
6. Allow tea to cool to room temperature
Hot tea will kill the SCOBY!
7. Once cooled, add SCOBY* and 2 cups kombucha
*You can buy one online here.
8. Cover brew vessel with cheesecloth, clean pillow case, or similar
The idea is to supply the Kombucha with fresh air but keep bugs and flies out
9. Let ferment in a warm spot.
Kombucha needs a warm enviornment, it is important to place it somewhere warm to ensure that the culture can thrive, I use a 10$ heat pad made for plant sprouting, there are a lot of other ways to keep it warm, some people set it on top of their refrigerator, just experiment and Google. After a few days you should start seeing a layer form across the top of the liquid
10. Taste Test
After about a week dip a plastic (not metallic!) spoon into the container and do a taste test. If is to sweet let it ferment a bit longer. If it tastes vinegary, ferment your next batch for a shorter period of time
Once the kombucha is to your liking pull the SCOBY off the surface and figure out a way to transfer the liquid into smaller airtight containers (jars, airtight plastic or glass bottles)- I generally pour the kombucha from my brew container into a large pitcher, then I use a funnel to fill my glass bottles.
12. Flavor your kombucha!
Try mixing fruits (dried or fresh) or spices into the bottles before pouring in the kombucha. You can also just add a little extra sugar to the bottles to increase carbonation. I personally like to add fresh grated ginger and a pinch of sugar to my bottles, but the options are limitless! Try a simple Google for “kombucha flavors” to get some ideas.
13. Save the SCOBY!
You should have a small SCOBY blob that has formed at the bottom of your fermentation vessel, use this SCOBY glob (or some of the top layer SCOBY) along with a 2 cups of the kombucha liquid to either start a new batch, or store the SCOBY in kombucha liquid in a jar covered with cloth at room temperature for up to a couple weeks.
14. Secondary Ferment
After the kombucha has been transferred and flavored, let your bottles/jars continue to sit at room temperature for a few days to allow for a secondary ferment to increase carbonation. Be careful as to much pressure built up in these jars (as a result of to much sugar) can result in lids popping off and explosions. One trick is to fill at least one plastic bottle and judge the pressure by the bulging sides.
15. Drink it!
After the secondary ferment your kombucha is ready to drink! Move your kombucha to the refrigerator where the cold temperature will slow down the ferment and keep the kombucha fresh and tasty for months.