A fermented probiotic drink, kombucha was originally consumed in China more than 2,200 years ago for its energizing and detoxifying properties. It is typically made from sugar, tea, a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) and some starter liquid from a previous batch of the beverage. The mixture is fermented for a week or more and is sometimes called “mushroom tea” (or “fungus tea”) due to the floating colony of live bacteria and yeast created by the fermentation process.
Once fermented, kombucha becomes slightly effervescent, with a vinegary smell and tart taste. In addition to small amounts of caffeine, kombucha contains energizing B vitamins and iron. It also contains DSL (D-Saccharic acid-1,4-lactone) and vitamin C, which may fend off inflammatory diseases, tumors, cell damage and other health concerns.
While it may sound complicated, kombucha is easy to make at home. At the end of the brewing process, fresh fruit juice and other flavors may be added to make the drink more palatable, as drinking it straight is a somewhat “acquired” taste.
INGREDIENTS (makes one quart)
- 1½ teaspoon loose tea OR 2 tea bags
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2-3 cups water
- ½ cup starter tea or vinegar
- In a glass jar, combine hot water and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Place the tea or tea bags in the sugar water.
- Cool the mixture to about 70ºF. The tea may be left in the liquid as it cools.
- Remove tea bags or completely strain loose tea leaves from the liquid.
- Add starter tea from a previous batch to the liquid. Distilled white vinegar may be substituted for starter tea.
- Add an active kombucha SCOBY – get it from a friend who has made kombucha or buy one online.
- Cover the jar with a tight-weave fabric or a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band.
- Allow the mixture to sit and “brew” undisturbed at 68-85°F, out of direct sunlight, for 7-30 days, or to taste. The longer the kombucha ferments, the more vinegary it will taste. The cooler the temperature, the longer it needs to ferment.
- Pour kombucha off the top of the jar for consuming. Keep the SCOBY and enough liquid from the bottom of the jar to use as starter tea for the next batch.
The Local Grocer will be hosting kombucha making classes in September. Keep an eye out for the schedule at thelocalgrocer.com and get your SCOBY locally!