Kombucha: Brewing Up A Wonder Drink
Kombucha, a fermented tea that has received a lot of fanfare lately, is made in the same fashion biochemically as beer but does not require an airtight fermentation. The tea, which has an earthy, tart and vinegary taste, contains only very small traces of alcohol and is considered a probiotic. Kombucha is touted for its many health benefits, such as aiding digestion, sleep, weight loss and detoxification. It is also believed to stimulate the immune system, improve liver function, prevent cancer and stop hair loss. During the fermentation process, the live culture SCOBY, or symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, converts sugar in the tea to glycolic acids that contain health beneficial enzymes, amino acids, polyphenols, various other organic acids, and even vitamin C. Sometimes referred to as mushroom tea because of the SCOBY’s appearance, many kombucha fans have taken to home brewing. The following is a crash course in brewing this wonder drink.
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- SCOBY (can be purchased online or if you know of someone who brews, they can give you a starter SCOBY which has grown or multiplied from theirs)
- 12 regular tea bags (green or black tea)
- 1 gallon distilled water
- 1 1/2 cups cane sugar (organic is preferable)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (only for first batch)
- Large storage jar container
- Coffee filter
- 32 oz. Fruit juice (no artificial sweeteners. Freshly squeezed juice is best)
- 12-16 sterilized 12oz airtight flip-top glass bottles
- 12-16 reused and sterilized 12oz pop cap bottles (not twist open), unused bottle caps, and a bottle capper
- STEP 1: Bring water to a boil and then remove from heat.
- STEP 2: Steep 12 tea bags per 1 gallon of water.
- STEP 3: Discard tea bags. While tea is still warm, add sugar 1/2 cup at a time.
- Pour vinegar into storage container with the SCOBY, fill with the sweet tea.
- STEP 4: Place one coffee filter over top opening and hold in place with a rubber band, OR if the top has a pour spout opening, place your coffee filter down first, put top on and leave it open (see picture bottom left). This is done so CO2 can escape while preventing potential foreign matter to enter.
- STEP 5: Let sit in low light, 70-80 degree area for 8 to 10 days. If stored in a cooler place, your tea may take at least 14 days. When primary fermentation is complete, tea should be a mix of vinegar and sweet flavors.
- STEP 6: Pour tea into large bowl. Mix with your choice of flavored juice. And you have kombucha tea!
- STEP 7: If you want tea with carbonation/effervescence: Pour into bottle using a funnel, and close it up making sure it is airtight.
- STEP 8: Place kombucha-filled bottles in a box and set aside at room temperature for 2 to 5 days. The time for the tea to carbonate will depend on the amount of sugar in the juice added.
- STEP 9: After 2 to 5 days, refrigerate before you enjoy!
- WARNING: Brewing kombucha requires a sterile environment and strict procedure. Use caution when handling the SCOBY culture. Though rare, if treated wrongly, SCOBY can create adverse health effects. In addition, use caution with contents under pressure...always store airtight bottles of kombucha in a closed box.
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