Welcome to the world of fermentation. A bit of a hot topic in the nutrition field lately, fermentation refers to a chemical process by which bacteria and yeasts are broken down and converted into acids or gases. How does this relate to food? Fermented food is beneficial for our gut health, promoting good bacteria growth and supporting a healthy immune system. The health claims are wide and varied (from restoring hair colour to decreasing anxiety), but bottom line – fermented foods taste pretty awesome. Popular types of fermented foods include sauerkraut, yoghurt and miso.
One you might not have heard of before is kombucha. (My mac doesn’t even know what it is, if you were sitting next to me right now you could see the red squiggle from my spell-check). It’s a thing, trust me.
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink made with regular old tea leaves, a bit of sugar, and a little friend called Scoby. Scoby stands for ‘symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast’. It is a vital component in brewing your kombucha, because that is what eats the sugar in the tea, causing the fermentation process to occur. So how does one get this scoby baby? You need a pretty good friend. Luckily, I have one. If you don’t, never fear, you can purchase a scoby starter culture online (although I have never done it before). The reason you need this good friend, is because once you start falling in love with brewing fermented beverages, you will start making multiple batches, and as a result, your scoby will grow. You could be a greedy bitch and keep them all for yourself I guess, but usually one is suffice, which is how I got mine very kindly given to me as a gift.
Once you have yourself a scoby, the rest is simple. You’ll need:
1 x large glass jar
4 x tea bags
4 x cups of boiling water
1/2 x cup sugar
1/2 x cup already brewed kombucha (get this with your scoby)
- place the sugar and boiling water in a large bowl/plastic container/saucepan and stir to dissolve – do not pour straight into glass jar because glass jar will crack – surprise surprise!
- once dissolved, add the tea bags in and leave to sit until the liquid has cooled down
- once cooled, add to glass jar with your scoby and cover with a clean cloth (i secured mine with a rubber band) – you don’t want to put the lid on because the oxygen needs to circulate.
- leave to sit in a dark place for 4-7 days
I am three days in. I haven’t tasted it yet but allll in good time. The longer you leave it, the more vinegary the kombucha will be. Sounds gross but it’s good! When ready, it will taste like a tangy iced tea. You can also bottle it and store it for a little longer which will cause bubbles to form and turn the kombucha fizzy.
The possibilities are endless! You can understand my excitement, correct? Try out other teas like chai or green tea. This study looked at the antimicrobial properties of a number of kombucha tea types and found that green tea showed the highest antimicrobial potential. You can also experiment by adding flavours such as ginger and lemon.
Who needs a baby when you have a scoby to look after?!
Day 6: I tried it today: perfection! It’s a little fizzy and a little sweet and sour. Once it’s to your liking, remove the scoby and reserve it with 1/2 cup of kombucha, ready for a new batch. Then, keep the rest of the kombucha in a bottle in the fridge.