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What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented drink, a result of fermentation and a complex interplay between various species of bacteria, yeasts and sugars. These bacteria are usually referred to as lactic acid and acetic acid bacteria. During fermentation, when this complex development and interaction of bacteria and yeasts takes place, they produce a small amount of alcohol. This is the reason why Kombucha also has a tiny alcohol content, typically ranging from 0.1% to 1%. If you allow the fermentation to complete, all alcohol will be converted into acetic acid.

When yeasts and bacteria develop, and thrive within the liquid, they naturally form a matrix of proteins, fats and sugars as a byproduct, giving structures of cellulose. In Kombuchas this structure has a shape like that of fungus or mold. Mistakenly people often refer to them as fungal formations, which they are not. These structures are merely a byproduct of fermentation and is what houses the different species, living within the Kombucha.

The continual thriving and nourishment of bacteria and yeast, is what drives the growth of the Kombucha, the so-called “scoby”.

These yeasts and bacteria feed on the sugars in their environment, however different species of bacteria prefer digesting different types of sugars, which is the reason why not all Kombuchas are equally made. E.g. some species of bacteria prefer to feed off simple sugars, which are easily broken down, whilst others thrive on fructose or lactose.

The adding of a sugary tea, that is what nourishes Kombuchas.

Kombucha, being fermented food, is commonly believed to provide many health benefits that may even be aiding in the prevention and cure of many diseases. Almost everyone has heard of Kombucha as beneficial to gut health, which I why some people consume them prior to setting out to other parts of the world, hoping it will increase their resilience to unwanted bacteria and gut infections.

Kombucha are by some, also thought to play a role in the low occurrence of well-known diseases, in areas of the world where these drinks have been consumed on a daily basis for generations.

Kombucha supposedly originates from Russia, The Caucasus and China, where many think them vital for health and longevity.

Instructions

Kombucha

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  • The kombucha scoby you order from Hjemmeriet is bottled in some kombucha tea which you also need to make your first batch of kombucha. You can taste a bit of the kombucha tea and it will probably be very acidic, almost like vinegar - this is perfectly alright.

  • To make your first portion of kombucha you will need to use the whole content of the supplied bottle - including the kombucha-tea.

  • You can only make ½ liters of kombucha from this first portion but you will be able to gradually make larger quantities as you get more kombucha tea for every batch you make.

  • Keep the kombucha culture away from metal like spoons etc. and avoid plastic containers.
    We recommend you use only fruit jars or glass containers to ferment and store Kombucha in.

  • Only consume kombucha that seem alright. Never consume kombucha if it tastes, smells and appear off or is contaminated in any way. Kombucha can sometimes taste very strong like vinegar but this is alright and can simply be diluted with water or juice.

Tools and ingredients

  • Fruit jars or glass containers with lid for ½ - 5 liters.
    Glass jars with taps are perfect to make kombucha in.

  • Stirrer made from glass, plastic or wood.
  • Kombucha scoby.

  • Kombucha tea starter -  the portion that came with your scoby or a portion from a previous batch.

  • Organic tea leaves or tea bags.
    Kombucha is normally made from black tea but green tea works too. Use only high quality organic brands, pure and with no additives. Never use tea with added oils like Earl Grey, Earl Green, Orange tea etc. You can also choose to use a mix of herbal tea and black tea, just make sure the larger portion of the mix is black tea.  

  • Organic cane sugar, or normal white sugar. Never use unrefined sugar.

  • Water (chlorine free)

Nice to know before you begin:

  • The size of the scoby has no impact on how large volumes of kombucha tea you can make. A small scoby is just as efficient as a large one. What is really important is ensuring acidity is high enough when you begin the fermentation process. This is done by adding at least 10% strong acidic kombucha tea (at least 3 weeks old) to the tea you are going to ferment. If your kombucha starter tea is not very acidic you need to add more of it to get the right acidity. The pH needs to below 4.5 and it can also be helped by adding 1-2 tsp of vinegar.

  • High room temperature promotes the fermentation process, make it happen faster and temperatures up to 30°C is acceptable. Cool temperatures slow the fermentation process and below 16°C it stops altogether.

  • Different brands of tea flavors kombucha tea in different ways. Green tea makes a mild kombucha whereas English Breakfast tea and Oolong makes it strong.

  • It takes from 5 to 30 days to ferment a batch of kombucha tea. After 5 days, it is quite sweet with notes of acidity but after 30 days it will be very acidic like vinegar. 

  • If it acidifies too much for your taste, simply dilute it by adding water or juice before drinking it. If you are also making water kefir, a sweet water kefir is also nice to mix in.

Ratio for ingredients when you make kombucha-tea.

 

Portion size

Tea

Sugar

Water

Kombucha tea starter

1 liter

2 tsp tea or /
3 tea bags

75 g

5 dl

1 dl

2 liter

4 tsp tea or /
6 tea bags

150 g

1 liter

2 dl

2 liter

2 tbsp tea or /
8 tea bags

200 g

1¼ liter

2½ dl

4 liter

4 tbsp tea/
or 16 tea bags

400 g

2½ liter

½ liter


Recipe - how to make Kombucha tea

  • As a rule of thumb you start up a batch by using 15% sugar and (at least) 10% kombucha-tea from last production, mesured in weight relative to the amount of water used. Per liter of water (1000 g) you will use 150 g of sugar and 100 g (1 dl) of kombucha-tea.

  • Mix boiled water with sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. The water does not have to be boiling, just hot enough to draw the flavors out of the tea. 

  • If you use tea bags, add them to the hot sugar water. If you use tea leaves, shove them into tea bags and tie a not before you add the bag to the hot water. Leave the tea bags in and let the tea cool to room temperature (20-30°C). Or use a cold water bath to cool it faster.

  • When the tea is cooled off, remove the tea bags and pour the tea into the container you are going to ferment in. Add the scoby and ~10% strong kombucha tea. It must be at least 3 weeks old for it to be acidic enough.

  • Fit the lid loosely on the jar. We also recommend you cover the jar with a cloth and fasten it with a rubber band or a piece of sting to keep flies out. Make sure the lid is loosely fitted for air to be able to escape from the jar during the fermentation process.

  • Place the jar in a warm spot (20-30°C) away from direct sun light and leave it there undisturbed there for 5 - 30 days. As the fermentation process progresses you will begin to see the formation of a substance with long threads, sometimes connected with the scoby. This is not a new baby scoby but a natural byproduct of the fermentation process and can be filtered out from the readymade kombucha tea.

  • During the fermentation process, the scoby either floats to the surface, drop to the bottom or position itself vertically somewhere in the tea. This has no influence on the fermentation process and either way is normal.

  • After 5 - 7 days the formation of a new scoby begins on the surface of the tea and it will gradually grow thicker and more unclear day by day. This the new baby scoby.

  • You can try to taste the kombucha after 5 days but we recommend you wait until day 7. The longer you wait the less sugar there will be left in the tea. If you like sweet kombucha tea a 7-10 day fermentation period is optimal but if you prefer it less sugary it needs to ferment for 14-30 days.

  • When the kombucha tea is ready - remove the old and the new scoby from it. The old scoby can be afloat or lying at the bottom - either way is alright. The kombucha baby will float on the surface and now you have two scobies to make kombucha from. You can either use them together or in two separate jars - or give it to someone you know who might like to try and make kombucha tea.

  • Pour the readymade kombucha in to a jar or bottle with lid. You can enjoy the tea straight away or store it for some time but you might like to filter out any long threads and impurities that have developed during the fermentation process. 
    If you close the lid tightly on the bottle or jar there is a possibility it will develop bubbles after a few days and turn slightly sparkling. To promote fizziness, add a bit fruit juice to the kombucha tea, seal the lid tighty and leave it room temperature for a few days. This will cause a great deal of bubbles to develop and you have yourself a sparkling kombucha drink. Just be careful when you open the bottle - since a great deal of pressure has developed too.

    Ready made kombucha can be stored in or outside the fridge at normal room temperature.

  • If you store the kombucha drink for a while before you drink it, a new scoby might develop on its surface as jelly-like substance. You can either consume it or simply toss it away. If you store the kombucha tea for even longer periods of time, the scoby that develops might grow so thick it is suitable to make a new batch of kombucha from.

  • If you want a break from making new batches of kombucha - simply store the scoby in an air tight container, add a little kombucha tea and leave it like this either in- or outside the fridge at room temperature. The scoby will survive like this for up to several weeks. 

  • If you are simultaneously making other cultured food in your kitchen like yogurt, soured milk, kefir, kombucha, sourdough - make sure to keep the cultures apart at a fair distance to avoid cross contamination through the air as the cultures can potentially weaken or alter one another. Always keep high standards of cleanliness for tools and containers, especially if you have used them with different types of cultures.

 
Links to more information:

Please study this pdf document if you want to know more about Kombucha : Link to E-Book about Kombucha

Links

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