Kombucha tea is a relatively new introduction to the Western world, but it’s been used as an herbal remedy in China for over 2,000 years. Kombucha is a drink that’s made from sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a colony of symbiotic bacteria and yeast. It isn’t the prettiest drink you’ll ever see, but it has incredible health benefits that you won’t believe!
Health Benefits of Kombucha
Immune System Boosting
Kombucha is rich in anti-oxidants, which are the best way to protect your immune system against harmful illnesses and free radicals! The anti-oxidants in the tea have a protective role to play in protecting your body from heart disease, strokes and cancer.
Joint Care and Arthritis Relief
This fermented tea contains forms of glucosamines, which are compounds that aid the preservation of cartilage structure and prevent arthritic pain. The relief that the glucosamines can provide is comparable to NSAIDs, and is able to work so effectively by binding moisture to connective tissue, which aids natural lubrication on the joints.
Detoxifies the Body and Aids Digestive Health
Kombucha is rich in enzymes and bacterial acids that help to break down toxins in the body’s system and flush them out. This eases the pressure on your liver and kidneys, and helps them to function more easily. Additionally, kombucha is filled with probiotics that help aid digestion and fight yeast infections like candida.
How To Make Kombucha Tea At Home
- 3 1/2 quarts water
- 1 cup sugar (regular granulated sugar works best)
- 8 bags black tea, green tea, or a mix (or 2 tablespoons loose tea)
- 2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought kombucha (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored)
- 1 SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) per fermentation jar, homemade or purchased online
- Optional flavoring extras for bottling: 1 to 2 cups chopped fruit, 2 to 3 cups fruit juice, 1 to 2 tablespoons flavored tea (like hibiscus or Earl Grey), 1/4 cup honey, 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh herbs or spices
- Make the tea base:Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled.
- Add the starter tea:Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea. (The starter tea makes the liquid acidic, which prevents unfriendly bacteria from taking up residence in the first few days of fermentation.)
- Transfer to jars and add the SCOBY:Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar (or divide between two 2-quart jars, in which case you’ll need 2 scobys) and gently slide the scoby into the jar with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band.
- Ferment for 7 to 10 days:Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, then allow to ferment for 7 to 10 days. A new cream-colored layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. It usually attaches to the old scoby, but it’s ok if they separate. You may also see brown stringy bits floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles collecting around the scoby. This is all normal and signs of healthy fermentation.
- After 7 days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.
- Remove the scoby:Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch of kombucha, as outlined above. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. As you do, check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick.
- Bottle the finished kombucha:Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch. Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if desired) into bottles using the small funnel, along with any juice, herbs, or fruit you may want to use as flavoring. Leave about a half inch of head room in each bottle.
- Carbonate and refrigerate the finished kombucha:Store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.
Tea Types To Use
Black tea is made from tea leaves that have been fully fermented already. This gives the kombucha a strong apple taste, and a beautiful amber color. When you use black teas to make kombucha, you can woody or smoky tastes too, depending on how strong you make the drink.
Kombucha made from green tea is lighter in taste and colour. Depending on the variety of green tea that you use, the kombucha can have a fruity or nutty taste, and resembles a white wine then a cider.
Oolong is halfway between green tea and black tea, which means that it’s been partially allowed to ferment, but only until the edges of the leaves turned brown. Depending in the type used, Oolong kombucha can be closer to the grassy flavour of green tea, or the cider taste of black.
White teas are a little more expensive, but they add an amazing flowery taste to your kombucha. The tea brings a natural sweetness to the drink, that’s slightly reminiscent of champagne.