Fermented foods have been growing in popularity in recent years, driven by a desire on the part of most people to eat healthier and rediscover healthy foods our ancestors ate that were gradually driven out of the commercial market. And not only are these foods healthy for you, they’re also in many cases easy to make at home. Today we’ll look at a fermented drink that is easy to make from a common drink that most households already have.
Kombucha is a fermented tea that is relatively less known in the West than other fermented drinks, possibly because of its origins in eastern Russia. It is rapidly becoming more popular in the United States due to marketing touting its many health benefits.
Kombucha is very simple to make, and its production is similar to vinegar in that one needs to source a mother, also known as a scoby or SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.) You need to make sure that you have a clean glass jar for fermentation so that no nasty bacteria compete with the scoby.
Heat water to near boiling and add sugar and tea bags, allowing sugar to dissolve and tea bags to steep. You can leave the bags in for 10-15 minutes or longer; the longer the bags are left in, the stronger the tea will be.
Let the tea cool until it reaches about room temperature, remove the tea bags if you haven’t already, and pour the tea into your glass jar. Add a small amount of starter tea from a previous batch of kombucha if you have it, or distilled white vinegar if you don’t.
The ratios for the recipe are: for every quart of kombucha use 3-4 cups of water, 2 tea bags, ¼ cup of sugar, and ½ cup of starter tea or vinegar.
Once the tea is cooled, add your scoby, cover your jar with a towel or coffee filter, and secure it with a rubber band. Let it ferment in a cool, dark place in your kitchen out of direct sunlight for at least a week and taste it once it has fermented. The longer you ferment kombucha, the more acidic it will taste, so if you let it go too long you’ll end up with something that tastes like vinegar.
You can pour off your kombucha to drink it and once it’s all done you can add a new batch of sugared, cooled tea to the jar and culture and start all over again. Creating your own kombucha is easy to do and incredibly cheap to make. And if normal kombucha isn’t to your liking you can even make flavored versions with various fruits, herbs, and spices.