I remember the first time I encountered Kombucha.
It was likely over 20 years ago and we were at my Aunty Rose’s house. Aunty Rose is always up for healthy, if not a bit ahead-of-their-time experiments! She had a big earthenware crock with what looked like a large flat jellyfish floating in some brown pond water.
“What in earth,” I asked “is that?”
“It’s Kombucha!” she declared. “Very good for you! Good for your digestive system. Makes me feel marvellous!”
I asked her what was in it. “Tea, sugar and the mother.”
“Is that the jellyfish thingy?”
“Yes! It grows with each batch. Would you like to try some?”
It was encouragingly fizzy, but my sugar-soaked palate recoiled at the sourness. I poured the rest of it down the sink when Auntry Rose wasn’t looking.
Fast forward to a few years ago, when Husband and I were in New York. Flavoured, hipster ‘
Suddenly, it seemed, K
ombucha was having its moment of glory.
Now it’s so mainstream, you can buy it at the supermarket in a myriad of flavours.
I had made water kefir before, plus ginger beer, beer and elderflower champagne, so I’m a pretty confident home brewer/fermenter.
The good news is, Kombucha would have to be one of the easiest of all the fermented drinks to try, perfect for beginners!
It’s unbelievably simple to make at home. Not to mention, it is much more economical to make kombucha yourself! Seriously, we are talking pennies per glass.
And using my continuous Kombucha on tap method, you will have it ready to go, anytime you’re feeling a bit parched.
There is a lot of hype around Kombucha, some of it ridiculously over-exaggerated.
Kombucha is a rich source of antioxidants and gut-healthy probiotics.
It is also mildly alcoholic, less than 0.5%, about the same as a piece of
We discourage flavoured drinks at home and don’t have cordial, juice or soft drinks freely available. My kids drink Kombucha and they love it but are allowed just one glass a day.
With three kids, that’s still a lot of Kombucha, so I have upped production! I use the
Kombucha is completely safe to make at home, provided you are vigilant with your hygiene and follow a few precautions.
How to make Continuous Kombucha
You will need
- 1 Healthy Kombucha scoby (no mould, or weird looking bits!)
- 250 ml (1 cup) of Kombucha from the
- 3 litres boiled water
- 5 organic strong black teabags (unflavoured and unscented)
- 1 cup organic raw sugar
Boil the 3 litres of water and allow the 5 tea bags to brew for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and stir in the sugar, until dissolved. Set aside to cool until the brew is room temperature.
Add the tea to the Kombucha scoby and the reserved cup of Kombucha. Cover the dispenser with a tea towel or muslin secured with twine or an elastic band. Kombucha needs to “breathe” and the cloth barrier also keeps bugs out of your brew.
After a few days, you may notice a new scoby forming on the Kombucha, or your existing scoby will start to grow thicker. My Kombucha is ready in a few days, up to 10 days before it becomes unpalatably vinegary, so that gives us about a week of good Kombucha drinking time!
Your climate may be different, and your Kombucha may develop at different rates, so it is important to taste your Kombucha regularly until you get the taste and fizziness that you prefer. We strain ours too, as there are often yeast strands in the brew that are completely harmless, yet look a bit gross and have an unpleasant, slimy texture.
Drink Dispensers are the secret to Continuous Kombucha!
Shhh! It can stay just between us.
As you can see, I like to make my Kombucha in glass drink dispenser. There, I can always see the health of the scoby and make sure no nasties are growing on it.
The spent yeasts fall to the bottom of the dispenser, the scoby will float on top and you can pour a clear glass of Kombucha without agitating the mix.
Plus, glass drink dispensers are available almost everywhere at the moment, with great ones to be found for as little as $10 at Kmart.
You may be tempted to use an old earthenware crock for your Kombucha, but beware. Unless you can be 100% certain that the glazes or clay do not contain lead, give it a miss. Leeching can make your brew toxic. If you prefer the aesthetic of an earthenware crock for your Kombucha, there are safe ones out there, specifically crafted for Kombucha, so seek them out.
After about 3-4 weeks of making and drinking continuous Kombucha, it is time to give the dispensers a good glean, not because they are dirty, rather, the spigot can get clogged with cultures and the yeasts can build up at the bottom of the brew.
I simply place the scoby and reserved kombucha in a glass bowl while I wash out the dispenser using hot water and dish soap, and rinse well with water with a bit of white vinegar. Simply put the scoby, the reserved Kombucha back in the drink dispenser and top up with fresh tea brew. Then you’re ready to start again.
If things get weird…
If your Kombucha scoby develops mould or turns black, throw it into your compost!
Your Kombucha has insects in it? Throw it into the compost! Quick!
If your Kombucha smells awful, looks weird or for any reason, you feel like something isn’t quite right, throw it into the compost, sterilize all your equipment and start again with a new scoby and reserved Kombucha.
Flavouring your Continuous Kombucha.
Continuous Kombucha is not flavoured. But you can add some berries from the freezer to it or a squeeze of lemon or lime juice for extra flavour.
If you have fresh Cape Gooseberries, Kombucha is delicious with a few berries muddled in a glass with some fresh mint!
Since participating in Dry January this year, I have cut down on my alcohol consumption. Kombucha served in one of my lovely champagne flutes feels like I’m still treating myself, without the alcohol and headache!
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