Kombucha – a fizzy, fermented tea with roots in Asia – has become increasingly popular in the U.S., as The Washington Post noted. Some believe the tea may have various health benefits, but others just enjoy it as a unique, pleasantly sour beverage. If you’re learning to cook and interested in exploring the power of fermentation, preparing a batch of homemade kombucha might be the perfect project for you. You’ll just have to be a little patient; the process can take several weeks. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Choose the right ingredients
The key ingredient in kombucha is the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, which is very similar to the “mother” substance used to make vinegar. You can purchase a SCOBY, but the Kitchn provided directions for growing your own over the course of two to four weeks. Just be sure the culture smells fresh and vinegary, and get rid of it immediately if it goes rancid.
“The key ingredient in kombucha is SCOBY.”
In addition, you need tea and sugar. According to Bon Appetit, black tea is the best choice because the SCOBY works well with the tannins in this variety. Go with simple granulated white sugar, which the yeast and bacteria will eat right up, rather than anything more exotic. Also, allow the tea to reach room temperature before bringing the ingredients together
2. Keep it clean
When it comes to this beverage, you can never be too scrupulous about cleanliness. Live Eat Learn emphasized that allowing only the desired kind of bacteria to grow requires maintaining a high level of sanitation throughout the preparation. Carefully wash and double check every piece of glassware or funnel the kombucha comes into contact with.
3. Give the kombucha the time and space to ferment
Once you’ve combined the ingredients, much of the rest of the process is about waiting. Allow the kombucha sufficient space for ventilation while it’s fermenting. Pour the tea into a mason jar or a similar glass container, and cover it with a cheesecloth held in place by a rubber band. If you don’t have a cheesecloth handy, Stupid Easy Paleo pointed out that an old T-shirt can do the job.
Keep the container of kombucha in a dark place, such as a pantry or cabinet, at 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The fermentation may take between a week and month. How long you should wait varies based on environmental conditions and your own tastes, so you should check on it regularly and try a few drops with a straw. If you see bubbles from carbonation, that’s a good sign.
“Bring in further ingredients in a second round of fermentation.”
4. Make some tasty additions
After you’re satisfied with the level of fermentation, you can enjoy the drink as it is for a tart, mildly sweet tea flavor. However, there is also the option to perform a second round, which allows the drink to develop more carbonation and gives you the opportunity to bring in further ingredients. The Domestic Man suggested adding fruit, juice, ginger or honey.
For this second bout of fermentation, use a jar with a lid that fits on snugly. You can even split the kombucha into several jars with different ingredients for the sake of variety. Allow one or two weeks for the drink to acquire the desired flavor and fizz.
These ideas will help you make your first jars of kombucha. However, there’s a lot of room to try out different flavors and age for different periods of time. By drawing on what you learn in online culinary courses you may find that fermentation holds all sorts of delicious possibilities.