RECIPE: Vicki Ravlich-Horan | PHOTOGRAPHY: Tracie Heasman

Want to get some great probiotics into the family but think you might struggle to convince them to eat sauerkraut?  Kombucha could be the answer and makes a great alternative to soda drinks.
Known as the tea of immortality, Kombucha dates back to the Chinese Tsin dynasty (221 BC) and is packed full of an array of organic acids like glucuronic, gluconic, lactic, acetic, butyric, malic and usnic acid; and vitamins, particularly B vitamins and vitamin C. And of course there are all the benefits of the probiotic micro-organisms themselves.
DID YOU KNOW “Scoby” is actually an acronym: Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. And that’s exactly what it is! A scoby is the living home for the bacteria and yeast that transforms sweet tea into tangy, fuzzy kombucha.

1 scoby in 1 cup liquid from the previous brew
½ cup kombucha from previous batch
3 litres of water
1 cup sugar
4–6 tea bags (must be tea from Camellia sinensis. Black, green and white tea will all work but not herbal tea with no actual tea in them)

a large 4 litre glass jar
muslin cloth
fruit juice, preferably organic and unpasteurised or at least not made from concentrate.
Other flavourings: fresh ginger, goji berries, freeze dried fruit powder like Fresh AS powders from Dante’s in Cambridge or Red Kitchen in Te Awamutu

Bring the water to a boil.
Pour into your jar and add the sugar, stir to dissolve.
Add the tea bags and steep for ten minutes. Remove the tea bags and allow the sweet tea to cool completely.

Add the scoby and kombucha from previous brew. Cover the jar’s opening with muslin or Chux cloth and place in a warm spot but not next to a fruit bowl or compost bin.
Allow to ferment for 7–21 days depending on the time of year and temperature. When to bottle the kombucha is a matter of trial and error. After seven days taste the brew, you want it to be sour and no longer taste of tea. If your scoby has started to form a baby this is a great sign.

Remove the scoby and approx one cup of the tea. Store this in an airtight jar in the fridge for your next brew.
Pour the tea into sterilised bottles, to approximately two-thirds full. Top with fruit juice*. I love using Divine Orchards apple juice from the Farmers’ Market. Add in any flavouring like ginger.
*Adding fruit juice is optional, but also I think it’s essential in making it palatable for the family. You can then decrease the amount added, tailoring it to your own tastes.
Seal and allow to sit at room temperature for a few days to ensure you have a fizzy brew. Again, the length of time to leave at this stage will depend on the temperature, in the summer this is only a few days, in winter it can be 4–5. You will be able to see the bubbles forming.
Store in the fridge before serving.

Warning – Open carefully over the sink and be careful not to shake!

Share the joy – Your scoby will form a new one, if not every brew at least every couple, so share these with friends and family.  If you have more than you can giveaway your compost will love them or look online for the many different uses, including a face mask.

Kombucha2a Kombucha2c

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