Kombucha… all of a sudden it’s everywhere. It’s sold along side of other drinks in your local convenience store, and you probably know someone who’s making it at home. It’s being touted as the healthy alternative to pop. And it’s the go-to cure for everything from cancer to sunburns.
Whatever the claims may be, kombucha is a sweet, fizzy and healthy alternative to cola. (However, due to the caffeine and sugar content I’m not sure that I’d recommend it as a healthy alternative to water. Regardless, all things are good in moderation!)
How to Care for a Kombucha SCOBY
Culturing kombucha is very easy, all you need is a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts). A kombucha SCOBY is thick and rubbery. It grows across the top of a culturing kombucha tea in thin layers that slowly become quite thick.
You can divide a SCOBY by cutting it apart. Then you can make a few different batches of kombucha or share with a friend. Just be sure to be clean while handling your SCOBY.
Like all ferments a SCOBY does need some TLC.
- Happy SCOBYs like to be fed a diet of refined sugar and black tea. It doesn’t matter whether you use beet, cane or coconut palm sugar… they just need the sucrose. (And yes coconut palm sugar is just sucrose… despite the advertising campaign to the contrary.)
- Though SCOBYs prefer a warm room (22C / 72F) they can handle colder temperatures, it will just take longer to brew your kombucha.
- Like all cultures, you should keep your kombucha in a different room from other cultures (especially kefir, sourdough and other yeast-based ferments).
- If you’re going away on holiday, or just want to take a break from kombucha then simply stick the scoby in the fridge in some sweet tea. A healthy SCOBY should be fine for a few weeks in the fridge.
- 1 green or black tea bag (can be decaffeinated)
- ¼ cup of sugar (white or unrefined, but no other substitutions)
- 4 cups of filtered water
- Kombucha SCOBY
- ½ cup of leftover kombucha (or cultured apple cider vinegar)
- Boil 2 cups of water and make a sweet tea with the tea bags and sugar (steep until the sugar is dissolved).
- Add the remaining 2 cups of water to cool the tea down to room temperature.
- Place tea, SCOBY and leftover kombucha in a glass jar or measuring cup.
- Cover with a tea towel and use a rubber band to keep it in place.
- Allow it to ferment in a warm location for 3-10 days (depending on room temperature).
- Pour off a little liquid to taste it. It is finished when it has reached the desired level of sourness (it starts really sweet and becomes sour).
- Pour it off into a plastic bottle or a swing top beer bottle leaving the SCOBY and ½ cup of leftover kombucha behind for next batch.
- Allow to ferment for a further 1-5 days so that it can become really carbonated.
- Refrigerate to stop the fermentation.
-I’ve written a post on Flavouring Kombucha so you can learn how to make your kombucha taste like Dr. Pepper, sparkling lemonade or whatever your heart desires.
-It is possible to brew Kombucha with honey or herbal tea. It’s just not the best for your SCOBY, so divide your culture so that you can have one experimental SCOBY and one healthy SCOBY.
-A new SCOBY might grow across the top of your bottled kombucha. Simply pull it out and throw it away before drinking. It probably won’t be healthy enough to brew a new batch of kombucha.
-If you want to use up your leftover SCOBYs try making SCOBY jerky!
Here’s a photo of the new SCOBY that grew across the top of my cup.
You can see the original SCOBY in the bottom of the measuring cup. It came from a friend who divided his SCOBY in half.