There has been a recent surge in popularity and interest in fermented food and drinks, particularly kombucha. The benefits of this fermented, sweet tea are thought to include improved digestion and mood, better liver and pancreas function, and increased energy. It’s easy to make at home too! So… where to start?
You can buy a variety of flavours at most supermarkets or some cafes brew their own (Timber Café’s passionfruit kombucha is amazing). Ask your friends and family if they are making it and sample theirs.
Cockburn Libraries hold a number of books about brewing and flavouring kombucha so I took some home to read up on the techniques before we attempted to make our own.
This book is perfect for beginners and more experienced ‘booch’ brewers. It covers the basics of making your own kombucha, the addition of flavours, and some more adventurous uses including dressings, sorbets and cocktails!
The recipes in this book are listed according to the base flavour: fruit, vegetable, flower or herb/spice/tea. From immunity boosting turmeric to fresh apple and mint, there is a flavour combination for anyone who wants a healthier version of fizzy drink.
A guide to various fermented drinks including kombucha and kefir, which is similar to liquid yoghurt and great in smoothies. This book has useful information on the benefits of these drinks and recipes for particular health conditions.
The books above, as well as many others and a number of websites, provide detailed instructions on how to begin brewing kombucha so I’ll just include the basics here.
Preparation – ensure everything is properly washed and you have good quality bottles for the refrigeration stage (flip-top beer bottles are perfect). Kombucha does not like plastic or metal so get a large glass jar for brewing and a cotton cover to keep out bugs while allowing oxygen for fermentation.
Ingredients – you’ll need a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to ferment the sweet tea. You can get this from a friend who is brewing kombucha, a local group on social media, or from some health food stores. As your booch ferments, a new SCOBY will grow and you can store these in a SCOBY hotel to pass on to other new brewers or for future batches. You will also need to make a sweet tea with unflavoured tea, sugar and water (boiled or filtered is recommended – I use filtered rainwater).
Time – the first brew or fermentation will take one to four weeks, depending on the temperature and your taste preferences. In Perth Summer, my kombucha is ready for bottling and flavouring after about nine days. My second fermentation (2F) with the fruit or other flavours takes 3-4 days then it is strained and refrigerated, ready to enjoy when chilled.
Taste – my family’s favourite flavours so far have been lemon and ginger or apple and ginger. We have also tried various berries and fruit purees. Our attempt at using the honey from our beehives instead of sugar resulted in a strange after-taste so we will stick with sugar for now!
My SCOBY hotel
Grolsch bottles are perfect for kombucha
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