A few years ago I started making my own kombucha. Kombucha is very trendy right now, selling for several bucks a bottle at the store, but it’s a very old concoction. Dating back at least B.C., originating somewhere in northern China,(1) many claim kombucha has all sorts of health benefits. Regardless of it’s potential probiotic, antimicrobial properties, I love kombucha! The slightly fizzy, sweet and sour drink is part of my arsenal of fermented foods that includes kimchee, vinegars, sauerkraut, beer, wine, cider, yogurt, kefir, and pickles, among others.
Making kombucha is simple if you have a mother or SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Ask your friends and neighbors like me if anyone has an extra mother – they divide quite quickly and are built for sharing. If you don’t have one, order one online from places like Cultures for Health. Once your first batch of mature kombucha is ready, you can make new batches endlessly. The basics are simple; brew strong tea, cool, add sweetener, add mother, ferment, drink.
The real fun of kombucha begins when you use different types of teas and sweeteners. For beginners I recommend using a quality basic black tea like oolong or English breakfast and white sugar. This will give you the most traditional kombucha flavor. Classic green tea and white sugar will yield a lighter, more herbal kombucha. Try new sweeteners like raw sugar, honey, agave, maple, etc. The two batches pictured here use two types of green tea, one classic, one slightly smoky, both mixed with pure cane syrup from my trip to New Orleans. I probably should have use black tea, as it would be more complementary to the light molasses flavor of the cane syrup, but the smoky green tea combo was pretty good. Whatever combo you use, you’re bound to have something yummy.