Updated: Jan 9, 2019
Kombucha is a fermented beverage made with green or black tea. It is made by first making a strong tea and this is sweetened with sugar. Once the mix is cold it is put in a glass vessel or jug and then a mother called a scoby is introduced. The scoby will help the drink ferment and introduce the beneficial bacteria and yeast it needs to produce the probiotic rich drink. To produce a good tasting kombucha you will also need some of the first batch of kombucha added to this mix this is called a Kombucha starter.
A scoby is a symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria living together. It looks a bit like a thick leathery mushroom and that floats to the top of the drink during the fermentation, it feeds on the sugar and tea. The scoby also called the mother needs air to breathe so the kombucha will be covered with a muslin or a clean kitchen towel during this process. The scoby will grow after each batch of ferment and produce a small scoby also known as a baby scoby!
The Kombucha scoby can live indefinitely in theory if fed regularly with sweet tea and kept in ideal temperature. I brew my kombucha at room temperature in the UK and this will vary with seasons. You may find depending on the temperature of the room the ferment may go fast or slow this should not be a concern and regular tasting say after 5-7 or even longer will determine with experience if the kombucha is ready.
Your kombucha is ready to drink once you have decided it tastes nice to you. You can consume it straight from the vessel it fermented from or you can separate it from the scoby and bottle it up in a flip top bottle. This can either be put in a cupboard out of sight for a few more weeks to build up some fiz or go straight into the fridge for drinking. It is possible to put your kombucha through a second fermentation with some chosen fruit or herb/spice flavourings this will also produce a delicious and often fizzy drink. You can find recipes for this under the recipe category of this blog.
Where Kombucha tea originates from is unclear but some resources suggests it originates from China and dates as far back to 220 BC. It was popular in Russia and in Eastern Europe. Kombucha although became scarce during WW2 due to shortages in sugar and tea in the recent years it is enjoying a comeback in popularity and has become a commercial as well as a home made health promoting beverage!