Last Updated: September 11, 2020
It all started when I was still in culinary school; while waiting for our sourdough to ferment, my chef instructor took out a mason jar filled with a tea-like liquid and poured all 14 of us a paper cup full of an I-don’t-know-what substance.
At first sip, it was tart and fizzy. The kick of acidity was strong yet strangely addictive. After a while, its underlying sweetness set in and from then on, I was hooked. This was my virgin venture into the world of kombucha.
By now, I’m pretty sure most of you would have heard of this fermented beverage. The question is: is kombucha really a miracle super drink or is it just a weird wellness fad brought to fame by Hollywood celebrities?
Today, kombucha has made its way from residing mostly in the realm of hippies to a staple with a permanent spot in major hypermarkets. Before we decide if this is really good for our body, let’s delve a little more into this ancient food alchemy and getting our hands dirty with our very first brew—one I’m sure your wallet will approve!
Also known as the ‘Tea of Immortality’, kombucha made its first appearance in China more than 2,000 years back. Over time, western countries such as the United States caught on with the beverage’s medicinal properties leading to its modern age revival in the 90s.
Made primarily with sweetened black tea, this fermented beverage is loaded with probiotics, amino acids, anti-oxidants, and chock-full of good things our guts and intestines love. While there is no scientific evidence on its ability to combat diseases such as cancer, I swear by kombucha in clearing my bowels. Trust me on this; I’ve bid constipation goodbye ever since I started consuming my daily cup of home-made kombucha.
Not only that, but I also know of fellow regular drinkers exclaiming how much their skin improved and brightened after embarking on a kombucha journey. This miracle beverage is also said to be able to regulate cholesterol and improve blood pressure—a win-win for your body, both inside and out.
If you are new to kombucha and would like to have a taste of it, I highly recommend you to get a ready-brewed bottle. Commercial brands aside, local tea breweries such as Yocha and Fizzicle Kombucha are also selling their unique creations online.
For those of you who are ready to transform a part of your kitchen to an in-house brewery, making your very own kombucha is indeed a relatively simple process. But before we get into the nitty-gritty details, you have to first befriend a rubbery pancake-like blob—the SCOBY.
The mother to the gallons of kombucha you will be brewing, SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) is a culture of bacteria and yeast that consumes most of the sugar in your sweetened tea during the fermentation process. Acetic acid, gas and small amounts of alcohol are produced as by-products, resulting in the fizzy, fermented beverage that is relatively low in calories.
Most recipes will call for the addition of an active kombucha SCOBY for your first brew. Fellow kombucha brewers will have plenty to share (DM me for a slice anytime!), otherwise, you can also find them for sale on Shopee and Lazada. But if you have the time, why not make your SCOBY from scratch?
All you need to do is add half a bottle of plain store-bought kombucha to a cup of cooled black tea, sweetened with two to three tablespoons of white sugar. Thereafter, transfer the mixture into a jar and cover it with a towel.
Allow the beverage to ferment away from sunlight at room temperature for at least a week. A jelly-like layer will start forming on the surface of the liquid and voilà, your SCOBY is formed.
Having brewed kombucha for almost a year, brewing for me has now become a fuss-free process with little to no measurements and tons of experimentations.
For a start, here is a guideline of measurements which you can follow should you feel comfort in exact weights. Once you are comfortable and have a jar full of unlimited SCOBY, feel free to experiment with different tea leaves, sweeteners and play with the unlimited flavour pairings using different fruits and even spices.
Preparation time (first fermentation): 25 to 30 minutes; Fermentation time: 7 to 21 days
Preparation time (second fermentation): 15 minutes; Fermentation time: 7 to 12 days
Now that you know how to brew your own ‘Tea of Immortality’, here are some know-hows which I have learnt throughout my journey of kombucha-making. These make for good tips, to ensure your babies don’t go to waste.
There you have it. Your fool-proof first-timer guide to home-brewed kombucha. This might seem like a long and tedious process, but once you get the hang of it, brewing will be a walk in the park.
Who knows, your entire bottle of kombucha might even cost less than half the price of those bought off the shelf. If it means a cheaper and healthier option that’s home-made, why not?