Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Focus on Fermentation Week: Kombucha

Kombucha is a naturally carbonated, fermented tea. It is made from a starter culture called a Scoby ( is one alien looking culture) and has many health benefits including the following:

1. It boosts the Immune System - because it is fermented it encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria in the stomach and is also rich in antioxidants, which help to strengthen immunity.

2. It is a Natural Detoxifier - The good bacteria that Kombucha promotes aids in detoxifying your gut, and it also supports liver function.

3. It is Rich in Vitamins and Enzymes - Kombucha is rich in Vitamin B which provide support for the body's metabolic functions including overall energy, utilization of carbohydrates, heart health, and healthy hair skin and nails. The digestive enzymes that Kombucha provides breaks down the food we eat into smaller compounds so the nutrients can be more easily absorbed into the bloodstream.

4. Increased Energy and Metabolism - The Vitamin B increases energy and the beneficial bacteria in the Kombucha help your body work better and take the burden off it's functioning.

5. PMS Relief - the Vitamin B vitamins break down and flush out excess estrogen from the body.

6. Relief from Arthritis and Joint Pain - As Arthritis is an immune disorder, Kombucha's probiotic bacteria assists in strengthening immunity.

So, when I read all of this on the leaflet that came with my mail-order Scoby, I knew that this was a fermented product that I just had to try...despite the initially daunting process, which, I am pleased to say was so much easier than I first thought. And the Kombucha tastes beautiful!! The above image shows how my Scoby was packed...taped up in plastic and posted in an envelope.

This image shows the 'starter tea' surrounding the Scoby - it had to have something to live on during transit.

Now, I did warn you...pretty gross looking right? A bit like a deflated chicken fillet.

My Scoby came with instructions to make my first batch by boiling 1.5 litres of water and adding three teabags (organic black tea works best) and 3/4 cup of sugar. Mix until dissolved and remove the tea bags after ten minutes. Then let the tea cool.

Once it is cooled, pour the tea into a glass jar (Scoby does not like plastic) with the starter tea (the liquid the Scoby came in) . I used this one with a tap so that I can easily taste test during fermentation without disturbing the Scoby. You place the Scoby  on top of the tea, seal with a cloth and cover with a tea towel. Then you leave it to ferment.

This shot was taken on day 3.

This was taken on Day 10. If you want a sweeter tea you ferment for a short time, but if you like it bitter then you can brew it for a couple of weeks. Ten days was perfect in this weather. It is slightly carbonated and still sweet. You can just see in the above image that the Scoby has spread out across the full width of the glass jar...and the dark spot is actually....

...A baby Scoby, one that can be given to someone to start their Kombucha. You just peel it off it's 'mother'.

Look how beautiful and clear the tea is. You can just see the bubbles on the edges. My boys said it tasted like beer, but the fermented taste is very mild. You can combine your tea with other liquids such as water or fruit juice for different flavours. Just keep it in the fridge and it will last for several months...if your family don't drink it all first like mine :)

Now, how is that for one weird science experiment? Now that I have more 'starter tea' I am making a full batch of five litres, so in ten days time I can experiment with some new flavours and juices. And all for the cost of $10 for my Scoby, a few teabags and filtered water...a very economical and healthy beverage.

Have you ever made Kombucha before or tasted it?
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