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How to easily make kombucha tea from scratch

This ancient slightly fizzy, fermented black tea is making waves for those in search of low-carb drinks. Banting guru chef Jonno Proudfoot tells us how to make it

06 January 2019 - 00:00 By Jonno Proudfoot
Kombucha comes in many different flavours including, from left, plain, apple, pineapple, and lemon and bay.
Kombucha comes in many different flavours including, from left, plain, apple, pineapple, and lemon and bay.
Image: Toby Murphy

Hailing from the East, kombucha is slightly fizzy, fermented black tea that's been around since ancient times. Thanks to the popularity of the low-carb movement, it's recently found new fans.

Unlike beer or wine, which makes use of yeast alone, the fermentation aid in kombucha is a jelly-like mushroom called a scoby, short for symbiotic colong of bacteria and yeast.

If you buy kombucha from a health shop, you can make your own scoby, provided what you're buying is high enough quality.

Making your own scoby and kombucha is preferable when following a low-carb diet because it allows you more control over the sugar content.

MAKING YOUR OWN SCOBY

Ingredients:

2.5 litres water

6 tea bags (Ceylon, Earl Grey or any Asian black tea)

190g white sugar

1 bottle (350- 500ml) store-bought live kombucha

Utensils:

1 x 3 litre jar

1 x 400ml jar (or any small jar)

Muslin cloth

Method:

  1. Make sure the jars are clean and sterilised before you use them.
  2. Boil the water. Place the tea bags and sugar into the larger jar. Pour the boiling water over the tea and sugar, stir gently. Leave to brew and cool.
  3. Pour in the bottle of kombucha. Remove some of the tea to make space if necessary.
  4. Cover the jar and leave to stand room temperature for about two weeks. A thick layer of jelly-like scoby will form, either at the bottom or around the opening of the jar. It should be the same texture as thick, overcooked lasagne sheets.
  5. To harvest the scoby, use a pair of tongs to lift it into the small (sterile) jar and cover it with leftover tea from your main batch.

MAKING KOMBUCHA USING YOUR OWN SCOBY

Ingredients:

3 litres water

6 tea bags (for more tannin and caffeine use Asian black tea, Earl Grey or Ceylon; for caffeine-free use rooibos)

190g white sugar

1 scoby

250ml kombucha (from a bottle or previous batch)

1.3 litre jar (make sure the jar has no detergent residue)

Method:

  1. Boil the water.
  2. Place the tea bags, sugar and any flavour combination (e.g. apples, pineapple, lemon and bay leaves) into the jar.
  3. Pour in the boiling water, stir gently to dissolve the sugar, and leave to brew and cool, making one huge cup of tea. 
  4. Once the mixture is cold, add the scoby and reserved kombucha.
  5. Cover with a cloth and leave to ferment for a week in winter and three days in summer.

Recipes and image from 'The Real Meal Revolution: Low Carb Cooking' by Jonno Proudfoot (Robinson). For more, go to realmealrevolution.com


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