Ready-made kombuchas have proliferated in recent years, but brewing your own is rewarding, economical and easy. More importantly, it will taste more vibrant than mass-produced kombucha, courtesy of the gentle aromas of tea and the final addition of fresh fruit, citrus and herbs tailored to your personal taste.
Kombucha is a probiotic drink made from sweetened tea fermented with bacteria and yeast – commonly known as a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). It's fizzy and slightly tart thanks to the same natural processes used to make sourdough and kefir.
Kombucha starters kits often contain SCOBY and a starter liquid, or starter tea (you can purchase starter kits online). When handling a SCOBY 'mother', use sterilised utensils or wear food-handling gloves. The SCOBY we used in this recipe was 3mm thick.
To make a second batch of kombucha, use the SCOBY and liquid left in the jar and repeat the recipe. Alternatively, if you want to take a break, cover the jar containing SCOBY and liquid with a piece of cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band; stand at a stable, cool room temperature away from direct sunlight for seven days. If you prefer sweeter kombucha, simply add more sugar.
What you'll need
- ¼ cup loose-leaf green tea
- 55gm caster sugar
- SCOBY 'mother' and starter liquid, from kombucha starter kit
- 50gm ginger, sliced
- 25gm fresh turmeric, sliced
- 125gm raspberries, crushed
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Lemon slices
- 1 small green apple, halved and sliced
- ¼ bunch mint sprigs
- Chilled water or soda water, plus fresh fruit and herbs, to serve
- wide-mouth 4-litre glass jar, or ceramic container with a lid
- 4-litre jug
- food-handling gloves
- rubber band or kitchen string
- 3 x 1-litre glass bottles with lids
How to make kombucha, step by step
Step 1 Place loose-leaf green tea and sugar in a wide-mouth 4-litre glass jar or ceramic container with a lid. Pour 2 litres of boiling water on top; stir until sugar dissolves. Cover and stand at room temperature overnight to brew.
Step 2 Using a sieve lined with cheesecloth, strain tea into a 4-litre jug (discard tea leaves). Rewash and sterilise the jar; cool.
Step 3 Pour cooled tea into sterilised jar. Using food-handling gloves, carefully place the SCOBY 'mother' in the tea and pour over starter liquid. Cover top of jar with two layers of cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band or string. Stand at a stable, cool room temperature away from direct sunlight for 7-14 days or until fermented.
The fermented kombucha will have a slightly vinegary flavour and an almost pungent aroma. The length of time the kombucha takes to brew will depend on the temperature – it will ferment much faster in summer than in winter.
Step 4 Divide kombucha among 3 x sterilised 1-litre glass bottles with a lid, reserving the SCOBY and ¼ cup of the liquid in the jar to make another batch (see notes above).
To flavour kombucha, add sliced ginger and turmeric in one bottle; raspberries, lemon juice and sliced lemon in the second bottle; and apple and mint in third bottle.
Step 5 Refrigerate until chilled, or allow kombucha to stand at a stable, cool room temperature for 12 hours or until bubbles start forming, then refrigerate. Serve topped with chilled water or soda water and extra fresh fruit or mint.