Delicious and nutritious kombucha in 9 easy steps

How to make this probiotic drink for your family this holiday season

Prep 20 minutes | Total 2 weeks | Serves 8

There’s nothing worse than receiving a gift that you don’t want from someone you love. The feeling of guilt for your own lack of gratitude paired with pointless waste can be unfortunate for everyone involved.

This holiday season, I’ve committed myself to gifting friends and family with only experiences and consumable goods. Whether it’s a loaf of homemade pumpkin bread, socks, concert tickets or a day at the spa, my hope is that this will reduce the amount of waste we typically see around the holidays.

That’s why I’ve decided to make kombucha for friends and family this Christmas. Kombucha is a probiotic tea beverage that is full of minerals and vitamins. It’s a healthy replacement for people trying to kick the habit of drinking coffee or soda. While it can be bought at most grocery stores, it’s usually very expensive (upwards of $5 a bottle) and only available in so many flavours. Which is why you’re much better off making it at home! With only a small amount of equipment, you can have a batch ready within two weeks.

What you’ll need:

Instructions:

1. Get a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and some starter tea either from a friend or a kombucha retailer. You’ll need at least 1-2 cups of starter tea to acidify your batch and keep it at a safe pH level. Otherwise, your batch will be prone to mould.

2. Choose your tea. You need a black or green tea that is free from flavours and additives. Additives can inhibit scoby growth. Herbal tea will not work. If you want flavoured kombucha, learn how in the second stage of fermentation.

3. Brew the tea and sugar mixture. Boil 2L of filtered water and add 6 tbsp. of loose-leaf black tea. Allow the tea to steep for at least 10 minutes. Add in 3/4 cups of organic cane sugar. Do not substitute sugar for artificial sweeteners, agave, or honey. The scoby needs sugar to grow.

4. Pour tea into your brewing vessel using a strainer. Make sure you get all the tea leaves out. Next, pour in 5-6 cups of cold filtered water. The water should cool the hot tea to room temperature. Your scoby needs temperatures between 20°C and 30°C to live. Use a thermometer if necessary.

5. Add your scoby and 2-3 cups of starter tea. Wash your hands before handling your scoby. Now your batch is ready for the first stage of fermentation. Seal your vessel off with cheesecloth and an elastic band. Put the vessel out of direct light and leave it there for 7-10 days. Resist the temptation to peek inside during this time and don’t agitate the mixture or stir it. Leave it alone it work its magic.

6. After a week, your first stage of fermentation is done! While the kombucha is ready to drink, there are more steps involved if you want it to be carbonated or flavoured. Either way, you want to remove your scoby and put it into your second vessel with 1-2 cups of the kombucha you just made. This can be used for your next batch! Make sure to stir the kombucha well to mix in any solids that have settled at the bottom of your vessel.

7. Add your flavours! Juice, whole fruit, cuts of ginger, herbs and spices can all be added at this stage. I like to add 2 tbsp. minced ginger and 100% pure cranberry juice. If you want to add juice, use about ¼ cup. Be aware that adding high-sugar juices will make the kombucha fizzier. This is because the yeast and bacteria feed on it and convert it to carbon dioxide.

8. Seal your bottles and prepare for the second stage of fermentation! Again, keep the batch out of direct sunlight at room temperature. This time, leave the bottles for no longer than 4 days. If you used high-sugar flavourings, this process will take less time.

9. Once the bottles are ready, pop them in the fridge. The cool temperatures slow the fermentation process to a virtual halt. After they’ve cooled, test open one over the sink. The carbonation can make a fizzy mess upon opening. Experiment with your next batch to work out these kinks. But for now, drink up!

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