The kombucha culture is called a scoby (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) that floats on top of a solution of black tea and white sugar. The beneficial yeast and bacteria in kombucha compete with and inhibit pathogenic microbes such as Candida, Staphylococcus, E. coli, salmonella, listeria and heliobacter pylori. The bacteria strains include lactobacilli and Saccharomyces (including Saccharomyces boulardii) these help to kill Candida and pathogenic bacteria such as clostridia. In addition to producing beneficial probiotics for our body, kombucha also produces an enzyme called glucoronic acid, this is especially beneficial in supporting the liver to detoxify.
How to Make Kombucha
Make a strong brew of black tea using about 4 teaspoons of black tea leaves and ½ cup of white sugar (I use organic raw sugar) in approximately 1½ – 2 litres of freshly boiling water. Allow to cool completely to room temperature.
Strain the tea into a large glass container, this may be a large bowl or jar. Slide your scoby on top, it will float. Cover the container with a cloth to allow air to circulate but keep dust and insects out. If the bowl is broad, apply masking tape in a cross, across the top to support your cloth and prevent it sagging into your solution.
The bowl is then left in a cool, dark place away from strong smells and allowed to ferment for 5 to 10 days. A drinking straw may be used to test the flavour of your kombucha tea by placing one end under the scoby and having a taste. It is ready to bottle when the sweetness has gone but before it turns really sour or vinegary, the exact moment is a matter of personal taste.
To strain your kombucha tea, remove the scoby from the top using wooden spoons or your very clean hands. Place this on a clean plate. Strain the kombucha into a jug. Clean your bowl, add fresh tea and place your scoby back on top.
The strained kombucha tea should be fizzy. It may be drunk straight away like this or you may now add different flavours. The simplest method is to make a brew of your favourite herbal tea, allow it to cool completely then mix the two together adding just a ½ teaspoon of sugar. Bottle and leave on the bench for another 24 hours and then refrigerate.
As you continue to brew your kombucha, you will notice that the scoby grows. It usually does so in layers. If the scoby is allowed to get too big, there are more organisms competing for the same amount of food. This may make your kombucha sour too quickly and become unpalatable. It is best to every now and then thin out the scoby. Remove some of the layers and either offer them to your friends so they may also make a brew or add it to your compost heap.
Many people make kombucha on all sorts of tea including green tea and herbal teas. This is fine but I recommend keeping one brew going on black tea to preserve the integrity of your scoby.