Kombucha

Healesville Country Club’s Chef de Cuisine Rupert Rose shares his easy kombucha recipe.

Makes: 4 litres

Takes: about 4 weeks

Difficulty: easy

red kombucha on ice in glasses


Kombucha is a fermented tea, which has become a popular alternative to soft drink because it usually contains less sugar. The essential ingredient of kombucha is the brown, slimy and rather unattractive SCOBY or “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”, that may float around or sit on the surface.

Healesville Country Club’s Chef de Cuisine Rupert Rose says it’s best to get a scoby from someone who makes their own kombucha, along with a cup or two of their kombucha to get you started. 

“Alternatively, you can purchase a good quality kombucha from a health food store and add this to sweet black tea and a scoby will grow,” he says. He advises that a glass, rather than plastic, container is essential for success.

“Hygiene is also important or else you’ll introduce unwanted bacteria,” he says. “If there is mould on the surface, then you have done something wrong and you have to start again.”

As tempting as it might be, don’t move the container while the kombucha is developing. “Once you work it out, it’s easier than it sounds.”

Ingredients

  • 4 litres water
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar 
  • 8 black organic teabags 
  • 2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought kombucha (unpasteurised, neutral-flavoured)
  • 1 scoby per fermentation jar, either from a friend’s batch or bought online
  • Juice, herbs or fruit for flavouring at Step 7

Method

  1. Make a strong black sweetened tea by bringing the water to the boil in a pot. Add the teabags and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. 

  2. Cool to room temperature, then remove the teabags and add the starter tea and stir. 

  3. Pour into two or three large glass containers and add a scoby to each container. 

  4. Place a few layers of cheesecloth or a tightly woven cloth over the top of the containers and secure with a rubber band. 

  5. Store, away from direct sunlight, for about three weeks at a temperature of 15-27C. As it develops, the colour will become lighter and the flavour will go from sweet to more tart. (If you leave it for a long time it will turn into vinegar).  

  6. After three weeks, have a taste and if you are happy with the flavour it’s ready to be bottled. (At this stage, you can also remove the scoby, plus 2 cups of kombucha, and repeat the feeding process to make another batch.) 

  7. Pour the fermented kombucha (strain, if desired) into bottles using a funnel, and add any juice, herbs, or fruit you want for flavouring. Leave about 2cm of space at the top of each bottle.  

  8. Store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow up to three days for the kombucha to carbonate. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.

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