Homemade kombucha and other fermented lemonades

Kombucha and lemonade made of tibi crystals have become a recent hit, but sometimes it is a problem to find all the information for a perfect result. We have written all the informations you need to prepare the best kombucha ever and a short text about its alternatives.

Kateřina Tobišková
April 19, 2021

History of Kombucha

Kombucha was allegedly prepared for the first time 2,000 years ago, when it was made by Chinese, Japanese and also Russians. Many "tea nations" tell legends about the magic tea mushroom, and even in our country its popularity is linked to rumors about its miraculous healing effects. It is not entirely clear how this tea mushroom was discovered, however, we know that the kombucha needs moisture and sugar for its life. This two things are rarely found in nature together, because of it we thing that the origin of kombucha is in the mountain ponds into which the honey of mountain bees flows, and it is in these areas "fungus" forms on the surface of ponds.

Kombucha has long been a part of the diet of mountain peoples. But only now it is gaining general awareness, along with the growing interest in health and natural ways to strengthen immunity.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a tea drink that is made by fermentation. This fermentation takes place thanks to a kombucha mushroom (lichen) -officially, the kombucha base is referred to as SCOBY. This culture feeds on tea infusion, sugar and oxygen, which it converts into organic acids, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D, E, K and proteins.

What are the benefits of drinking kombucha? It is used as a detoxifying agent (it can bind harmful substances) popular in natural medicine. It is also said, that kombucha helps with skin diseases, diabetes and joint diseases. Purchased drinks are often sweetened and pasteurized, so they lack beneficial living cultures.

Kombucha culture (SCOBY) is a beige jelly-like mass, which is formed during the fermentation process on the surface of tea and copies the shape of the vessel. The taste of kombucha (beverage) is sweet or sour and depends on the length of fermentation (the longer the fermentation, the higher the acidity), the type of tea chosen and the properties of the particular kombucha culture. The whole process of making a drink usually takes 5-8 days. The well-chilled and foamy kombucha resembles apple cider.

Where to buy Tea mushroom?

Kombucha culture (mother mushroom, SCOBY) can be bought, received or exchanged. Ideally, Facebook groups are used for this, where kombucha, tibi crystals and GBP are cheaply sold or donated. You can also find there more tips on how to make the best kombucha drink. If you want to buy a kombucha, google "kombucha culture", "kombucha base" or "SCOBY". You can also buy the whole kombucha starter kit as shown below.

Recipe for homemade Kombucha drink

A mushroom needs tea for its life, if you use fale tea (roibos, mint or herbs) for one tea making cycle, nothing will happen and you will also make a quality drink. But if you kept doing it, the "mushroom" would begin to atrophy and die completely. The higher the quality of the tea (without chemicals, pesticides and other additives), the healthier the resulting drink. The sweetener does not matter so much, as it is consumed by yeast and there is only a small amount in the final drink.

Preparing kombucha is very easy, we need:

  • 33.8 fl oz of water
  • 2.82 oz of sugar
  • 0.14 oz of quality loose black or green tea / naturally flavored tea
  • 3.38 fl oz of the original kombucha infusion
  • kombucha culture (mushroom)
  • napkin / cloth + rubber band
  • large glass (according to the amount of drink you want to make)

Metal must not come into contact with kombucha culture (eg a metal spoon when tasting a fermenting beverage - it is better to taste it with a plastic or glass straw)

  1. Prepare black or green tea, which is left to infuse for 5-10 minutes, then add sugar and allow to cool to room temperature (max. 95 ° F).
  2. Pour the tea into a glass jar.
  3. Add the original kombucha infusion, place the kombucha culture with the lighter side up, cover the glass with a cloth / napkin and secure it with a rubber band.
  4. Put it in a place where the direct sun does not shine (do not put it into a fridge). The yeast will form small bubbles and as they consume sugar, the taste of the drink will gradually change from sweet to sour.
  5. After a few days, in addition to carbon dioxide bubbles, a new daughter kombucha begins to form on the surface of the container - a transparent smooth (hairless) gray or milky turbid "skin", which will cover the entire surface. It is also possible that the original parent fungus will sink to the bottom.
  6. In 5-9 days (depending on the room temperature) you have the kombucha drink ready - if you leave the kombucha culture in the drink for too long, you will create a homemade kombucha vinegar. The finished drink will last in a closed container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
  7. Leave 3,38 oz of the kombucha drink in separate jar. Rinse the sponge (original and also the new one) with water and repeat the whole process. If you want to take a break, leave the mushroom in that separate jar with ready infusion and place it in the refrigerator.

❌ If a coating on the surface of the drink forms that is hairy and white or greenish, it is probably mold. In this case, do not consume the infusion.

Secondary fermentation

Secondary fermentation adds the taste of kombucha. It is another fermentation proces without a SCOBY and completely without access to air. You will need bottles with a patented lever cap and fruit juice/berries/dried fruit/ fresh and dried herbs (lemon balm or mint)/ginger etc.

If the drink is very acidic, add 2 teaspoons of sugar per 33,8 oz and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Fill the bottles so that there are 2-3 cm left in the throat between the cap and the liquid due to escaping gases. Open the bottle once a day to release those gases. Let it stand at room temperature for 2-3 days.

In the beginning (or if you drinked too much of kombucha) you may experience intestinal problems or heartburn. It's either an allergic reaction or your body is simply cleansing. It is ideal to drink 6.76 fl oz in the morning and in the evening.

❌ Not recommended for children under three years of age

How to propagate Kombucha

Kombucha creates a new daughter mushroom with each fermentation - it is the semi-transparent smooth (hairless) brownish or milky turbid "skin". Carefully separate the new daughter layers of the kombucha, which gradually grow together. This new sponge can be donated with a little amount of kombucha drink, or store it to use it later.

The lower layers, which have been on the sponge for 2-3 months, are probably dark brown and partly torn - throw away these parts, they spoil the taste of the drink.

Another fermented drinks you can make at home

It is also possible to make other fermented beverages that do not contain animal products. Try, for example, water kefir made of tibi crystals, which can turn water, sugar and sweet fruit (raisins, figs) into a sparkling, refreshing lemonade. Other options are "ginger beer" called GBP and rejuvelac (sprouted fermented grain).

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