How to Make Your Own Elderberry Wellness Kombucha
As best as we can tell, people started making kombucha in the Far East around 2000 years ago. The Chinese referred to kombucha as the “Immortal Health Elixir”. Kombucha is a fermented beverage consisting of black tea, sugar and water. The fermentation is caused by a colony of bacteria and yeast commonly known as a SCOBY, which stands for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”. Kombucha is refreshing and delicious, and best of all, it is also a functional, probiotic food with great health benefits. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system. Your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad, and Probiotics are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy. Probiotics found in yogurt and kombucha are often recommended after a course of antibiotics to restore gut health and are especially helpful to people who suffer with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other digestive problems. Research indicates that they may also be beneficial to people with some skin issues as well. Kombucha has become a popular drink over the past couple of years and is generally available for $3-5 at natural health food stores and some grocery outlets. If you’ve become hooked on kombucha like I have, it can become an expensive habit! The following recipe makes about 14 cups of Kombucha for a fraction of the cost and incorporates Norm’s Farms Elderberry Wellness Syrup for an extra immune system boost and incredible flavor.
- SCOBY with Starter Tea
- 1 ounce loose black or green tea or three tea bags
- 1 cup pure cane sugar
- 1 gallon spring water
- 1 gallon size fermenting jar
- Two 2 quart glass second fermentation jars with flip top lids.
- Clean kitchen towel or cheese cloth and a rubber ban
- Norm’s Farms Elderberry Wellness Syrup
- Sterilize the gallon size fermenting jar with hot soapy water, rinse well in hot water. and allow to dry.
- Bring ½ gallon spring water to boil. Combine hot water and sugar in a large glass bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Add tea and allow to steep 35-40 minutes. Remove tea bags, if using, or strain loose tea from liquid by pouring the liquid through a fine mesh sieve.
- Pour concentrated sweet tea mixture into sterilized gallon fermentation vessel.
- Top off with ½ gallon cool spring water.
- Check the temperature of the tea. When it has completely cooled to room temperature, add the SCOBY and bit of starter tea that it came with.
- Place a clean dishcloth or cheese cloth over the opening of the fermentation vessel and secure with a rubber band.
- Allow to sit for 7 to 10 days. On day 7, test the Kombucha with a straw. If the Kombucha is too sweet for your liking, allow it to sit for a day or two more and then test again. You want to find a balance between not too sweet and not too sour.
- Clean and sanitize the two 2 quart jars with flip-top lids, being sure to clean the gaskets that create the air-tight seal. Allow to drip dry.
- Pour 7 to 7.5 cups of kombucha liquid through a fine mesh sieve, into each of the 2-quart glass jars, reserving 1 to 2 cups of tea and the “mother” SCOBY in the gallon fermentation vessel.
- Add 1 to 2 ounces of Elderberry Wellness Syrup to the kombucha in each of the 2-quart jars. The amount you add depends on your flavor preference so go ahead and taste it after adding one ounce. If you want a stronger flavor, add another ounce.
- Tightly close each jar and let ferment another 2-4 days. As the Kombucha feeds on the added sugar CO2 will build up in the jars so it is important that you “burp” the jars once a day by briefly opening them.
- This is the time to get your next batch of Kombucha brewing! Simply repeat steps 1-8 with the reserved SCOBY and starter tea.
- On day 2 taste the Kombucha in the second fermentation vessels to determine if is fizzy enough and tastes the way you like it. The longer you let it ferment the less sweet it will become. If you find the Kombucha too sweet, allow it to ferment another day, and taste again.
- When the Kombucha has achieved the perfect flavor for you, place both glass jars in the fridge as the cold will stop the fermentation process. Enjoy!
Some helpful hints: Its perfectly ok if your mother SCOBY sinks to the bottom. A SCOBY baby will form at the surface too. As your SCOBY reproduces, pass the babies along to your friends with some starter tea so that they can make their own kombucha too. Brown spots, stringy stuff and floaties are all normal! This can be strained before drinking, but don’t worry if you consume some of it…it’s just yeast and it is good for you! Mold can form on the surface of your kombucha and that is NOT good for you. You’ll know it is mold because it is FUZZY and blueish green, green or grey, just like mold that grows on bread or cheese, and it really doesn’t look like the SCOBY. If mold has formed on the surface of your kombucha, your SCOBY is ruined and must be pitched. To prevent mold, maintain proper ratios of tea, water and sugar. Herbal Teas are not recommended because they don’t always contain the food the SCOBY requires. Stick with black and green teas when getting started. You can use Oolong and White tea when your SCOBY is well established (you’ve made several batches of kombucha). Keep your fermenting kombucha out of direct sunlight and in a steady temperature environment for best results.