Kombucha — the probiotic-rich drink that’s been taking health fanatics as much as foodies by storm — is a massive topic to broach. It’s been touted as a functional beverage for containing thousands of gut-healthy bacteria while culinary enthusiasts find its fermentation process and the possibility of endless flavour combinations alluring.
Yet a beginner who’s out to brew a great tasting batch could easily be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available on the web. But like much of Asian cooking, it really boils down to personal taste; how you like your tea is a great indicator of the sort of kombucha you’d love.
When it comes down to the wire, brewing your own batch isn’t entirely difficult. But you will need a starter tea, a scoby (which stands for starter culture of bacteria and yeast) as well as sterilised mason jars to hold your brew.
So how does one get hold of the starter tea and scoby? You can get it off a friend, or purchase it on carousell but growing your own scoby and cultivating a starter tea is a draw unto itself. The important ingredient here is raw, unpasteurised and unflavoured kombucha as it continues fermenting even when bottled.
For this recipe, we’ve used Remedy Kombucha available at Little Farms, and we’d highly recommend using purely black tea in growing your own scoby as it contains optimum nutrients. You can experiment with green or floral teas later.
This article is the first part of a kombucha brewing series.
How to grow a kombucha scoby in Singapore
700ml of water
3 tea bags (go for black tea)
100 grams sugar
300ml of unpasteurised kombucha
Make tea. Bring water to a boil, add sugar and tea bags.
Allow it to cool to room temperature. Using hot tea will kill the kombucha culture. Remove tea bags once it has cooled.
As the tea cools, sterilise your utensils. Either pour boiling water into and around your jar or fill it with some water and microwave for two minutes.
Wait till the tea and equipment has cooled. Pour your tea into the mason jar, followed by the kombucha.
Cover it with breathable cloth to prevent mould or insects from getting in. You can use a rubber band to hold it in place.
Keep your jar away from direct sunlight and let it sit for seven days.
You might see yeast strands forming first — these are dark brown bits that float.
Important note: Do not move the jar if you can help it. When a scoby forms at the surface, it starts life as a very thin clear film that will lodge itself on the jar’s walls. This essentially cuts off all oxygen contact
Your scoby will be thin at this stage, but you can go ahead and brew your first batch of kombucha. The tea here is your starter tea.
To get a thicker scoby, allow it to ferment for another week. The tea from this would be closer to vinegar and it might not be appealing to drink but you can still use it for starter tea.
Up next on the kombucha series: Experiments using cold brewed and floral chinese teas. Stay tuned.