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Kombucha can easily be made at home and is great for building your immune system. Tom Hunt shares his tips.

From The Independent

Kom­bucha is a fer­mented iced tea that’s sim­ple to make and can be flavoured with just about any­thing, mak­ing it not only a great re­place­ment for store-bought fizzy drinks but a great way to use up fruit and veg­etable scraps that would oth­er­wise go to waste.

Sim­i­lar to vine­gar, it’s made with a “mother” called a Scoby (a sym­bi­otic colony of bac­te­ria and yeast), which looks like a blobby crea­ture from the deep.

The Scoby grows pro­lif­i­cally, cre­at­ing a new layer each time a batch is brewed. This means it can eas­ily be shared be­tween friends.

To start, you will need a Scoby. To find one, ask amongst friends and en­thu­si­asts in your lo­cal com­mu­nity or or­der on­line.

Pri­mary fer­men­ta­tion, makes 5 litres

This is the first es­sen­tial stage of mak­ing kom­bucha: turn­ing sweet tea into an ef­fer­ves­cent pro­bi­otic drink.

5-litre clean fer­men­ta­tion jar, a piece of muslin or a clean tea towel, and a rub­ber band or piece of string, 260g un­re­fined sugar, 4 tbsp black, green or white tea leaves 500ml ma­ture kom­bucha (if you don’t have 500ml of ma­ture kom­bucha to start your batch, use 120ml raw ap­ple cider vine­gar in­stead), 1 kom­bucha Scoby

Mea­sure 1 litre boil­ing water into a heat­proof glass or ce­ramic jar. Stir in the sugar and tea and set aside to brew for 20 min­utes.Mea­sure 3 litres cold water into your fer­men­ta­tion jar. Us­ing a non-metal sieve, strain the brewed tea into the jar, com­post the leaves. Stir in the ma­ture kom­bucha (or vine­gar).

Gen­tly place the kom­bucha Scoby in the jar, al­low­ing it to float on the top. If it sinks a lit­tle, don’t worry, a new layer will form on the top and the mother will rise as it fer­ments.

Cover the jar with muslin or a clean tea towel and se­cure with a rub­ber band or piece of string.

Place the jar in a warm part of your kitchen, away from di­rect sun­light for 6-18 days. The fer­men­ta­tion time will de­pend on many fac­tors, in­clud­ing the tem­per­a­ture of your kitchen, the sea­son and your per­sonal taste.

After 6 days, pour out a lit­tle of the kom­bucha into a glass and taste it.Place the jar in a warm part of your kitchen, away from di­rect sun­light for 6-18 days. The fer­men­ta­tion time will de­pend on many fac­tors, in­clud­ing the tem­per­a­ture of your kitchen, the sea­son and your per­sonal taste. After 6 days, pour out a lit­tle of the kom­bucha into a glass and taste it.

When it is ready, it should taste lively and ef­fer­ves­cent, with a gen­tle, bal­anced sweet and sour­ness. If it’s not quite ready, cover the jar with a lid and set aside for a fur­ther few days be­fore tast­ing again.

When the kom­bucha is “to your taste”, strain it into ster­ilised bot­tles or jars and store in the fridge. Chilled, it should keep in­def­i­nitely, but it will be­come more vine­gary with time. Re­mem­ber to keep back the Scoby and 500ml of the back­slop (ma­ture kom­bucha from the pre­vi­ous batch) to start off your next batch.

Se­condary fer­men­ta­tion

If you want to in­tro­duce flavour or ex­tra fizz to your kom­bucha, add a lit­tle sugar to kick off a se­condary fer­men­ta­tion and in­fuse with aro­matic fruit and veg­etable scraps, herbs and spices.

Once your kom­bucha is bot­tled, stir in about 1 tbsp un­re­fined sugar per litre. If you want to flavour the kom­bucha, also in­clude 50g fruit or veg­etable scraps, a sprig of herbs or pinch of spices per litre.

Tighten the lids and set aside at room tem­per­a­ture for 2-6 days, tast­ing ev­ery day and “burp­ing” the bot­tles (by open­ing the lids) to pre­vent them from ex­plod­ing.

Once you are happy with the car­bon­a­tion and the taste, trans­fer the bot­tles to the fridge where the flavoured kom­bucha will keep for at least a month.

Fruit and veg­etable trim­mings and herbs and spice com­bi­na­tions to try

Spent cit­rus rind and fresh root gin­ger trim­mings / Ap­ple scraps with cin­na­mon bark / Orange peel and dan­de­lion flow­ers / Su­mac and rose petals/ Fen­nel tops with mint stalks

What to do if your kom­bucha is slow to fer­ment

If your kom­bucha is slug­gish to fer­ment, it might be be­cause the tem­per­a­ture is too cold or your water is too heav­ily chlo­ri­nated. First try mov­ing your kom­bucha to a warmer spot, above 24C. If your kom­bucha Scoby still doesn’t float after an­other week, it fails to cre­ate a new film or it be­comes mouldy, you will need to re­place it and start again.

Tak­ing a break

If you have enough kom­bucha and want to take a break from mak­ing it, sim­ply leave the Scoby in the kom­bucha liq­uid and store in the fridge un­til you want to start the fer­men­ta­tion process again. Chilled, it should keep for sev­eral months.