Ginger-Lemon Jasmine Kombucha

July 20, 2012 in Categories: , by

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I have mentioned kombucha in a number of posts as a great way to consume probiotics.  Kombucha is sweet tea that is fermented by a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast and can contain up to 40 different probiotic organisms.  Exactly which yeast and bacteria varies by the culture, but the yeast fraction almost always includes the beneficial Saccharomyces cerevisiae.  The bacteria are predominantly Acetobacter (most commonly Gluconacetobacter xylinus), an important probiotic.  Another good source of acetobacter bacteria is raw vinegar, but drinking kombucha is much more enjoyable!!!

Kombucha is actually very easy to make/grow at home.  I find the time commitment to be minimal but I get to enjoy a half bottle of delicious kombucha every evening with my supper for roughly one tenth the cost of buying a bottle at Whole Foods.  I have two favorite How To sites to refer you to (here and here).  I hope that between these two websites and my directions below, you will try making this delightful drink on your own!  You can also purchase a Kombucha Starter Kit with everything you need including detailed instructions.

If you have decided that you are interested in growing your own kombucha, the fastest way to get started is to either get a Kombucha Scoby (also known as the kombucha starter, kombucha mushroom or the kombucha mother) from a friend or buy one online (some Health Food stores may carry them).  You can also start kombucha from a store-bought bottle, which sets you back about 2 weeks, but costs substantially less than buying a scoby (I followed the directions on this site).  This is what I did, and while it only cost about $4 to grow my initial scoby compared to about $20 if I had bought one off amazon, I was drinking store-bought kombucha the entire time I was waiting and easily drank $20 worth in that 2 weeks. You can also buy a kombucha starter kit which has everything you need, including detailed directions.

The process of growing kombucha is actually verysimple.  Make some hot tea (any black or green tea works well) and add sugar while it’s hot (you can either do this right away or after the tea has steeped a while).  Let the tea cool.  Pour into your big glass jar (Half Gallon Wide Mouth Canning Jars are perfect; I use half gallon cracker jars that I bought at Target for about $6 each), top up with some water, put your scoby in with a little of the previous batch of komubucha tea.  Secure some cheese cloth, muslin, or paper towel over the top of the jar with an elastic band and place the jar somewhere out of the way where it won’t be disturbed (it doesn’t need to be in the dark, although a cupboard or pantry shelf will work just fine, but it doesn’t like direct sunlight).  I let my kombucha culture for 14-17 days so that there will be very little sugar in the finished product.  You can let your kombucha culture for as little as week, if you want sweeter tea.  I think culturing for about 10-12 days replicates the sweetness of store-bought kombucha fairly well.  I’ve let it go as long as 23 days before (I don’t know how I forgot about it for so long, but I did!) and it was still fine (not sure it would take this abuse every time, though).  After it’s done culturing, you set-up the next batch, but the cultured tea isn’t quite ready to drink.  It needs to go through a second, anaerobic fermentation to get bubbly (you can skip this if you prefer).  This is also where you get to add something to flavor the tea, if desired.  You can pour the tea into small glass Mason Jars or Glass Bottles (I kept a bunch of glass bottles from the store-bought brand while I was growing my first scoby and have used those ever since), add a little juice, herbs, spices and/or fresh fruit, screw on the lid and let it sit for 3-5 days.  Put it in the fridge until you are ready to drink it!

Tools specific to growing kombucha:

1.    ½ gallon glass jar with a wide opening (Half Gallon Wide Mouth Canning Jars are perfect or something like a glass cracker jar; you can also double this recipe and grow your kombucha in a 1-Gallon Jar)
2.    16 oz Glass Bottles for secondary fermentation (I get three 16oz bottles to 1 half gallon primary culture)
3.    Kombucha Scoby (start your own with a store-bought bottle or purchase one ready to go)
4.    Some kombucha tea from the previous culture (if you buy a scoby it comes packaged with this, don’t throw it out!)
5.    Teapot of similar to brew tea
6.    And electric or stovetop kettle
7.    Some cheese cloth, muslin, or paper towel and an elastic band to cover the jar so the kombucha can breathe but bugs don’t get in.
8.    Sugar and Tea

I use regular old refined white granulated sugar to feed my kombucha.  It just wants sucrose and doesn’t care that it’s refined.  It’s much cheaper than using my evaporated cane juice for it (although I suppose if I did use evaporated cane juice, I would add some trace minerals to my tea).  There is so little sugar left in the finished product (if you culture as long as I do), that I really don’t worry about the carbohydrate load of this beverage.  Most of the caffeine is typically degraded during culturing as well.  I even let my 2.5-year old drink it (she loves it!) and haven’t noticed any of the typical symptoms of giving a child caffeine (whereas I do notice effects if she has chocolate).  I did try growing a scoby in rooibos tea to try and get a completely caffeine-free tea, but it tasted disgusting.  I don’t know if it wasn’t acidic enough or if the caffeine is actually important for the health of the scoby, but it did not work!

Kombucha is grown as a continuous culture.  So, every time you are ready to put the tea into a secondary fermentation you are starting a new primary fermentation.  And, every time you make a batch of kombucha, you get an additional scoby (a new one forms on the surface and the old ones stack underneath).  I typically move 1-2 scobies from the old batch of tea to the new jar of tea that I am growing and compost the oldest scoby (or scobies, which are the ones on the bottom).  This website has some neat ideas for what you can do with the old scobies (the ones closest to the bottom).  I have eaten them and they are not tasty.

My favorite kombucha is ginger-lemon jasmine.  I grow the scoby in sweetened jasmine tea (tea quality makes a big difference to the final taste).  During the second fermentation, I add fresh ginger juice and fresh lemon juice.  It’s so refreshing and light, kindof like lemonade, kindof like iced tea, kindof like a wine spritzer, and completely unique all at the same time.  Here are the directions once you have your scoby for a half gallon jar (which yields three 16 oz bottles).


Ingredients (Primary Fermentation):

1.    Pour boiling water over teabags in a large teapot (make 4-6 cups of tea).
2.    When tea has steeped (preferably about 20 minutes), stir in sugar until dissolved.
3.    Allow tea to cool to room temperature.  Remove tea bags or pour tea through a sieve to remove leaves.
4.    Place tea in ½ gallon jar.  Place scoby in the tea (it’s okay if it sinks, it will typically float up in a couple of days).  Add the ½ cup of the previous batch of kombucha tea to the jar (this helps get the culture going more quickly).  Top up with room temperature filtered water until just before the jar narrows at the top.
5.    Cover with cheese cloth, muslin or paper towel held on with a rubber band.
6.    Allow to ferment for 14-17 days.

Ingredients (Secondary Fermentation):

  •     ½ lb Fresh Ginger (this makes enough ginger juice for 12-16 bottles)
  •     2 lemons

1.    Cut ginger up into 1” chunks (you don’t need to peel it) and place in your blender.  Fill with water until the ginger is just covered (about 1½-2 cups water).  Blend on high for 3-4 minutes.  Filter ginger pulp by straining through a metal strainer.  This ginger juice can be frozen in ice cube trays for future batches of kombucha (also lovely to add to hot water for ginger tea).
2.    Juice lemons.
3.    Prepare three 16oz bottles or mason jars each with 1½-2 Tbsp of ginger juice and 1½-2 Tbsp of lemon juice.
4.    Remove the kombucha scoby from the jar with clean hands (place into a new ½ gallon jar of sweetened tea that is ready to go for the next batch, remembering to reserve ½ cup of this batch of kombucha to add to the new batch).
5.    Stir the tea with a wooden spoon (this gets all the dead yeast that sinks to the bottom back into the tea, which is very nutritious).  Pour into prepared bottles (I find it easier to pour into a large measuring cup and then use the measuring cup to pour into the bottles).
6.    Tighten the caps on the bottles and allow to ferment for 3-5 days.  Place in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy!
7.    Finish up your new culture as per the Primary Fermentation directions above.

Comments

Yes, thank you. I was looking all over town to try and find a SCOBY b/c I knew as soon as I ordered one I find one local and probably for free. I’m growing my mother right now. I can’t wait!!!!

I recently completely by accident that the best way to get a label of a jar is to microwave it for about 30 seconds. It will peel right off, leaving no residue.

This is delicious–I was just doing the second ferment with a chunk of fresh ginger, but I love the ginger slush, and will make tea with it when it’s tea weather.

It would be totally find to drink. It has less alcohol than de-alcoholized beer and very little caffeine. And you probably won’t drink much to begin with too (probably something like 1/4 of a bottle) because it gets to you, for lack of a better way of explaining it.

I have always wanted to do this but I learn best by seeing. So I read about babies growing from the mother scoby what do you do with them? And as it is fermenting can it be kept in my pantry? I don’t have a lot of counter space. I tried fermenting veggies once but it foamed up so much and got all over the counter. will this do the same? I live in Phoenix so it is hot in summer but house is cold right now, is there a specific temp it needs. We keep house about 68 in winter and 80 in summer

I have fallen in love with Kombucha, thanks for the recipe! How many times can you use the initial scoby? Is it something I’ll need to reorder every so often? Thanks for all you do!

Every new batch gives you a new scoby. I usually only put 2 or 3 in the new batch and then eat or compost the older ones. Once you have it going, you shouldn’t need to restart it (unless you get adventurous).

Wow, just tried our first batch, and it is absolutely delicious! I used plain green tea, but followed your directions for the lemon and ginger, what a wonderful treat! Thank you for such wonderful instructions, I can drink this much more often, now!

We absolutely love our kombucha, thanks, again, for such an easy and yummy recipe!

We are headed out of town, and will be gone for 8 days. Our house will be at 78 degrees while we are gone. I will have plenty of kombucha up to that point, so I would like to store my scobies while I am gone. What is the best way? In the fridge, or at room temp?

Thanks!

Help! Could you clarify if this is allowed on the autoimmune protocol? thank you SO much! I picked up a bottle of GT’s gingerade today. I am pretty much eating meat and veggies right now so that I am being 100% (just realized I need the autoimmune p. and though excited to have the AH HA! moment, I don’t want to take it lightly/cheat.) Thanks again

Yes, it is. The only thing to watch for is reactions to the yeast (some people will have food sensitivities to yeast). But, other than that, very good for autoimmune disease.

Good question on yeast… And more specifically, I’m sensitive to brewers yeast but not bakers yeast. Which type is used in kombucha?

Brewer’s and baker’s yeast are the same strain, so maybe it’s the gluten that brewer’s yeast is usually grown in?

It’s a different strain dominantly in kombucha, but there may be small amounts of baker’s/brewer’s yeast.

Can naturally flavored green tea be used? There a couple which sound very good…blueberry and acerola cherry. I’m hoping I don’t have trouble with the yeast. It seems that I’ve had issues with baking yeast, but have eaten sauerkraut without any problems. Do you think since I have issues with air borne mold that this yeast would be a problem? Thanks for any information you can give me.

What is typically recommended is that you get your scoby going in black tea and then once you have more than one (you get a new one every batch), keep one going in black tea and use the others to experiment. I only experimented with rooibos and it was vile. I’ve heard of people growing scobies in coffee and even wine. Kombucha will have more yeast that sauerkraut, and several different strains. I would suggest buying a bottle or two and trying it before committing to growing it for yourself to see if you’re sensitive.

Thank you so much for your response. I have to figure out where I can buy some….I live in a little SW Kansas town and I doubt that we have it here, but will look. Thanks again.

I went to a heath food store in a bigger town and was able to find Reed’s Culture club Kombucha cranberry ginger. I’m hooked and it hasn’t bothered me at all. In fact it seems to be doing me some good :) I found out a friend in another state has scoby, so she’s going to send me some. Yeah!! Can’t wait to get mine started! I just have to get some black tea, since the caffeine in it bothers me I don’t just drink it. I’ll let you know what flavors I choose and how it turns out.

Reed’s is not the best choice–I tried once to grow a scoby using Reed’s as the culture starter–nothing grew. When I used GT it was easy to grow a scoby. Reeds seems to be sterile or strained someway.

We brew in green tea and white tea. They are both delicious and I prefer it to the taste of black tea! Caffein is an mportant part of the fermentation process for this culture, so as along a tea has some caffein it will ferment. (Which is why the Rooibos turned out gross…no caffein, it wasn’t able to ferment properly.)

Silly question, but with trying all these new fun healthy things, how do you know if you are sensitive to yeast? Intestinal problems? I tried putting a slice fo ginger in my last batch with juice I cooked down from Blueberries I picked and froze last year in the Upper Peninsula, it was really good, but I think not enough ginger. I will definatley try your suggestion of blending it. The bears are going to mad at me this year, as not I have another reason to pick their blueberries :)

Similar to any food sensitivity, the best way is to cut it out of your diet completely for 3-4 weeks and then try reintroducing it and see how you feel. And yeah, I wouldn’t want to fight bears for blueberries either. :)

Anyone know if Reed’s kombucha is sterile? Pretty sure Reed’s is a scam kombucha, a sterile kombucha-flavored soft drink. No bacteria listed in the ingredients (unlike every other commercial kombucha), much less a minimum guaranteed number of bacterium (also unlike every other commercial kombucha). There are no federal regulations defining what constitutes kombucha, and I wonder if Reed’s
is taking advantage of this.

Is there any truth to the idea that cane sugar (especially evaporated cane juice) is gluten cross-reactive? I think I read that somewhere. (I know I react strongly to wheat and barley grass juice.)

ON the secondary ferment, do you cap the bottles and leave in the fridge for 3-5 days whilst they secondary ferment, or place them into the fridge after the secondary fermentation has finished?

What would a yeast reaction entail? I get tipsy, but I am assuming it is the alcohol or an insulin rush. Is the sugar really converted?

Kombucha typically has between 0.5 and 2% alcohol, so if you are super sensitive, that could be it (I get tipsy if I drink more than about 1/3 of a bottle). Yeast reactions kinda depend on exactly what type of antibodies your body is producing, but would generally entail rashes, dry skin, acne, digestive symptoms, mood symptoms, headaches, OR trouble sleeping.

I have had success fermenting a 50/50 blend of black tea (I use Assam) and Rooibos. Best tasting of all my experiments and enough caffeine to keep it going. Kombucha will also keep fermenting SLOWLY in the fridge. I know – I just returned from 10 weeks abroad to the best fizzing drink ever.

I grew my own scoby and have been using that one for about 5 batches so far. I can’t believe once you have the scoby how easy it is. My questions are:
How long can you reuse the same scoby?
Also, my home grown scoby doesn’t appear to be making any babies. Do you peel the scoby apart to make a new one or do they come apart on their own?

Thanks!

This is a bubbly drink, right? I’m not a big fan of bubbly drinks, but I hear so much good about this.. I might have to give it a try anyway…

I use camomile tea for mine as I can’t have tea, have heard that nettle tea works very well but haven’t tried it yet. Have been making booch for many years never had any trouble growing new scobys.

How important is the temperature for the fermentation? The place where I bought my SCOBY said it needed to be at 80 degrees, but I doubt I can store it at that (it’s winter and we keep it around 68-70). I put it in my laundry room which is small, with the door closed and vent open, so it will be warm. I’m wondering if I need to put it in a hot box (cooler with bottles of hot water) or if it will do just fine in the cabinet above my fridge instead.

It will ferment a little slower when it’s colder and you might get some microbial members of the SCOBY a little happier than others, but I’ve done this with indoor temperatures between 65 and 85 and the biggest difference I notice is the speed.

Ok, thanks! I was mostly worried about mold, since I read that if it’s not warm enough it will get moldy. And obviously I don’t want that!

If I were to start a batch from a store bought kombucha, do I just skip adding the skoby? How much of the store bought would you add?

I think your steps under the Primary Fermentation should be changed around somewhat….I know with the loose tea it’s harder to control the amount of steep time when they’re just floating around, so I’ve always used a big tea ball. Of course using tea bags is easier to deal with too, but more costly, It should read something like:

2. When tea has steeped (preferably about 20 minutes), remove tea bags and stir in sugar until dissolved.
3. Allow tea to cool to room temperature. Pour tea through a sieve to remove loose tea debris.

I,m a recovering alcoholic I drank a whole bottle felt great then the doc, said 1 a week now I find out it has alcohol does it have as much as other fremented food? Is it safe for me or should I give it away .It,s been 30 years since my last drink so my body won,t react in an alcoholic manner but some will.It made me feel great.

Kombucha does not contain a significant amount of alcohol, but it does affect everyone differently. I actually felt a little buzzed the first few times I had it. Whether or not you should consume it depends on how it affects you. – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

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