Kombucha

How to make Kombucha in Penang’s climate

“Kombucha is an effervescent tea-based beverage that is often consumed for its anecdotal health benefits or medicinal purposes. Kombucha is available commercially and can be made at home by fermenting tea using a visible, solid mass of yeast and bacteria which forms the kombucha culture”… Source: Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is quite negative. Other sites will tell you what conditions it is beneficial for, how it will detox your body, etc.  It’s up to you what you want to believe, but it is cheap to make and tastes nice.  And if you do drink it you can learn by experience how / whether it helps you.

“Many health claims are made for kombucha but there is less research on the benefits of kombucha than there is on fermented milk products. It has certainly been shown to have similar antibiotic, antiviral and anti fungal properties in lab tests. In rats it’s been shown to protect against stress and improve liver function. There is a lot of experiential evidence from people who have been using kombucha over many years. Many of the benefits reported include improvements in energy levels, metabolic disorders, allergies, cancer, digestive problems, candidiasis, hypertension, HIV, chronic fatigue and arthritis. It ‘s also used externally for skin problems and as a hair wash among other things.” Source

You can drink it straight, or dilute wine, beer or juice with it.

There are lots of recipes for Kombucha on the web.  Mine is an adaption that works in Penang’s climate.

First you will need a kombucha mushroom and some kombucha.  If you live in Penang I can give them to you if I have any spare at the time – and usually I do. Everything else you can buy in a supermarket.

FIRST PRODUCTION

most of what you need - note kombucha "mushroom" in clear glass Pyrex bowl

NEED
Stage 1 – making tea

  • These instructions
  • Scale to measure tea & sugar
  • Strainer for tea
  • Big pot to boil water
  • Other big pot to strain water with tea leaves into

weighing tea

For three litres

  • Tea – 12g – 15g
  • Sugar – 150g
  • Filtered water – 3 litres

weighing sugar

Stage 2 – making batch

  • Vinegar (cheap white)
  • Kombucha mushroom
  • Kombucha brew as starter – 300ml
  • Liquid measuring jug
  • Funnel
  • Flat plate to keep mushrooms for cleaning
  • Plastic tongs to pick up mushroom
  • Big jar(s) to make brew in

boiling water for tea

METHOD
Stage 1

  1. Previous day or a few hours before boil 3 litres of filtered water and add tea and sugar
  2. Strain tea after 15 minutes into other pots and let cool

tea and sugar, strained and now cooling

Stage 2

  1. Clean measuring jug, tongs, flat plate, hands etc. with vinegar – recycling it to use it on all implements
  2. Put mushroom  on flat plate
  3. Clean mushroom with vinegar removing bits
  4. Put mushroom in brewing jar – white on top, brown on bottom
  5. Pour out 300ml of Kombucha into brewing jar
  6. Add tea & sugar mixture to new brew and cover with cloth and keep in cool place (21 – 29 C)
  7. After about a week it is ready to drink – in my case usually six days. You can test it with pH paper if you wish – it should be from 2.8 to 3.

pH paper

batch made, ready to cover, then sit in cool place for a few days

SECOND AND SUBSEQUENT PRODUCTION

Once you have made your own brew you can bottle most of it, and use a percentage as a starter for the next brew.  This is what to do…

NEED
Stage 1 – making tea

  • These instructions
  • Scale to measure tea & sugar
  • Strainer for tea
  • Big pot to boil water
  • Other big pot to strain water with tea leaves into

For three litres

  • Tea – 12g – 15g
  • Sugar – 150g
  • Filtered water – 3 litres

Stage 2 – bottling and making next batch

  • Vinegar
  • Empty bottles with screw caps (old wine bottles with screw caps are good)
  • Funnel
  • Kombucha mushroom
  • Kombucha brew as starter – 300ml
  • Liquid measuring jug
  • Flat plate to keep mushrooms for cleaning
  • Plastic tongs to pick up mushroom
  • Some fruit to add as flavour
  • Big jar(s) to make brew in

METHOD
Stage 1

  1. Previous day or a few hours before boil 3 litres of filtered water and add tea and sugar
  2. Strain tea after 15 minutes into other pots and let cool

Stage 2

Bottled rinsed with vinegar; mushroom on plate

  1. Clean bottles, brewing jar, measuring jug, tongs, flat plate, hands etc. with vinegar
  2. Remove mushrooms from your fresh brew and put on flat plate
  3. Pour out 300ml from brew into measuring jug and set aside
  4. Make up flavour from fruit – passion fruit / lemon & ginger etc.  Half a passionfruit to one 750ml bottle is sufficient; one or two teaspoons of lemon juice and some grated ginger is another idea
  5. Add the flavour to new clean bottles
  6. Pour in the rest of the brew to new clean bottles to 1 cm from the top of the bottle
  7. Seal bottles lightly – release cap a couple of times a day.  Can store out of fridge for a while, but probably better in fridge after a few days.  Drink whenever you wish – it is ready immediately.
  8. Clean mushrooms with vinegar removing bits
  9. Put new mushroom in brewing bottle –save old mushroom as spare in another jar with some brew. (You then can help others make it if they wish by giving them a mushroom and some brew.)
  10. Add starter to new brew
  11. Add tea & sugar mixture to new brew and cover and keep in cool place

Bottled; and next batch in jar with mushroom and starter added - just needs tea mixture to be added

NOTES

  • Don’t use metal implements or containers. Use plastic, glass etc.
  • pH paper is available at some pharmacies – e.g. Burma Road opposite the police station.
  • You can experiment with any fruit to use as flavouring that you want.

batch covered