Wednesday, 10 September 2014


Kombucha is an ancient fermented beverage that is believed to have started in China and Russia and then spread around the world.  Kombucha is made by adding a sweet tea to a Kombucha mother/fungus and then being left to ferment.
The mother is known as a a SCOBY which stands for a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast and it is a living organism.  Once fermented the Kombucha has probiotic properties just like other fermented foods and drinks such as Kvass, Sauerkraut, Yogurt, Kefir and Kimchi.

Kombucha is a health giving beverage that claims to detoxify the body, energise the mind, prevent illness and restore good health.
The Kombucha SCOBY works on the sugar and tea to produce acetic acid, lactic acid and small amounts of a detoxifying substance glucuronic acid.
Glucuronic acid is normally produced in the liver and assist with the neutralising and removal of toxins from the body.  The additional glucuronic acid is said to aid the body in its natural cleansing process, boost the immune system and be a proven prophylactic against cancer and other degenerative diseases.

But the best reason for drinking Kombucha is that it is a delicious, refreashing and epervesent drink that is slightly sweet (depending on how long you brew it for) and acidic and so much better than soft drink.

Kombcha is brewed using just the SCOBY and sweet tea (green, black or herbal) but you can add herbs (non oily ones), spices and fruit juices to create a range of flavours.
If you are interested in making your own Kombucha it is really easy but you will need a SCOBY which can be purchased on line, gifted from someone who is already brewing Kombucha or you can brew you own (more about that tomorrow).

Kombucha should be brewed in either a glass or stoneware with a non toxic glaze vessel  with a breathable cover.  You need the open top so that you can get to the SCOBY and remove it.  The reason you need to be able to the SCOBY is that it grows and multiples with every batch you make so you need to be able to remove them when the build up.

The basic recipe I use is as follows:
Take a 2 liter jug and add 3/4 cup of sugar.  Boil your kettle and add approximately 3 cups of boiling water to your sugar and still until dissolved.  Then add 2 black tea bags and 1 green tea  and leave to brew for 10 - 15 minutes.  Remove your tea bags and top up the jug with cold water to the full 2 liters.

The 2 liters of Tea Mix

Add you sweet tea mix to your kombucha vessel that contains your SCOBY and at least 1 cup of kombucha and leave to brew.

About a cup or so left from the last batch.
The brown stuff on the bottom are dead yeast cells, you can clean
them out but as you can see they sit below my exit spout.

The number of days it takes will depend how warm it is, here in QLD mine can take as little as 3 days when it is warm.  It is best to judge when it is ready by taste.  You want it to taste only slightly sweet and more like cider.  It will have a slightly apple cider vinegar taste when brewed but if you let it go too long it will taste very much like apple cider vinegar and you will probably want to use it for something other than drinking.
Once mine is brewed to how I like it I bottle it in large glass bottles and store in the fridge.  The bottles help capture all the little bubbles and it remains slightly fizzy as you use it up.
Once I have bottled it I get another brew on the go.

So what does a SCOBY look like?  Well it looks like a rubbery floaty thing and can be pale or even a bit blotchy

The SCOBY floating in the Kombucha

As I said before the SCOBY multiplies and you often need to remove some of it.  If you need to handle your SCOBY wash your hands well with plain soap and water and rinse well.  Have a clean plate ready to place your SCOBY on once it has been removed.
Once you have removed your SCOBY will see that there are layers of SCOBY, some thick, some thin, and you can peel them apart.

The layers of SCOBY separate easily.

You only need one to add back in so separate one off and add back into your vessel.

One layer ready to be added back in

Back in my Kombucha Crock ready for a new brew.
With any extra SCOBYs you have there are a range of things you can do with them including give them away to friends, adding pieces to a smoothy, making a face mask, drying them into a jerky, feeding them to animals or adding to your compost or worm farm, just check the internet for ideas.
Tomorrow I will share with you how to grow you own SCOBY.

Do you drink Kombucha?
Do you have any tips to share or flavour combinations you like?


  1. Those are some good photos Fee. I tried some commercial kombucha, but I just can't handle the caffeine content. It did taste nice though :)

    1. Hi Liz you should try making a herbal tea kombucha or Roiboos.

  2. Those are some the best photos of seen of the SCOBY and its layers. We have just started drinking kombucha and I started with a shot glass size and progressing to a short black and then to a modest glass. I got mild gripey pains as the glucoronic acid and the probiotics scavenged some of the baddies hanging around in my gut. I really enjoy the taste of it and so does my husband.

    1. Tanya I drink a big glass of it every morning but it does take a bit of time to build up to for some people. I think it depends on how many other fermented foods you already eat. I find I really miss it if I do not have it.

  3. Fiona that looks amazing....I can't believe how the SCOBY grows like that in the container...I've never tasted Kombucha before but have read about the health properties. Well done.

    1. Hi Suzie I suggest you track some down and give it a go. I makes a nice change to drinking water or fruit juice and it makes a much healthier replacement for soft drinks. Most health food stores stock it these days as well as some cafes.

  4. I started my first batch 2 weeks ago (gifted scoby) and when it had fermented for a week I decanted it all (4ltrs) into jars and a bottle and put the scoby in the fridge in some.K tea to keep it while I added some fresh ginger slices to the jars and left it for another week (not in fridge) before it was ready to drink with the ginger flavour...Well.... now it looks like the 3 jars have baby scobys growing, the warmer weather this last week has sure made a difference.
    It is so yummy and refreshing,I have half a glass twice a day.
    Happy to share scoby with anyone in Toowoomba district.

  5. Hi Fiona, Thanks for the great article. Am a bit of a newbie to Kombucha brewing and have noticed last couple of weeks tiny little dark brown/black specks somewhat similar to your pic 5th from the bottom. Is this any need for concern? I just remember a doc mentioning how detrimental black mould in kombucha can be, but assuming this is something different to that? Thanks in advance :)


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