Monday, 15 January 2018

Kombucha Tea Recipe

Happy New Year! Gut health isn't exactly a glamorous subject but one that has hugely interested me since reading Cooked by Michel Pollen and more recently since meeting Professor Tim Spector at the School of Artisan Food. He gave a fascinating hour long talk about understanding the microbes in our own gut, keeping them well looked after and in turn improving our health, weight and mental well being.

The gut is the largest organ in our body and keeping the microbes it contains alive and flourishing affects all aspects of our well being. It helps us digest things easily, controls calories absorbed, provides vitamins and keeps our immune systems strong. Modern diets that are full of processed supermarket ready meals, factory farmed meat full of antibiotics and fatty fast foods is destroying our gut health and preventing us from feeling fit and protecting ourselves against illness and diseases.

How to make Kombucha Tea - The Grazer

I've learnt that a diverse range of real foods, cooked yourself; and especially live foods are all things our gut loves. It's all good really as live foods covers wine and cheese; as well as live yoghurts, fermented foods such as kimchi, pickled fruit and vegetables, olives, miso soup, aged cheeses, live beer, sauerkraut, keffir and kombucha. These things used to be much more prevalent in people's diets when fridges were none existent or a luxury, as people were frequently preserving fruit, veg, milk, grapes etc as a regular part of life.

This led to my interest in keffir, which is a fermented milky yoghurt drink, and also kombucha which is a fermented sweet tea drink that tastes a bit like apple juice. I would highly recommend giving either a go at home if you are interested, we have both on the go, and also recently added a big vat of kimchi to our fermented house pals. Small bottles of keffir or kombucha are pretty expensive in the shops, but you can produce litres at home for pence.

Kombucha is such a tasty, refreshing, beneficial drink. I've also been looking at using it in our menus; whilst in London I had a salad of kombucha plums, beetroot and goats curd at Brunswick House. It was totally delicious. Simply by adding fruit to your kombucha for a week, you can flavour the drink and also get tangy delicious fruit to use in salads or puddings as you wish.

Kombucha Tea Recipe - The Grazer

This Kombucha tea recipe is pretty simple. I ordered my 'scoby' online, this is the live element which looks a bit like the contents of a petri dish, it's a bit weird! It was in a pouch with a little bit of kombucha liquid, already fermented, which gets your batch going. You simply brew a big batch of strong sugary tea, I used 2 litres of water, 7 tea bags and 170g of caster sugar. I've been using breakfast tea but am going to try out other types next, green and early grey I think. Leave the tea to brew for 30 minutes then remove the tea bags.

Kombucha doesn't like metal, so you now need to transfer the tea to something glass preferably, and stir with a plastic spoon if you need to. Once the tea is cold, combine the scoby and the tea in a big glass jar and then leave it to ferment, I cover the top of mine with some kitchen roll and an elastic band so it can get some air. It is ready when it no longer tastes of tea, the fermentation process feeds on the sugar so it is no longer sweet, almost like a tart apple juice, slightly cider like taste. Strain off the kombucha leaving behind the scoby and a cup of kombucha, then start the process again, brewing a new batch of tea.

At this stage you can flavour the kombucha you have removed. I like it as it comes, but you can add fruit, apples, oranges, plums, pears, ginger, herbs... for a week, the strain again and drink. You can use the fruit in salads or puddings too. My first batch took a month to ferment, but has since sped up to a couple of weeks as the scoby has settled in and grown a bit. It's a strange yet fascinating process! Feel free to get in touch with any tips or questions!

I love it, I'm also drinking as much as possible of it and my keffir at the moment, everyone around me has flu and I'm determined not to succumb. I'm armed with fermented fluids and a big bag of clementines!