Are you a kombucha fan? I unabashedly and enthusiastically am. I love the stuff. If the first and last time you tasted kombucha was a couple of years ago when it was decanted from the murky brew found at your co-op – and it tasted like sucking on gym socks – then you need to give it another try. The flavor world of kombucha has opened into a vast universe. Commercially-made kombucha is sold all over – even at Walmart – and you can sample so many flavors: cherry, peach, mint, ginger, even spicy pepper. Tastes so good you barely detect the kombucha in the kombucha!
I discovered Brew Dr. kombucha on a trip to the east coast and I was blown away by their unique flavor combinations. I can’t get Brew Dr. locally, but I can read a label, so I set out to make my own version.
The hops give this brew a lovely hint of beer without the bitterness. Orange? It’s a natural fit with hops. I picked up Willamette hops online at Freshops. A little goes a long way, so buy a pack and keep it in your freezer. When you’re ready to make kombucha, just take out the quantity you need. One additional ingredient note: normally I use demerara sugar in my brews, but its light brown color darkens the final beverage. Out of pure vanity, I want a clear, bright orange color so I go with organic pure cane sugar for this flavor combination.
In the coming months, look for my Rosemary-Mint kombucha – also inspired by Brew Dr.
Some helpful links:
- See my kombucha post from 2013 for a lot more detail on brewing.
- My e-book, TEAse Me, features a recipe for Passionfruit-Berry Kombucha. Get the 15-recipe book for free when you subscribe to my blog, or plunk down a mere $5.99 here.
- Buy a kombucha starter kit, or just the SCOBY from Brooklyn Kombucha or Oregon Kombucha.
- Find loose Assam black tea here and TAZO Refresh tea here.
- Need a 4-liter glass jar? Try this one.
- 4-liter glass jar (for initial brew)
- Large/long metal spoon (do not use a wooden spoon)
- Clean cotton cloth
- Rubber band
- Glass (drinking) bottles or jars, with lids (for second brew, storage)
- Large/long metal straining spoon
- 1 cup organic pure cane sugar
- 5 Tbsp. loose black tea (I use Assam)
- 1 Tbsp. hops
- 1 Tazo Refresh teabag, string snipped off
- 5" - 6" peel from orange
- 4 Cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 1 cup kombucha*
- Mother* (a.k.a. SCOBY)
- Bring 7-8 cups of water to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, rinse out the large jar with hot water and assemble everything else you'll need for the initial brew. (You will not yet need the bottles/jars. You'll also be using additional orange peel - but that will be for the second ferment.)
- Add the sugar to the jar and pour in the boiling water. Using the metal spoon, stir until the sugar has dissolved. Now add the loose black tea, the hops, the teabag, orange peel and cardamom pods. Stir again. Add another 6-7 cups of room temperature water to the jar (you want the water to come to about 2-3 inches from the top of the jar). Let the jar sit, uncovered, until it has cooled to room temperature. Now stir in the 1 cup kombucha and with CLEAN HANDS gently transfer the SCOBY to the jar. It will likely fall to the bottom. Later it will come up to the top of the jar.
- Cover the jar with the cloth, secure with the rubber band, and place the jar in a warm spot. I place mine on top of my refrigerator. The amount of time the batch needs to brew depends on the season/temperature (and personal taste preferences). Summer batches can take as little as a week; winter batches may take twice as long. It's important to occasionally taste your brew - using a METAL spoon - so that you can end the first ferment when it tastes good to you.
- Once the brew has reached that point, it's time to bottle it for the second ferment. You'll want to get everything you need assembled before you start, so have your CLEAN jars/drinking bottles ready, a funnel and some paper towels or clothes to wipe up any spills. You'll also want a small, CLEAN mason jar or other glass container in which to store the resulting SCOBY + the old SCOBY + about 1 cup kombucha. So you can make more batches of kombucha!
- With clean hands, remove the SCOBYs and place them in a glass mason jar. Add about 1 cup of your kombucha to the jar, cover and store until needed in the refrigerator. Now, as best you can, strain out the hops, cardamom pods, and tea from the jar using the large metal straining spoon. You won't be able to get everything, but that's okay. Compost or discard the solids.
- Place a funnel in one of the drinking bottles and slowly and carefully pour in some kombucha. It will probably bubble up so watch carefully. I leave about 1-inch at the top of each drinking bottle. Continue with the remaining bottles/kombucha. You may wish to use a metal strainer for the last few cups of kombucha.
- Before closing up the bottles, add a 1" - 2" strip of orange peel to each. Close the bottles and leave them out at room temperature for a few days. I usually let them sit between 4-5 days. This increases the bubbly factor. Place them in the refrigerator and they are now ready to consume!
- *If you haven't made kombucha before, you will need to get SCOBY and a little bit of kombucha to get started. Once you get into the process, believe me, you will have more SCOBY than you know what to do with! I purchased my first SCOBY and starting liquid from Brooklyn Kombucha, but there are many other vendors. Links in post.
- Be careful when opening the drinking bottles - kombucha can get very bubbly.