In Bend, kombucha, the fermented tea with a distinct taste, has grown from being a beverage with a cult following to rivaling craft beer in popularity. Now, new kombucha breweries are popping up around Bend. Like beer, kombucha can easily be brewed at home. Here, we show you how.
Good to know: Because kombucha is made with bacteria, it is important to make sure that all the brewing pots and storing jars are very clean, and that your hands are clean, too. Avoid contamination by rinsing your pots, jars and hands with vinegar.
1 Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, then remove the pot from heat and add 1 cup of sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, add 2 tablespoons loose leaf black tea, or about 8 tea bags. Steep the tea in the pot until the water has cooled, which could take a few hours, then remove the tea bags or strain out the leaves.
2 Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar along with two cups of a neutral flavored store-bought kombucha (this functions as a substitute for a tea starter). Add what’s called a “scoby,” which is the bacteria that ferments the kombucha. The unsightly bacteria product can be purchased online or at local grocery stores. Cover the lid of the jar with a clean cloth or paper towel and secure with a rubber band.
3 Keep the jar at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. On the seventh day, taste the kombucha to determine its sweetness. At this time, you can add flavoring if you wish. If it tastes too sweet, let the jar sit for another day and taste again. The kombucha should be ready by the tenth day, at the latest.
4 When the kombucha tastes right to you, remove the scoby (store it in a plastic bag and place in the fridge to reuse) and pour the mixture into jars along with any additional flavors you want to try. Store the covered bottles at room temperature again for the next one to three days to allow the kombucha to carbonate. After that point, keep the kombucha in the fridge and drink within a month.
Flavoring your kombucha
Use fresh fruits, dicing them or smashing them for even stronger flavor. Then, add spices or herbs for complexity. You can either add fruits and herbs to your glass right before you enjoy it or add flavors after the initial fermentation period and store them in airtight bottles for a couple of days.
NEED SOME IDEAS? Try blueberry mint, blackberry thyme, lemon ginger or apple cinnamon.
NEED A KICK? The latest trend is to use kombucha as a mixer in your favorite local cocktail.