Here’s a basic kombucha recipe for people who want a fermented beverage without the price tag, or the fuss.

Gone are the days of kombucha, drink of long-haired cultists clad in togas and sandals. You don’t need to join a sect to get your hands on this golden fizz anymore, because I’m going to teach you how to make kombucha. Real kombucha.

In fact, I can personally guarantee that the ingredients to start and sustain your kombucha for several months will cost you less than £20. That’s like 4 bottles of this delicious brew from the supermarket…
Get your hands in there and touch it. It doesn’t bite

How do I know this? For one, I have spent a lot of my hard-earned Atlas Biomed salary on kombucha and a culinary education with a focus on fermentation. And secondly, I also have approximately 10L of kombucha brewing on my kitchen counter.

Fermentation can seem daunting at first, but it’s not rocket science – it’s more like having a low-maintenance, ugly and slightly smelly pet that makes you beverages. Personally, I like to think of it as microscopic farming.

According to legend, kombucha started out in the Far East thousands of years ago. There was only one mother (SCOBY) that was shared and continued to reproduce until it made its way into your kitchen.

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented drink made from sweetened tea using a S-C-O-B-Y. For those who like acronyms, that means Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeasts. If you’re wondering why the A isn’t capitalised, rest assured – so am I.

When most people talk about the SCOBY, they are referring to the trademark alien-like disk that forms on top of the kombucha liquid during the brewing process.

Scientists call it a biofilm or pellicle and it’s made out of cellulose fibres produced by some bacteria in kombucha. The pellicle is not essential, it’s a byproduct of fermentation to which other bacteria and yeasts of the community adhere. If you want to buy a kombucha starter kit, you should receive the pellicle, packaged with live kombucha liquid.

However, the most important trick to making this beverage is to have a good batch of live, raw kombucha. Because it’s already brimming with all the microscopic bacteria and yeasts needed.
Bacteria are feisty, they have mechanisms to prevent pathogens from taking over their home.

All they want is more sweet tea and they will continue to form layers upon layers of this disk-like biomass. If you notice strands of brown floaties on it, that’s a good thing. That’s a sign the yeasts are happy and active too.

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