This master kombucha recipe unlocks infinite flavor possibilities

pineapplekombuchaI’ve been so crazy for kombucha lately that it’s filling up my Instagram.

At least a few times a week, I post part of the process. Yesterday, it was the only two ingredients you need to get started: black tea and turbinado sugar.

In today’s paper, I have a column about coming back to making my own kombucha after a seven-year break. For two months now, I’ve been making all kinds of different flavors of kombucha from one master recipe, which came from my sister in Boise, Idaho, but that I’ve tweaked slightly.

There are two different brewing methods: continuous brewing and batch. I use the batch method. I also make a slightly smaller quantity of tea than the full gallon that Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, the authors of “The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea,” call for in the master recipe in their book, because four of those 500 ml bottles of kombucha is plenty for us to drink in one week.

mangokombuchaThe key trick that I learned from my sister is using fruit purees instead of juice to add additional flavor to the kombucha. She purees blueberries or strawberries with a little bit of granulated sugar, but I quickly moved on to honeydew melon, pineapple, mango and even cucumber and mint to flavor mine. My kombucha-loving kids have decided that our next batch will be kiwi watermelon.

Once you start looking at every piece of fruit in the grocery store as a possible kombucha flavor, the creativity really kicks in. I haven’t even started playing with cinnamon, citrus or other ingredients that will add layers of complexity to my homemade booch, but when you’re making a batch every week, you have lots of tea to experiment with.

And you can be sure I’ll be posting about it on the Instagram.

What crazy flavors of kombucha have you made? What should I try next?

Kombucha

kombuchateaThis quantity of tea makes enough kombucha to fill those four 500 ml bottles, with enough liquid left over to act as a starter for the next batch. If you find yourself running low on leftover liquid, make a little extra tea next time. You’ll want to have at least a few cups of liquid remaining in the jar each time. The more starter liquid, the faster the tea will brew. The less, the longer.

Every once in a while, I’ll have to brew a larger batch to make sure there’s enough extra liquid to keep my SCOBY hotel full and to start my next batch. Either way, you can use 4 bags of tea (or about 1 1/2 Tbsp. loose-leaf tea) and 1 cup sugar.

10 cups filtered water
4 bags black tea
1 cup turbinado or white sugar
1 cup kombucha
1 SCOBY or piece of SCOBY, at least a few inches in width

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a pot large enough to hold all 10 cups. Add tea and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and add sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add the remaining filtered water and let the mixture cool.

Add the tea to a large glass jar. Add the kombucha and then place your SCOBY on top. (It’s OK if it sinks.) Cover the jar with a cloth and secure with a rubber band. Place jar in a dark, cool place for seven days.

To flavor and finish processing the kombucha: Using a funnel, place 2 Tbsp. fruit puree in a 500 ml (about 17 ounce) bottle with a flip-top closure. Place a strainer inside the funnel (optional) and then pour the fermented kombucha tea into the bottle, leaving between 1-2 inches of air at the top. Repeat with remaining bottles. Quickly seal each bottle after adding the kombucha, which should be fizzy from the fermentation. Leave at room temperature for at least two days or up to five. Refrigerate the bottles and, when ready to drink, strain and serve.

— Adapted from recipes by Chelsea Barrett and from Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory in “The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea

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