I’ve always been a lover of homemade, heart-felt gifts.
Rather than getting caught up in the crowds at shopping malls, stuck in the endless holiday traffic jams, or trawling the Internet for hours on end to finally come across the “perfect” gift, I spend time in the kitchen crafting and creating with Dean Martin’s Christmas album playing in the background. And more importantly, absolutely no stress or chaos!
One of the most welcomed and talked about gifts I gave last year was the “Festive Effervescent Kombucha Elixir” I brewed. Which is essentially a slightly alcoholic sparkly fermented energizing tea with a delicious zesty festive flavouring.
My kombucha was so well-loved that many of those I gave it to now brew it for themselves on a regular basis, just adding their own flavours, depending on how they are feeling, or the season.
The greatest thing about Kombucha during the holiday period is that it is great for the gut as it diminishes sugar and yeast and rebuilds and balances flora. So, any time we have a late night, feel like rubbish in the morning after too much partying, have eaten too much rich, or slightly dodgy, food, are exhausted from shopping, our families or working, we can consume a glass of kombucha and be instantly revitalized, detoxed, nourished and replenished. Plus, it gives us an extra kick of energy.
Making our own kombucha is ridiculously easy; it only takes a little attention, patience and making sure we set some beneficial intentions to gain the most delicious outcome.
The first thing we need before we start thinking about making kombucha is a scoby (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast). A scoby absorbs the sugar and metabolizes it so it is slightly carbonated.
For instructions on how to grow your own scoby click here, however, due to the amount of time left before Christmas, it would probably be better to purchase one or borrow one, if you know of someone who already makes kombucha.
The scoby will also have a little starter tea with it, which should be added to the mixture.
There are a few alternative ways to make kombucha; this is the way I make it, although it’s great to experiment. Like with all things trial and error usually work perfectly together and eventually create the perfect blend.
1 Gallon Brewing glass jar
Plastic or wooden stirring utensil
Cotton fabric or paper towel for the top of the jar
Rubber band to secure the cloth to the jar
Smaller jars for the “Effervescent Kombucha Festive Drink.”
*Note: No metals should be used throughout the process, so, no metal utensils, storage containers or even contact with metal jewelry.
Cooking pot (not metal)
6-8 Organic Tea bags
Organic white sugar or coconut sugar
1 Gallon Purified/bottled water
Boil one gallon of purified water.
Place the tea bags in a heat-safe glass jar.
Add the boiling water.
Leave for 20-25 minutes.
Remove the tea bags.
Add the sugar and stir well.
Leave to cool to room temperature.
Fill the brewing jar leaving a two inch gap at the top.
Add the scoby with the shiny side facing up.
Add the starter tea that came with the scoby.
Cover with a paper towel/cotton cover (so the mixture can breathe) and the place rubber band to secure.
Store in a well ventilated, warm (65-90 deg), dark area out of direct sunlight.
Leave and do not disturb it for approximately seven days.
While the kombucha is fermenting I decorate the pressure resistant jars, that will be used for gifting, with ribbon and lace and add name tags so that they are prepared in advance.
After seven days taste with a straw and if it has a tarty/sweet taste then it is ready. If not, leave to ferment and keep checking back on it each day. The kombucha will likely have an apple/pear taste to it, even though at this stage it contains no actual fruit. This is just an illusion, what happens is the fermenting process breaks down the sugar and tea chemicals into fruit acids, making us believe we are tasting fruit.
The longer it is brewed, the fuller the flavor. Plus, it also becomes a little more alcoholic (approximately 0.5%).
Kombucha can be consumed in this form after the first stage of fermenting, although, the best bit about it is adding the festive nutritious, deliciously zesty flavoring ingredients.
Any festive flavor can be added, either as frozen or fresh fruit, pure juice, juice extracts or even herbs and spices.
For my Effervescent Kombucha Festive Elixir I use half a squeezed lemon, one tablespoon of roughly chopped ginger and 3 slices of orange for decoration and an added burst of flavour.
However, feel free to add and experiment with any Christmas flavour of your choice, for example apple, cinnamon and cranberries.
Add the festive flavor to the decorated quart-sized jars that will be used for gifting.
Fill the rest of the jar with kombucha leaving a one-inch gap from the top.
Replace the lid on the jar and leave it in the fridge to cool before serving. The longer it is in the fridge, the fizzier it becomes.
Give to friends with a little note of advice about storage and consuming times and then sit back and enjoy a glass of your own magical creation.
To retain the fizz in the jars, I don’t open them during the second stage of fermentation. If I want the kombucha to be less fizzy I open and close the jars every other day to release the air.
The scoby can be kept for the next brew, just pour half a cup of kombucha over it and store in the refrigerator. The original scoby (mother) will have bonded with the new scoby (baby). The two can be separated so that two batches can be made next time, or one can be passed along to a friend.
Kombucha replaces my morning coffee or between-meal supplement all year around. It has boosted my energy levels, my immune system and offers a huge variety of health benefits that have meant I almost never get sick, tired or run down, even during particularly busy or stressful times.
To read about more of the health benefits of kombucha click here.
Please consult a doctor if diabetic or any other medical conditions that may be of concern.
Kombucha is mildly alcoholic, which generates an amazing natural and very healthy buzz.
Kombucha is a living organism, so take caution to follow the procedure carefully. There is an array of information available on the Internet for further research or guidance.
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Deb Hultgren