f you’ve delved into the world of all things gut health, you’re likely aware of the untold benefits of fermented foods.
Newbies to the subject, however, are often repulsed by the concept of consuming something that has – in their eyes – ‘gone off’.
We lack sympathy for those who consider delicious foods such as miso, yoghurt, pickles and certain scrumptious cheeses to be repulsive. However, we’re more inclined to side with the squeamish when it comes to kombucha scobies. After all, at first glance, the slimy mushroom-like disc certainly doesn’t look like something we should be consuming.
Nevertheless, the acidic fermented tea produced by scobies is filled to the brim with wonderful microbiome-boosting, gut-friendly bacteria and antioxidants that can aid with everything from reducing inflammation, supporting your immune system, promoting proper digestion and even reducing DNA damage.
Even though drinking kombucha feels like an extremely nouveau trend, the fermented and lightly effervescent tea has been around for almost 2,000 years. Also known as tea mushroom or – less appetisingly, tea fungus – its origins are thought to be in China, though by the early 20th century the sweetened drink had spread to Russia, Eastern Europe and Germany.
Now commercially available across the board, kombucha enthusiasts are nevertheless deciding to switch from branded kombuchas to their own homemade brews. The ingredients? Tea, sugar, yeast and – of course – a kombucha scoby. Though the vast majority of branded kombuchas contain zero harmful additives and are wonderfully flavourful, nothing quite beats the budget-friendly satisfaction achieved by making something yourself.
What is a kombucha scoby and how is it made?
For the uninitiated, ‘scoby’ is an acronym for ‘a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.’ You might even hear some kombucha lovers refer to it as ‘the mother’ of ‘the mother culture’. The scoby is a cellulose mat which sits at the top of your kombucha brew and houses the bacteria and yeast that subsequently work to break down the sugars and tea to form kombucha – which is a counter-intuitively sugar-free beverage.
Just like a sourdough starter – a scoby can be made from scratch with the help of pre-made kombucha. However, instead of feeding it with flour and water to help its cultures thrive, a kombucha scoby needs tea and sugar to survive. We can relate.
As you feed your scoby, it’ll grow – and it will likely form a little ‘baby’ scoby that can be safely separated and shared with friends who’d like to start their own kombucha brewing process. The original ‘mother’ scoby can be used time and time again for countless batches.
What do I need to make kombucha at home?
The bare bones of kombucha making consist of a large jar, a starter scoby and some flavoured tea. However, some starter kits include a variety of extra helpful accoutrements.
We’ve rounded up a selection of the best kombucha starter kits to help you along your fermentation journey. Keeps scrolling to keep brewin’.
Premium Organic Kombucha Making Kit, Three Litres
Put together by one of our favourite kombucha brands, Boo Chi, this home brew kit has absolutely everything you need to make your very own delicious kombucha.
It comes complete with a three-litre Kilner jar with a tap and lid, a one-litre kilner bottle for refrigerating your brew, organic sugar, an organic scoby, a rubber band and cloth top, a stick-on thermometer and even a bottle of Boo Chi’s own original kombucha to compare flavour. You can also add 50 organic green tea bags to your kit for just £4.99.
As simple as it gets, this budget-friendly kombucha starter kit comes with the three key ingredients you’ll need to make a delicious home-brewed kombucha: an organic scoby, 20g of organic black tea and an infuser bag. All you’ll need to add to your concoction to get the brewing process started is some sugar.
Deluxe Organic Kombucha Starter Kit
Equipped with everything you’ll need to both brew and bottle your freshly made kombucha, this kit from The Kombucha Shop may be on the pricier side – but it’s certainly worth the investment for kombucha addicts.
This is because it comes with an organic scoby, loose-leaf tea, a reusable infuser bag, six 16oz swing-top bottles, a bottle brush, pipette, organic cane sugar, a stainless steel funnel and strainer, a cotton cover and rubber band, as well as a set of pH test strips to ensure your kombucha has the perfect level of acidity.
Kombucha Making Scoby
If you’ve already got some kombucha-making kitchen accessories at the ready, it might suit you to buy a scoby by itself. This mother scoby is 100 per cent organic and also comes with 235ml of starter tea.
Brew Your Bucha Kombucha Tea Scoby
This starter scoby has been grown with the help of Yunnan Gold tea, which gives it a distinctive smooth, sweet and almost malty taste.
Classic Kombucha Flavoring Variety Pack
For an artisanal boost to your kombucha home-brew, these kombucha flavouring packs will imbue your bucha with delicious energy-boosting tastes with the utmost ease. The flavours included in this variety pack are berry magic, might ginger, super C and flower power. One pack of herbal flavouring is equal to 14 bottles of kombucha at 16oz each.
Bird & Blend Taster Pack
Put together your very own starter pack filled with funky and flavourful loose-leaf teas from Bird & Blend. With flavours ranging from mocha chai to peach cobbler, your kombucha is sure to be unique.