Jul 31 2020

Kombucha demystified

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 16:54

A while ago I was talking to some friends from Romania. It was summer and they started making elderberry flower fermented tea, which is a national refreshing summer drink. The drink is called “socata” and is amazing, but weirdly I’ve never been interested in making it myself, well until this year.

The reason why I considered making socata myself was that during the lockdown my only contact with the outside was my daily run. I run between to 2 and 6 miles daily on the bike path near my house. The bike path is bordered by two mini-forests with all the typical wild plants and trees, some of them producing edible fruit: elderberries, raspberries, gooseberries and blackberries. Well, I’ve been running a lot since March and when the bike path was full of elderberry flowers, I just had to take advantage of the free harvest.

So, I made my first socata, after a very simple recipe. And I loved it. And then I ordered a 5L jar to have a constant source. But eventually the flowers will end, so I did some research to see if there is any other type of fermented tea are there.

And I’ve found kombucha. Which is fermented black tea essentially. But all the videos and recipes on the internet mention the elusive scoby. And apparently you cannot make your own kombucha without it, and all “scoby from scratch” videos and blog posts mention that you need to buy a kombucha or get a small piece of a bacteria culture from someone that has one.

You fucking, useless condescending hipsters!

It is not from scratch if you already have the bacteria. It’s like telling me that to make bread I already need to have a piece of bread. It would be from scratch if you would tell me what I need to put in a jar to stimulate the bacteria to develop, you wankers! But you do not know, do you? Because all of you are repeating the same identical story that is all over the internet. It’s like all of you belong to the same religion but none of you has read the fucking bible.

So, I started making my own kombucha using the socata recipe, but replaced the elderberry flowers with black tea. And low and behold the recipe works and it tastes amazing. But I wasn’t sure what I had was kombucha. So today I bought a bottle of kombucha to compare them. I did not find simple unflavored kombucha, so I bought the one with ginger, which is fine since I let my kombucha ferment with ginger as well.

The verdict is: they are pretty similar, but my kombucha is better(the one on the right). Is more perfumed, tastier and it might have more alcohol too. :)

The one in the picture has fermented for three days in the big jar and about two days in its bottle with ginger.

You’ve read the story; you’ve seen the pictures. For your patience I will now reward you with my recipe of scoby-less kombucha.

I will give you the ingredients for 5 liters:

  • 15 bags of black tea (if you want to make socata – a big hand of dried elderberry flowers)
  • 1 lemon or 1 orange or both
  • 15 spoons of sugar
  • 4 spoons of rice

And here are the instructions:

  • Wash the jar with cold water.
  • Peel of the lemon/orange or both.
  • Slice them in about 1cm wide slice and put them in the jar. Press them a little to extract some of juice.
  • Throw the tea bags in.
  • Pour cold water in the jar until about 10 cm from the top.
  • Close the jar tightly. Leave it alone for 24 hours.
  • At the end of those 24 hours you should have a very nice colored water, exactly as if the tea would have been boiled. The advantage of not boiling the tea is that it does not get bitter and your kombucha will be more perfumed. It will smell divinely.
  • Back to the point, at the end of those 24 hours, open the jar put the sugar in and stir the water to dissolve it. LEAVE THE TEA BAGS IN.
  • Then add the rice and stir again.(Some people use yeast, I do not like the yeasty taste, rice gives you the frizz without modifying the taste.)
  • Then close the jar but not fully. Cover it with a muslin cloth, coffee filter, napkin or anything that lets the air in, but keeps bugs out.
  • For the next few days, every day at random times just give it a light stir. Taste it, if it is not sweet enough, add sugar and stir some more.

Depending on the temperature it can take between 2 and 5 days to start getting bubbly. The bacteria will eat the sugar and fart CO2 – that is what makes it bubbly. If you like it sweeter just add honey when serving.

When it’s bubbly you can drink it or store it. If you decide to store it (not sure who would do that, I end up drinking it in 2-3 days :)) make sure you have air tight bottles like the ones in my pictures. You can add ginger or any kind of fruit. The bacteria will eat that and keep your drink bubbly and produce some alcohol.

In the next images you can see my next batch of kombucha and socata.

To avoid painting your kitchen with kombucha, just try to leave the air out of the bottles once a day.

The bottle in my picture has a practical cork mechanism, that allows you to lift the cork just a little and then pop it back in. Do this a few times for more restless bottles to let the air out without having them explode. Also… if they overflow you lose some of that magnificent drink, and you do not want that.

And that’s it, no scoby needed. And the result is so exquisite. Also, if you want to upgrade your kombucha, replace 2 of your tea bags with 2 tea bags from the type of tea in the next picture(or equivalent).

My dear humans, let me know how your kombucha experiments go. No need to thank me, I am a merciful and kind goddess and I’ve just shared my secrets with you and expect no reward whatsoever.


Stay safe, stay happy!



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