The first bottle of my own home brewed grape kombucha was like opening pink champagne, not least because it overflowed everywhere. I have been making kombucha for a year now and right from the start it’s been a hugely fun and yum-filled journey. Gorgeous flavours and colours, and the satisfaction of picking fresh herbs from the garden and stuffing them in bottles to infuse during a second fermentation. And then the moment of truth…will it explode and unleash probiotic foam all over my kitchen, or will it be a dud? Unlike many kombucha lovers, I can’t claim any health epiphanies, as my diet is already rich in probiotics and I haven’t noticed any difference. I just love drinking it and find it addictive. It gives me an excuse to experiment with herbs, and herbs make me veeerrry haaaapppy! I love to have a couple of glasses a day, and sometimes have to ration it while waiting for the next batch to brew. My favourites so far are lavender kombucha, grape kombucha, and a close third is jasmine, which I haven’t yet tried making myself. I don’t drink alcohol, so for me this was like drinking champagne and I can’t wait to make my own. As there are so many blogs giving detailed information on brewing kombucha, I hardly feel I need to go into the process. I learnt from combining information from numerous websites, and it’s never gone wrong. Now that I’m confident with my brewing I find myself skipping over the screeds of instructions, and look for new flavour ideas instead.
Having taken my scobies out of hibernation for several months, the first batch is always very exciting, and the result was divine.
My favourite flavour combinations are as follows…
Grape and thyme – fill your empty bottles a third full with dark grape juice and add a few sprigs of thyme. The sugar in the grape juice should be enough to produce a substantial amount of fizz after a couple of days. Some recipes use much less grape juice but I like mine to be as dark and grapey as possible. The flavour is a bit like grape hubba bubba chewing gum which will take you right back to the 80s.
Lemon verbena and apple – adding a few slivers of apple to the bottle will create a lot of fizz. Add a small handful of lemon verbena and lightly crush the leaves to release the oils. Add honey to sweeten. One of my absolute favourite herbs to have in the garden as it is just so pretty and fragrant. Scrunching the leaves is like a punch in the face with a lemon, but in a good way…if that’s possible…
Ginger and turmeric – add slices of ginger, honey, and a teaspoon of powdered turmeric to your bottle. The honey should be enough to create the desired fizz after two days, but a tiny slice of apple helps too. Tastes like ginger beer, and is great for circulation and reducing inflammation.
Lavender – add a fresh bud and leaves, a slice of apple, and teaspoon of honey to your bottle or jar, and ferment. If I have to pick a favourite, this is it. I was surprised at the gorgeousness of this one, as I’ve had some amazing flavours but this was on another level!
Apple and rosemary – add a sprig of rosemary to apple slices and honey, bottle and ferment for two to four days – also totally gorgeous and yum.
When I have too much kombucha, and it has over-fermented, I just put it in jars or bottles and cram them full of herbs to make a hair rinse. I have used combinations of rosemary, sage, lavender, chamomile, and catmint, infusing them for a few weeks and then pouring over my hair after washing it. You do need to rinse it out, otherwise you will smell like vinegar!
I have occasionally had bottles that have not made any fizz after a second fermentation. If this happens I just add a slice of apple and give it another couple of days, or drink it anyway as it always has a slight fizz to it from the first fermentation.
I plan to experiment with green tea, jasmine tea and pu-er, finding more delicious herb combinations. My holy grail is to make my perfect jasmine kombucha which is next on my brewing agenda…