At the beginning of 2023, we got a bit experimental by trying our hand at Kombucha. It’s a bit early to call it new product development but we’re always looking for new ways to enjoy Chanui and the results we absolutely brilliant! There is real scope for creativity when making Kombucha with complementing teas and other aromatics.
For the uninitiated, kombucha is a fermented sweetened, lightly effervescent tea drink that has become popular over recent years as people take a greater interest in their gut biome. The health benefits might be disputed but the flavour isn’t. It’s a complex mix of sweet, sour and the notes of whichever tea you choose. It's also fantastic ingredient to add depth to sauces and marinades.
The alien looking thing in the video is a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY for short) and it’s where the magic bacteria lives. SCOBY’s are easy to buy online and will last pretty much indefinitely with a little love.
Alternatively, you can find tiny SCOBY’s in bottles of unpasteurised bottles of commercially available kombucha but they will take a little work before they’re ready use. Make some very sweet tea, let it cool to room temp in a jar then add the dregs. Cover loosely with the lid and after a couple of weeks it should grow to fit the surface of the mixture.
Have a look at the bottom of the page for some great watching and reading material on sourcing SCOBYs.
After brewing and cooling a big batch blend of Summer Berry and Special Reserve and adding some sugar for the SCOBY to feast upon,the SCOBY was added and the concoction left for a few weeks.
TWO WEEKS PASS …
After two weeks of fermentation, it was time to taste the brew. It was getting there but was still a bit too sweet. We needed to wait longer for the SCOBY to convert those sugars into lactic acid, giving it that textbook ‘funky’ sour flavour.
…ANOTHER WEEK AND A HALF PASSES
Another week and half of tasting every couple of days and we were ready to go! You’ll be pleased to know that only about a third of it ended up on the floor when syphoning it into the receptacles.
We waited another week or two at room temp for it to carbonate in the bottle.
Some people add a little extra sugar or even whole fruits to the bottle to help it along but we kept it simple to let the flavour of the tea sing.
Fingers were firmly crossed that it would indeed carbonate and fizz up like the poppiest of soda pops.
THE MAKER MAYBE GETS THEIR ATTENTION PULLED TO OTHER THINGS FOR A LITTLE BIT LONGER THAN PLANNED… MAYBE 4 AND A HALF WEEKS TOTAL…
We finally got to taste the result of the kombucha experiment we started in January.
With almost 7 weeks since starting this brew, the old heart rate did rise when it was time to film the pivotal moment of de-capping. A well conditioned Kombucha should give a satisfying POP as the pressure releases.
The swing lock slowly lifts. BAM! We have carbonation!
Onto the pour. It’s the colour of IRN-BRU! Pretty sure we didn't add any Sunset Yellow FCF E110 and Ponceau 4R E124 and 99% sure Chanui Fruit infusion Summer Berry bags don’t contain any... It looks amazing. It’s a win. We’ll take it.
The smell is of a very mild vinegar mixed with raspberry and a teeny bit of apple creeping in. Very pleasant. Another win.
Finally onto the taste and It. Is. Delightful.
It tastes like a healthy version of IRN-BRU but you can’t tell if that’s the mind playing games or not. The sweet/sour balance is absoltely spot on and the fizz makes this an amazing afternoon pick me up. Next time, the berry flavour could be dialled up by adding another bag or two to the mix.
If you wanted to make it less healthy, a little splash of golden rum wouldn’t go amiss.
We cannot recommend this highly enough.
This recipe makes just over 3 litres:
3 Litres - Water
150 g - Granulated sugar
3 Teaspoons or Bags - Your favourite Chanui leaf tea or bags
1 - SCOBY + up to 100 ml of the liquid it comes in
Thoroughly clean a large saucepan, fermenting vessel, a spoon and a sieve.
Bring 1 litre of water to a boil, remove from the heat and steep your tea for 6-8 minutes. You want to use at least 50% black or green tea for it to have the classic Kombucha flavour.
Add your sugar and stir to dissolve.
Add the rest of your water. This will bring the temperature down to a point where it won’t harm your SCOBY.
Strain the mixture into a glass or plastic container then add your SCOBY and liquid. A healthy SCOBY should float.
Label your creation with the date and leave it to ferment out of direct sunlight at room tempt. This was brewed on a tray on top of the fridge.
After around two weeks, it’s time to start tasting. This is part is where this recipe moves from the realm of science into that of art. It’s all about getting it to the balance of sourness, funk and sweetness that you find agreeable.
For this batch, it took a good week and a half further to become more sour. This will depend on the temperature of your house. Just keep tasting until you’re happy.
When happy, thoroughly clean some bottles you want to condition and store these in. Fermentation grade brewing bottles are perfect but clean plastic soda or water bottles will work with the lids screwed on tightly.
Avoid decorative swing top bottles. These aren’t designed to withstand the considerable build up of pressure that carbonation produces. If in doubt, don’t use it.
Add any further sweeteners or botanicals you’d like to to the bottom of the bottles. Get creative and think of things that pair well with your choice of tea. Berries, rosemary, honey, things like that.
Place the bottles out of direct sunlight in a warmish place. Wait for a minimum of two weeks.
When you have waited long enough, chill down a bottle for a while in the fridge if you have time. This should help prevent it frothing up too much. If there isn’t a significant release of pressure, simply replace the lid and wait a while longer.
Enjoy over ice in your favourite glass. Preferably in the sun after crossing something off your to do list.