Monday, May 28, 2018

How To Flavor Homemade Kombucha

Only a few days ago, while bottling and flavoring my homemade kombucha, I realized that I have never posted a followup to my original kombucha article.

Kombucha does not really need any flavoring, but like with everything in life, you can take your recipes into a next level by naturally flavoring your healthy drink.

Many people like the naturally refreshing, slightly fizzy, unflavored kombucha. I do too, and this is why in every batch I make there is at least one bottle without added flavor.

What to use for flavoring?

For those who prefer flavored kombucha the palette of ingredients is endless, although some ingredients and ingredient combinations are tastier than others. You can use one or more "additives" to flavor your kombucha. Experiment to find out your favorite flavors and flavor combinations and stick with them.
  • fresh herbs - mint, lemon balm
  • fresh fruits and berries - pomegranate, orange, lime, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
  • spices and such  - ginger, turmeric, dried orange peel, cinnamon, cloves, mixed chai spices
  • dried edible flowers - dried hibiscus, lavender, rose petals or buds, dried blue butterfly pea flower
Some ingredients make perfect combinations:
  • mint and lime
  • lime, mint, and pineapple
  • ginger and lemon
  • mixed berries and cinnamon
  • chai spices and fresh turmeric root
  • blueberries and lavender flowers
  • strawberries and hibiscus flowers

How much flavor do I add?

There is no particular rule to how much flavor to add. Everything depends on your personal preference. However, if you are just starting out, less is more. You do not want to overpower your kombucha. To help you out here are some suggestions:
  • I add two whole, 5-6" long twigs of fresh mint into each bottle. I get enough flavor and it is very easy to remove them from the bottles.
  • I use 1/3 cup dried hibiscus flowers per bottle
  • 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries and 2 Tbsp dried culinary lavender per bottle (use less lavender if you find this combination too overpowering)
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries and 2 Tbsp dried hibiscus flowers per bottle
  • 1/2 cup freshly pressed orange juice per bottle
  • juice of 1/2 pomegranate per bottle
  • 2 Tbsp blue butterfly pea flowers per bottle
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger and 2 tsp chai spices per bottle

All these ingredients will not only add flavor, they will also add some color to your kombucha and enhance your drinking experience.

Hibiscus flavored kombucha

How to flavor kombucha?

The first stage of fermentation is finished and you ended up with a large jar of kombucha. Now what? If you bought a kombucha brewing kit, it probably arrived with easy-to-follow instructions. In any case, when your kombucha is ready for bottling, you need a few clean bottles.

Most people use swing top (flip-top) type bottles, but you can use one with a screw top. Make sure, though, that the top sits and closes perfectly. I pour boiling water into each bottle to make sure that my bottles are clean, and let the bottles cool off before pouring any kombucha.

Healthy multiplied kombucha scoby

  • Open the kombucha jar and remove the scoby with clean hands. Place the scoby in a bowl and pour a few cups of kombucha. This will be the starter for your next batch. 
  • To prevent a big mess I usually set up a big bowl before bottling. I place a bottle in the bowl so that any liquid that gets spilled does not run all over my kitchen counter. I use a funnel and a small fine mesh strainer to prevent even bigger mess since the full jar of kombucha is rather heavy and not that easy to handle.
  • Add your flavoring into each bottle. Fill the bottles with kombucha leaving out about 2" from the top. Close the bottles and leave them on a kitchen counter for 2-3 days. 
  • When the second stage of fermentation is complete, place the bottles in the refrigerator and allow to chill.
Depending on what you used for flavoring you may want to strain and re-bottle your kombucha before drinking it. If you used fresh fruit juice, your kombucha is ready to drink. Your flavored kombucha should last till the next batch is ready for bottling. Enjoy!

The scoby and kombucha from your fist brewing can now be used to brew your next batch. Wash the jar carefully, but avoid any bacteria killing dish lotion. Your kombucha scoby is a living culture! You don't want it to die on you. A happy scoby multiplies and creates offspring. It can look a bit slimy, but if it has a clean, healthy smell, disregard the optics.

Tip: If you are going on vacation or for some other reason wish to take a break from brewing, place the scoby in a clean glass jar. Pour enough raw, unflavored kombucha to cover the culture, and close the jar tightly. Place the jar in the fridge and let is sit there till you are ready to start your next batch of kombucha.

Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon@2018

If you haven't made kombucha yet and wish to try your luck at fermentation, read my Making Kombucha At Home article. It has some useful tips for beginners.


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