If there is one thing I want folks to know about fermenting food, it’s that fermenting food is about more than sauerkraut. Don’t get me wrong. Sauerkraut is great. But when I think of all the other possibilities, I just get goosebumps. Especially when that fermented something is kombucha. So read on for some variations of this delicious, healthy drink.
Kombucha is a beverage made from fermented tea. I wrote about how to make kombucha in a previous post. So, if you need to know how to make it from the start, go check it out. In this post I’m going to start with the second ferment in order to make flavored kombucha.
When I first started out, I thought I could flavor my kombucha by fermenting herbal teas. I tried hibiscus and a few Celestial Seasonings flavors. It doesn’t work that way. Kombucha is fermented tea—as in from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Anything else might produce a fermented drink, but it will not have the same nutrients necessary to feed the SCOBY and produce the same nutritional benefits in your end product. So, to capitalize on those properties, stick with black or green tea.
If you still want to use herbs in your kombucha, mix them with black tea. Also, avoid herbs high in volatile oils, like peppermint or other aromatics, as the oil will inhibit the process.
How to Make Flavored Kombucha
The first step is to make a batch of kombucha. After removing the SCOBY, strain the beverage through a piece of clean muslin into a clean, glass container. (I cannot say clean too many times.)
Place your flavorings into the bottom of clean canning jars and then fill with the kombucha, leaving an inch of headspace and apply lids. I cover about an inch in the bottom of the jar with fruit or juice, except as noted below.
The drink will out gas, so apply an airlock from your Fermentools kit. Or, you can loosen the jar lids periodically to let the gas escape. Otherwise, it could blow the lid off or break the jar.
Wait another day or two. Check it occasionally for flavor. When it tastes good and is bubbly, it is done.
When done, strain, rebottle and refrigerate.
Let’s Get Creative
Variations for the second ferment of kombucha
A word about fruit. I do not always have fresh fruit on hand—especially berries. But I have used frozen, dried (as in craisins) and freeze-dried with the same results. I’ve also used just the juice. For instance, if you want grape-flavored kombucha, simply put about an inch of grape juice in the bottom of your jar before adding the kombucha to it.
A word about tea. Kombucha made with green tea and flavored with raspberries will taste quite different than kombucha made with black tea and flavored with raspberries. Try both kinds of tea to find what suits your family best.
This is where the fun part comes in. The flavors you come up with are limited only by the scope of your imagination. Here are a few flavors that have worked for me, and one that didn’t.
Fruit—I have not tried melon, although I think honeydew would be amazing. But peach, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, and cranberry are all hits with my tribe.
Citrus—Technically, I know this is fruit, but we use it differently. A couple tablespoons of the juice goes a long way.
Ginger—Add one tablespoon of grated ginger to the plain kombucha for a great kick.
Ginger/Lime—This is one of our favorites. One tablespoon of ginger and two tablespoons of lime juice make an amazingly refreshing drink.
Other combinations—A few other combinations we have enjoyed are ginger/honey, strawberry/peach, and cranberry/lemon.
Cucumber—Cucumbers are probably my absolute favorite food. But not for kombucha. All my boys complained that I made them pickle juice to drink. So, I don’t recommend cucumber.
Do you make flavored kombucha? What flavors are your favorite? Please, share with us in the comments.
Well-made kombucha has a light flavor and is slightly effervescent. The first time I tasted it, I was reminded of champagne. Left too long, it will taste like vinegar. Whatever your fermenting needs, please visit the Fermentools store.