Kombucha is a healthy carbonated probiotic drink. Slightly sour, fermented and loaded with beneficial bacteria to aid in healthy digestion and boost overall health. This recipe adds the much loved elderberry syrup to provide a sweet flavor that is nutritious too. Elderberries are excellent for supporting the immune system and flavoring your homemade kombucha with elderberry syrup makes this a highly medicinal beverage wonderful to have on hand. To learn more about the benefits of elder visit the herbarium section of the website.
If you don't already make your own kombucha, you will need to buy or make your own scoby.
Make your own Kombucha Scoby
7 cups water
1/2 cup plain sugar
4 bags black tea
1 cup unflavored, unpasteurized store bought kombucha. (try and get brown, nebula like matter floating around at the bottom). I used GTS kombucha
Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar until it is completely dissolved. Add the tea and allow to steep until the tea cools to room temperature. Remove and discard the tea bags and pour the tea into a half gallon jar. Pour in the store bought kombucha (and the baby scoby if there is one). Stir to combine. Cover with tightly woven cloth or coffee filter and a rubber band. Store out of direct sunlight for 6-9 weeks. You can use your scoby when it has become opaque in color and has layered the surface and is at least a 1/4 inch thick. Once you have a viable scoby it's time to make kombucha tea! Save 2 cups kombucha (this will be your starter) and discard the rest of this batch.
1 gallon jar
3 1/2 quarts water
1 cup sugar (regular granulated sugar works best
8 bags black tea, green tea, or a mix (or 2 tablespoons loose tea
2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought kombucha (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored)
1 scoby per fermentation jar, homemade
or purchased online
Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Drop in the tea bags and allow to steep until the water has cooled completely. Remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar and with clean hands gently slide the scoby into the jar. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers tightly-woven cloth. Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won't get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, checking the kombucha and the scoby periodically. In the days while the kombucha is fermenting you can make the elderberry syrup.
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/3 cups fresh or frozen elderberries or 2/3 cup dried elderberries
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup raw local honey
Pour the water in to saucepan and add the elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves and bring it to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer about 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid reduces to half. Remove from heat and mash the berries. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a glass jar or bowl and discard the elderberries. Allow the liquid to cool to lukewarm and add in the honey and stir well. Allow it to cool completely, bottle and store in the fridge until ready to use.
Flavoring your Kombucha Tea
After 7 days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle. Prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch, as outlined above. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. (Check it over and remove the the new baby scoby and place into scoby hotel for future batches of kombucha). Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the starter of the next batch. In clean 16 oz swing top bottles pour in about 1 tbsp elderberry syrup. Pour the fermented kombucha tea into bottles leaving about 1/2 inch head room from the top. Cap and store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 2-4 days for the kombucha to carbonate. You can enjoy it right away or you can refrigerate and keep it in the fridge for about a month. Refrigeration will stop fermentation and carbonation process. You can strain the kombucha before consuming if you would like a "cleaner" kombucha with no floating particles. ENJOY!
Note: Avoid prolonged contact between the kombucha and metal both during and after brewing. This can affect the flavor of your kombucha and weaken the scoby over time.