I feel like this is one of my biggest waste reduction successes. I made kombucha and the whole family loves it! Never in my life had I heard of kombucha, a fermented sugary tea drink, until I started trying to avoid single use packaging.
You see, when you stop accepting waste you have to think about whether you will give up a product, find it somewhere unpackaged, or make it at home (if you can find the ingredients without single use disposable packaging); or as in this case, do some research and discover something completely new to fulfil a need.
The need I’m talking about my friends is bubbles. Yes I love a bit of fizzy drink to guzzle after a long hot day of outdoors work. Water, milk or homemade cordial just doesn’t cut it. I gave up soda water as my choice of thirst quencher, though like chocolate, this wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Some people have suggested I use a soda stream for making soda water at home, but for now I’ve decided against this because it will take up room in my kitchen and I run the risk of my kids and husband going nuts with the syrups which come in plastic bottles. If you were confident you wouldn’t use the syrups this could be a good option for you as Sodastream has a gas cylinder exchange system.
But back to my zero waste homemade kombucha. Wow, what a taste. I literally felt excitement. Effervescent, tart and sweet, no longer like tea. And it’s meant to be a very healthy drink. Health Ambition outlines many of those benefits here.
I recommend finding a SCOBY to get you started – I agree, it looks like it belongs in a science room display cabinet. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast and that’s what transforms the tea. It is possible to grow one yourself but I think you would need a lot of patience. When I collected my SCOBY from the Leongatha Health, Nutrition, and Wholefoods Store they gave me some directions on paper but I needed a little more information. I found this ‘how to’ article on the Green Living Australia website really helpful.
I used my spigot jars for brewing and easy decanting into flip-top bottles (I got them secondhand from the opshop) and continuous fermentation. Over time I have found it easier and quicker to dissolve the sugar and steep the tea in a smaller amount of hot water as it cools down quicker. I add the rest of the cool water after that.
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Brewing a new batch of kombucha. I dissolve the sugar and steep the loose leaf tea (equivalent of 5 black tea bags and 3 green tea bags) in this jug of hot water because it will cool down quicker than 4 litres of hot water and is easier to manage. I’ll split the amount between my two jars which contain a SCOBY and some left over kombucha from my last batch. Then I’ll add another 1.25L of cool water to each jar and leave it to brew for a week before tasting. If you want to make vinegar from it just let it brew for a number of weeks and the acetic acid concentration will get stronger. . . . #guthealth #guthealing #Kombucha #looseleaftea #fermentedfoods #fermentedtea #zerowaste #singleuseplasticfree
This was such an easy zero waste switch. Please let me know if you try it for the first time and what you think. I’d also love to hear from people who are experimenting with different flavourings as I think this will be my next step.
UPDATE: Whilst this drink is to our liking, and many others I know, I have discovered that some people hate it. It has been quite enjoyable to offer it to people for the first time and watch which camp they fall into (hehehe).
I now occasionally add fruits like peaches and nectarines at day 9 to mix up the flavours. This second ferment goes into a bottle with the lid on for two or three days. Don’t leave longer or the build up of gas will cause an explosion. It is a great way to use up fruit that has gone a bit past the fresh eating stage.
Thirdly, I have really noticed the positive impact kombucha makes to my gut health and therefore my overall health. It might work for you too.