Leaves turning colors, pumpkins adorning doorsteps, pillowy white snow drifts, and the scent of cinnamon herald the holiday season. Here’s a fun alternative to conventional spiced cider with the added benefit of being a health tonic for the entire family to enjoy. The blueberries give the kombucha a festive bluish-red tint, while the cinnamon and cardamom add a spicy note to dazzle your senses.
Makes 1 gallon
14 cups purified water
8 to 10 tea bags or
4 tablespoons (18 grams) loose-leaf black tea
8 to 10 tea bags or
4 tablespoons (18 grams) loose-leaf green tea
1 cup evaporated cane sugar
2 cups starter tea (Starter tea is previously brewed kombucha or store-bought raw kombucha with no flavoring or infusion.)
1 SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast is the starter culture for kombucha and can be sourced online or at specialty stores.)
32 fresh or frozen blueberries
4 cinnamon sticks
8 cardamom pods
Heat 6 cups of the water in a stainless steel saucepan to 212°F over medium heat, then remove from the heat.
Add the tea, stir well, and cover. Steep for 4 minutes, stirring once at 2 minutes. Remove the tea bags or pour the tea through a colander or fine-mesh strainer into a second pot. Compost the tea.
Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the remaining 8 cups of water to cool the tea to about room temperature (72°F or cooler). Add the starter tea and stir. Pour into a 1-gallon jar.
With rinsed hands, carefully lay your SCOBY on the surface of the tea. Cover the opening of the jar with a clean cotton cloth and hold it in place with a rubber band.
Place the jar in a warm spot (72°F to 78°F) out of direct sunlight and leave undisturbed to ferment for 7 days.
Taste your kombucha using a straw. Does it taste too sweet? Let it go a few more days before tasting again. Is it sufficiently tart and you love it? Great! Time for the next step.
Carefully remove the SCOBY with rinsed hands and place on a clean porcelain or glass plate or bowl bathed in kombucha. This will be your culture for the next batch. If immediately proceeding with another batch, reserve about 2 cups of the finished kombucha for the starter tea of your next brew.
For the secondary fermentation, divide the blueberries, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom pods equally among the bottles (4 blueberries, ½ cinnamon stick, and 1 cardamom pod per 16-ounce bottle). Fill the bottles with the kombucha using a spouted measuring cup (for an easy pour) and a plastic funnel, leaving about 1 inch of air space in the neck of the bottle. As you pour, you may want to use a fine-mesh strainer to filter out yeast strands. Cap tightly.
Let the bottles ferment at room temperature for 48 hours. Refrigerate and enjoy! Strain when serving if desired.
Reprinted with permission from “Kombucha Revolution” by Stephen Lee, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC. Cover photography (c) 2014 by Katie Newburn All other photography (c) 2014 by Leo Gong. Publisher retains all copyrights and the right to require immediate removal of this excerpt for copyright or other business reasons.
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