It's this time of year, the cold days of late fall and early winter that I crave sweet spices: cinnamon, ginger, cloves. I flavor my cookies with them. I season my wine with them, and even my vinaigrettes for salad. And one of my favorite ways to use these sweet spices so beloved in wintertime is by flavoring my home-brewed kombucha tea with them. Cinnamon, ginger and cloves complement the sour and faintly sweet flavor of kombucha tea, resulting in an exquisite version of the probiotic beverage that is rich with flavor, and utterly delightful. I pour the spiced kombucha tea over ice.
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a traditionally fermented tea that, like all fermented foods, is extraordinarily rich in beneficial bacteria - those same bacteria that help to support gut health and immune system function. And, like most fermented foods, kombucha is blessedly simple to make - requiring little more effort or knowledge than you'd need in making a simple sweet tea. Kombucha is brewed and fermented by the way of a SCOBY, or a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts, this is also referred to as a mother (you can see an image of a kombucha mother pictured above). You can learn more about kombucha's history and how it supports health and wellness here.
How to Brew Kombucha
While once relatively unknown, kombucha tea is now widely available in health food stores and in many supermarkets where it is priced at about $3 to $5 for a bottle. Fortunately, making kombucha is easy - involving little more than heating water, steeping tea and sweetening it before pouring it into a vessel with a kombucha mother to ferment. The kombucha mother performs the bulk of the work as beneficial bacteria and yeasts consume the sugar in the sweet tea, and transform it into a wonderfully tart, probiotic-rich kombucha tea. You can get an easy guide to brewing kombucha here.
Benefits of Continuous Brew Kombucha
Like many avid kombucha brewers, I favor a continuous brew kombucha, that is, instead of brewing my kombucha tea in batches, I keep a large container of kombucha on tap, and I fill it periodically with new sweet tea. This ensures minimal handling of the kombucha mother, and also helps to ensure that we have a ready supply of kombucha tea anytime we need it. You can learn more about the continuous brew system and its benefits here.
My Continuous Brew System
I love this continuous brew system - one custom made for me that you can have custom made for you - which came with a gorgeous customized oak barrel designed for kombucha brewing, teas for kombucha, kombucha mothers, and a warming mat to ensure the right temperature is maintained even in cold temperatures. Check out the full continuous brew systems here to get started.
How to Make Fizzy Cinnamon Spice Kombucha
Once you've established your continuous brew system, and you've prepared your first batch of kombucha tea, you'll notice that it is flat and not fizzy like the kombuchas you can purchase in health food stores and supermarkets. The reason for this is that the initial fermentation of kombucha allows gases that build up during fermentation, like carbon dioxide, to escape. In order to produce a fizzy and foamy kombucha, those gases need to be contained during a second fermentation. Secondary fermentation of kombucha also allows the opportunity to flavor your kombucha by adding fruit juices, herbs or spices. In my favorite wintertime version of kombucha, I flavor it with sweet spices and a touch of sweet apple cider that provides enough carbohydrate to give the kombucha fuel for its much-needed fizz.
Cinnamon Spice Kombucha
- Drop the cloves and cinnamon stick into a 16-ounce flip-top bottle (available here).
- In a pitcher, stir the grated ginger and apple juice into the kombucha tea. Pour the liquid ingredients into the flip-top bottle, leaving at least ½ inch of headspace. Close the bottle, and transfer it to a warm spot in your kitchen. Allow the kombucha to ferment for 5 days, then transfer to the refrigerator.
- Open the bottle carefully over the sink as it may foam, and strain the kombucha through a fine mesh sieve. Serve the kombucha over ice.