Quarantine measures during the COVID-19 crisis mean we all need to be creative about using our personal space. Our homes are now our studios, our gyms, our dance floors, our kids' classrooms and more. While many restaurants are smartly strategizing and extending their services from closed doors, it's likely that many of us are using one usual domestic space more than normal at this time — the kitchen. If you're looking for a tasty beverage to add to your repertoire, venture to make this verbena kombucha from our award-winning publication Future Food Today: A cookbook by SPACE10. Don't have access to all of the ingredients? No problem: improvisation is welcome!
What if you could reach for an ice-cold soda on a sweltering summer day—and get some health benefits at the same time? Here is an alternative soft drink to what you’ll usually find in your grocery-store aisle.
1 L Water
50 g Sugar
1 Tbsp Tea, loose leaf
30 g Lemon verbena
1 active fungus Scoby
50 mL Starter tea
Herbs (lemon verbena, mint, fennel or another herb of your choice)
Notes: You can get the starter tea from your last batch, or from your scoby: when you acquire a scoby, it’s covered in a bit of tea. Scoby stands for ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast’; it’s a rubbery, spongy substance that’s responsible for fermenting your tea.
STEP 1 Bring 330 mL of the water to a boil and stir in the sugar until it has dissolved. Add the tea and lemon verbena and let it steep for 10–15 minutes. Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth or coffee filter and pour it into a sanitised, glass container. Add the remaining water. Let cool.
STEP 2 Add the scoby and starter tea. To make sure nothing but air gets in, seal the container with a cloth or tea towel. Keep the kombucha out of direct sunlight and make sure it stays at room temperature throughout the process.
STEP 3 Ferment for 7–14 days. The longer you wait, the more sour your kombucha will become. Taste it daily. Once you’re satisfied with the taste of your kombucha, gently remove the scoby with clean hands and put it in an airtight container with some kombucha. Store it in the refrigerator.
STEP 4 Strain the kombucha through a cheesecloth and pour it into plastic bottles, along with any herbs or fruits you want to use as flavouring. We recommend more lemon verbena, mint and fennel tops. Allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. The kombucha is carbonated when the bottles feel rock solid. Refrigerate to stop the fermentation and carbonation. Enjoy your kombucha within a month.