Herbal Kombucha, Water Kefir, Lactofermented herbal infusions & herbal sodas

I just received a fresh, happy scoby baby in the mail, to replace the dearth of fermented beverages in my life.  I used to brew booch and kefir, soda and more regularly.  Life happened.  I got a little off track.   But happy to have a booch baby back in my life.   Here are my class notes on making Herbal Kombucha, Water Kefir, Lactofermented herbal infusions & herbal sodas from 2011.

May you be abundantly fermented and transformed into rich, nourished and beautiful wonders.
Water extraction of herbs
Contact with tissues
Volume of medicine
Easy, safe
Whole plant medicine

Fermentation of water extracts
-increases nutritional value and bioavailability of nutrients
– preserves infusion for longer period of time
-introduces friendly flora for the digestive tract
-increases and synergizes herbal constituents not available in infusion by water alone.

Tea (camellia sinensis) 6 -8 bags or 4 tbsp loose leaf
1 cup Sugar or maple syrup
Herbs of choice
1 SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast)
1 gallon Water (non chlorinated)
how to:
boil water, then remove from heat. Add tea, non aromatic herbs and sugar. Steep until cool. Strain. Pour into a gallon sized jar. Add scoby to the cooled tea & sugar. Cover with a cheesecloth or towel. Ferment for 3-4 weeks. Healthy SCOBY will not grow mold. Remove SCOBY and 1 cup of kombucha, set aside. Add several handfuls of any herbs you wish to flavor the brew with, and cover again, let brew for an additional 4-7 days. Strain and drink! (Prepare a new batch of tea to add the SCOBY to.)

Herbs that work well in kombucha brewing are non aromatic:
Elderberry, st johns wort, nettles, oatstraw, rosehips, dandelion, burdock

Herbs to add after primary fermentation:
Rose, tulsi, elder blossom, cinnamon, ginger, lemongrass, hibiscus, birch, schizandra, lemon balm, lemon or orange peel, fruits or juices

Favorite combos:
Nettle & St John’s Wort
Rose and Tulsi
Elder blossom and orange peel
Ginger and birch
Vanilla bean
Elderberry & cinnamon
Hibiscus, ginger & lemongrass

Water Kefir
Fast and easy! Less than a week brewing time.
1 qt Non chlorinated water or coconut water
¼- ½ c water kefir grains. (purchase fresh or dried from http://www.kefirlady.com)
¼ c sugar
10 drops trace minerals

How to:
Dissolve sugar in water. Add kefir grains and minerals. (Kefir grains use minerals to build structure- it helps them grow, but you can do this without minerals as well.)

Cover loosely and let ferment 3-6 days. This will depend on your ambient room temp and how sweet you like your kefir. In cold weather it takes a full week. In warm weather 2-3 days is sufficient.

When bubbly, strain kefir grains from the water. (Coffee filter works well). Add grains to a fresh batch of sugar water/coconut water.

Add handfuls of herbs, fruits to the strained kefir. Let brew for a day or two.
Favorite combos:

Coconut water with pinapple and ginger
Hibiscus and schizandra w cardamom
Lemongrass & Goji
Orange Ginger
Rose Tulsi
Vanilla bean
Frozen berries

Herbal/Fruit Soda

This brew harvests the power of wild yeasts in the environment. It is slightly more troublesome with regards to mold and temperature.

Start with a GINGER BUG:
2 tsp fresh grated ginger root
2 tsp sugar
1 c water

Mix all ingredients in a clean jar. Cover loosely with cheese cloth or paper towel and rubberband.
Each day for 3-4 days add 2 tsp sugar and 2 tsp grated or ground ginger to the brew. It should start to bubble and fizz after a few days. If it grows mold, toss it out and start fresh.

You may continue to feed this culture daily or every other day to keep it going indefinitely, but it is sensitive to cold. Keep in a warm spot!

Soda How To:
1 cup herbs of choice
½ gallon water
1 c sugar
1 c ginger bug starter

Make a strong decoction or infusion with the herbs and water. Add sugar to the brew and dissolve.
Once the brew has cooled, transfer to a ½ gallon jar and add ginger bug.
Cover loosely with jar lid. Set aside in a warm spot for 3-4 days.
Once the soda is bubbly, tighten the lid down to increase the fizziness.
After another 3-4 days, strain herbs, and serve or bottle for later.

Favorite combos:

Nettle ginger
Birch, vanilla, ginger
Burdock, dandelion, cinnamon, ginger
Lemongrass and cardamom
Lemon balm
Green tea

Lacto-fermented tea
This is just like making yogurt or pickles! Full of friendly flora! Use whey from raw milk or yogurt to culture a sweetened tea. Keep in a warm spot for several days until it gets fizzy!

To obtain whey from yogurt, pour 2 c live yogurt into a coffee filter, in a strainer, and place over a dish in the fridge. Leave overnight. Collect the liquid whey from the bowl for your ferment. Save the yogurt for dips, cooking, or just eating. Thick like Greek yogurt!

1 qt water
½ c herbs or fruits of choice
½ sugar, maple or honey
1 c whey strained from yogurt or raw milk

How to:
Brew a strong tea or juice with your herbs and fruit. Add sugar. Cool. When at room temp add whey. Cap and keep in a warm spot for a few days. (oven with the light on, top of the fridge, by the stove).
When the ferment is slightly sour, and bubbly, it is ready. Strain herbs. Serve! If you let this sit too long it will become very sour. FYI.

Favorite lacto fermented brews:
Elder flower
Chamomile orange
Yarrow (bitter but good)
Dandelion, burdock, ginger
Apple cinnamon (use apple juice)


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