Kombucha is a fermented tea that’s packed with vitamins, antioxidants and probiotics, making it both delicious and good for you. It’s a living drink made by fermenting sweetened tea using a kombucha culture, or SCOBY, which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. As the SCOBY “digests” the sugar in the tea, it generates a variety of probiotics, enzymes and amino acids, turning the initial tea into a nutrient-packed, tangy, effervescent health drink that’s also deliciously addictive.

Only four ingredients are required to make kombucha: water, tea, sugar and a kombucha culture (SCOBY). Selecting the right ingredients is key to creating a healthy environment for your SCOBY to grow, and to a quality final product.

Water must be free from chlorine as well as all contaminants. Use filtered water or boil tap water for at least 20 minutes before using.

The type of tea used is also important, as it will affect your SCOBY’s health as well as the taste of the final product. Choose an organic tea to avoid contaminants. Black and oolong teas are recommended, although for a more mildtasting kombucha, you can use green tea as well. Always avoid teas containing oils or added flavors.

Sugar is essential to the fermentation process; do not omit it or try to use another ingredient in its place. Use too little sugar in your mix and your SCOBY might starve! White cane sugar and sugarcane juice are recommended. Brown sugar, honey and other syrups tend to give less reliable results, while artificial sweeteners do not constitute a sufficient source of nutrients for your SCOBY.

Use a fresh SCOBY to start a new infusion: the results obtained with a dehydrated SCOBY will be far less reliable. Do not use hot water, as it might kill the SCOBY; roomtemperature liquid will work best.