Nearly all kombucha brewers will tell you that tea is, next to cane sugar and filtered water, an indispensable ingredient to make a good kombucha. The quality and the type of tea (Camellia sinensis) you choose are as important as the variety of grapes are to a winemaker. After experimenting for some time with green teas, I found the recipe for lemon verbena kombucha in The Noma Guide to Fermentation and tried it out at once. The result was a really fresh and slightly sour drink but it lacked the depth you can obtain with a well selected tea. I decided to take the best of both worlds and combined the lemon verbena with a Japanese Kukicha or twig tea. The result is grassy, dry, fresh and slightly tart. Sometimes I top off the bottle with a small amount of homemade elderflower cordial, bringing out the summer instantly.

Type of fermentation: bacteria & yeast
Level: a little more advanced
Tools: glass jar with wide mouth (4l), piece of cotton cloth, rubber band, strainer, swing-top glass bottles

3l filtered water
250 gr unrefined cane sugar
a good handful of dried lemon verbena (I buy it at Desmecht in Brussels)
8 gr Japanese Kukicha
1 SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)
300 ml of mature kombucha from a previous batch (the ‘starter liquid’)

1. Boil 1 liter of water and add the sugar, stir until dissolved.
2. Add the dried lemon verbena and the Kukicha tea, let the mixture cool down to 50 degrees.
3. Transfer the liquid to the glass jar, straining out the tea and lemon verbena.
4. Add 2 liters of filtered water and 300 ml starter liquid.
5. Gently put the SCOBY in the liquid. The SCOBY might sink to the bottom or float somewhere halfway the vessel. That is perfectly OK.

6. Cover the jar with the cloth and put the rubber band tightly around it.
7. Put the jar in a well ventilated room out of direct sunlight. Leave the brew to ferment at room temperature (min. 20 degrees) for at least 3 weeks or longer if you like the result to be more tangy. You will see a new SCOBY growing on the surface of the liquid. Don’t be tempted to move the jar around or to touch the SCOBY as it will stop or slow down the fermentation proces.
8. When ready, take out first 300 ml of the top of the liquid and keep it separately. It will be the starter liquid for your next batch of kombucha.
9. Take out the new SCOBY and the mother SCOBY and put both in a bowl.
10. Pour the liquid in clean swing-top bottles, keep the bottles at room temperature for some days.
11. Store the bottles in the fridge until you drink the kombucha.