7 Creative (and Health Boosting) Things To Do with Kombucha Tea
Drinking kombucha tea can do so much for you: you’ll get the health benefits of the probiotics in the brew, you’ll help regulate your digestive system and get your body into balance, and you’ll get a boost from the vitamins and minerals that make up the nutrient mix of freshly-brewed kombucha.
Taking that fresh kombucha tea and using it to make second ferment kombucha will not only give you a deeper, more complex flavor, it will increase the amount of probiotic, vitamin compounds, and organic acids. You can add anything from fresh fruit to medicinal herbs during this extended fermentation period to extract even more healthy nutrients.
You can use fresh or second-ferment kombucha to enhance the nutritional content of many other things that you enjoy eating and drinking, from smoothies to salad dressings. And even if your kombucha has been brewing a bit too long and it’s too sour, or not the flavor you wanted, you don’t have to throw it away! Kombucha is more than a nutrient-rich food, it’s a practical household pantry supply that you’ll be glad to keep on hand for a variety of reasons.
Note, we have an entire article on what creative things to do with extra SCOBYs which you should also read if you want ideas.
Stuff to do with Freshly-Brewed Kombucha Tea
The tangy flavor of kombucha tea is refreshing just on its own, but you can also mix it with other ingredients to make seasonal drinks that you’ll enjoy sharing with your family and friends. You can use plain kombucha, or the flavored kombucha that you’ve bottled and continued to ferment. If you’ve set up a continuous brewing system you might want to get a larger container – it’s so easy to open the spigot and pour out the fresh kombucha for these recipe ideas that you’ll find you’re running out of it even sooner!
1. Make Delicious Drinks
- Mix your kombucha with an equal amount of plain or flavored sparkling water.
- Add fresh or bottled fruit or vegetable juice to your kombucha and get your “five a day” in a glass.
- Dissolve honey in hot water and let cool to 85F or below, then mix with fresh kombucha and a squeeze of lemon juice. This blend is a favorite with singers, because it soothes the throat while clearing out excess mucus.
- Blend kombucha 50/50 with fresh lemonade for a nonalcoholic shandy.
- Use kombucha as the liquid for your breakfast smoothies.
2. Make Kid-Friendly Treats
Properly-brewed kombucha is safe for kids to drink and it will provide them with some of the essential organic acids they need to support their bodies as they grow and develop. However, kids sometimes don’t appreciate the uniquely tart flavor of plain kombucha. Try making them their favorite flavored kombucha, or use plain (or flavored) kombucha as an ingredient in things they already love.
- Blend kombucha with their favorite fresh fruit, pour into popsicle molds, and freeze for a summertime treat. If the kombucha is on the sour side, or the fruit is not very sweet, add a little organic cane sugar or honey to the mix. Strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, peaches, and bananas all work well for these popsicles.
- Use kombucha instead of water when making jello and you’ll sneak in extra nutrition to a dish your kids just think is a sweet dessert. Make it extra fun by pouring the jello into a shallow baking pan and cutting out shapes with cookie cutters when it’s set. Get the kids involved, and you’ll end up some great family “together” time as well as healthy treats.
- Make a kombucha ice cream float using plain or flavored kombucha instead of root beer or cola.
- If your kids love Chinese food, mix up a batch of sweet and sour sauce to go with their fried rice and egg rolls by combining kombucha with raw sugar, tomato paste, and soy sauce. Soy sauce is another healthy fermented food that help support your digestive system.
NOTE: You can also make tasty candy by using your extra SCOBYs to make kombucha-style “gummy bears.”
3. Make Healthier Legumes and Grains
Soaking grains, legumes, and beans for 12 to 48 hours before cooking helps you to get the most nutrition from them. Pre-soaking stimulates the seed (legumes and beans are also seeds) to begin sprouting, changing the nutritional profile. This sprouting action eliminates what are called “anti-nutrients” known as enzyme inhibitors and phytates that actually prevent you from getting all of the food value of the seeds. The grains and legumes will also cook more quickly after being soaked.
Use 2 tablespoons of kombucha for each cup of these grains or legumes:
- brown rice
- buckwheat groats *
- quinoa *
Soak for at least 12 hours or overnight, and up to 48 hours. Keep in a cool place or a refrigerator if soaking for a longer time to prevent the grains and legumes from turning sour.
* these are varieties of grass, not actually grains, but the result is the same
Substitution Second-Ferment Kombucha Tea
Anything you can do with plain fresh kombucha, you can do with flavored second-ferment kombucha – and the results are even better. When you flavor and bottle kombucha, you add to the already complex taste of the tea. Many flavoring ingredients also add extra nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
- Make a refreshing cold soup by blending kombucha with fresh fruit like plums, peaches, or cherries, chilling it well, and serving with a dollop of yoghurt (another great fermented food) and a sprig of mint. You can double the fruit flavor by using peach-flavored kombucha with peaches, or add a different dimension by using kombucha flavored with cinnamon or mint, just two of the many flavoring ideas for kombucha that you can use during the second fermentation.
- Use it a hot soup like Chinese sweet-and-sour soup or Eastern European borscht, both of which have a tangy flavor that only gets better when you use kombucha you’ve bottled with fresh vegetables like carrots or beets.
- Be a modern mixologist and use kombucha in cocktails. Kombucha that you’ve flavored with pineapple and ginger makes a great base for a mai tai or daquiri. Adding orange juice and hot peppers to the bottles during your second fermentation gives you the start on a batch of truly excellent margaritas. Brew up a few bottles of kombucha toddy (LINK TO KB-Top-15-Kombucha-Flavor-Recipes) and you’ll have a whole winter’s worth of nutritious and delicious warming drinks that just need a splash of rum or whiskey. Best of all, the enzymes in kombucha support your liver functions, so you’ll be drinking healthy!
4. Kombucha as a Vinegar
The longer you brew kombucha during the primary fermentation cycle, the more sour it will be. The yeasts will convert the sugars into ethanol, and the bacteria will take the ethanol and the residual sugars and convert them into organic acids (acetic acid, malic acid, and lactic acid, among others). If you’re taste-testing the kombucha tea every day, you’ll be able to stop the primary fermentation by removing the SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) when the tea is tangy enough for your taste, but still sweet enough to drink. However, sometimes you may let the fermentation continue a little too long, whether by accident or on purpose, and you’ll end up with kombucha vinegar.
Most people find kombucha drinkable down to a pH of about 2.5, but anything below that is usually too sour to use as a beverage. But there are still many things you can do with kombucha vinegar that produce delicious results.
- Use kombucha vinegar to make salad dressing. Combine 2 tablespoons of kombucha vinegar, 2 tablespoons minced shallots, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, and 6 tablespoons of olive oil, add a generous pinch of salt and some freshly-ground pepper, and whisk it all together.
- Substitute kombucha vinegar for regular vinegar or lemon juice in any marinade recipe to add an extra depth of flavor to your grilled meats, fish, and even tempeh (yet another fermented food you’ll love!).
- Use kombucha vinegar to make fresh paneer by heating up half a gallon of whole milk over medium-low heat just to a boil, then adding half a cup of the vinegar. Stir gently over low heat until the curds have separated from the whey. Pour the curds into a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth and drain until no whey is in the strainer, then wrap the cheesecloth over the top of the curds and put a plate on top of the cloth. Put a heavy weight on the plate (several large cans of tomatoes, a gallon of water, etc.) and press the curd for several hours.
5. Kombucha as a Beauty / Bath Product
- Mix 50/50 with distilled water and use as a hair rinse.
- Use alone or thinned with water as a skin tonic or after-shave rinse.
- Blend into your favorite lotion and get a probiotic boost for your skin cells.
- Mix with aloe vera and use as a soothing treatment for insect bites and mild sunburns.
- Add a cup of kombucha tea to your bath water and use as a relaxing soak.
- Use kombucha instead of water to mix up facial purifying masks.
NOTE: Before using kombucha on your skin, do a patch test to make sure that you won’t have a negative reaction to the acids.
6. Kombucha as A Natural Disinfectant
Any time you hear about how great distilled vinegar is as a natural household cleaner, substitute kombucha vinegar, and you’ll get the idea. You can blend it with water to clean windows, get the grease off of surfaces, and take advantage of the anti-microbial action of the enzymes in kombucha without paying for expensive (and unnecessary) anti-bacterial soaps.
You can also use a mixture of water and kombucha vinegar to rinse of your fresh produce before using it. Even organic produce has dirt and bacteria (and bugs), so letting your vegetables and fruits soak in cold water mixed with kombucha vinegar will help clean fruits and vegetables and rinse them at the same time.
Pour a bit of kombucha vinegar into your sink full of dirty dishes, into your washing machine, into the bathtub when you wash your dog, into the bucket of soapy water you’re washing your car with – anything that needs a bit of extra grime-fighter and odor-remover will benefit from a splash of kombucha.
7. Kombucha as a Compost Aid
Kombucha helps regulate the acid levels in your compost heap, and directly in your garden. If you have a highly alkaline soil (clay, limestone) then using kombucha will help to bring the pH balance back down towards neutral. If you get your water from an underground source, or your water is “hard” in general, you can add kombucha to the water you use for the plants, indoors and out, to keep the pH neutral. You’ll need between half a cup and two cups of kombucha per gallon of water, depending on how hard your water is, and how acidic your kombucha is.
Some plants prefer a more acid soil in general, so no matter where you live and what your soil and water are like, you can increase the health of these plants by using kombucha-enhanced water and/or compost:
- Vegetables: beans, corn, parsley, peas, tomatoes
- Fruits: blueberries, raspberries, watermelon, rhubarb
- Flowers/Flowering Plants: sunflowers, fuschias, begonias, azaleas, hydrangeas, rhododendron
Use kombucha as a natural weedkiller and pesticide by pouring undiluted kombucha vinegar directly on weeds, and by spraying diluted kombucha vinegar on your plants.
8. Kombucha SCOBY Jewelry
Here’s a bonus one for you: you can actually dry out Kombucha SCOBYs and make a sort of leather jewelry product out of it. Vegan jewelry it’s called — and with a bit of creativity, you can make some pretty cool necklaces and earings with the dried scobys. You’ll need to dehydrate the scoby first.
9. Dog Treats
Dogs love Kombucha SCOBYs. You can dehydrate the scobys to make a sort of dry dog food supplement to feed your dogs!
Update: Not all dogs like dehydrated SCOBYs – so you will have to try it out and see if your canine is partial or not.