Using Chai for Brewing Kombucha
Chai spices can make for a unique flavoring technique for your batches of booch. If you enjoy having fun with flavoring your kombucha, and are a fan of Chai tea - give this one a go!
Do you love Chai tea? Do you love kombucha? Feel like marrying your two favorites to make the ultimate comboochnation? Well, this is definitely possible, and can yield really flavorful results. There are two differents way you can get to the Chai kombucha combo, depending on whether you want to do primary ferment flavoring, or secondary ferment flavoring. Both are simple and easy to do.
Choosing Your Chai
The first order of business when setting out to make Chai kombucha is to choose your Chai. Chai tea can be purchased in tea bags or as a combination of loose spices. You can even make your own Chai mix by selecting classic Chai ingredients and simply combining them together.
Making Your Own DIY Chai Tea Mix
This is quite practical for flavoring kombucha, as it will guarantee that your ingredients are additive free. It is also easy to use DIY spice mixes for kombucha flavoring or brewing. Making individual cups of tea is a different matter, hence why chai tea bags have become popular. Here are some of the common spices included in Chai tea:
Common Chai Tea Spices
- Vanilla pods
- Star anise
- Black pepper
Using Bought Chai Mixes
Premade Chai mixes on the other hand are very convenient and guarantee balanced flavors and good results. However, if you are going with premade Chai mixes, or Chai teabags, and are going to be doing primary ferment flavoring, then you must make sure that these do not contain flavorings or additives.
SCOBYs do not like to be exposed to foreign substances. Herbal teas and spices often contain oils which can damage the SCOBY. While it is totally possible to do primary ferment flavoring with Chai tea, this means that the SCOBY is already being compromised. Add in chemical flavorings and you might find that the batch ends up going moldy on you.
Primary Versus Secondary Ferment Flavoring
Before we go on, let me quickly explain these two techniques for those of your who are unfamiliar with the terms.
Primary Ferment Flavoring
Primary ferment flavoring is a term in kombucha making which means to add in flavoring while the SCOBY is busy fermenting the tea.
Cons: Many variations of kombucha fall into this category, such as coconut water kombucha and kombucha made with herbal teas. The downside to this kind of flavoring is that as mentioned above it is potentially harmful to the kombucha SCOBY. As a result you will have to resuscitate your SCOBY after the fermentation is finished, in its usual black tea and sugar solution.
In addition, SCOBYs which have fermented other types of tea and beverages are not always suitable to harvest babies from or make regular kombucha as they can taint the flavor. How finicky you want to get with your SCOBY genetics and care is up to you, but if you take care to keep track of these things, sometimes primary ferment flavoring can be more trouble than it is worth.
Pros: On the flip side, primary ferment flavoring can impart some great flavor profiles! It also does not need to be so complicated when it comes to SCOBY care, particularly if you have more SCOBYs than you need.
Chai Kombucha Primary Ferment Flavoring
Chai tea is one of the better options for primary ferment flavoring. You can achieve good flavors and the recovery time that you must give the SCOBY can act as simply a new batch of regular kombucha. Chai spies do tend to contain a fair amount of natural oils, which can mess with the fermentation. However if your culture is strong and the other factors which affect the success of fermentation are favorable, you should not have a problem.
If you really love your Chai kombucha and want to make it all of the time, then the downside to this method is that you have to let the SCOBY recover. However, there is a way to get around this, and that is to simply have two ‘Chai SCOBYs’ and alternate them out.
Secondary Ferment Flavoring
Secondary ferment flavoring comprises of inserting flavor after the SCOBY has been removed. Spices and the kombucha are combined and usually sealed and left to ferment at room temperature.
Pros: This has the advantage of protecting the SCOBY from any possible damage which foreign flavorings might cause. Whether or not flavoring is added, secondary ferments are a good practice in general, as they deepen the flavor of the kombucha overall and lock in carbonation.
Cons: The one disadvantage to this method of flavoring is that one might not be able to achieve the same flavor results as with primary ferment flavoring. However this does not mean that you cannot achieve nice flavors, just that the results might be different to that of primary ferment flavoring.
Chai Kombucha and Secondary Ferment Flavoring.
Secondary ferment flavoring can work great for making Chai kombucha. It is pretty convenient as you can simply add in the chai spices to a second ferment and let it sit for a few days. The downside to this method is that you might end up having to use more spices, seeing as you will not be boiling them and making tea with them, the intensity of flavor achieved might be less.
To compensate for this it might be necessary to use a larger quantity of spices to flavor the second ferment. They will merely be steeping in the liquid at room temperature, and therefore will not impart such strong flavors. Be prepared however that the fermentation process does extract more flavor than one thinks. So do not go overboard and go super heavy on the spicing.
How to Make Chai Tea Kombucha
Once you have decided what spices to use and whether to flavor during the primary fermentation or the secondary fermentation it is time to get down to brewing! Let’s first check out how to do our primary fermentation method.
Making Chai Tea Kombucha Using Primary Ferment Flavoring
If you are using this method of making Chai tea kombucha, then basically what you will be doing is making a large batch of Chai. If you are using Chai tea bags, they will most probably contain black tea, so you will not have to add in any. However if you have made your own mix, or are using a bought premixed packet of Chai spice, then you will need to add the additional black tea.
What You Need
- Chai tea spices
- 8 bags of black tea (only use if there is not black tea contained within the Chai mix)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 gallon boiling water
- 2 cups starter liquid
Add the spices, tea and sugar to the boiling water and let steep for about 10 minutes. Strain the tea and let it cool to room temperature. Combine with starter liquid and place into your fermentation vessel along with the SCOBY.
While the kombucha is brewing, check on it to see that everything is ok and that no mold or other oolgies are showing up. Brew time will depend on what the temperature range is, but should usually be between 1 and 2 weeks.
Remember that once the batch is done, it is a good idea to let the SCOBY recuperate in a fresh batch of pure black tea and sugar.
Making Chai Tea Kombucha Using Secondary Ferment Flavoring
This method of making Chai tea kombucha is just as simple as the first, and does not compromise the SCOBY.
What you need:
- Finished kombucha
- Chai spices
- Some glass containers which seal (fliptops, mason jars, jam jars etc)
What to do:
Combine your kombucha and Chai tea spices in the glass containers. If you are using Chai tea bags, this is fine. Just chuck a couple of bags into each jar depending on the size. You can go with about 1 bag to 2 cups of kombucha. If you are using loose spices you will have to estimate how much to put in.
Once combined, screw on the lids and leave to sit for 3-5 days at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Once done you can refrigerator as is, or remove the spices and then re-bottle.
Which Method do I Pick?
Both of the above method are pretty easy to do. Secondary ferment flavoring is usually the better bet as it is easier with regards to your SCOBYs. However, primary ferment flavoring can impart some great tastes.
If you are unsure as to which method to use,try one and then the other. This way you will be able to see the difference in flavor, and which method is easiest for your to implement.
The raw flavor of kombucha is not always for everyone. If you like Chai tea and feel that the addition of its spiciness will make for some awesome booch, then trying your hand at Chai kombucha is definitely worth a go.
All of the spices used in Chai tea making have a string of health benefits attached to them. Combining them with kombucha can not only produce a delicious brew, but also make for a supercharged health drink!