Ever wondered what the hype around kombucha is all about? Aizle’s Jade Johnston tells us a bit more about this superdrink and shares a recipe.
Can you tell our readers a bit about what kombucha is and what it tastes like?
Kombucha is a fermented tea originating from Asia. It’s a great nutritional drink and good for your gut as it’s filled with probiotics. The taste really depends on how it’s made, but generally it should have a good tang to it. The depth of that flavour is affected by what ingredients you use in the fermentation process, but how long you ferment it for. The drink goes through two fermentation periods; the first can between 3 days and a month, and the second anywhere between an hour and a month, so you can see how the taste will vary massively depending on how long you leave it for.
What made you decide to introduce kombucha to the restaurant? Is there specific foods/flavours that it goes particularly well with?
The menu at Aizle has always had an Asian influence, its Stuart’s (Aizle’s Chef/Owner) favourite cuisine to eat and cook; he actually came up with the idea of making kombucha and asked me to start researching it. The flavours pair really naturally with a lot of our dishes because of those Asian flavours without overwhelming them and it just fits the vibe of the restaurant.
How have you given kombucha a unique spin? (Added flavours, any experimentation etc). What do you think makes it work well for cocktails?
There are two flavour combinations I really like using at the moment; pine needles with grapefruit, and grated ginger. The ginger in particular brings sweetness to the drink without overwhelming its natural tang. Generally kombucha goes really well in cocktails, we serve it with our homemade aquavit (a Scandanavian spiced vodka with dill, cardamom, cloves and citrus), a drop of water and lemon. I think kombucha is a really interesting drink to work with so I like to experiment with it as much as I can.
Aizle were obviously ahead of the curve – we’ve now named kombucha as one of our top food trends for 2019. Why do you think the popularity has increased so much recently?
The fact that it’s good for you is definitely a bonus. I think generally we’re all becoming a little more aware of looking after ourselves and the planet, so we’re looking for more natural ways to improve our health, and moving away from manufactred products.
Jade Johnston is the General Manager and Sommelier at Aizle aizle.co.uk
- 35g black or green tea leaves (not herbal infusion)
- 200g raw unrefined cane sugar
- SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) & starter liquid - available from The Edinburgh Fermentarium edinburghfermentarium.co.uk
- Flavourings - Aizle uses 1 grapefruit, chopped and 55g pine needles
Heat 60ml water to 80C and brew your tea leaves for 4 minutes. Remove the tea leaves with a strainer.
Dissolve the sugar in the liquid and top up with cold water to fill two 2.5l jars.
Add your scoby and kombucha starter liquid. Cover jar with muslin or other breathable fabric. Leave for 5 days – 2 weeks depending on how sweet you want it. The Aizle team recommend 1 week.
Strain off your tea and leave scoby with roughly ¼ liquid as the starter liquid of your next brew.
Spice your kombucha with the chopped grapefruit and pine needles, or whatever flavourings you want to use, and leave to ferment. Aizle recommends eight hours for the second fermentation period.