Recipe: Cranberry Komboucha with Cardamom and Clove

Four years ago, I experimented with komboucha. I made a few batches at the time and enjoyed them. Earlier this year, my interest in the fermented tea drink was rekindled after I attended the Portland Vegan Beer and Food Festival. I was very impressed by the wide variety, creative, and tasty flavor combinations used in komboucha, so I decided to brew some more.

Besides being good for you (komboucha oozes probiotics) it's crazy simple to make. The only equipment you need is a big glass jar, a piece of cloth, and some bottles. As a homebrewer, I appreciate the ultra-short "brew day" and fast turnaround times. To learn about the process of making komboucha, click here.

I've already made a few batches, and wanted to share an original recipe I created. This idea for this actually came from a beer recipe that's been percolating in my mind for a while. I thought I'd see how it worked in a komboucha, and I was thrilled with the result.

Cranberry Komboucha with Cardamom and Clove
Makes one gallon

Base Tea:
  • 112 oz. filtered water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 teabags Darjeeling tea
  • 3 teabags green tea


After making the tea, and cooling down to room temp, I poured the tea into my clean gallon glass jar and added:
  • 2 cups starter tea (komboucha from a previous batch that pre-acidifies the new batch and helps to start the fermentation process)
  • 1 SCOBY (I bought mine here. Get one free from a friend, if you can. They multiply, so you can launch your own SCOBY selling empire, if you choose).
Fermentation time is a matter of personal preference. If you like it tart, let it ferment longer. If you prefer it sweet, ferment for a shorter time. You can always taste along the way to see how it's progressing. I let mine ferment for 22 days. Within a few days, you'll see a white gelatinous layer forming on the top of the tea, which gets thicker over time. This is a "baby" SCOBY that you can use to make more tea, or give to a friend. Heck, some people even eat them!

Bottling / Secondary Fermentation:

Now that we have a tart fermented tea, this is time when we can get really creative! I poured the contents of the fermentation jar into a large bowl. I removed the SCOBYs (we now have two) and reserved two cups of fermented tea to serve as the starter tea for a future batch. From there, I added
  • 1/4 cup of Oregon Fruit Products Cranberry Puree  (OFP sent me some aseptically packaged samples for my brewing experiments. You can also try making your own with fresh cranberries, which are widely available this time of year.) 
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger juice

I blended the puree and ginger juice into the tea and poured the mixture into my clean bottles. Before capping the bottles, I directly added the following into EACH bottle:
  • 1 crushed cardamom pod
  • 2 whole cloves

I sealed the bottles with my bottle capper and let them rest at room temperature. A secondary fermentation will occur within the bottle causing it to carbonate. Again, the length of fermentation time (and amount of carbonation) depends on your preference. Be aware that bottles can explode! Using re-sealable Grosch-style bottles allows you to regulate carbonation.

I let min sit in secondary for about 2 months--simply because I didn't get around to drinking it sooner. Here's a picture of the end result! I'm thrilled with it turned out. The level of cranberry (at 1/4 cup puree per gallon) was perfect. The combination of cardamom and clove melded perfectly with the tart berry flavor. I wouldn't change a thing!

The process is really quite simple. My detailed instructions may make it seem more complex that it really is. I'm experimenting with other flavor combinations and will be sure to share my favorites. If you try this recipe, or have ideas for other recipes, let me know!

Homemade Cranberry Komboucha with Cardamom and Clove

Oregon Fruit Products aseptically packaged Cranberry Puree

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