Kombucha for beginners by Matt Campbell

The Staff Canteen

MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 contestant Matt Campbell on why Kombucha is the way forward.

  You can't beat a refreshing cup of tea, but have you ever considered drinking fizzy tea? Matt Campbell has and Kombucha - a cold fizzy tea which is created as a result of fermentation is top of his list. In his latest blog for The Staff Canteen, Matt talks about the benefits of Kombucha and how easy it is to use in his recipes.

Matt Campbell on Kombucha

So I thought I would move on to my second blog post by discussing my first real culinary love, brewing Kombucha.

I came across Kombucha about 3 years ago. I bought a bottle, loved it and wanted to learn how to make it myself.

I've since been trying to spread the word to my friends, family and more recently the UK on last seasons Masterchef: the Professionals.

It's quite a confusing concept to grasp at first if you're new to the fermenting game, so this is basically Kombucha:

  • Kombucha is cold fizzy tea
  • Kombucha is made by fermentation
  • Fermentation is the transformation of food/drink by bacteria
  • People ferment in order to make alcohol (Kombucha is normally under 0.5% however), preserve food, make it more digestible/less toxic/more delicious or nutritious.
  • Kombucha fermentation is achieved with a SCOBY. Basically, a living rubber-like disc of bacteria & yeast. (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast)
Matt Campbell fermentation

my SCOBY from

day 1 - day 340 - day 573!

(It's over 700 days now!)

A SCOBY needs 2 things to survive, Nitrogen (from tea leaves; black, green or white, not fruit teas or flavoured, like Earl grey) & Sugar (Sucrose).

A SCOBY takes around 8-14 days to ferment a batch of tea (depending on the temperature of the atmosphere, warmer = faster, colder = longer, just like proving bread). It will get more acidic & less sweet the more sugar the SCOBY consumes as it ferments.

To end fermentation, bottle the Kombucha at desired sweetness/acidity and place the SCOBY and 10% of the residual Kombucha (Kombucha culture/vinegar) into a new batch of tea and begin to brew again.

The SCOBY will have formed a new layer, either peel it off and start a different flavoured tea or leave it to form a monster/stronger SCOBY that can survive with less nitrogen/sugar in future batches.

Kombucha is revered for its probiotic properties, boosting the bacteria in your gut flora (there are tonnes of research out there now highlighting the importance of gut health), it is low in sugar, calories and makes for a great alcohol alternative.

The emergence of kombucha in gastronomic restaurants across the UK

2018 has been a great year for Kombucha already with it becoming a prominent member of many Michelin starred beverage offerings. I spoke to David Begg, founder of Real Kombucha along with Jon Wilks & Adrian Hodgson, who make the finest Kombucha I've ever tasted (I'll admit, it's better than mine!).

David said: "In short, I’d say that there’s a tendency for people to think about kombucha as another hipster fad, but the fact that high-end chefs are celebrating it and making use of it suggests that it is shaking off those old connotations."

You can buy SCOBY's online, or if you know a friend who makes Kombucha you can get a cutting of theirs to begin to experiment with, or buy a bottle of unrefined raw Kombucha.

Culinary applications

https://www.thestaffcanteen.com/public/js/tinymce/plugins/moxiemanager/data/files/Matt Dish.JPG
It's easy to use in dishes

I cook often with Kombucha now, there are tonnes of gastronomic applications. I treat it as if I were using wine or vinegar.

I tend to have a big fermentation bucket on the go, which ticks over whilst I’m away, turning my Kombucha into vinegar. I then infuse with foraged ingredients (wild garlic buds, pine shoots, burnt hay) The interesting thing about using a KV instead of a normal vinegar is that I find it has more of a meandering flavour profile thanks to the tea and the fact it is raw rather than just a monotonous acidic quality. I particularly like brewing lapsing souchon KV for smoky notes.

>>>> Kombucha Vinegar Gel recipe 

>>>> Jerusalem Artichoke Kombucha Compote recipe

>>>> Nata (Dehydrated SCOBY candy) recipe

I make quite a lot of Kombucha vinegar gels, (I really like acidity in a dish) normally set using agar but gellan works too. When I make one I’ll sweeten it slightly to balance it and boil a small portion of the vinegar with the agar to activate it then allow to cool a little and add the rest of the raw vinegar so you don’t kill the live profile of the gel.

Even my Mum drinks Kombucha now, in my opinion, it's here to stay. I've seen many of my friends begin to brew, incorporating Kombucha into their menus and stocking it on their bars. If you make any cool recipes with Kombucha, be sure to tag me! @mattsoire

matt bio pic
Matt Campbell

Who is Matt Campbell?

Matt is a 28-year-old private chef from the Lake District.  During his culinary career he has been lucky enough to work in some of Europe's top Michelin star kitchens, private villas and award-winning luxury ski chalets. Having as much fun as he could along the way. He entered BBC Masterchef: the Professionals in 2017. The competition turned out to be the perfect platform for him to showcase his unique training and experiences. He combined his two passions for nutrition and gastronomy, with Marcus Wareing describing his signature dish of "Cod Cheeks, Spirulina, Kale & Kombucha" as the best he's ever tasted on Masterchef. 

Follow Matt on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook:




Dates for Matt's forthcoming UK Roadshow:

MANCHESTER - APRIL 4th, 5th at Real Junk Food, Manchester
A four-course dinner using ‘intercepted foods’ in line with the Real Junk Food ethos whilst asking guests to "Pay what you feel". Matt will be cooking with ingredients that would otherwise be wasted and given his signature healthy makeover.
4 courses ‘Pay what you feel’.
Tickets will be available shortly from http://www.realjunkfoodmanchester.co.uk

BRISTOL – May 2nd, 3rd at Box E, Bristol
A six-course vegan meal including Matt’s acclaimed vegan dessert and dishes developed during his participation in Veganuary. Box E is housed in a couple of shipping containers in Wapping Wharf Cargo 1.
6 courses £40 per person
Tickets will be available shortly from http://www.boxebristol.com

LEEDS – May 25th, 26th King St Social of no fixed abode.
£60 - 6 courses including snacks. Matt will be showcasing his "Nutritional Gastronomy" style.
6 courses £60 per person
Tickets and venue details will be available shortly from http://www.kingstreetsocialuk.com

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st March 2018

Kombucha for beginners by Matt Campbell