By Antonio Curcetti
The idea of making this hemp kombucha recipe came to me while recovering from a serious back injury. I chose the ingredients for their histories and healing properties. Lavender (Lavandula) was brought to the UK by the Romans, who gave her the name from the Latin lavare (meaning ‘to wash’). Lavender helps in calming the nervous system, sleeping, boosting mood and memory, relieving pain, healing skin and acting as a protective agent from bacteria and viruses. English herbalist John Parkinson wrote that lavender was ‘especially good use for all griefes and paines of the head and brain’. The active chemicals which make lavender so powerful are polyphenols like rosmarinic acid, flavonoids like apigenin and volatile aromatics. Hemp (Cannabis sativa ssp. sativa) and traces of its use have been found in archaeological sites in China since the neolithic. Its uses, ranging from textile fibre to psychoactive medicine, can be traced back to 10,000 years ago. It was used in ancient Egypt for the treatment of glaucoma, inflammation and to perform enemas, though mainly taken in teas and infusions. Today, hemp is mainly used to help promote sleep, reduce anxiety, alleviate chronic pain and support heart health.
This recipe pushed my imagination. As I have always been put off by the flavour of CBD oil, I wanted to see if the magic of fermentation would also work on this compound. CBD is not water-soluble, so I did a bit of research and found out that cannabinoids also attach to sugar molecules. Eureka! The trick is to dissolve the sugar in the water before brewing. This recipe will give around 18mg of CBD in total, depending on the brand of hemp tea used.
Preparing the Kombucha
Ingredients for 3 litres:
- 10g Kukicha tea
- 10g Hemp tea
- 2.5l spring water
- 300g unrefined cane sugar
- 500ml unpasteurised kombucha (or the starter liquid that comes with a packed scoby)
- 1 scoby
- A three-litre jar, open at the top
- A cheesecloth or muslin
- An elastic band
The jar needs to be sterilised with hot water for a couple of minutes, once cooled, filled with the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha. Then, cover the top with the cheese cloth, secured with the elastic band.
Have two pans ready. In one you will keep the herbal mix of Kukicha and hemp tea ready for the brew, and in the second bring to a gentle simmer 300ml of water together with 300g of sugar.
Once ready, pour the simmering syrup onto the herb mix and cover with a lid, and brew for 12 minutes.
At the end of the brewing process filter the tea through a fine filter bag and add 2.2 litres of water bringing the temperature down to around 30ºC.
All you need to do now is to pour everything in the jar where you have placed the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha.
Make sure there is an inch gap at the top of the jar, and cover again with the cheese cloth well tight.
The kombucha will take something between 7–10 days to ferment to the best depending on storing temperature. A perfect brew requires a constant temperature between 26ºC–29ºC but anything less will just take longer, the important thing is to keep away from the sun and bright light.
I usually try my kombucha on the fifth day to check how it is progressing: fermentation time will change depending on the season, especially if you don’t have a regulated heating system. So it’s important to understand the sweet spot, where sweet starts to flip into sour, and tasting it from that point on, every day, till you find your best desired flavour.
Preparing the Honey Fermented Lavender
- 25g fresh lavender flowers
- 250ml spring water
- 110g organic honey
Place the flowers into an airtight container, cover them with water and pour onto it the honey, cover with the lid and wait for the magic.
As with the kombucha, fermentation will take 7–10 days, depending on room temperature.
Fresh flowers contain pollen and yeast that will start the fermentation process, which is why it’s important to get them fresh. They are in season now and even if they are dry on the plant they are still packed with yeast.
Make sure you stir the mix from time to time to avoid any mould formation.
Bottling your Kombucha
- Five 500ml brown bottles with swing-top lids.
After the fermentation process has finished, you are ready to bottle. Pour into each bottle 50ml of the honey fermented lavender syrup and top with the hemp kombucha, leaving an inch gap at the top. Close the lid and store in a cool place for around 2-3 days. During this second fermentation, the CO2 produced will stay trapped into the bottle creating a natural effervescent fizziness. Store in your fridge soon after, and treat as an unpasteurised product.