I’m crazy for kombucha! It doesn’t get much better than a fizzy, slightly sweet and fruity tea that promises some amazing health benefits.
If you’ve never heard of it…kombucha has been around since the Chinese Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE) and was considered “a beverage with magical powers enabling people to live forever.” While this hype is somewhat inflated, the drink does contain probiotics and liver detox support, which are pretty magical.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is fermented green or black sweet tea. The fermentation process is controlled by a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), which you must buy online or be given from a friend. I purchased mine from KombuchaKamp and have had wonderful success! It’s a slimy, living biofilm that contains yeast and bacteria, which ferment the sugars in the tea and create beneficial acids.
If purchasing your SCOBY online, go with fresh cultures. I experimented with a dried and rehydrated one versus a fresh one, and you can see the difference. The fresh SCOBY is half an inch thick and floating nicely on top. The rehydrated one is on the bottom, as flat as a piece of paper. I have a few fresh SCOBYS for sale, email me if interested!
How to Get Started
The fun part about kombucha is brewing it at home. You can add flavors and control the sweetness or tartness.
To start brewing your own kombucha, you’ll need:
- 2-gallon glass jar with plastic spigot
- Wood stir spoon
- Cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel
- Rubber band
- Glass bottles with lids
- Fine mesh strainer
- Small spray bottle with 1 part vinegar/5 parts water solution
- Organic, unflavored green or black tea
- Pure cane sugar
- Filtered water
- One Kombucha SCOBY
- Kombucha starter liquid (If you get the SCOBY from a friend, be sure to ask for some starter liquid. SCOBYs purchased online come in a plastic bag with starter liquid).
To make your first batch:
1. Boil 4 cups filtered water in teapot or saucepan
2. When water reaches a boil, shut off heat and add 4-5 tea bags. Let steep 10 minutes.
3. Add 1 cup sugar to the tea and stir well.
4. Pour brewed sweet tea into a pitcher with 8 cups cold, filtered water. This will bring the tea to room temp. You don’t want to add hot tea to the jar and never refrigerate your SCOBY.
5. Add the now 12 cups of tea to your 2-gallon jar and pour in starter liquid (at least 1 cup) and stir well.
6. Place your SCOBY on top of the tea and cover the jar with towel, securing with rubber band.
7. Let sit in a dark, warm place (I keep mine in the pantry) for 1-2 weeks. You can begin tasting your kombucha after 1 week. If you like it more tart, give it a few more days.
8. At the desired tartness, bottle your kombucha and add flavorings. (see Flavoring your Kombucha below) From the spigot, fill empty bottles with airtight lids with kombucha and store in the refrigerator.
At this point you have options.
OPTION 1: Bottle all but one cup of the fermented kombucha tea and repeat steps 1-8 above for your next batch. Wait 1-2 weeks for a fresh batch.
OPTION 2: Bottle 1/3 of the kombucha tea and repeat steps 1-8 above. This option will result in a new batch within 3-5 days instead of 1-2 weeks. It’s called continuous brew. Because a third of the tea is already fermented, the process to ferment the new sweet tea goes much faster.
Flavoring Kombucha Tea
I love the taste of plain kombucha tea! It’s like a fizzy green tea. I also like to add fruit juice to my batches and make an assortment of flavors. Plus, this second step in the fermentation process makes a fizzier drink.
1. Choose your desired fruit juice. Make sure it’s 100% organic fruit juice with nothing added for the best result. I even juice fresh fruit on occasion. My favorite flavors are blueberry+ginger and apple+cinnamon. Here’s a great post on flavoring your kombucha tea.
2. Add your desired fruit juice to the bottles of kombucha after step 8 above. In my experience a ratio of 90% kombucha/10% juice works best.
3. Seal your bottle with an airtight lid and set on the counter for 3-5 days. The fermentation process will continue and your bottle will slowly build up pressure from the gasses, so be careful not to shake it.
4. When kombucha tea has reached desired level of tartness or fizziness, store in the fridge. Refrigerating kombucha will stop the fermentation process.
I’d love to hear your kombucha stories and what flavors you use the most! Please share in the comments section below.