One of my favorite health drinks (after apple cider vinegar beverages) is kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea that hosts a number of health benefits from the high amount of b-vitamins, digestive enzymes (probiotics) and glucaric acid it contains. I’d agree with most people that it’s an acquired taste, but now I find myself craving the tart fizz of kombucha. It’s available commercially at health stores, but costs $3-$5 a bottle. That can seriously add up, so David and I decided to give it a go and learned how to brew kombucha at home. We were surprised at how simple the process really is!
The most difficult part of brewing kombucha is obtaining a SCOBY, and that really that isn’t even very difficult. We got our SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) from a friend who brews kombucha. Each time a batch of kombucha is made, the SCOBY reproduces itself, so if you know anyone that brews, they will most likely have extras to give away. (Local to Charlotte and want one? Send me an email!)
If you are the only ‘health freak’ your friends know who want to brew the stuff (I say that in the most loving way as a fellow health nut!), then you can buy a SCOBY from a reputable online source.
OK, let’s get going…
You will only need a few things: a 1 gallon glass jar, 1 gallon of organic brewed tea, 1 cup organic sugar, a SCOBY and a coffee filter or thin kitchen towel and a rubber band.
*We brewed two gallons at a time, which means we just used a two gallon glass jar, 2 SCOBYs and double the tea and sugar.
1. Wash and dry the glass jar to ensure it’s sanitized.
2. Brew the tea. To make one gallon of tea, we use 10 regular sized tea bags (we’ve used both green and black tea). You can brew the tea in a gallon of water or we brewed it using a smaller amount of water to create a concentrate, then added more water to the large glass container to get to the correct amount of tea.
It’s important for the water used to make kombucha is non-chlorinated. If you want to ensure the water you are using is pure, I recommend using a high quality water-filtering pitcher.
While the tea is hot, add the cup of sugar to allow it to completely dissolve.
Very Important—> Allow the tea to completely cool to room temperature before proceeding. Using hot tea will kill the SCOBY.
3. Put your SCOBY and any liquid with it (for a first batch, you’ll want about a cup of ‘juice’ from the batch of kombucha your SCOBY came from or one cup of plain store-bought kombucha) into your large glass container/jar.
4. Add your room-temperature tea. Again, in our case we added water and our brewed tea ‘concentrate.’
5. Cover the opening with a coffee filter or thin cloth and secure with a rubber band.
Allow the tea to ferment for 5-20 days. It will be stronger and less sweet the longer you let it sit. If you are new to kombucha and prefer it sweeter, lean towards the 5 days. If you want it to fully culture, wait a little longer, but be prepared for a more vinegary taste.
At this point, it is ready to drink. Simply remove the SCOBY and enjoy!
Optional– do a secondary fermentation. We opted for this because we thought it would be fun to try different fruit flavors so after about 15 days of the initial fermentation, we transferred the kombucha into 3 smaller glass jars with flip-top lids.
To two jars, we added freshly cut strawberries and to the third we added a mixture of blueberries and raspberries. We closed the lids and let them sit on the counter for another couple of days to allow the fruit flavors to penetrate and let the carbonation build up.
You can store the kombucha at room temperature, but I also strained some into mason jars to keep in the fridge (which will stop the fermentation process).
And that’s it! Now we can enjoy kombucha every day at the cost of $1-$2 a gallon instead of $3-$5 for one bottle. Cheers to your health!
Have you tried kombucha?
What do you think of it?
Would you ever want to brew your own?