We go through a lot of Kombucha in our house. Like, a lot. And at eight bucks a bottle, I gave in to the idea that I could make it at home. This just happens to fall in line with one of our goals, here on the farm. To become as self sustainable as possible. A quick Pinterest search led me to some awesome recipes for Kombucha and for the SCOBY, which is necessary to make Kombucha. So, with a few successful batches under my belt, I thought I'd share with you what I've learned about brewing Kombucha at home.
Kombucha is a fermented tea. During the fermentation process, probiotic bacteria is produced, which has a ridiculous amount of health benefits. This fermentation process also produces acetic acid, and small amounts of alcohol and gases, which makes it carbonated. Not so much like soda, kind of carbonated. More like LaCroix, kind of carbonated. As for the health benefits, probiotics are great for gut and heart health. They can help boost your immune system, improve digestion, help with allergies and promote weight loss. Sign me up.
Let's talk about SCOBY. This is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. As you can see, SCOBY looks like an alien pancake, but I promise you, it is so so important in the making of Kombucha.
From what I understand, getting your hands on a good, health SCOBY is sort of a black market situation. Fear not. You can make it yourself and it's super easy. I found my recipe here, but I'll go ahead and give you the rundown of how it's done. Some things to note before jumping in...
-Always work in a clean environment. Make sure that your hands and (preferably wooden) utensils are clean
-Always use glass vs plastic bowls and containers because your Kombucha will pull toxins from its container. Scratches in plastic can easily harbor bacteria that you don't want in your tea
-Never use metal to store your Kombucha. See above
-Always use filtered water
1. Starting with a clean, glass bowl, add 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tea bags and 2 cups of boiling water. Let it steep for about 10 minutes.
2. Take out the tea bags and give it a stir. Let your tea cool to about room temperature and add a bottle of organic raw Kombucha in the Original flavor. We prefer GT's brand of Kombucha. I'd say that when it comes to the success of making a SCOBY, and then a batch of Kombucha, going with the reputable name brand is worth what little more it might cost.
3. Cover the bowl with a clean dish cloth and put a rubber band around the rim of the bowl to keep out fruit flies and dust. Your bowl will be sitting for about 2 weeks. Make sure it's in a warm, dry place to promote your SCOBY to grow.
Fast forward two weeks and you have a smooth, slippery, beautiful SCOBY, and you're ready to brew your first batch of Kombucha. Let's jump up a couple of paragraphs and revisit the good practices that you so carefully followed to make your SCOBY.
This is the recipe I followed, and she has a really helpful video on how to brew your Kombucha, step by step.
1. Bring a teapot full of water to a boil. While you wait, add 1 cup of sugar to a stainless steel pot. I know this sounds like a lot of sugar, but you're not actually consuming it. This is what feeds your SCOBY.
2. When the water comes to a boil, pour it into the pot with the sugar. Give it a stir with a wooden spoon until all the sugar is dissolved.
3. Add 8 teabags to the water and let it steep for about 10 minutes.
4. Remove the teabags and pour your tea into a large glass jug. I got mine at Walmart and it's a 2 gallon jug, so it will hold a double batch of Kombucha. Click here for one that's very similar.
5. Continue to fill your jug with filtered water, not quite to the top. You want to leave room for your SCOBY.
6. With your tea and water at room temperature, place your SCOBY in the jug and add any remaining liquid from the bowl you grew your SCOBY in. If your water is too hot, it could kill your SCOBY, and if it's too cold, it could make it go dormant.
7. Use a coffee filter to cover the jug and secure it with a rubber band. If your jug has a spigot, wrap a plastic bag around it and tie it with another rubber band. This will keep out fruit flies and dust, but allow your Kombucha to breathe. Because your Kombucha is fermenting during this time, your SCOBY will multiply and grow bigger.
8. Wait about 1-2 weeks for the fermentation process to happen. Bottle up your Kombucha and refrigerate it. This will stop any more fermenting from happening.
That's it. Easy peasy, right? Give it a go and tell me how it compares to store bought Kombucha. Soon enough, you'll be a pro and never think of buying it again!