Today we’re talking about kombucha and how easy it is to brew at home! A while ago a follower from my blog, Sweet Revelations, left me a comment saying she was amazed I wasn’t 400 pounds. It was a joke based on the fact that pretty much everything I post is dessert related or sweet in some way. Well, truth be told, I actually try to take pretty good care of myself. I tend to eat a lot of plant based meals, I start my day off with whole grains and super healthy breakfasts, and I don’t drink pop. Coffee is my vice and I have a piece of chocolate every single day. For months now I’ve also started every morning with a glass of homemade kombucha.
I had been drinking store bought varieties for a while until a friend brought in some of her homemade kombucha to work. I was instantly hooked and started making my own and haven’t looked back. Never mind the fact that I can make a larger amount at a time and customize it to my flavor preferences, but I’ve saved a ton of money. Around here, one 500ml bottle can start at 5 dollars and go up from there. Ouch!
So what is kombucha?
Kombucha is essentially a fermented sweet tea that’s been enjoyed throughout Asia for centuries. It’s become extremely popular in America in the last few years. It’s been touted as a miracle in a glass. Each batch contains a culture of bacteria and yeast known as a SCOBY. The SCOBY is critical in the fermentation process (you won’t have kombucha without it!) and makes that sweet tea turn into the effervescent, vinegar-like drink the masses are flying to health food stores for.
You’ll need to get a friend to give you a piece of their SCOBY or buy your own starter kit. My kids get quite a kick out of our SCOBY, and think it looks like a sting ray floating around in the glass jar.
What changes have I noticed from kombucha?
There is limited research out there to agree or dispute the actual health benefits, but health experts do claim that it’s loaded with probiotics and enzymes that aid in digestion, may prevent cancer, and that it improves liver function. Because of its high probiotic count, it’s also thought to rid the body of harmful yeast.
While I can’t speak to all of the health benefits above (and that’s only a few), I can certainly tell you what I’ve noticed. First, I’ve started to look forward to that tart, fizzy glass of kombucha each morning. The taste has really grown on me. And I’ve noticed that, that white coating on my tongue has all but disappeared. Not to mention, the improvements in the bathroom (if you know what I mean). I have noticed a huge improvement in my overall digestive health and even in my skin. It might all be in my head (and there’s a lot going on in my head trust me), but I do feel like this daily dose works for me and my body.
If you’ve done any reading about making your own kombucha, I’m sure you’ve read that there is some risk in fermenting at home. If tools aren’t clean, a bad batch can cause an upset stomach or sometimes an infection. I am diligent about using very clean materials and jars and I keep an eye out on each batch. I’ve yet to have a problem. Each batch just seems to get better and better!
Read on for my Easy Kombucha Instructions For Perfect Tea Every Time!
Back To Basics- Easy Kombucha Instructions
Kombucha Terms You Should Know:
SCOBY: An acronym that stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. A SCOBY is the starter culture used for fermenting sweet tea to create kombucha. Also referred to as a “mushroom” or a mother.
Kombucha Mother: This refers to the original SCOBY or starter culture used to make a batch of kombucha tea.
Baby Scoby: A cloudy layer of bacteria and yeast that forms on the surface of a batch of brewing kombucha. Keep the Baby Scoby to create future batches of kombucha. You will grow baby SCOBYs every time you brew a batch of kombucha. These can be gifted to friends to make their own kombucha. Once a baby SCOBY is transferred to a new batch of sweet tea, it is considered the mother culture for that new batch. Brewing a new batch of kombucha with a baby SCOBY will require a longer brewing time than with a kombucha Mother.
Rehydration Batch: If you buy your SCOBY dehydrated, you will need to do one batch of kombucha to rehydrate your SCOBY that gets thrown away, before making your first batch of kombucha for consumption.
Kombucha Starter: 1 1/2 cups of kombucha that you save from your last batch to store your SCOBY in and use to start your next fermentation.
Second Fermentation: The process of allowing your kombucha to go through a second round of fermentation in an airtight container to encourage carbonation.
Kombucha Making Supplies:
-1 1/2 cups of kombucha starter (If this is the first time you make kombucha it will come with your scoby, if not make sure you save kombucha from your previous brew)
-1 cup sugar (we suggest using organic cane sugar)
-8 to 10 bags of black or green tea (to give this tea a chai flavor I used chai tea as my starter tea)
-Cloth covers for your kombucha jar (you can use tea towels or cheese cloth)
-Large rubber bands to hold the cloth on the kombucha jar
If doing a second fermentation:
–Funnel (if doing a second fermentation process for further carbonation)
Looking for all of your kombucha brewing supplies in one easy package? Consider purchasing a Kombucha Starter Kit.
Directions for brewing kombucha:
Step 1: Boil a gallon of water and then add 8-10 tea bags, such as chai tea and stir 1 cup of sugar in to it, to steep. I use chai tea bags which add a nice mild chai flavor. Remove the tea from the heat and let it come to room temperature.
Step 2: Once your tea has come to room temperature, remove the tea bags. In a very clean and sterile 1 gallon or larger glass jar, add the brewed tea, the SCOBY and 1 1/2 cups of kombucha starter. (If you are getting your SCOBY from a friend ask for 1 1/2 cups of liquid from their batch to go with it. Most kombucha brewers will automatically know this.)
Step 3: Cover the jar with a clean tea towel and an elastic and set away from drafts for 10-14 days. I put mine right on top of the fridge where it’s nice and warm and out of the way.
After a few days, you will see a very thin film form on the top of your batch. This is normal and a sign that things are working and that you are growing a baby SCOBY! You might also notice the SCOBY floating around during this time. That’s absolutely normal too.
Step 4: Anytime between 10-14 days, and with very clean hands, remove the top layer of film (aka the baby SCOBY) and put it into a small jar with 1 1/2 cups of liquid. Also remove the mother SCOBY (aka your original SCOBY) into another small jar with 1 1/2 cups of the liquid. This can be used to start a new batch. I usually have cooled sweet tea ready for a new batch to start. The baby SCOBY can also be used to start a new batch of Kombucha but it will need a longer brew time. I’m still experimenting with this process but would recommend 30 days.
Step 5: You have 2 options at this point.
Option 1: The kombucha can be drank now. I pour mine into smaller mason jars for easier serving. It should have a vinegar-like smell and be a clear liquid. It should not be cloudy or mouldy. I currently drink about a cup a day, but I know others who drink much more than that.
Option 2: Pour your kombucha into airtight containers leaving a few inches of head space for 2-14 days. At this point you can also add additional flavoring like fruit juice, herbs and spices.
You can experiment with different flavours of tea, but the tea should be a black tea. I know of others who also have had much success with green tea.
That’s it! It’s a pretty simple process really and very easy and fast once you’ve made that first batch. Now you just have to find a friend who might gift you a baby SCOBY or buy a Kombucha Starter Kit. You’re only 10 days away from a healthy drink!