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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:
-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)
-2 tablespoons of black, white or green loose leaf tea or 8 tea bags (to give this tea a chai flavor I used chai tea as my starter tea)
-14 cups of water
-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 14 cups of water. Once brought to a boil add your tea and sugar. Leave 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 kombucha starter. (If you are getting your SCOBY from a friend ask for enough 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 7-14 days. At the 7 day mark most people will start tasting the tea daily to see if it’s reached the desired level of “kombucha-ness”. I put my kombucha brew 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: When your kombucha tastes the way you like it, with very clean hands, remove the top layer of film (aka the baby SCOBY) and put it into a small jar with 2 cups of liquid.
Repeat the above process with the mother SCOBY (aka your original SCOBY) to start your next batch of kombucha. Your baby SCOBY can also be used to start a batch of kombucha but may need a longer brewing time.
Step 5: You have 2 options at this point.
Option 1: The kombucha is safe to drink at this point. 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: If you prefer a bubbly, flavored kombucha you will want to do a second ferment. The flavor possibilities are endless and you can have so much fun experimenting! To get bubbly, your kombucha will need a bit of sugar to eat. Most people accomplish this by adding fruit or fruit juice to their kombucha. The general rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon of fruit juice or puree per 1 cup of kombucha. You can also add herbs and spices to your kombucha for extra flavor. For the second ferment, pour your kombucha and flavoring into an airtight container making sure to leave a few inches of head space. You will want to carefully “burb” your bottles every day, fermentation can build up quickly so I suggest putting a towel over the top of the lid when opening, and storing your fermenting bottles in a plastic container with a towel on top in case of explosions!
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 a week away from a healthy drink!