Kombucha, sometimes I refer to it as ‘Booch’ for short, is one of my favorite ferments. I drink it the most out of all my fermented drinks. I started making kombucha last Summer, because I was buying it almost daily at the store and it was becoming an expensive habit. Plus it was another ferment I wanted to master. Before I made my first batch, I searched all over the web for resources and read everything I could find on it. I watched videos and read all of the FAQs and troubleshooting information I could find so I had a good idea of what I was getting into. The culture used to make it was unlike anything I had ever used and it intimidated me a little. I have come a long way since then ;)
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea that originated in China about 2,000 years ago. It’s basically an ancient Chinese fermented tea beverage with all sorts of health benefits. It’s fizzy, sour, sometimes sweet and can be flavored in all sorts of fun ways. Kombucha is fermented using a culture called a SCOBY.
According to a professional kombucha brewer and enthusiast in China, Zhi Ru Yun…
Kombucha’s earliest origins are in the Bohai Sea District. Stories say that it promotes longevity and it’s cultivation was a family secret handed down generation to generation both in the imperial court and amongst the common people.
What is a SCOBY?
SCOBY is short for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s shaped like a disc, whitish brown and kind of rubbery and slimey. Sounds appetizing, huh? It totally freaked me out when I first started making my own kombucha, but I got used to it and now LOVE my SCOBY. So much I call it Scobes for short and give it a kiss when I am trying samples of the booch straight out of my big, glass jar. I even talk to it sometimes. I show the SCOBY some love and it takes care of me by making a healthy, tasty beverage.
Health Benefits of Kombucha
Speaking of health benefits, Kombucha has many. Some include…
- Probiotics that help improve digestion
- Acetic Acid (this gives it the vinegar like flavor) is antibacterial and can level blood sugar.
- Amino Acids
- B Vitamins – B1, B2, B3, B5 and B12 – Provides energy, breaks down fats and can regulate cholesterol among many other things.
Benefits of making it yourself
If you drink kombucha often you probably spend about $3.50 – $5.00 a bottle. If you drink it daily, that can add up to $24 – $30 a week. If you make it yourself it costs significantly less. After the initial purchase of a SCOBY it only costs a few tea bags and some sugar. It ends up being pennies a cup. It also tastes better and you can flavor it anyway you want.
3 Steps To Making Kombucha At Home
Step 1) Gather Your Ingredients
Tools you will need
- A big glass jar . I use a 1/2 gallon glass jar and that makes enough for my husband and I for a week.
- High quality black or green tea. I make two batches, one with black Pu’erh tea and one with Dao Ren Green tea. You an also mix them up and do 1/2 and 1/2.
- Organic sugar. Don’t worry about drinking sugar, because the bacteria from the SCOBY will eat up-to 90% of it or more if you let it brew longer.
- Cotton cloth to cover the jar or ceramic crock. I cut an old pillow case into squares and it worked great.
- Rubber band
- Tea pot to boil water
Where to get a SCOBY
You have to have a SCOBY in order to make kombucha. I bought a kit when I started, because it was just easier at the time. It came with the SCOBY, tea, sugar and a glass jar. You can do that or purchase separately. Its all personal preference.
You can make your kombucha with black tea, green or even white tea. I have two batches going at the same time, one with black and one with green. Black teas give a more robust, strong flavor while green or white teas give a much lighter flavor. My husband prefers the black and I the green tea. Most people make kombucha using Oolong black tea. Black tea creates a more healthy SCOBY because it has more nutrients that the SCOBY needs to thrive. I have had very healthy SCOBYs with the high quality green tea I use.
Teas I have been using and love
I have been buying my teas from Rose Mountain Herbs since I started brewing kombucha. The quality of their tea is impeccable; they really care about the quality of their products and source them from Fair Trade sources. It’s important to get high quality tea, because the nutrients in the tea feeds the SCOBY and will make a more nutrient rich kombucha. I spend a little more to get a high quality tea and it usually lasts me a few months.
- Pu’erh (pronounced poo-air) makes a stronger tasting kombucha and is earthy in flavor and popular among tea connoisseurs because of its health benefits, history and origins. Pu’erh has many great health benefits and is known as a weight loss tea. I really like it coupled with a hibiscus wild berry tea for flavoring.
- My favorite green tea is Dao Ren Tea at Rose Mountain Herbs. It creates a light, fresh, apple like kombucha that is great plain or flavored with chamomile and lavender tea. This green tea is high quality and will add many nutrients and antioxidants to your kombucha.
Teas not to use
Do not use herbal teas or flavored teas that have additives or oils in them when making kombucha. Only use plain black, green or white tea. You can use herbal and flavored teas during secondary fermentation to flavor the kombucha later.
Step 2) Put The Ingredients Together
- 1 SCOBY
- 1 cup plain raw kombucha
- 1 tbsp of loose leaf tea or 4 tea bags
- ½ cup organic sugar
- 6½ cups purified water
- Heat a cup of water and let the tea steep for 15 minutes.
- Strain the tea out and add the sugar.
- Stir until sugar dissolves.
- Add the sweetened tea and cold water to a ½ gallon glass jar.
- Add 1 cup of plain kombucha.
- Add the SCOBY.
- Cover the jar with a cotton cloth and secure with a rubber band.
- Place in a cool, dark place on your counter.
- A new SCOBY will begin to form on the surface after a few days.
- Taste test after 5 days. If you like the taste, bottle it up and make a new batch or leave it out a few more days. The longer you ferment it, the more sour it will become.
- Bottle the kombucha and put it in the fridge.
- Start a new batch.
Step 3) Bottle It
I use Flip Top Bottles to bottle my Kombucha, because they hold in the gas really well and make a very bubbly drink. You can bottle the plain kombucha or add fruit juice to flavor it. If you leave it out in the bottles for a few days on the counter, the bubbles will really build up.
I have collected bottles from several sources throughout the year. I’ve purchased them from Ikea, Amazon or sometimes at places like Ross or Tuesday Morning.
If the kombucha gets left out too long, the pressure can build up and possibly break the bottle. I have heard of this happening before, but it hasn’t happened to me. We drink all of ours too fast.
What is secondary fermentation?
Secondary fermentation is when you take the kombucha, flavor it with juice, tea or herbs, bottle it and let it ferment longer. This creates a really bubbly drink.
Kombucha Brewing Kit
Rose Mountain Herbs for purchasing high quality tea
Flip Top Bottles
A big glass jar
Kombucha Revolution, by Stephen Lee and Ken Koopman
Kombucha Health Benefits from Foodrenegade.com