For those of you out there that love a good kombucha, but have never made it in the comfort of your own home, this is the blog post for you! To those of you who thought to yourself, “What in the world is kombucha?”, this is the blog post to find out just how awesome this fermented tea drink is!
I have been a kombucha lover for years. I love this fizzy, slightly sour drink that also boasts tons of health benefits. Maybe you’ve even seen it at your local grocery store since it’s taken a leap in popularity over the years. And yes, it might look a little weird with all of that “stuff” floating in it. But trust me on how good it is!
In a nutshell, kombucha (kom-booch-a) is a sweetened tea that has been fermented using a culture of yeast and bacteria that is often times sweetened with fresh-pressed juices, or has ultra-healthy chia seeds added to it. Being that it’s fermented, it has similar properties to Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, and apple cider vinegar. It keeps your liver clean, aids in digestion, and is a much better choice than soda if you crave a fizzy drink like I do! On more than one occasion, I have used this drink to help when I feel under the weather or have an upset stomach. It is always on my list when I don’t feel well.
Last spring, I decided that I needed to learn to make this yummy beverage at home since buying it at my local Whole Foods has a tendency to make my wallet really feel a pinch. (I would buy it by the case practically.) So I took to the internets to figure out what I needed to do in order to make this simple brew at home. That’s when I found Kombucha Brooklyn. This company not only had one of the best home-kits that I’ve ever seen, but they have filled their site, You Tube, and even a book with their best kept kombucha tips and tricks. I was sold and bought the one gallon starter kit (complete with ceramic crock, growlers, and SCOBY) that was shipped to my house so that I could get started!
Up until our move out of our house in Franklin, I kept a constant batch of ‘buch in my fridge. I typically would sweeten my brew with fresh pressed lemon and ginger, or I would just drink it as-is because it was so good! But alas, due to too many moves, my SCOBY died (mold set in from lack of refrigeration), so I had to start over. But I’m super excited to share with you how easy it is to make this at home!
How to make your home-brew :: What you need
To make your kombucha, you will need the following things:
-Organic pure cane sugar
-High-quality tea (typically made with black tea, but can be made with any good stock tea)
-Filtered water (Needs to be filtered since our cities like to add all sorts of chemicals to our drinking water, and those chemicals can kill your SCOBY)
-Glass or Ceramic jar (You cannot use metal of any kind on your SCOBY because it will kill it.)
-SCOBY with 1 cup kombucha liquid (SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria & Yeast. It’s what makes your tea ferment. The liquid is the fermented tea. It helps to balance the pH of your brew.)
How to make your home brew :: Steps
Because I was using a 1 gallon crock, I boiled 2 cups of filtered water. Then I added 4 bags of Teavana “Pearl Dragon” black tea to it once it was boiling. I turned my stove down to simmer and let the tea simmer for 20 minutes, agitating every 5 minutes or so to make sure the nutrients from the tea was being released.
After 20 minutes, I removed the tea bags from the water, turned off the stove, and added 1 cup of pure cane sugar to the water to dissolve. Don’t be afraid of sugar! This is not the same as adding sugar to your run-of-the-mill sweet tea. The sugar is what the SCOBY actually eats, which is how the tea ferments. The only added sugar that will be in your kombucha will be what you add in the form of fruit juice later.
Once the sugar is dissolved, add several cups of cold filtered water. This will help cool the brew. Then add to your crock/glass jar, and fill up with more filtered water. I added mine until it was about 3 inches from the top of the crock.
Now here comes some detailed info :: Once you get your crock filled to the appropriate fill level, you need to make sure that your brew is not over about 78 degrees! If your brew is too hot, and you add the SCOBY, you will kill it! So, get a nifty little stick-on thermometer on the outside of your crock, or use a regular (plastic only) one, and make sure to get the right temp. Mine was between 70-72. Add your SCOBY and the fermented liquid to the brew only after you’ve got the right temperature.
Once your SCOBY has been added, make sure to cover your crock or jar with a breathable material. This helps to keep out dust, flies/bugs, and other things you don’t want getting into your brew. I used a lightweight cotton fabric that’s sealed with a rubber band. Cheesecloth works as well. Do Not put a sealed lid on this because your SCOBY needs to breathe!
Here comes the hard part…it takes anywhere from 7-30 days, depending on preference, to get you kombucha brew ready to drink. I like mine a little more on the vinegary-side, so I let mine sit for about 14-18 days, checking on it periodically. You want to make sure that your crock/jar stays between 68-74 for optimal brewing conditions. Too cold and it won’t work, too hot and it will kill your SCOBY. Keeping it out of direct sunlight helps this process since the sun can heat things up really quickly. Consistency is key.
Since I just brewed today, I will give you periodic updates on how the brew is doing, and once we are ready for second fermentation (adding juice and bottling), I will do another post!