What the heck is kombucha? It’s a fermented tea. Much like wine, sourdough bread or yogurt, it is a “cultured” food that has friendly bacteria that is good for your digestive system, immune system, and overall health. It should taste slightly tart, but also sweet and flavorful. Carbonated, it’s like a healthy fizzy tea soda! The sugar in it is partially digested by the living culture, so this should not be much of a problem to drink for those of you who, like me, avoid sugar. My store bought versions claim “2 grams of sugar,” even when they tasted quite sweet. I’m not an expert and I’ll admit I’m not sure exactly how this works, but I do know that simple carbs, when introduced to living cultures, lose their insulin spiking power.
3 quarts water
10 teabags (black, green or oolong are best)
1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar for first batch (all other batches use 1 pint of your brewed kombucha)
1 scoby (I purchased mine on amazon).
I brewed 3 quarts of tea. 3 quarts water + 10 oolong teabags. You can use black, oolong, or green, anything that’s actually real tea (not herbal) White teas are best used in combination with black or oolong or green. The brewing process was as follows:
Boil 3 quarts water. Throw in 10 teabags. Turn off and simmer for 10 minutes.
Go ahead and add 1 cup sugar, not honey, not agave, just white organic sugar.
Then I let it cool off to room temperature. Just around 70 degree is perfect. (Update after many batches: Too high, and it sours quickly, like I know I ruined my scoby and brew once around 76 or 78 degrees). This is the most annoying part of making kombucha. Waiting is hard. You can speed things up with an ice batch.
Also add 1 cup of vinegar. The vinegar protects the kombucha from bad bacteria, while the white simple sugar feeds the scoby (good bacteria).
Here is a really great list of ingredients that are ok and ones that are not if you like to experiment, with explanations: Choosing Ingredients for making Kombucha. This article saved me from ruining my first batch.
Slide your scoby into the mixture. I got mine from amazon. It worked great. It’s like a squishy mushroom. Better pictures in the video below.
Cover with breathable cotton or muslin, with a tight rubber band around the jar. Do not use cheesecloth, as it’s too holey.
Wait for 7-13 days. The balancing act here is to have your brew be at the perfect temperature to make a new batch of kombucha, but not brew too quickly because then it will become acidic. No substitute for time here.
You can taste the kombucha starting at 7 days to see how you like it. The taste is totally up to you. The more it develops, the more sour it will taste. (Future batches will be made replacing the vinegar with two cups of your own brewed kombucha, so each batch should taste more refined!)
This was my kombucha with new scoby on top after 13 days. I was thrilled to see a healthy mushroom (scoby)!
This looked like spots, but it wasn’t. It was a nice 1/8-1/4″ thick film. Some parts of it just happened to be transparent.
Remove scobies, both the mother and the baby.
You can keep them in the fridge for a couple of days in plastic bags, feeding them with plenty of kombucha liquid (like 1-4 to 1-2 cup). Don’t let your scobies dry out! Don’t keep them there very long; you’ll want to start brewing your second batch as soon as possible with the new scobies – one for each batch. You can give scobies away to friends because every time you brew a batch, you’ll have a new one.
Bottle kombucha. You can drink right away (kombucha tea), or let carbonate 2-3 days before refrigerating (kombucha soda).
Two of my bottled kombucha drinks. I thought it tasted wonderful.
I had these bottles from when I bought GT. Perfect for bottling but it took 10 minutes to get the first label off so I gave up. My own kombucha, just recycling GT’s bottles! 🙂
Kombucha soda is obtained by letting the bottled drinks be unrefrigerated for a few days in a room out of direct sunlight. You can see from the picture of the single bottle that some carbonation has built up (that photo was snapped after two days).
I immediately started brewing my second batch of kombucha – two batches this time! So exciting! A friend of mine is going to be home from a trip in about a week and wants to start brewing, so I’ll have a third scoby for her shortly thereafter. The only difference between first batches and all batches afterwards is that you replace the cup of vinegar with a pint of your own brewed kombucha – it will taste better.
I’m happy I’ll never have to pay $3.50 a bottle for kombucha again. I love drinking my own home-brew.
Kombucha, organic and home brewed like this, has amazing health benefits. I’m brewing it to balance blood sugar, get rid of any lurking candida symptoms (I’ve struggled with candida – probably a reason I have hypoglycemic symptoms), and counter bad bacteria. Drink to better health.
For a video demonstration and what Nate thinks of my kombucha, check this out: