How to Make Kombucha
Kombucha is my favorite fermented drink. I am drinking some as I write this blog! It is a tea that is fermented using a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). The SCOBY is also referred to as the “Mother”, as in “mother of vinegar” or a mushroom because of its appearance. Kombuca’s origins are in Russia but it is often credited to the Chinese and Japanese. In doing some research I found that the Kombucha we make here in the U.S. is not the same beverage that is made in Asia so I am giving the credit to Russia.
The bacteria in Kombucha acts as a probiotic in the gut which promotes good intestinal flora. Since most illness start in the gut (if not all), good gut health is crucial. Other benefits are that it is antimicrobial and full of antioxidants. It may even help relieve symptoms of autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia and even help alleviate mild depression. Kombucha is also rich in enzymes, vitamin B, and amino acids.
Kombucha is very easy to brew at home. It is made by combining the SCOBY, tea, and sugar. The SCOBY feeds off of the sugar and ferments the tea. All you need to make you own is a Kombucha SCOBY, water, black or green tea, sugar and some glass containers. You can purchase a SCOBY locally from a farm or online at Cultures for Health. The best way to obtain a SCOBY is to get one from a friend. They multiply after each batch so friends are willing to share the wealth. I sell and ship fresh SCOBYs within the US. Comment on this post if you are interested.
Care must be taken to keep the SCOBY as sterile as possible as not to contaminate it. Always wash containers in very hot to boiling water and make sure you do not use any chemical soaps to clean surfaces that will touch the SCOBY. Also, you want to keep metal away from the SCOBY and kombucha.
Boil 3 quarts of water.
Place 4 black or green organic tea bags or 6 TBS loose tea in a large glass bowl and add boiling water.
Add 1 Cup of sugar. I use evaporated cane sugar but even white sugar can be used here because it will all be gone when you drink the tea.
Wait until the tea is warm or slightly cooled down and add either 1/2 cup of vinegar or 1/2 cup of Kombucha from a previous batch.
When tea is completely cooled, add the SCOBY. Be sure the tea is not hot!. Heat will kill it so do not add it to the hot water.
If you are using a large bowl you will need to put masking tape over the top like this picture shows so that your cover will not fall into the tea. You could alternatively use a cheesecloth with a rubber-band securing it to the bowl or a narrower jar.
Cover the tea and place the bowl in a warm location. I have mine on my dining room table.
Leave for about a week. It will take longer to ferment in a cooler room. You can taste test through a straw for desired sourness. The more sour it is, the more healthful but definitely do it to your taste or you may not drink it regularly. If you leave it to ferment too long it will turn to vinegar.
When the tea has reached its desired fermentation, remove the SCOBY, which will have formed another at the top of your bowl, and strain the Kombucha into a glass jar or bottle and store in the refrigerator. It will keep for a very long time, some say forever, but I say try to drink it within a few months
There are other ways of brewing Kombucha but to start out, this is a good basic foundation.
Feel free to comment if you have any questions.
Sarah is a wife, mom of 4, farm owner, and real food blogger at Real Food Outlaws. She is also an Master Herbalist and owns 90210 Organics, an Eco-boutique and Apothecary. She holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition from New York Chiropractic College and is a Clinical/Functional Nutritionist and Advanced Nutrition Response Testing™ Practitioner at Natural Health Improvement Center of South Jersey and Natural Health Improvement Center of Des Moines. You can often find her barefoot in the garden (or kitchen), or rummaging through a refrigerator (not necessarily her own).