First of all…
What is Kombucha Tea?
Pronounced: Kom-boo-cha: a beverage produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria. In other words, a fermented tea drink. It’s effervescent and refreshing and can come in different flavors.
The bacteria in the tea ferments off of the sugar and creates this slightly fizzy and sour fermented beverage. It does contain trace amounts of alcohol, but is relatively low in calories and sugar.
When I first heard of Kombucha I was a little nervous to try it. I mean, you’re drinking bacteria! I’m open minded and will usually try anything at least once. It’s delicious! After drinking I started noticing some positive benefits within my body. I was less bloated and seemed to be digesting food better.
I would shell out $3 to $4 a bottle and drink them about every other day. The things we’ll justify for health (insert eye rolling and laughing at myself). I finally researched how to make my own at home and after months and months of trial and error I finally figured out what works for me and my kitchen environment.
Benefits of Kombucha Tea:
- Improved digestion with probiotics
- Increased energy with its B vitamins
- Immune support with its antioxidants
- Reduced joint pain with glucosamines
- Cleansing and detoxification with probiotics
Homemade Kombucha is a fraction of the cost of commercialized brands. It takes a little effort and some patience, but once you have it you’ll never go back to store bought (unless you run out of course. On occasion I still buy brands at the store).
How To Make a Kombucha Scoby
What the heck is a SCOBY? The acronym stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. It is the mother culture required to make Kombucha tea. Essentially, this is the “high octane fuel” that the tea needs in order to ferment.
There are 2 ways to obtain a Kombucha SCOBY:
#1: Purchase a SCOBY. I’ve actually never done this, but a lot of people I know have and they usually buy on Amazon. These cultures are shipped in a dehydrated state and for your benefit, they have been tested for pathogen safety. One of my close friends swears by THIS ONE.
Note: If you prefer to purchase your SCOBY, I do suggest getting an organic culture.
#2: Bum off of a friend. SCOBYs are usually large enough to share. Ask a friend for some of their “mother” (aka: SCOBY) and make sure to get at least 1/2 cup of the starter tea.
#3: Grow your own SCOBY from Kombucha tea.
- You can easily grow your own SCOBY using store bought bottled raw Kombucha.
Instructions For Growing Your Own SCOBY
Purchase a bottle of raw, original or unflavored Kombucha.
Boil 1 cup of water . While the water is hot, add 1 tbsp white sugar and stir until dissolved. Add one bag of black or green tea. Cool completely to room temperature.
NOTE: I have heard that black tea is the best for making a SCOBY. Something about the bacteria growing more consistent with this tea. I’m not sure and honestly I can’t back up this statement, but wanted to let you know. When I brewed by SCOBY I used black tea. Also, use white sugar only. Don’t mess around with other sugars – I do not recommend brown sugar, raw sugar, honey or agave nectar. Only white sugar!
Once the tea is completely cooled, pour the raw Kombucha and cooled tea into a glass jar. It MUST BE GLASS!
Cover the jar with two paper towels stacked on top of each other or you can use an old (and clean) T-shirt. You want a material that will completely cover the top of the jar and will not allow any fruit flies seep through. Secure the covering with a tight rubber band.
Ferment the tea in a room temperature spot, 68-85ºF, out of direct sunlight, for about 7 days.
After a week, look for a baby SCOBY developing across the surface of the liquid. If no signs of SCOBY development appear after 3 weeks, discard the batch and start over. This website recommends waiting until the SCOBY is at least ¼-inch thick before using it to brew the first batch of kombucha tea. Reaching that thickness may take up to 30 days. It took me 28 days.
Congratulations! You now have your very own homemade SCOBY! Wooo hooo. You want to keep the SCOBY and the tea liquid to make your first batch of kombucha.
How to Make Kombucha Tea
Get all your equipment and ingredients together to make a half gallon of Kombucha tea
- 1-gallon GLASS container to brew it in
- 8 cups filtered water
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 4 bags of Green or Black tea
- 1/2 cup active kombucha SCOBY liquid + SCOBY (that you flawlessly made 🙂 )
Step #1 –
Prepare the sweet tea by boiling the water. Once the water is boiling add the white sugar and stir until dissolved. Add tea bags and steep until cooled to room temperature.
Step #2 –
Once the tea is completely cooled to room temperature (very important because if it is too hot it can kill your SCOBY) pour into the glass jar. Pour 1/2 cup liquid from your SCOBY batch OR you can use 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar.
Note: Apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar are not appropriate for making kombucha tea.
Step #3 –
With very clean hands OR with a clean wooden spoon (do NOT use metal) add the SCOBY and the starter liquid to the top of the jar. Be very gentle with the SCOBY. It may sink or it may float and it makes no difference as the new baby SCOBY will eventually grow on the top. This is what you want!
Step #4 –
Cover the jar with 2 paper towels stacked on top of each other OR a coffee filter and secure tightly with a rubber band. Make sure there are no gaps or holes in the cover – you do not want flies to get in there.
Step #5 –
Put the jar in a warm corner of the kitchen, 70-85ºF is the best for the brew and out of direct sunlight.
Step #6 –
Let the jar sit to ferment for around 7-10 days, though the length of time may vary depending on your temperature and batch size. Do not disturb the jar. Remember the bacteria is alive – it does not like to be tossed around. You can test the Kombucha by placing a straw in the jar carefully (slide under the SCOBY) and sipping. It should taste tart but still very slightly sweet also. If it tastes like straight vinegar let it sit for a few more days.
Step #7 –
Once it’s ready your kombucha is ready for a second ferment. This is a step that I missed in the very beginning and it’s such a rookie move. Don’t miss this step!
Step #8 –
You will need individual glass fermenting bottles: I like these ones. You can do this step 2 different ways.
- Remove the SCOBY from the liquid and save 1 cup liquid with the SCOBY. Keep in a glass jar. Make sure to use clean hands or a wooden spoon – NOT metal when removing the SCOBY. Be gentle with it. It’s alive! Now that you have the kombucha liquid only you can now flavor it as a whole and then pour into individual containers OR see option 2.
- Pour the kombucha liquid into individual containers and flavor each bottle separately.
Step #9 –
Flavoring is personal preference. You can leave the kombucha unflavored if you would like. Here are some combinations that I have had success with:
- Lime and mint
- Lemon and ginger
- Ginger and pineapple
- Ginger and apple juice
- Lemon and tart cherry juice
Step #10 –
Let the bottles sit on your kitchen counter for about a week. You’ll need to “burp” the bottles every 2 days. This means you need to open the bottle to let the air out so it doesn’t explode. If it’s not getting as fizzy as you want it, let the liquid sit a couple more days.
You can now pat yourself on the back! You’ve just made homemade kombucha! Congrats. Store these in the refrigerator and enjoy this effervescent drink on a daily basis.
Tell me how your batch comes out.
Comment below and tell me your favorite flavor!