If you’ve been buying Kombucha from the grocery store, you’re probably aware that it can be pretty expensive. All the more reason to make your own!
You can find recipes all over the Internet. The trick is to get creative and put your own twist on it. There are many benefits to drinking Kombucha. Dr. Axe lists 7 reasons to drink it every day, and all of those are good. But one of the primary reasons I drink it, and the reason why I’ve chosen to post this now, is because it significantly aids in digestion and gut health, and gut health is a major theme for QCHC this month.
Here’s a recipe that you can use to make your own kombucha. Drink it every day to combat any digestive problems you may be dealing with!
What you’ll need to make your own kombucha at home:
- Starter culture. This is essentially a gelatinous membrane formed from a symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria. It is also known as a SCOBY. Though it’s not completely essential for brewing your first batch (it’s a natural product of the brewing process already), some people claim it makes your kombucha brew faster. You could just begin with starter fluid, but I recommend buying a starter culture online, as its pretty inexpensive.
- Brewing vessel. Avoid metal, as it reacts with acidic liquids (i.e. kombucha) and will negatively affect the taste. This recipe assumes you’re using a 2.5-gallon glass jar with a plastic spigot. To avoid mold, make sure it’s filled to at least 75% capacity when brewing.
- Breathable cover and rubber band. You can use a cheese cloth, paper towel or a coffee filter. Anything that keeps undesirables out of your brewing vessel. You’ll use the rubber band to secure it.
- One large pot. Again, avoid reactive metals like aluminum or copper. Stainless steel, glass, plastic, enamel and clay are all good choices.
- 2 gallons of filtered or spring water. Avoid water with a high mineral content as it may harm the SCOBY. Also avoid alkalized, structured, or pH-adjusted water.
- Twelve 16-oz. glass bottles. Choose bottles with a plastic cap that you can reapply, as these will be used for bottling your finished product!
- Organic black or green tea. Make sure they are not flavored. The extracts and herbs in flavored teas can harm your SCOBY. I’ve included a list of good tea options at the bottom of this post.
- Organic cane sugar. Very important: don’t use any substitutions here. Honey, agave, and stevia yield inconsistent results and can shorten your SCOBY’s life.
- Fresh fruit juice and/or herbs (optional). This is for the second round of fermentation, to add flavor and effervescence. Any combination of fruit and herbs will work. I love ginger because it also supports digestion (one of the many benefits of drinking kombucha.)
Kombucha Brewing Instructions:
Step 1: Find a home for your vessel. A kitchen countertop away from the stove or a dining room table are both great places to store your kombucha during the fermenting process. The best temperature is 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooler temperatures are okay, but it will take longer to brew.
Step 2: Boil 2 gallons of filtered or spring water.
Step 3: Turn off the stove and add your tea bags. 7-8 bags per gallon of water is pretty standard, but follow the instructions for your tea.
Step 4: Remove tea bags and add the sugar, 3/4 to 1 cup per gallon of water. Stir until completely dissolved, and let cool to room temperature.
Step 5: Once cooled, add the sweet tea and starter culture to your vessel. If using a SCOBY, pour the tea in first and place it on top. It may sink to the bottom, but don’t worry—that just means it was cooler than the liquid, and it will eventually rise to the top again. Cover the vessel with a cheese cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter, and secure it with a rubber band.
Step 6: Let the vessel sit undisturbed for 7-14 days. Taste it each day after the first week until the flavor is just right for your preferences. If it’s too sweet, it needs to ferment longer. If it’s too tart is has fermented too long and you can draw out some liquid, add fruit juice and hope the flavor improves.
Step 7: Fill each of your bottles with the kombucha, leaving a few ounces of free space for fruit juice, if desired. Leave at least 10-20% of the kombucha in your vessel and keep it as the starter fluid for your next batch.
Step 8: Add a few ounces of the fruit juice and/or herbs you desire, and enjoy!
Step 9: Make some more! Repeat this process with the starter fluid left over in your vessel.
Every once in a while, you’ll want to remove part of your SCOBY from your vessel so it doesn’t get too big. It should be no more than a few inches thick for best results each time you brew. To cut it apart, make sure your hands are squeaky clean, remove it from your vessel and place it into a clean bowl. Strip away the excess and return the rest to the vessel. You can give the excess to a friend to help them get started brewing their own kombucha!
Best Teas for Brewing Kombucha:
Black teas, such as Ceylon, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, etc., make for a bold, fruity taste. They are fully oxidized and provide all of the nutrients for the SCOBY.
Oolong teas are partly oxidized for a milder, earthy flavor that is somewhat fruity as well. These are great if you reactivate a dehydrated SCOBY for recurring batches.
Green teas, like jasmine or gunpowder green, consist of withered and steamed leaves that are minimally oxidized, producing a lighter, softer flavor. You can combine with black tea or use it on it’s own, but it’s best to avoid green teas with added flavorings or oils.
White teas consist of baked and dried leaves, which are also minimally oxidized. This produces a delicate flavor with flowery notes. We don’t recommend white tea for your first few batches as it does not work as well to activate a SCOBY. You can, however, combine it with black, oolong, or green tea for a more unique taste.
Red (Rooibos) tea usually refers to an herbal tea from South Africa. It has a fresh, somewhat nutty flavor and should be combined with at least 25% black tea when used to brew kombucha. Like white tea, we don’t recommend using it to activate a SCOBY or to make your first four batches.
Yerba mate and other herbal teas should also be combined with at least 25% black tea when used to brew kombucha. These are also not recommended when brewing your first four batches or activating a SCOBY. Again, avoid teas with added flavorings or oils.
Concerned about caffeine? Don’t be. It was previously thought that most of the caffeine in tea is released within the first few minutes of steeping, but that idea has since been proven false. However, if you’re concerned, you can use decaf!
It may seem like a long, complicated process to brew your own kombucha, but it’s really pretty simple. And when you consider that a single bottle of the stuff can cost around $3 at the grocery store, the money-saving benefits are well worth it!