Kombucha Made Easy – Part I (Revised with new information!)
By Michelle Sala, Integrative Health Coach
This is a revision of my first post on Kombucha in June of 2016. I’ve included more information and helpful links to get your started brewing your own kombucha.
It’s now been 2 1/2 years since I’ve been brewing kombucha and it is so fun, tasty and healthy! If you’ve never heard of kombucha, all it is is fermented tea. You just need to acquire a small piece of the ‘mother’ or ‘SCOBY’ from someone who is already making kombucha and about a cup of the fermented kombucha, get yourself a 1 or 2 gallon glass beverage container with a spigot, buy some organic black tea, and some organic cane sugar.
Why should you drink it? First of all, it tastes great! I can’t claim that drinking kombucha is going to cure anything, but some of the purported benefits are that it adds healthy strains of good bacteria to your gut flora which improved digestions, aids in detoxification, may reduce inflammation and support the immune system, provides antioxidants, B vitamins and iron.
Some experts claim that if you have candida overgrowth you should stay away from kombucha while other experts will claim is good for taming candida overgrowth. If you feel better drinking it, keep drinking it. If you don’t, then don’t.
How easy is it to make? I learned how to make kombucha from Lynn Mathews-Park and I recommend that you go to her site for some great tips on making your kombucha and what to do with your SCOBY when it gets too big.
What exactly is a SCOBY? SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. It is an otherworldly being that you will have a hard time parting with once you’ve been bitten by the kombucha making bug.
Basic Kombucha Recipe
1 gallon of purified or filtered water
1 ½ cups organic sugar for your first batch, then 1 cup when you do the refill
4-6 organic black tea bags (I usually use 6)
1 SCOBY with 1-2 cups of starter liquid (first batch only)
Bring water to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in sugar so that it dissolves, steep black tea bags until mixture has come to room temperature. Add mixture to your glass beverage container that contains your SCOBY. Cover container with a clean tea towel and leave on the kitchen counter. You may want to secure the tea towel with a rubber band.
Don’t be concerned by the amount of sugar. Sugar is food for the fermentation process and most of the sugar is ‘eaten up’ by the time you will consume it. Kombucha is very low in sugar.
When will it be ready? You will know your kombucha is ready when the tea no longer tastes sweet. That first batch can take up to three weeks to brew. It can take longer in cooler weather and conversely a shorter time in warmer weather.
What about SCOBY? Your SCOBY should float to the top within a few days. Don’t worry if it takes longer. As you continue to brew kombucha, your SCOBY will turn into a giant gelatinous blob the longer you have it. You can peel off the bottom layers and share the SCOBY with your friends who want to make their own kombucha. With clean hands, reach into your container and peel off the bottom layer. Put in a small mason jar with about a cup of kombucha. This will act as the ‘starter’ for your friend’s brew. I usually do this after I have tapped my last batch of kombucha before I prepare my next brew.
The Second Fermentation When your kombucha is ready it’s time to bottle it and make it fizzy. Honestly, I have a hard time getting it to fizz unless I use sugary fruit or honey. I have had my best success with mashed up fresh strawberries or peaches. I put the fruit in a mason jar with the newly brewed kombucha for 1 to 4 days until I see the jar to start to get fizzy. Then I strain the kombucha through a fine sieve into a glass measuring cup and then transfer the flavored kombucha into the recycled Grolsch bottles or commercial kombucha bottles. At this point you can transfer bottles to the refrigerator. (FYI, it’s cheaper to buy the Grolsch beer, consume the beer and reuse the bottles than to buy new empty bottles on Amazon!)
You can also flavor your kombucha with extracts, herbs, fresh ginger, and food grade essential oils. One of my favorite oils is tangerine oil from YoungLiving and it’s delicious! When using essential oils I add one or two drops directly to plain kombucha when I pour it in a glass.
What you flavor your kombucha with is up to you and fun to experiment with.
What can go wrong? If your SCOBY gets moldy, as in green yucky mold, chuck it and start fresh. You will need to thoroughly wash your brewing jar. Other than that, you might let it ferment too long and your brew turns vinegary. It may be too tart to drink but you can use it in salad dressings or in recipes that ask for vinegar. If you really don’t like it, toss it (keep a little bit as the starter for the next batch) and start over.
You made your first batch, now what? Start over again! This is called continuous brew. No need to clean out your container. Boil more water, brew more tea and sugar and refill your container with the cooled mixture. You will find that your second batch will go much faster then the first so make sure to taste after 3-5 days.
Get creative and have fun experimenting with flavors! Happy brewing!
Glass Beverage Jars:
1 gallon http://amzn.to/2yPoBkf
2 gallons http://amzn.to/2gGof8I
Replace the plastic spigot with this stainless steel one that won’t get clogged:
Glass bottles with stoppers for your 2nd ferment and storage:
33 3/4 oz. bottle with metal lids have a wide opening and are easy to clean. I prefer these when making flavored kombucha. http://amzn.to/2EkSBoE
16oz. bottles with swing tops: http://amzn.to/2xkGGmp
33 3/4 oz. bottles w/swing tops: http://amzn.to/2y1U7w9