This post is from my previous blog, Elston Backyard Farms. Enjoy!
I’ve recently been asked by a slew of local people new to the real food scene how to make kombucha. I can’t tell you how excited this makes me- that other people in my community are taking control of their health 🙂
I’ve been brewing this fizzy tea for a year now. I love it, my grandpa-in-law loves it, and even my kiddos do. I even let my oldest take it to school to drink with her lunch!
So what’s the deal with kombucha? Why is it so great?
Kombucha has been around since ancient times in Euro-Asia. It’s been called a health elixir and some people even claim it cures cancer. I can’t speak that it does, but I’ve never tried it for that purpose either.
Here’s what I know about it though:
It tastes good (although it may be an acquired taste for some)
It’s packed full of enzymes, amino acids, anti-oxidants & B vitamins
Improves digestion & increases gut health with probiotic bacteria & yeast
My husband thinks it’s one of the most disgusting things he has ever seen.
When unflavored- it tastes like a carbonated tea/beer/apple cider vinegar.
It is nearly caffeine & sugar free after fermenting because the good bacteria feeds off of the sugar. Yes, there is a small amount of alcohol present because alcohol is present in most fermentation, but I & my kids have drank a lot of kombucha and have never even had a buzz, so I don’t worry about that.
While you can just buy kombucha by the bottle from your local health food resource, you could easily go broke doing so since most cost about $4 per 16oz bottle. I did actually use one of those said bottles to get my “scoby” aka “mother” established so that I could continue brewing this tea.
Say hello to my mother 🙂
The “scoby” and “mother” are words commonly used to name the bacterial-yeasty disk you’ll learn to grow. The more you brew, the more it’ll grow little “babies”. I know it’s weird, but I didn’t make up these names 😉
If you choose to start up with a store bought bottle or are given homebrewed kombucha, you can pour it into a larger container that is covered to keep dust & bugs out. For this method, you will keep it out & covered for about 2 weeks until a thin, clear-ish, white film grows across the top. This is your scoby & that is what you want to happen. After you accomplished this, you can continue on with the following instructions.
How to Make Kombucha
16 oz(or more) of kombucha with an established scoby
2 liters of filtered water, divided in half
3 family size tea bags. I use black tea, but I’ve heard great things about white & green varieties too.
1/2 to 1 cup of sugar
Directions to make Kombucha: In a clean, large glass container or canister pour 1 liter of filtered water. Use the other 1 liter of water to make your tea, either on the stove top or the microwave- your preference. Either way, make sure your filtered water is hot & your tea bags steep for at least 5 minutes so that you’ll have it brewed as strong as possible. Once your finished with the brewing your strong tea, mix in the sugar & stir until dissolved. Add your sweetened tea to the water already in your container or canister, and then your kombucha tea with scoby. At this point, just cover it back up with something breathable like a piece of cloth, coffee filter, or paper towel & secure with a rubber band or something similar. Then you wait for about 7 days for your kombucha to do it’s thing. It may be sooner if you keep your kitchen warm or it could take longer if it is really cool.
I keep mine on top of the fridge in the winter because the fridge puts off enough heat to keep it continuously warm. In the summer, I move it away from outer walls & appliances to keep it from getting too vinegary to quickly.
After approximately 7 days, you should look for some distinct clues that will let you know it’s “just right”. If you have all 3, then you are ready to proceed. If you don’t, give it a few more days.
Clue #1 – When you stir it with a wooden or plastic spoon, it fizzes like soda or beer.
Clue #2 – It smells faintly of vinegar.
Clue #3 – Your scoby has grown & gotten thicker.
So what now?
Now it’s time to drink, but there are a few more steps if you want to continue to brew kombucha non-stop.
First you want to ladle about 2/3 of the kombucha out of the container. You need to leave that 1/3 so that you have enough starter kombucha to keep repeating the process above. You can store it in any glass container that has a screw on lid (think juice bottle, mason jar, wine bottle). After you’ve filled your bottle(s), you can either store them in the fridge to stop the fermenting process or start a second ferment by adding a little bit of fresh fruit or fruit juice to flavor the kombucha. If you opt for a second ferment for flavor, only leave it out for 24-48 hours covered like usual at room temp. Whether or not you choose to do a second ferment, once it’s in the fridge- it tastes best if used within a week.
If you opt to not continuously brew your kombucha, you can save your remaining 1/3 liquid & scoby in an airtight glass container in the fridge for a few weeks. Be sure to remove the lid & let it return to room temp for a few days to start fermenting before you start the brewing process again.
If you try this, let me know how your kombucha turned out or if you flavored it!
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