Kombucha has quickly grown to be one of our favorite drinks in this house. As kombucha started getting more accessible to us in stores we quickly realized how pricey it could be. It didnt take long for us to start looking for ways to make it ourselves and it turns out to be incredibly easy! (and seriously cheap) Now that we have made numerous batches of this deliciously healthy drink, it is high time I share the how-to with you.
I’m going to do this focus on kombucha in two parts because it makes it easiest to understand. Please note: you should read the 2 tutorials before attempting to make your own kombucha for the first time.
Part 1: Kombucha Basics
Part 2: Kombucha Basics – Second Fermentation
First of all, what is kombucha? You can wiki the long answer, but the short answer is this: kombucha is sweet tea fermented by probiotics (happy gut bacteria) and yeast to create a carbonated, sweet and sour drink that is healthful to your digestive track. People have been brewing kombucha for centuries all over the world.
How it works: By adding bacteria and yeast to sweet tea, you allow fermentation to happen. The bacteria and yeast munch away at the sugar in your sweet tea, breaking it down to vinegar, CO2 (carbonation), and a little bit of alcohol (trace amounts). As they eat and create these by-products, they are also multiplying. This process leaves us with several benefits in our end product: a probiotic-rich, slightly tangy, carbonated drink.
Making Kombucha Tea
What you will need:
- 1 gallon (minimum) glass cannister (to do your brewing in)
- 8 cups of water, divided in 2
- 6 black tea bags (PLAIN – no flavors, no combo teas, just PLAIN)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 SCOBY and SCOBY tea (buy on amazon or get one from a friend. Make sure to include the liquid that comes with it.)
- SCOBY: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast — a mushy white-yellow patty that is a colony of the bacteria you need to grow in this mixture to do all that fermenting goodness.
- Food thermometer
- Clean cloth – NOT cheese cloth, but a clean kitchen towel or an old clean T-shirt will do.
- Elastic that will fit around the opening of your cannister
- Boil 4 cups water in sauce pan or kettle. Add tea bags and steep for 5 minutes.
- Remove tea bags and add sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves completely.
- Pour sweet tea mixture into glass brewing cannister. Add remaining 4 cups of water.
- Check temp of tea mixture. Once mixture is less than 90°F, add SCOBY and SCOBY tea. Your SCOBY might float to the top, drop to the bottom, or swim in the middle of your mixture. It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as it’s in there. Stop touching it. It will be fine.
- Place your cloth over your cannister and secure with an elastic. The purpose of this cloth is to keep mold spores, dust, and debris out of your mixture, while also allowing CO2 to be expelled as the mixture starts to ferment.
- Place your kombucha tea in a warm, preferrably dark, place. Ideal: 68-75°F. Wait 7-10 days before first tasting. Try not to touch it.
- What you will see: a new SCOBY will start to form on the top of your kombucha tea. It will first appear as a collection of white, translucent spots. Then they will congregate and begin to form a thin layer on the top of your kombucha. This is great stuff! You may also see yeast strands forming – stringy clumps of yeast collecting in the bottom of the cannister or floating. These are also great! Your yeast and bacteria are multiplying and munching on that sugar. Well done!
- After 7 to 10 days, taste your kombucha. What is it like? It may be sweet with a little tang, it might be strongly tangy and vinegar-y. Whichever you prefer is fine. If you like it more tangy/sour, let it keep fermenting for a few more days. Like it less tangy? Shorten your fermenting time on the next batch. The bacteria and yeast won’t eat so much sugar.
- If you like how it tastes and don’t think you want it to ferment any longer, stop. Go to the next tutorial : Kombucha Basics Part 2 .
I hope these tutorials simplify and de-mystify the kombucha fermenting process for you all! ‘Buch is good for you and can be a very inexpensive drink if you make it yourself!