If you can make sweet tea you can brew kombucha.
I have been brewing for just over 3 years and can’t imagine not having it in our diet on a daily basis!
Here’s why you just might want to too:
It contains 100 times the probiotics of an acidophilus pill, in a form that is raw and bioavailable (means it easily, and quickly is absorbed by the body). It is RICH in B vitamins, it reduces sugar cravings, it alkalizes the body’s ph. Areas where kombucha is regularly consumed have drastically lower rates of cancer. It is rich in antioxidants. It makes your skin, hair, and nails healthier. It is an amazing detoxifier. It is rich in glucaric acid. The glucosamine level is so high that it is being effectively used to treat all forms of arthritis. It aids in reversing depression. It gives you an energy boost. It supports the immune system, it aids in weight loss. It helps you digest your food better. It is especially helpful in restoring proper gut balance after the use of antibiotics.
Also, homemade kombucha costs about 10-30 cents per bottle as opposed to around $3.50 in the stores. It also tastes way better in my opinion. I have converted many a kombucha hater into kombucha lovers with my brew.
So here we go!
Here is a detailed post on what you will need and where to get it.
MAKING YOUR KOMBUCHA BREW
- wash your brew jar with mild soap & hot water, swish with vinegar, and rinse clean.
- boil about 1/3 gallon of purified water and add 4 organic plain (unflavored) tea bags – I use black, green, white, or a mix of these. I have heard of folks using others like darjeeling. Just be sure they are plain, not flavored, because the addition of fruit, spices, and oils at this stage will throw off the balance of sugar and bacteria and can ruin the starter culture.
- let the tea bags steep for 5 minutes (I let it boil this whole time, stirring with a wooden spoon every once in a while).
- Remove the tea bags and add in 1 C. organic cane sugar.
- Stir to dissolve completely.
- Turn off heat and let cool for a bit.
- Pour the tea into your glass brew jar and fill with purified water so that there are a few inches remaining at the top, and let it come to room temp.
- Add 1/2 C. of plain kombucha, stir just a bit, and add in the culture.
- Cover the brew jar with a breathable cloth, secure with a rubber band and date it. Wipe the jar so that any sweet tea drips on the outside won’t attract ants.
- Place in a warm, dry place for 10-14 days. You need to let it brew at least 7. Any time longer than 14 produces a very vinegary flat brew that lacks that good fizz! Be sure to date it so that you don’t lose track! I usually have 2 going at once (I’ll start another batch in about 5-7 days so that I always have it going!)
- At about 10 days, taste it by dipping a straw under the culture and taking a sip. I know, I was scared the first time I did it too! It should taste slightly sweet and have a good carbonation to it. Now you are ready to bottle! If it is very sweet, let it brew a few days loner. The perfect amount of time for me is 10-12 days.
BOTTLING YOUR KOMBUCHA BREW
- Wash your bottles with hot soapy water, swish with vinegar, and rinse well. I put mine in the dishwasher and use a natural dishwashing liquid and put vinegar in the “jet-dry” dispenser, which also seems to work great.
- With clean hands, remove the culture (it will have formed a “baby” on top of itself that sometimes comes apart on its own, or you can peel them apart. One you will use for your next brew, and the other you can save or give away.
OR leave the scoby in tact, don’t separate, and allow it to grow nice and fat and glorious. I ususally let a new scoby grow for a few months before peeling away any “babies” to share.
- Put the “mother” and “baby” along with about 1 C. of the brew in a glass bowl and set aside.
- Put 1/2 tsp. of organic cane sugar plus your fruit, herbs, or roots that you wish to flavor the tea with in each bottle. I have experimented with plain, lemon, pomegranate, mango, blueberry, mixed berry, raspberry, blackberry, and strawberry. The strawberry is by far my very favorite, so it’s all I do now. I quarter them so that they fit into the bottle easier. I use 1-2 strawberries per bottle.
- Using a funnel, pour the brewed kombucha into each bottle. There may be dark strings of culture floating about in there, and these are fine! If you don’t like them just use a strainer along with the funnel.
- Fill each bottle to the top. The less air that gets in after bottling, the more fizz you will get. This is why I use jars with air-tight plastic lids. I have tried using mason jars, which work fine, but without getting that super tight seal, my brew in those is always a bit flat.
- Wipe the mouth of each jar before securing the lid or it may seal together so tight you can’t get it open! I once had one that neither my super strong husband, nor his army-ranger brother could open!
- Gently shake each bottle to incorporate the sugar and strawberries. Wipe down the bottle so that you don’t attract ants.
- Set in a warm (anywhere from 65-90 degrees), dry place for 3 days.
- After 3 days, refrigerate and enjoy!! I usually drink about 4-6 oz every day.
Common Kombucha Questions and Answers:
What is kombucha? Simply, it’s fermented tea. It has been around for at least 2000 years, and started to gain popularity in the US in the early 1990’s.
What is a culture? It is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, or “scoby”. Sometimes called a mushroom because of its appearance, but mushrooms are fungi, not bacteria. It is also called a “mother-fungus” which is pretty funny, although incorrect.
Where do I find a culture? The absolute best way is to find one from someone who brews kombucha. You can order a dehydrated one, and attempt growing your own from grocery-store kombucha. However, kombucha kamp warns against doing these as they yield an inferior, and sometimes pasteurized culture that often molds.
Does kombucha contain alcohol? Yes, due to the fermentation, it does contain a very small amount of alcohol. it is such a small amount that it is legal to purchase and consume at any age. The longer you brew, the higher the alcohol content.
Can I make decaf kombucha? Not that I know of. From what I have learned, the caffeine actually aids in the brewing process.
Can I make sugar-free kombucha? or Why is there sugar in kombucha? The bactaria needs something to “eat” in order to multiply. If you were to put a kombucha starter or “scoby” in plain unsweetened tea, it would mold and die. Most of the sugar is eaten up by the time that it is ready to be consumed. If you are concerned with the sugar, let your brew ferment till the cow’s come home. It will be very vinegary, but will contain the least amount of sugar, but will also have a higher alcohol content.
Can kids drink kombucha? The “pc” response is probably “no” since it contains trace amounts of alcohol (less than conventional cough syrup), but my 4 year old has about 4 ounces every day.
Can I drink kombucha while nursing or pregnant? Like the question above, a Dr. will probably tell you no. However, I consumed my kombucha all through my most recent pregnancy and greatly benefitted from it.
Why does kombucha from the store taste so “vinegary”? This is most likely due to the fact that it continues to ferment in the bottles much longer (because it is being transported from manufacturer to the store, to you); and some has been pasteurized.
How long does it last? Once refrigerated, the kombucha stops fermenting and so stays “good” for a very long time. We always drink it so fast that I have never left mine in there for too long, but I would imagine that it would still be fine for 6 months or more!
What do I do with the extra “mother” or “baby”? Every time you brew your culture will produce a baby. Just put them in a glass jar covered with a tight lid in the pantry until you need them or have a friend who does (you may need to release pressure from it every once in a while.) Never store scoby in the fridge as this can greatly damage the culture. It is a living thing, but there is a great misconception that it will go “bad” if it stays at room temperature too long. Both the “mother” and “baby” work great for brewing.
My culture sank! It’s ok, they sometimes do this, and it has always produced a great brew!
How do I know if my brew has gone bad? The whole process is strange looking, but just check your brew every couple of days. If there is mold you will know it – it will be green and look like the fuzzy stuff that grows on yogurt. If this happens, you need to toss everything, the culture and the tea, and thoroughly wash and sterilize your jar with vinegar. Soon I’ll post a few pics of what it looks like day to day as it is brewing!
I forgot about my kombucha, is it still ok? If your brew goes longer than about 3 weeks, it’s probably not very tasty, but won’t hurt you. And as long as your culture hasn’t dried out it is still good! During my last pregnancy I was so sick I neglected it for 6 months and the culture grew to be about 6″ thick! It still had some liquid in there, so I just peeled off a piece and started over!
How do I store my culture if I take a break from brewing? You can store it in glass with a cup or so of kombucha. Covering it with a cloth will allow it to continue to grow, so covering with a tight lid will greatly slow down, nearly stopping this process. Heat will kill a scoby and don’t ever store it in plastic or metal.
Ok, sorry if this is WAY too much info, or too many pictures…I got excited.
live well. be well.