Kombucha. You either love this stuff more than words can describe or find yourself repulsed at the thought; however, regardless of where you stand on kombucha, you cannot deny the power of this fermented life juice.
So what is kombucha anyway? Kombucha is a fermented sweet tea, that is either served the way nature intended or with the addition of fresh fruit, fruit juice or fancy tea blends. And as with all fermented food, kombucha is a very potent liver and digestive tonic, long touted as a holistic cure for mild depression, arthritis and heart burn; which we have the probiotics to thank for. Not bad for old tea.
Now before I show you how to make kombucha, let’s talk about motherhood. Kombucha brewing is akin to parenthood, as the SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria) or mother is driving force behind this vitality elixir. The SCOBY or mother protects its baby (the liquid), while creating an environment where the tea can thrive, in order to reach its full potential- see, just like real mothers! The mother can be slightly off putting, she’s a slimy growth of bacteria; and if you find yourself squeamish, get over it, it’s a part of the process.
Keeping a kombucha mother healthy requires a little bit of TLC, and understanding how to make kombucha, inevitably means understanding how a SCOBY behaves. Bubbles around the edges of the culture and sediment at the bottom of your jar is all normal; in fact, it’s what you want to see, as it means your kombucha is alive and fermenting. And although SCOBY’s have long lives, they aren’t invicible. If your SCOBY is black, it’s lived a long life and the time has come to retire it; and if your SCOBY has green or black mold, it’s time to start over- trust me when I say, you don’t want anything to do with moldy bacteria. In order to avoid overworking your mother, after a few batches, peel away the old bottom layer and either discard it, compost it, start a new brew or gift it to a friend and share your “How To Make Kombucha” love!
The very basic recipe is the foundation of how to make kombucha; and it’s very simple. Sugar, tea, water and the SCOBY; the water brews the tea, the yeast bacteria eats the sugar, throw in a little bit of time and your very own kombucha is born.
Kombucha, is considered a non alcoholic indulgence, but, alas, this libation contains about 1% of alcohol; which is by no means going to bring about a regretful night, but I thought you should know.
So now for the basic How To Make Kombucha recipe
3 1/2 qt water
1 cup white sugar
8 bags black tea
2 cup starter tea from last batch or neutral store bought variety
1 fermentation jar
Optional Flavorings- this is where you get to customize!
1-2 cup fresh fruit
2-3 cups fruit juice
1-2 tbsp flavored tea
1/4 cup honey
2-4 tbsp fresh herbs
Step 1- Make Tea Base
- Boil water
- Remove from heat and stir in sugar
- Steep tea until water has cooled
Step 2- Add Your Starter
- Strain or remove tea bags
- Stir in starter tea- this is important for acidity and protection of the liquid during the first few days of fermentation.
Step 3- Transfer and Addition of SCOBY
- Pour liquid into glass fermentation jar (I use a large mason jar)
- With clean hands, place the SCOBY into the liquid. I repeat, CLEAN HANDS ARE IMPERATIVE, you will introduce unfriendly bacteria and increase your chance of mold growth if your hands aren’t obsessively clean.
- Cover the mason jar with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band- this is a living and breathing entity, so it needs to do just that, breathe.
Step 4- FERMENT
- At room temperature
- Out of direct sunlight
- Allow to ferment for 7-30 days. Be sure to check your SCOBY daily to keep an eye out for mold. If you’re anything like me, you will be admiring your Kombucha baby five times a day!
Step 5- Bottle Ferment
- Once your Kombucha is to your liking, bottle it in airtight jars.
Leave at room temperature for 1-3 days to make way for carbonation. To halt fermentation refrigerate.
I was so excited to learn how to make Kombucha that I made a few mistakes in my haste. Firstly, I ordered a dry SCOBY online, but it was a dud, which happens about 25% of the time with dry SCOBY’s; so if you can get a live one, that is your best bet. I would also suggesting making your first batch of kombucha plain, just to keep an eye on your SCOBY; once you’ve made one healthy batch of kombucha, then feel free to go nuts.
Learning how to make kombucha was on my 2013 bucket list, and here we are in the early days of March and I can cross it off my list!
Now it’s your turn, have you always wanted to learn how to make kombucha; are you an expert kombucha maker; or is this the very beginning of your How To Make Kombucha journey? I would love to know!