Updated: Mar 15
Those of you who enjoy kombucha probably remember the first sip you ever took... I sure remember taking my first sip of Kombucha and thinking "this must be expired". I had no idea what to expect. When I read "living cultures" all over the bottle I thought, what in the world do they mean this "beverage is alive"? Fast forward 10 years and here I am brewing this tasty and "alive" beverage and treating it like a beloved, living member of my family.
Kombucha is a living beverage because the "SCOBY"( Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast), which is the floating mushroom looking like thing at the top of the gallon jar, eats and breathes just like every living organism. The SCOBY eats the black tea & sugar and transforms it into a probiotic rich, B-vitamin filled, sparkling beverage. (There are a few more steps to the brewing process, which will be outlined in the recipe below.)
Unfortunately, just like anything that is commercialized and sold in a mass scale, the benefits of kombucha that sit on a shelf at the grocery store for 6 + months aren't nearly what they were at the time of brewing and bottling. The good news here is that it is quite simple to make this healing tonic at home. All you need is a SCOBY & some starer liquid. These days, you can order a SCOBY online and have it mailed to your front door, or you can even find one at your local health food store. My preferred method of brewing kombucha starts with a "hand me down SCOBY" that a friend passes along. If you are local to SWFL and are looking for your own SCOBY to start brewing kombucha at home, please join us at Wellness Energy Institute for our Homemade Kombucha Class.
Homemade Kombucha Class
Presented by Megan Healey & Wellness Energy Institute
Tools you will need:
1/2 Gallon Jar, Cheesecloth or thin towel, Rubber bands, 1 large Stock Pot, Glass Bottles, Funnel
6 Cups of Spring Water (or ½ spring ½ filtered water)
3-4 Bags of Organic Black Tea
¼-½ C. Organic Sugar Cane
Dried or fresh fruit for flavoring(herbs, spices, etc.)
SCOBY & ½ C. Starter Liquid
1) Brew the Tea
In a large pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add your tea bags and sugar, make sure the sugar is dissolved completely, turn the burner off & cover. Allow tea to steep for 6 minutes. Remove the tea bags, or strain the loose leaf tea and let the tea cool. *I typically brew my tea in the morning and let it cool during the day.
2) Pour brewed tea into SCOBY Gallon Jar & allow to ferment.
It is important that the tea is room/body temperature when you pour it in the jar with the SCOBY & starter liquid. Once the gallon jar is full, place the cheesecloth or towel around the top opening and place the rubber band around the cheesecloth to seal the kombucha. This prevents any debris from getting into the tea and also allows the kombucha to breathe. This is your primary fermentation. You will allow the fermentation to happen for 7-11 days (sometimes shorter, sometimes longer).
Taste the kombucha every few days at first to see how it changes from day to day. Once you find a taste you are happy with, you are ready to start your secondary fermentation or bottle, refrigerate & enjoy. Make Sure you save ½ c. of the starter liquid for the next batch.
4) Secondary fermentation & Flavor
Secondary fermentation is where you will add any flavors that you like! This is also where the effervescence begins. Each batch of kombucha will be a unique result and experience; everyone has a different preference for how they like their kombucha. Once you have filled the individual bottles with the kombucha, add any kind of flavorings you would like. I like to use mango & ginger, or any fresh fruit that is locally available. The flavored, bottled kombucha will sit in a cool, dark place for 2-3 days. If you like your kombucha sweeter, you will let it ferment for less time. If you like it stronger & more on the vinegary side, more time. Once it has sat for its second fermentation and you are happy with the flavor you can store the bottles in the fridge.
~Reference for Homemade Kombucha & all other types of fermentation~
"The Art Of Fermentation" By Sandor Katz