Make your own Kombucha

You can hear this recipe on HHH Episode #12: Food Friday

Today, kombucha is frequently seen in most grocery stores throughout the country. Originally known as a "hippie" drink,  kombucha is now more accepted and is a great way to get beneficial probiotics into your diet. If you want to save money and have kombucha ready to drink whenever, you can make your own kombucha easily and affordably. Let's go over a few of the very important  ingredients and rules to brewing your own kombucha.

 

 

  • The SCOBY:  Symbiotic Colony Bacteria and Yeast

To make kombucha you will need a scoby. Sometimes referred to as a mushroom, the scoby is a colony of bacteria and yeast that live together in symbiosis, but it's not really a mushroom (which is fungi).  When making your first batch of  kombucha, you will need a mother scoby. Each time you make a new batch of kombucha your mother will grow babies, get thicker, and will allow you to share or make multiple batches at one time. It is very easy to find a kombucha starter kit, which includes a scoby usually in a mother liquid, on the internet. Check out this Amazon, there are literally dozens of options. 

The Rules

When making kombucha there are a few very important factors that must be followed. Always follow the directions on your starter kit if you receive it in the mail. Each kit can be different and may require a different set up.

The directions below would likely apply to your second batch of kombucha, but some can get a baby from a friend, so the below directions could apply to that as well. 

  • Make sure that everything used in the making of your kombucha is clean! This means all your jars utensils hands and any other containers used to make or transfer your scoby or brew must be thoroughly clean and disinfected. DO NOT use soap when cleaning! Soap residue can kill the scoby. Use hot water to rinse everything, and then disinfect with white vinegar. This includes cleaning your hands. When transferring the scoby from one batch to another, your hands must be completely clean as well as the containers it is going into. if you do not have a clean procedure, your scoby could grow mold, which means you will have to throw it out. Also make sure that if you acquire a scoby from someone else, that they have never experienced mold in their mother scoby. Even if your baby doesn't show mold, but the mother did, your scoby is infected.
  • Use filtered water for brew. Chlorine can kill the scoby so it's best to use filtered water that has filtered out chlorine. You will be boiling water for the tea, which can displace most of the chlorine, but use filtered water if possible.
  • Use caffeinated teas such as black, green, white.
  • You must use sugar, this is what the scoby eats. We prefer organic coconut palm sugar or organic sugar.
  • We prefer using loose leaf teas.  Tea that is bagged, unless it is organic, can create chemicals from the bag to seep into the brew. it's best to use loose leaf teas to avoid this.
  • Do NOT put your scoby in hot brew. Your tea must be room temperature before adding the scoby so that you don't kill it.
  • Your ready to go brew must be covered with a breathable fabric, coffee filter, or thick paper towel. The scoby will not be able to ferment if it is not exposed to air, but if you completely seal the jar you will suffocate it. Also make sure that your fabric is completely sealed with a rubber band around the jar. a cover that can loosely fall off or increase the liquid to exposures, will increase your chances of growing mold.
  • Allow your scoby to brew in a quiet warm place. This living organism does not like to be moved, jostled, or bothered.  
  • Always add 1 cup of the mother liquid with the scoby when transferring it to a new batch of brew. It needs this mother liquid to begin the process in the new batch. (forget this one step, and your kombucha will not turn out right.)
  • Do not completely seal your scoby and put it in the refrigerator.
  • Leave it be for 7 to 14 days. The longer it sits the more fermented it will become, so it depends on your taste. We like around 10 days.

 

Your supplies:

 

  • Large glass bottles, enough to hold 1 gallon of liquid
  • Cheesecloth, coffee filter, or thick paper towels.
  • Rubber bands to go around jar. 
  • One scoby
  • Black, green, or white tea.  Remember it needs caffeine. 
  • Organic sugar of some kind.
  • Distilled  vinegar (optional- read below)
  • Filtered water
  • Bottles with tight lids, we like canning jars.
  • Funnel for transferring liquid. 

OK lets make it....

Brew your first batch of black tea. You will need:

  1. 3-4 quarts filtered water
  2. 1 cup organic sugar
  3. ¼ cup black, green, white tea leaves or 6-8 tea bags (This makes a pretty strong tea – if you want a weaker batch, you can use less tea.)- You can use teas that are flavored as well, this will add more robust flavors. 
  4. 1 SCOBY

(----1 cup of distilled vinegar (this is ONLY if you have NO starter liquid from another batch or your first kit)----)

Now...

  1. Boil filtered water and steep tea until at desired taste.  Remove tea or tea bags,  add sugar, swirl, then add one to two more courts filtered water, and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Add scoby and mother liquid, (remember CLEAN your hands!!)  or vinegar if you don't have mother liquid.  DO NOT add scoby to hot liquid!!
  3. Make sure to leave room at the top of the jar for fermentation. basically don't overfill the drawer.
  4. Cover with your cloth,  and seal with a rubber band. Move to a quiet warm place and leave alone for about 10 days.

When your kombucha is done and you are ready to bottle it...

  1. Make sure to sanitize your hands with vinegar.
  2. Move the scoby out of your jar along with 1 cup of mother liquid and place in another clean and sanitized container.
  3. If you want to drink this brew now pour into bottles, seal, and store in the refrigerator.

If you would like to do a second fermentation with fruits...

  1.  Add your choice of fruits such as strawberries, mangoes, pineapple, blueberries, to your jars.

  2. Pour the kombucha over the fruit, seal, and put in a warm, dark place for another 3 to 5 days to ferment.

  3. If you aren't used to doing this second fermentation start with trying one jar to see if you like it,  so you don't destroy your entire batch of kombucha.

Green Tea Kombucha, SCOBY in background. 

Green Tea Kombucha, SCOBY in background. 

This is a great time to go ahead and make your next batch with your scoby, and the baby it has produced.

  1. Again make sure to clean and sanitize your equipment and jars, and follow the steps above to making your next batch.

This way you never run out of tasty kombucha! Experiment with different teas and sugars, until you find the ones you really enjoy!