Kombucha has been around for at least 2000 years and is basically tea that has fermented with a Simulated Colony of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY). The Scoby is sometimes called a mushroom, but that is not technically correct. It sounds (and looks) gross, but the result is a nutrient-rich and delicious, slightly sweet and tangy drink and the health benefits are amazeballs. My favorite is ginger flavored and I usually buy it at Costco, but I decided it was time to get back to making my own. I will share the recipe and brewing process below.
But first…the convincing
There are a number of benefits to drinking kombucha on the reg…
It helps the body with detoxification. It’s high in Glucaric acid, which binds to toxins, which are then excreted from the body.
It is a probiotic and is wonderful for gut health, digestion and immunity boosting.
Contains glucosamine, which is great for joint health.
It’s high in antioxidants and B vitamins.
Sugar and alcohol concerns?
Kombucha is made from a fermentation process, which means sugar must be involved and a small amount of alcohol is produced as a by-product of fermentation. As a result, an 8oz/250ml cup of brewed kombucha contains approximately 2-6g of sugar, depending on the brew. Not great, but the health benefits balance it out and it’s way better than a soda (avg 24g of sugar for 8 oz/250 ml)! There will be a tiny amount of alcohol as a result of the fermentation process also. However, the fermentation process itself limits the amount of alcohol in kombucha because as the yeast produces alcohol, the bacteria consume it, over and over again as part of the process. Most commercial kombucha has an alcohol level less than 0.5% ABV, which is the legal cut off allowing it to be considered non-alcoholic.
The brewing process
I called out friends on Facebook to see if they had any baby Scoby’s (yes, they “have” babies. More on this later), but wasn’t too successful, so I after learning over the holidays that Amazon will even deliver stamps, I tried my old faithful. Same day delivery. Winning. I got this one. Print
Author Claire Bartlett
- 1 Gallon/3.8L Glass container
- 1 Tightly woven cloth or muslin
- 1 Large elastic band
- 6 Black tea bags
- 14 Cups purified water (not tap)
- 2 Cups starter kombucha
- 1 Cup white sugar
- 1 SCOBY
- 5 16oz Fermenting bottles
- 1-2 Tbsp fruit, ginger etc to flavor
- Sweetener (optional)
- Boil the water in a large, clean pot.
- Add the sugar. Stir to dissolve.
- Add tea bags and allow to steep while the water cools to room temperature.
- Remove tea bags and place the tea solution in the glass container.
- Add starter kombucha.
- With very clean and gentle hands, place the scoby into the container with the tea and starter kombucha. Don’t be concerned if it sinks now, or at any point during the fermentation.
- Cover the container with the cloth and secure with the rubber band.
- Place the container in a darkish (not in direct sunlight) area at room temperature, where it won’t be disturbed for a week.
- After 7 days start taste-testing your booch. It should be slightly sweet with a little vinegar-like taste to it. The longer it ferments, the less sweet it will taste. You can continue to ferment for up to a week to reach your desired sweet/tangy level.
- With clean hands, remove the scoby and place on a plate. If you have a robust scoby you can remove a couple of layers and save in some of the kombucha tea as a spare scoby. These are the babies and they will continue to grow from the momma scoby. You can share these with friends! Or save them in a scoby hotel in case you get mold in a batch.
- Save two cups of kombucha to start the next batch. Once the bottles are filled, you can pop the momma scoby back in the large container and get ready to start a new batch.
- Strain and funnel the kombucha tea into the sterilized fermentation bottles, leaving a couple of inches at the top.
- Add any desired flavorings/sweeteners and seal. Experiment with different options.
- Place in a darkish, room temperature location to ferment for 2-10 days. The tea will become fizzy. Fizzy = pressure in the bottles. Check regularly to prevent explosions. Extra fruit or sugars added to the bottles will speed up the fermentation process.
- After a few days the bottles can be placed in the fridge to reduce the fermentation process.
- Enjoy your kombucha!
Be sure to use a glass container. Plastic can harbor nasties and metal can hurt the scoby.
Make sure everything is extremely clean and sanitized before you start.
If you purchased or were given a scoby, you should have been given some starter tea also. If not, use an unpasteurized, unflavored commercial kombucha as a starter.
Use a tightly woven cloth to cover the fermenting tea. It needs airflow, but not so much that fruit flies can get in – don’t use cheesecloth.
Use fermenting bottles that have good/airtight seals (swing top style is good) to allow for good fermentation. The number you use will depend on what size you prefer. After saving a few cups for the next batch, I used 4 1/2, 16oz bottles.
Try to ferment the tea in an environment around 70 degrees F/21 degrees C. Higher or lower temperatures will speed up or slow down the fermentation process.
If you see mold growing on your scoby (it will usually be black, green or white), get rid of the entire batch. There will be a whitish growth on the top of your brew. That is the new layer of Scoby growing – the baby.
It’s a process, but it’s worth it! And once you get into the swing of it the process is easy and flows well.
Have fun with it and let me know how it goes…