Kombucha (kom-bu-cha) is tea that has been fermented with a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), typically fermented for seven to ten days. Kombucha, if fermented and bottled properly, should be naturally carbonated and is a wonderful and healthy replacement to sugary sodas.
Sadly, as is common in America, very few studies have been done on kombucha due to nobody standing to make a profit for something that is easy to make and costs only pennies a batch. However, kombucha has been used for a couple thousand years in other countries with many claimed health benefits. It has been known to improve digestion, metabolism, immune system, appetite control, weight control, liver function, body alkalinity, anti-aging, detoxing, cell integrity, and healthy skin and hair. It is also believed to help with acne, acid reflux, prevention of cancer, reducing the risk of arthritis, and increasing energy. You can use kombucha in place of apple cider vinegar in many cases and still get the same health benefits as you would’ve from the ACV, such as in the treatment of gallbladder attacks. If you are interested in reading more about kombucha’s health benefits you might want to start here and here.
Many of those who become interested in kombucha start by buying it at health food stores, which at several dollars a bottle can become expensive very quickly. Thankfully you can brew your own sweet tea and ferment it with a kombucha SCOBY. Now, you can buy a SCOBY online, however I much prefer to grow my own.
Start by buying a bottle of GT’s Synergy kombucha, which is my favorite brand. When I do this I usually buy two, one to drink (above picture) and one to grow a SCOBY (below picture).
Pour the kombucha evenly into two small glass cups or jars. Cover jar with a small cloth and secure with a rubber band. Place on a shelf where it will not be disturbed for several days.
I start checking mine on day three. You want to watch for the SCOBY to grow about 1/4 inch thick. Mine are usually ready day four-six.
Place SCOBY(s) in a three liter glass container, along with the excess kombucha, which will help with the fermentation process.
To brew your tea boil three liters of water on the stove along with 3/4 cup of sugar. Once the water reaches a boil turn the stove off and add three-four black tea bags, allow to brew for 15 minutes then remove bags. I use decaf tea due to caffeine being a trigger for seizures. Let the tea sit for a few hours until it reaches near room temperature so as not to kill the healthy bacteria of the SCOBY. If you are worried about the sugar most of it is used up during the fermentation process, so there will be very little left by the time you drink it. If that still concerns you, some have been able to make it with honey; however many have also reported that using other sweeteners may cause it to take longer to ferment and then becomes sour.
After your tea is cooled add it to your jar which contains the leftover kombucha and SCOBY, cover with a cloth, and secure with string, or a simple elastic headband (as used above).
Allow your kombucha to ferment for seven to ten days, tasting it until it reaches your desired flavor. Once ready you can begin the bottling and second fermentation.
Every batch of kombucha should result in a new SCOBY. They are not always pretty and even, as pictured above, but unless you see mold growing it should be perfectly healthy. It’s also rare for mold to grow, because as long as you provide food for the fermentation (sugar and a little leftover kombucha), have a SCOBY, and ferment it for the recommended period of time it should be healthy. Learn from my mistake though, do not abandon your SCOBY for months at a time, because that will cause it to mold and you will have to start over.
To bottle your kombucha you can use mason jars, leftover kombucha bottles, but I prefer these with the locking tops.
Fill up the bottles most of the way with kombucha, leaving a little room if flavoring is desired.
Fill up the bottle the rest of the way with desired juice. The above is a guava, apple, ginger juice which I made. If not using juice as a flavoring fill up the bottle most of the way with kombucha leaving about 1/2 inch room for air, and leave plain or add berries.
My new favorite flavoring tastes like apple pie. Fill up bottle most of the way with kombucha, leaving a couple extra inches of space to add organic (the flavoring of the organic is important here) apple juice and a small cinnamon stick.
Tightly seal bottles and store on the shelf for two-four days for the second fermentation process, which gives time for the kombucha to fully absorb the flavors and to become fizzy. Afterwards store in the fridge.
I hope this shows just how easy it is to make your own kombucha at home! While my favorite flavor is the apple pie, there are many options. You can add blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries with sliced ginger and lemon juice, ginger and lemon, lemon and lime, hibiscus, dried cherries or cranberries, etc. There are many options if you want to be creative!
What are some of your favorite flavors of kombucha? I would love to get to know you down in the comments bellow!