Kombucha at the supermarket is so expensive; I totally get why many people haven’t tried it yet. But when you do, watch out…you’re hooked. It has the perfect amount of sweetness, a delightful fizz, and best of all, it’s healthy! It helps populate your gut with probiotics, contains green tea’s antioxidants (polyphenols), and has even been shown to kill harmful bacteria!
My dream is that this delicious health elixir could be easily accessible to everyone. I started brewing my own kombucha about 5 years ago when I was living in Scotland as it was not available in any of the local shops at the time. It is such an easy process and while it does take a bit of time to become ready, it’s almost entirely passive time; you just prep it and forget it. I am going to show you how to do it for pennies per bottle!
You will need:
- 1 SCOBY (see point #1 for where to find)
- Plain green or black tea bags (I always use organic green)
- Granulated sugar (unrefined such as Turbinado is great, but do not substitute a different type of sweetener- see point #2
- 1 cup raw kombucha from a previous batch (or store bought), or Apple Cider Vinegar
- Fruit, herbs, and spices of your choice
- Get a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria & Yeast): There are a few ways to do this- either ask a friend who brews the ‘bu (each new batch generates a new SCOBY so they’ll probably be happy to share), buy one online, or grow your own from store-bought kombucha. The SCOBY is the home for the bacteria and yeast that transform plain old sweet tea into the delightful drink we want!
2. Boil a little over 1 gallon of water (any water will do, but I use filtered) for 10 minutes to eliminate any chlorine. Next, add 4-5 tea bags and let them steep. It’s best to start with a simple green or black tea, as the oils found in other types of tea can affect the SCOBY. You can modify the flavor later. Once you remove the tea bags, add 1 cup of sugar; use regular granulated sugar (unrefined is great- I use turbinado) as other sweeteners such as honey will affect the pH and degrade your SCOBY. Don’t worry about drinking all that sugar- the bacteria will “eat” it and it will become less sweet each day!
3. Let the tea cool to room temperature. It is important to be patient and let it cool as heat can damage the SCOBY (yes, it is very delicate!). When it is cooled, add it to a large glass or ceramic container and drop in the SCOBY with 1 cup of old kombucha or ACV. The old brew is important to help maintain a healthy pH. Cover the top with cheesecloth so the kombucha can “breathe” but flies and particles cannot get in. I like to use multiple layers. Secure with an elastic.
4. After 3 days, taste test a small amount of your brew with a nonreactive utensil (wooden or stainless steel are best). If it is to your liking, then it is ready. If it still tastes too sweet for your preference, let it continue brewing and test the taste each day.
5. Once the kombucha is as (un)sweet as you’d like, remove the SCOBY (store it with 1 cup of the kombucha for your next batch) and pour the brewed kombucha into a container (or multiple containers) that can be sealed. Add flavorings such as berries, ginger, lavender, melons, basil- whatever you like! Personally, I do not recommend citrus fruits as I’ve never had a good experience with the outcome. I will post some of my favorite recipes in a later blog.
6. Seal the bottle for 2-7 days. Sweeter fruit and warmer temperatures will accelerate the process. Check each day after 2 days to see if you are happy with the fizziness- you need to open the bottle anyway to prevent excess carbonation causing the bottle to explode!
I hope you enjoy!