Kombucha is a delicious probiotic-rich drink that’s thrifty, fun and easy to make. Rumored to have originated in China around 200BC, societies throughout the world have been brewing kombucha for centuries. It is made by placing a strange gummy mushroom-like life form, called a scoby, into a gallon of sweetened tea.
SCOBY is actually an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, and the kombucha gets its unique flavor and probiotic power because the scoby ‘eats’ the sugar and components of the tea leaving delicious, nutritious kombucha behind. A gallon of this stuff costs pennies, but will pay you back with thirst-quenching, nutrition-packed goodness.
A great alternative to juice or sodas, most kids are quick to acquire a taste for kombucha when they don’t have the alternative of sugary junky drinks.
Currently my family of four has four gallons of kombucha brewing at all times, and we still manage to run out. I am considering ordering another two gallon jar to keep up with demand or getting some warming mats to speed up the brewing time.
Need a kombucha scoby or continuous brewing kit? Click here to get one now.
Ingredients for making kombucha
- 1 kombucha SCOBY – get it here
- 1 cup per gallon of reserved kombucha from a previous batch (or liquid that came with your scoby)
- 1 cup organic white sugar
- 5-10 organic black tea
- filtered water (don’t use tap water!)
Supplies for making kombucha
- 1 gallon glass or ceramic container, no lid necessary (do not use metal or plastic).
- 1 clean tea towel
- 1 large rubber band
- a funnel
- a pitcher or a spouted bowl
- glass storage jars or bottles with tight fitting lids
How to make kombucha…
Make your tea in the ratio of 1 cup of organic white sugar for each gallon of black tea. I use a two gallon glass cookie jar (like this one) and 20 organic black tea bags. You may need to adjust the amount of tea depending on the brand or variety you choose.
Add boiling filtered water to fill your container half way. Allow the tea to seep for 5-10 minutes until brewed darkly.
Add cool filtered water so that your container is about 85% full.
When the sweetened tea is cooled to body temperature, add your scoby.
Don’t forget to add the accompanying reserve liquid.
Cover with a tea towel, and mark your jar with today’s date. Store your brewing kombucha in a warm dark place away from other fermenting foods or potential mold. Starting around 14 days, begin tasting your kombucha. It should be tart and zingy, slightly sweet, but not cloying.
In the winter you may need to brew your kombucha for much longer that 2 weeks. Try placing it near your (working) slow cooker, or near a warm appliance. You can also purchase mats (like these seedling heat mats) to keep your kombucha comfortably warm and reduce brewing time.
When your kombucha is ready, with clean hands, remove the scoby gently from the newly brewed kombucha and place in a separate bowl.
Reserve approximately 1 cup of kombucha per gallon and add it to the scoby in its bowl.
Your next task is pouring the kombucha into bottles for storage. For this, I like to first transfer my liquid goodness into a spouted bowl to make the pouring easier.
Find a good combination of spouts and funnels to pour the kombucha as neatly as possible.
Store your kombucha in glass bottles with tight fitting lids. I got these wire-held stopper bottles at Ikea, and the two at the far end have tight screw on tops (I don’t remember where I got them).
For extra fizz, allow the sealed bottles to sit at room temperature for 24 hours until refrigerating.If you would like to flavor your ‘bucha, now’s the time.
Experiment with filling 1/8 of your bottle with a fresh squeeze juice, or add a teaspoon of almond or vanilla extract. (Note: Adding flavoring during the first brew will increase the likelihood of mold or contamination of your scoby).
When your bottles are filled, it’s time to begin the process again so you will never be without your ‘bucha.
Be sure to check out next week’s post here on kombucha’s frequently asked questions where we will discuss mold, scoby health, caffeine and sugar content, continuous brewing, and more.
Need a kombucha scoby or continuous brewing kit?