Kombucha (lovingly referred to by some as “booch”) is a magic elixir of health and wellness. Okay, that may be a wee bit of a stretch, but kombucha—an ancient, fermented tea drink from Asia—is becoming more and more popular as people become more aware about the importance of a healthy gut: The fizzy beverage is full of probiotics and antioxidants, which helps with immunity and digestion. And we are going to teach you how to brew your own kombucha.
Now, the process of making kombucha might sound complex, but it’s actually pretty simple: A SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, also known as the “mother”) is placed in sweet tea (without any flavors or additives), where it then ferments the liquid to create a mixture of vinegar, alcohol, gases, acidic compounds, and probiotics that eventually becomes kombucha.
Simple, right? Let’s get started making your own, shall we?
- a large glass jar, wide mouth, something similar to this or this
- a cloth
- string or rubber band
- 8 black tea bags
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 SCOBY or “mother”
- 1-2 cups starter tea (2 for a large batch, 1 for a smaller batch) (some of the plain kombucha from the batch that the SCOBY came with, or from a bottle of GT’s original, unflavored kombucha)
- a dark, somewhat warm area for your booch to live
- a growler, jars or empty glass bottles with lids for your finished kombucha
- fruit, herbs, or juices for flavoring
- Start by bringing about 15 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.
- Add tea bags and sugar, and mix well.
- Remove the bags and let the tea cool completely.
- In the large jar, add your SCOBY, then pour the tea in when cooled.
- Cover with a cloth, and slightly seal with a rubber band or string so the cloth doesn’t move. Do not put a lid over it. This brew needs to breathe a little through the cloth.
- Set in a dark, non-cool place. I have mine on the back corner of my kitchen counter. I’ve seen people brew in a cupboard before, but I like to think the brew enjoys some air flow (or maybe I read that somewhere). Either way, find a place where it won’t be disturbed.
After about a week:
- Take a very clean spoon and sample the liquid. If you’ve had kombucha before, you know how it should taste. Slightly vinegar-like, a tiny bit sweet. If your booch is still very sweet, it may need more time to brew. This can be the case if you’re in a cooler climate. In a warmer climate, a week may be well enough time for your brew.
- Replace cover and let the booch continue to brew. Continue to check until your brew has the desired flavor.
- Carefully pour out all but about half a cup of the brew and the SCOBY into a growler, jars, or glass bottles. Leave the SCOBY and 2 cups of the brew in the large jar and cover.
- If you want to add flavor to your brew and get a little more fizz, add juice, fruit, herbs, or anything you’d like to use to flavor your brew at this step. I find juice works best for me.
- Put the cap on, and refrigerate for about a week. The brew should build up some fizz.
- Start a new batch of sweet tea, let cool, then add it to your SCOBY and brew to start a new batch.
- Open your refrigerated brew carefully and enjoy. Always replace the cap and refrigerate when not drinking.
A few helpful tips:
- Your SCOBY will grow with each batch. You can pull some of these layers off and give them to friends to start their own booch. Just be sure to give them about half a cup of the starter tea as well, or have them get some GT’s original to use as the starter (this tea needs to be clean booch: no flavoring, etc.)
- SCOBY are susceptible to mold, but I’ve never had an issue with it. There are tons of resources online for identifying mold, and a quick Google search will help you determine whether or not your SCOBY is molded or if it’s normal.
- There might be some weird floaty things in your bottle, and many of these are normal. Again, a Google search will help identify which particular thing you might see floating, and whether or not it’s normal.
- This site has a good FAQ for Troubleshooting.
- Don’t stress about putting a CUP of sugar into the tea. It’s not for you! The sugar is only there to feed the SCOBY. So if you avoid drinking sugary beverages, don’t fear; this is mostly eaten up during fermentation.
It’s been said kombucha also needs lots of good energy, and good vibes to brew properly, so don’t stress about the process! Have fun creating your probiotic-rich beverage, and know that mistakes happen.
Like us on Facebook!