So you have heard of Kombucha, right? It is a fermented tea that is being sold widely in health food stores but even some conventional chain grocers are now carrying it. The price tag would have you believe it is some sort of magic elixir. It is true that many health enthusiasts swear by its ability to improve digestion, boost the immune system, and provide us with a source of healthy bacteria. I drink it myself but not for the health benefits, those are just a nice bonus. I drink it because it is a really tasty alternative to soda, which I love and for obvious reasons must avoid. Since the tea is fermented it has a nice bubbly effervescent quality that reminds me of the bubbles in soda. The bubbles just make your mouth feel all alive and happy.
My budget though is not so happy when I buy Kombucha. My family of five all enjoy drinking it and at $4-5 a bottle, it can get incredibly pricey. It was money then that motivated us to try making our own Kombucha at home. I kept seeing posts from my favorite bloggers about home brewing but honestly, the thought of the giant mushroom-like mass of bacteria called a SCOBY was a little scary. Did I really want to drink the end result of what seemed like a weird science experiment AND give it to my kids to drink as well? I dug deep and decided to try it. Turns out, it is actually very easy and what we make at home is every bit as tasty as what you buy in stores. $5 a bottle turned into a mere .20 cents a bottle and that is with organic ingredients. You cannot beat that!
Yields: 1 gallon
- A Scoby – This stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. You can buy this locally via home brewers on Craigslist usually or you can buy one online. I got a SCOBY from a homebrewer on eBay. The flat, squishy disc looks much like a mushroom and it is what will actually ferment the tea.
- Tea – A nice organic black tea or a blend of black and green teas works best.
- Sugar – For Kombucha you want to buy the white sugar that you might otherwise avoid. I know I prefer honey, maple syrup, and other more natural sweeteners but these will not work for Kombucha brewing. So buy regular organic, white sugar and don’t worry because the sugar isn’t for you, it is for the SCOBY to feed on. The sugar content at the end of brewing will actually be very low.
- A Glass Jar – A one-gallon jar works best. I use bulk pickle jars.
- Cloth Cover- The cover can be cheesecloth or to keep waste and cost down use a thin flour sack style dishcloth. They are pretty long so cut them down to the size you need and just wash and reuse as needed. Secure your cover with a rubber band. Air needs to be able to get it but you do NOT want bugs to be able to get in.
- Bottles – You will need bottles to pour the finished Kombucha into. You can buy all kinds of glass bottles on Amazon or you can reuse the bottles you bought with store-bought Kombucha and other beverages like apple cider and water kefir. We saved several dozen bottles for this purpose. You probably don’t want to pour it into a big open pitcher or some other container that is not airtight because the Kombucha will lose its fizz.
- Brew about 8 bags of tea with 3½ quarts of purified water.
- Add one cup of white sugar and allow the tea to cool.
- Pour into your brewing jar, leave room at the top for your SCOBY and for 1-2 cups of Kombucha leftover from a previous batch. If this is your very first foray then use whatever liquid came with the SCOBY you purchased.
- Cover the jar, secure it, and put it aside in a warm place (70-75 degrees) where it will not be disturbed for 7-20 days. Taste test after 7 days and see how you like it. If it is still really sweet and not very bubbly then let it go longer. Our sweet spot is about 14 days.
Once you are comfortable with the process it becomes easy to maintain a routine and stagger your batches so that you always have some brewing and also some available to drink right now. You can also get creative with flavoring by adding different fruit juices to the finished product. We love cherry and mango here and we also love adding chia seeds to our individual drinking bottles as well.
Are you ready to give it a try or are you already home brewing?
For other healthy drinks, check out:
- Chocolate Hazelnut Milk
- Homemade Almond Milk
- Ruby Red Apple Juice
- Cake Batter Milkshake
- Blueberry Chia Creamsicle Smoothie
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