Brew Your Own Kombucha at Home!
Kombucha is all the rage in the health community these days. I have to admit, I’m somewhat addicted to it too! In case you still haven’t heard of it, I’ll fill you in on what it is, and how you can make your own.
Kombucha is an effervescent, fermented tea full of probiotics that boasts tremendous health benefits such as digestive balance, mental clarity and mood boosting effects. It is said to fuel the immune system and may even support weight loss. No wonder it has been around for centuries!
Since it has become popularized you can find it in all sorts of flavors at your health food grocery aisles. But, it can be healthier, cheaper, and more fun to brew it at home. The GT’S brand I often buy is anywhere from $3 to $5 a bottle, so doing it at home makes a lot of sense and cents!
Scoby– this is your prime ingredient. Scoby stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or more simply it it the living culture of organisms that produce your ‘buch. They eat the sugar and produce the fizzy health drink we’ve come to love. I got my scoby from a friend but she originally purchased hers from Kombucha Brooklyn.
Tea– black, green, white and oolong all work well. Avoid any with oils or treatments such as earl grey, chai or lapsing souchoung. Obviously each type of tea will produce a different flavor for your brew. You’ll need 12 grams of loose leaf tea or approximately 6 tea bags.
Evaporated cane sugar– I know we keep hearing sugar is the devil, but don’t worry, your kombucha devours most of it. The longer you brew it the less sugar content that remains. Eventually your kombucha turns to a vinegar if left long enough. You’ll need 1 cup for a 1 gallon brew.
Container– Glass, ceramic, stainless steel or wood. I prefer glass because it doesn’t alter the flavor of my brew. Avoid plastic. The best jar is shallow with a wide mouth.
Cotton cloth and rubber band– to cover your jar. Keep the bad stuff out and the good stuff in, plus just like you, your ‘Buch needs to breathe.
Temperature gauge-The sticker kind work best. Stick it to the outside of your brew container to easily monitor. Your kombucha needs a safe, warm place, out of direct sunlight. Keep the temp at a cozy 72-80F.
To start: Wash all of your equipment. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Once your water is rolling, turn off the heat and add in your tea or steeper. Let the tea steep for 20 minutes, then add in 1 cup of sugar and stir well. Add 8 cups of cool water.
Next: When the temperature goes below 90F you can pour it into your brew container and add as much cool water as you need to bring the liquid about 3 inches from the mouth of the jar. Add your Scoby and the kombucha it is floating in to the tea. Cover the jar with your cotton cloth and secure it in place with the rubber band.
Now: Place your brew in a safe, warm place and flex your patience muscles. Your brew won’t be ready for another 2-4 weeks! The amount of time you wait is up to you. I waited 10 days before I bottled mine. If you leave it long enough, eventually your ‘Buch will turn to vinegar. Play around with the brew length to create different flavor profiles. In about a week you will start to notice some weird stuff forming in your kombucha. This is the new scoby coming to life. As strange as it looks, most is normal as long as you followed protocol. If you have any doubts go ahead and do a google search.
Finally: After your kombucha has had some time to grow you can finally bottle it. This is when you get to add the fun. Change the flavor and create the effervescent effect by adding your favorite dried fruits, candied gingers, or chia. Make sure you leave 1.5 cups of kombucha behind for each scoby. After you add the fruit, cap your bottles and practice that special virtue just a little longer. In about 5 days you can move your bottles to the fridge. Once cold, crack one open and enjoy your hard work.
What to do with your Scoby: you can either repeat the process over again or you can transfer the Scoby with the survival kombucha to a smaller container and put it in the fridge to hibernate until you are ready to brew your next batch. You only need a piece the size of a deck of cards, so if your Scoby is a beast lop some off and start a second container or share with a friend!
A home brewed Kombucha made with patience and love tastes so much better than the bulk brews from your supermarket and saves you a pretty penny too! So be proud of your newest skill and get creative. What flavors do you like best?
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!