How To Make Kombucha

I am drinking a delicious chilled homemade kombucha as I write this.  And to my great satisfaction, I am happy to announce that my first batch turned out as good as I could have hoped.  My only “complaint” (if you can really call it that – I’m seriously so proud of myself and happy to open the refrigerator, finding 5 bottles of freshly brewed, carbonated kombucha tea waiting for my enjoyment!) is it only made 5 16oz bottles.  This means I can only have a little less than a bottle a day.  I’m greedy when it comes to my daily kombucha intake and wouldn’t mind if I had about 2 bottles.  And I certainly want enough to make where I can actually share with my friends and family.  So, with this in mind, I’m going to start and double the recipe.

If you want to make Kombucha, it’s really simple.  All you need are these ingredients:

* 1 gallon boiled water

* 2-3 black or green tea bags

* 1 healthy kombucha organism (oftentimes called a “mother” or “scoby”, which stands for ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts’)

* 1/2 cups organic raw sugar (some people use 1 cup)

* 1 cup existing kombucha fermented brew (I would recommend a GT’s Raw Organic Kombucha) – aka “mother brew”

The most difficult item to find is the Kombucha organism, but there are ways to get one.  Once you start asking around your local co-op and checking out their message boards, you might find a couple of local people who have been making their own kombucha for years and have extra organisms their existing scoby has made.  If you don’t want to go down that route, you can find them online.  A good website that I’ve known people to go through are HealthyVilliage.com.  I found that the easiest way to get one was to ask around, and strike up Kombucha conversations (easier than it sounds, trust me!).

METHOD:

Before anything, be sure everything in your kitchen (utensils, countertops, gallon jar you use, etc) are CLEAN.  Because this is an organic culture, in its raw state, a clean environment is the safest way to go.

Step 1: Boil water. Once water is boiled, "brew" tea bags in and let it steep for 8-24 hours. I used PG Tips tea bags (a personal favorite).

Step 2: Take tea bags out and add sugar, dissolving completely. The organism feeds on sugar; without it, you will not have kombucha, so there is no "replacement" for this. Additionally, the "sugars" are digested into the organism, producing organic acids, vitamins (primarily B and C), amino acids and enzymes. So, the sugar isn't really sugar anymore, but now healthy living organisms which are crucial to kombucha's reputable health benefits.

Step 3: Add mother brew to tea mixture, and pour this in your gallon-sized jar, then float "scoby" on top. Cover jar lightly with cloth, and seal tightly with large solid rubber band. Store in dark place (preferably in warmish 70 degree place for 7-12 days. Some use a seed mat, however I made a shelving system earlier this year to help germinate seeds. I covered one of the shelves, creating a "dark place" and took out the fluorescent grow lights, however left the bottom shelves' lights on, thus creating a warming system for the top, where I stored the Kombucha.

Step 4: On day of last fermenting period, pour Kombucha in clean glass jars (I recycled old GT’s Synergy Kombucha bottles), and store in refrigerator. From this point on, you can play around with different flavors. Original kombucha is a personal favorite, but my kids (and me too) enjoy the sweeter versions. From the garden, I pureed four strawberries for two of the Kombucha bottles (they turned out delicious!) and also about 7 Black Currant Berries for a separate Kombucha drink.

Black Currant Berries from our garden

Some who are skeptical of “living organisms” and homemade projects involving live cultures in ones’ kitchen, I can rest assure this is a very safe and healthy task.  Some might question the fermentation process with tea and yeast, creating an “alcholic beverage”.  This is a valid concern, however to put your mind at ease, while the yeasts do create alcohol, the bacteria in the cultures eats up the alcohol and produces organic acids.  Very small amounts of alcohol, about 1%, are left in the Kombucha.

There are so many wonderful benefits for Kombucha.  I find I feel more energized, balanced, and clear during the day when I have about 2 cups.  I forgo coffee or tea, and drink my Kombucha in place of any other caffeinated substance.  It’s a good feeling.  A cleansing feeling.  It has been claimed to improve metabolic disorders, HIV, arthritis, chronic fatigue, liver damage, allergies, hypertension, and cancers.  And, getting past the initial “shock” of its vinegary taste … it becomes a delicious treat.  So much, in fact, you’ll want to make it yourself.

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15 thoughts on “How To Make Kombucha

  1. Great step-by-step! Hope you don’t mind if I forward this to folks who are looking to make their own–especially in this time of the Great Kombucha Drought!

    Long live Home-Made!

  2. Hi Roberta,
    I just wanted to let you know I LOVE your blog. The photos are just beautiful and that garden gate is the absolute best! I must, must, must, print up a copy of that picture and make one similar…only, our garden has no name…it also has nothing growing in it except the cucumbers that came up in the compost pile…and lots of weeds.

    • Thanks for the lovely compliment, Anita! Cucumbers growing in a compost pile? I love it! Talk about sustainability, right? 😉 And, ooh, yes … the weeds are not a gardener’s favorite!

  3. Thank you! Now that GT Dave’s Kombucha is no longer around, I’m planning on making my own. I have the scoby. I’ll use this recipe and step-by-step and wow myself! Thanks again!

    • You bet! Also, if you get tired of the basic kombucha you can add ginger to it to give it a totally new “life” … a personal favorite for me has been putting strawberries and ginger combined! Yum!

  4. My friend of mine recommended this site to me (and has been making her own kombucha now for a few months) but I do have a question before beginning: I’ve heard wonderful things about green tea kombucha and its benefits (greater than black tea). What are your thoughts/opinions on this, and have you made it? If so, which brands would you recommend and how many tea bags would you use?

    • Thanks, Nichole, for reading! Like you, I’ve heard MANY wonderful things about green tea kombucha, yet have never tried it (maybe this should be added to my 2011 New Years’ list of things to do!) As far as health benefits are concerned, I wish I knew more information about it as a brewed kombucha. I know that as far as green tea vs black tea is concerned, it’s been an ongoing debate for a while (the study of which is better is a rather new research in its early stages). Some say green tea is better because of its higher antioxidant content, while some say black tea is better because until recently they’ve proven to have higher antioxidants as previously thought. I’m not a tea expert, but what I do know is there hasn’t been an answer yet as far as which is better of the two. Personally, I do enjoy the taste of black tea over green tea. As far as which green teas to use to brew for kombucha, I’ve heard that Bigelow Green Tea is a good one (this will be what I’ll use when I do make myself a green tea kombucha) 🙂 Hope this answers some of your questions!

  5. Hello! Thanks for an easy step-by-step tutorial … I’ve been looking for a simple kombucha process (and have heard it’s easy) … This looks perfect!

  6. I googled “How to make strawberry kombucha” and your site came up and I just wanted to say “Thank you!” I have just recieved my first schoby and I cannot wait to get started!

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