Brewing Your Own Kombucha
Kombucha is a healthy fermented beverage brewed using sweetened tea. And most, if not all of the sugar is eaten by the S.C.O.B.Y. (or ferments out), so it has minimal effect on blood sugar.
Are you wondering, what is a SCOBY? Kombucha is brewed with a S.C.O.B.Y., which stands for Symbiotic Colony of Yeast and Bacteria, that consumes or eats the sugars in the sweet tea to create an acidic, vitamin and probiotic rich beverage.
I was first introduced to Kombucha by my Aunt Maura and I was intrigued…It was totally in line with my lifestyle; good for you, tasty, full of bubbles and if you make it at home, super affordable!
But like many I started out buying it at Sprouts and Whole Foods, limiting myself to a $9 weekly budget. And at $3 a bottle I treated like gold. I sipped gingerly, making each bottle last at least two days.
I have learned that Kombucha isn’t for everyone, but I was hooked and the cost seemed excessive or my consumption was excessive… But either way, I had to learn how to make this stuff.
Six plus years later, it is still a weekly routine. I make 20 to 30 bottles (some for friends) a week in about 20 to 30 minutes of prep time.
More good news, Kombucha contains glucaric acid. Glucaric acid is a substance with potential anti-cancer properties. According to Alternative Medicine Review, Kombucha “can remove carcinogens, steroids, and toxins in the liver”.
And there is a super long list of reported benefits of drinking Kombucha, here is the short version…
• liver detoxification
• improved pancreas function
• increased energy
• better digestion
• improved mood (helps with anxiety/depression)
• kills Candida (yeast)
• helps nutrient assimilation
Are you ready to make your own home brewed Kombucha? Here’s the thing, if you tried the stuff at the store you will be amazed at how much better yours will taste once you get it going. I have heard that many commercial brands do only one ferment and then some add Co2, which is cheating if you ask me ;(
So below you will find my routine and the supplies you will need. Note before you get started it will take 2 weeks to complete your first batch. But once you get going you will have a new batch each week and if you are consistent you will always have Kombucha in the fridge 🙂
The First Ferment
Supplies needed to brew basic Kombucha (the first ferment):
- 1-gallon glass jar (clean and sanitize before use)
- 1 gallon of brewed sweet tea (ratio: approx 1 cup of sugar per 1 gallon of tea) I use 8 to 10 regular small black tea bags per gallon.
- 1 S.C.O.B.Y. and 1 cup of the liquid from a previous batch of kombucha.
Need a kit to get you started on teh right foot? Check out my Kombucha Kit.
How to Brew:
One note when brewing your own kombucha, cleanliness is so important. Make sure all ingredients, tools you are using and your hands are clean.
- Prepare your sweet tea. Boil 1 gallon of water and 1 cup of sugar then add your tea bags.
- Make sure your tea is at room temperature before the next step. If your tea is too hot it can kill your S.C.O.B.Y.! I usually make my sweet tea the night before so it is room temperature when I am ready to brew the next day.
- Place 1 cup kombucha from a previous batch into your 1-gallon glass jar. When your sweet tea is cool add it to your jar, leaving about 2 inches of room at the top.
- With clean hands, gently place the S.C.O.B.Y. in the top of the jar of tea. It should float, but if it doesn’t, don’t worry. Sometimes it can take a little time for it to get comfortable. So just let it sit.
- Cover your jar with the coffee filter or a clean cloth and secure tightly with a rubber band to keep unwanted visitors out.
- Put the jar in a warm (around 70-75 degrees is best) corner of the kitchen where it is at least a few feet away from any other fermenting foods.
- Let sit to ferment for about 5 to7 days. The length of time can vary depending on your room temperature. Arizona summers can speed things up! To test the Kombucha stick a straw under the S.C.O.B.Y. and take a little sip. It should be tart and still a little sweet.
- If you are not doing the second ferment your kombucha is done! Just pour the kombucha into another jar with an airtight lid and seal and refrigerate until you are ready to drink.
The Second Ferment – Bottling
Fermenting kombucha a second time, which I call bottling, creates a natural slightly sweet soda. This is more like what you will find in the store only more affordable and, in my opinion, less harsh.
If you are bottling (making soda) you will need:
- 12, 16oz bottles with swing-top caps
- 3 cups of juice (I use organic apple juice)
- 1 cup of fruit (I use organic blueberries)
- Very important, clean or sanitize your bottles prior to each use. You can boil your bottles, use the sanitize feature on your dishwasher or buy a sanitizer solution from your local brew store. If you use a sanitizer solution make sure your bottles dry completely before you start. I also do this the day before.
- Using your blender, puree the apple juice with 1/2 cup of fruit, your choice. But avoid citrus fruits and juice as they do not get along with the S.C.O.B.Y.
- Fill each bottle with about 1 to 1.5 inches of the blended fruit and juice puree.
- Then top each bottle with your Kombucha (first ferment) stopping at the shoulder.
- Make sure to leave at least 1 cup of Kombucha from first ferment in your 1-gallon jar with the S.C.O.B.Y. to start your next batch.
- Once all of your bottles are filled, cap them and store on a low dark shelf or cabinet for about 5 to 7 days. Length of time may vary depending on temperature. Don’t be afraid to pop one open around 4 or 5 days to see where things are at. If you get a nice pop when opening, it is usually good to go!
- Repeat the steps above for the first fermentation, to start your next batch of Kombucha with the reserved liquid and S.C.O.B.Y.
I have heard from the people I have taught how to make Kombucha, that It usually takes them about 2 weeks to a month to perfect the process. So if the first batch isn’t quite right don’t give up. Sometimes it takes a little time for your SCOBY to get comfortable with bacteria and yeast that lives in your home.
Questions I have been asked about making Kombucha:
Do you wash the big jar used for the first ferment and if so when or how often?
I usually wash and sanitize my big jar about once every 3 to 6 months, give or take. But it seems to be perfectly happy if I do not 🙂
Why only fill 6 of my 12 bottles?
When your first 6 bottles are ready for the fridge in 4 to 7 days, it will also be time to bottle again and if you fill all of your bottles you won’t have any clean bottles available for your next batch.
If you have any other questions for me don’t hesitate to ask 🙂