How I Made Kombucha

Since having a baby naturally, our life has been an ever-revolving door of information concerning health, natural living, etc. etc.  Well, it didn't take me long to learn about Kombucha, a fermented beverage that turns sweet tea into a carbonated probiotic drink! (healthy soda=yes please!) Kombucha has many health benefits including detoxifying the body, promoting digestion, healing the gut, and improving the immune system. 

Dealing with some very normal but annoying post-birth health drama, I wanted to get my hands on this stuff. And being the frugal-do-it-yourself-girl that I am, I wanted to find a way to save money while doing it. Another priority was to find a method that could be done EASILY. I started this experiment talking to several friends and doing a lot of research. I found several websites that all seemed to have differing instructions, so I tweaked them a bit to fit my preferences. I wanted to share this how-to project with y'all as it can be easily recreated by anyone!

Ingredients:

- approx. 14 cups filtered water

- organic white sugar

- organic green or black tea

- SCOBY (stands for 

Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) very high school science experiment...I know ;)

Supplies:

- 1 gallon glass jar

- old t-shirt, cheesecloth, coffee filter, or clean towel

- rubber band

- funnel

- 8 jars for bottling (these are commonly used)

* don't use any metal in this project as it will effect the chemistry negatively. 

If making your own SCOBY:

- bottle of original flavor Kombucha (I used Synergy Kombucha)

How to Brew:

1. First of all, you'll need a SCOBY. If you have a friend who makes their own Kombucha, you can get one from them. You can also buy them online from Amazon or places like this

But if you're like me, you drive to Natural Grocers and pick up a bottle of plain ole Kombucha and make your own! I got the original flavor, poured it into a mason jar, covered it with an old t-shirt and let it sit in my pantry for about 2 weeks. (You can see this in the picture above) Just let it sit and the SCOBY will grow. You'll want it to be about 1/2-1 inch thick. 

Here is a helpful video on how to do this. 

2. Once you have your SCOBY, bring 8 cups of filtered water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add 1 cup of sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar with a wooden spoon. Steep 8 tea bags in the warm water. Let it sit until just cool, but not much longer to protect the tea from growing any mold. 

3. After the tea has completely cooled, remove the tea bags and pour the tea into your 1 gallon jar. Fill with 5-6 additional cups of filtered water. 

4. With very clean hands, place the SCOBY along with any remaining Kombucha tea into your gallon jar. 

left: tea bags steeping

middle: what my SCOBY looked like after two weeks. A soft white/brown disk

left: the brand of tea I used, just the cheapest organic green tea I could find 

5. Cover your jar with an old t-shirt/cheesecloth/whatever you're going to use to let it breathe, and secure it with a rubber band. You want to let it sit for between 8-14 days, which will allow time for the tea to ferment. Basically the SCOBY eats away at the sugar in the tea, creating the probiotics and enzymes that make this drink so amazing! I kept mine on top of the fridge to make sure it was in a warm place. Warm environments will allow the tea to ferment quicker than cool environments, so you may need to adjust the time depending on where you live and what time of year. 

After day 8 I tasted my Kombucha and I liked it! 

The end result yielded a very mild Kombucha tea, definitely lighter than the ones I've tried from the store. I'm excited to try it with black tea, and even let it ferment longer to see how it affects the flavor! 

The longer you let your tea sit, the more vinegary the taste will be. The less time it sits, the more sweet. It really is all about you when it comes to the flavor! 

Bottling:

A friend actually donated a ton of old Kombucha bottles to me for this project. I am sooo grateful because this made it even easier and cheaper!

To bottle your Kombucha, place a funnel inside your bottles and use a measuring cup or spouted bowl to pour. You can just pour it in straight from the gallon jar, but this tends to make a huge mess, and you don't want to waste any of this tea!

Make sure to reserve about 2 cups of tea along with the SCOBY and keep it in a mason jar just like the first step. At this point you can go ahead and brew up a new batch. If you can't get to it right away you can keep the reserved tea + SCOBY in the fridge and the SCOBY will be "dormant" for up to 3 months. When you want to make another batch, just take it out and use!

The finished product, flavored with pear juice

Flavoring your tea: 

The easiest way that I've found to flavor my tea is to purée some fresh or frozen fruit and add it to my bottles before pouring in the finished tea. You could also just pour some fruit juice in! Fill the bottles about 2 inches high with your juice or purée. Come to think of it, you actually don't need to puréethe fruit at all, just cut up a few slices and plop them in! Do whatever works best for you. 

So far I've tried fresh strawberries, frozen mixed berries, frozen mango, and organic pear juice. My favorite has been strawberry by far! So light and refreshing :)

Here are some helpful links if you want to learn more:

Stupid Easy Paleo

Choosing your ingredients

Flavoring and Bottling

Easy How To for Beginners

(video under "more views")

What about you? What's your favorite flavor of Kombucha, whether store bought or homemade? Do you have any other tips or tricks for making this at home? Any questions? Would love to hear!

"How I Made Kombucha" is part of a blog relaunch series entitled "31 Days of Responding to Him" Follow along here