I've been a regular kombucha drinker since I discovered it five years ago, but I only recently started brewing my own.
What is kombucha, you say? Kombucha is a fermented tea made by combining tea, sugar, and a SCOBY (an acronym for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). The SCOBY basically eats the sugar and creates this fermented tea that has acetic acid, probiotics, and a small amount of alcohol.
Kombucha has tons of health benefits including aiding digestion, promoting healthy immune function, and helping the body absorb nutrients. There are also claims that drinking kombucha will reduce one's risk of contracting heart disease and type II diabetes.
What you need:
12 cups water
3-4 tablespoons loose leaf black (or green) tea (or 5 teabags)
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 kombucha SCOBY + 1/2 cup liquid from previous batch
1 large glass container (with wide mouth opening at top)
1 breathable cover
1 rubber band
3 16oz glass bottles
1. Boil 4 cups of water. Steep tea in water for 5 to 10 minutes (depending on how strong you want your tea).
2. Using a strainer, separate out loose tea leaves. Add sugar and let tea cool for 5 minutes.
3. Pour tea into clean large glass container, then add additional 8 cups of water into container. Make sure your mixture is room temperature (heat will kill the SCOBY), then add your SCOBY.
4. Put breathable cover on top (I use a single paper towel) and secure with rubber band. Put your kombucha in a warm (but not hot), dark, well-ventilated place.
Brewing time is up to you! Let it ferment for 7 days then stick a straw in about 6 inches deep (beneath the SCOBY) and try your kombucha. If the taste is too vinegary for you, stop brewing and bottle immediately. If it is too sweet, you can let it ferment up to 6 weeks. Taste test every few days until you get the flavor you like.
You can also pH test your kombucha. Kombucha with a pH of 3 is supposedly the most beneficial.
When you are ready to bottle your kombucha, remove the SCOBY. You can start a new batch or store your SCOBY until you're ready to brew again.
If you want to add flavoring or prefer your kombucha more carbonated, you can do a secondary fermentation:
1. Strain kombucha and pour into your smaller glass bottles.
2. Add whatever flavoring you like. You can add lemon juice, fresh fruit, juice, ginger, herbs, etc.
3. Let kombucha ferment another 5 to 14 days. Refrigerate when you have desired taste.
Tips for brewing kombucha:
-You can order a SCOBY online, or if you know anyone who also brews their own kombucha they will likely have baby SCOBYs that they're looking to give away. When you receive your SCOBY it should be in at least 1/2 cup kombucha from a previous batch.
-Any caffeinated tea can be used, but black tea works best. Herbal teas do not have the nutrients to support the SCOBY. You can use a mix of black tea and herbal tea (use at least 1/4 black tea).
-Don't panic if your SCOBY sinks-- the fermentation process will still work!
-The SCOBY essentially "eats" the tea and sugar as your kombucha ferments. The shorter you ferment, the sweeter your kombucha will taste. The longer you let it sit, the more vinegary your tea will taste and it will have a lower sugar content.
-If your SCOBY has green, black, or pink spots on it, it has molded and you should toss the batch of kombucha and the SCOBY.
Feel free to comment with kombucha brewing questions, or any fermenting tips you've learned!