I love Kombucha! That beautiful fizzy drink packed full of gut-healthy bacteria is something I look forward to drinking every day. I love having my fridge stocked with my home brewed kombucha.
I realized quickly when I started drinking it that my daily kombucha habit could get expensive fast. At $3 – $4 per bottle, it adds up. When you have a few people in the house that like to drink it, your grocery budget can explode in a day or two. This is why I started brewing my own at home. It’s so easy!
What Is Kombucha?
When you break it all down, kombucha is fermented tea. It is thought to originate in China or Japan. You make it by adding bacteria, called a scoby, and sugar to your tea. You let it sit for a week or so to ferment. The scoby feeds off the sugar and ferments the tea. This turns into a light and fizzy vinegary drink.
What Is A Scoby?
According to Wikipedia, a scoby is short for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, is a syntrophic mixed culture of yeast and bacteria used in production of several traditional foods and beverages. It looks and feels like a slimy mushroom blob. This is why it’s sometimes called mushroom tea.
What You Need To Brew Kombucha At Home
Brewing your own kombucha at home isn’t hard to do. It requires more wait time than actual hands on time. If you can make yourself a cup of hot tea, you can brew your own kombucha. To start brewing, you’ll need:
organic tea: black or green, I think black is best, green can be a little tricky
organic cane sugar
a cover: you can use a cloth cover too
glass bottles: you can reuse old kombucha bottles too
Your scoby can be ordered from several places. I’ve gotten them from Amazon and from Azure Standard before. Also, if you have a friend that does their own home brewing, they probably have an extra scoby brewing somewhere. They tend to multiply. It should come with 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid, do not throw this out. This is starter liquid that you’ll toss in with your scoby baby.
Once you have a scoby, as long as you keep it healthy (brewing) it should last a long time. If you decide to stop brewing for a time, they can be stored in the refrigerator in the liquid for up to 3 months. Any longer than that and you should toss it and start with a fresh one.
You can use gallon size glass jars, it’s what I used for the first year of brewing. I prefer to use the half gallon mason jars now because the gallon jars can get a little heavy when they’re full. I’ve managed to injure both elbows and my back over the past year all at different times and the smaller jars are easier to deal with. If you’re not a big klutz like me, the big gallon jars would work for you. I prefer to get my gallon jars from Azure Standard with my bulk order each month. They’re half the cost than the ones on Amazon.
You want to make sure that you use glass jars. Plastic containers, even food grade, can leach chemicals into your brew. Bad bacteria can harbor in scratches in the plastic. You want to keep your scoby healthy so glass is always recommended.
You can use black or green tea. It’s really just a preference thing. Some people use other teas such as white or oolong. When you’re starting out, it’s best to stick with the basics. There has been some talk about how green has more antioxidants, etc. I just don’t get the same flavor when I brew with green tea. I usually choose a basic black tea, just make sure you choose organic. Tea is a heavily sprayed crop and again, you don’t want bad things hanging out with your scoby. If you’re a Yogi tea fan, I am, they recently came out with a green tea kombucha tea bag that I plan to try soon.
Organic Cane Sugar
Sugar, gasp! I know. You’re trying to avoid sugar and I’m telling you to put it in your tea. Finished kombucha actually has little sugar. Your scoby is going to feed on the sugar so little is left once it’s all said and done. Again, you’re going to want to pick an organic brand. We don’t want any bad apples influencing our scoby baby, ha!
I usually buy my organic cane sugar in my monthly bulk order from Azure Standard. I’ll buy it in a 50lb bag and usually have enough for the year. I tend to only use it for my home brewed kombucha so it lasts awhile. I prefer honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar and monkfruit as everyday sweeteners but in this case, you need regular cane sugar.
When I started brewing kombucha, I just took a tea towel and hooked it to my glass jar with a rubber band. This works well. However, I like being able to see into my jars at quick glance and tea towels make my brain think of clutter. I know I’m weird. While I’ve dealt with it for quite awhile, I’ve recently found a special kombucha lid.
These lids are completely boujee and probably seem silly to some but they make me happy. In my kitchen, that’s all that matters. I like them because they have a super small screen that lets air in but keeps contaminants out.
The best part is they’re color coded so I easily know which bottles to grab for this week’s brew. I work on my batches each Sunday and Wednesday. The colors let me know which week I’m working on. This Sunday it’s the red bands that I’m swapping out for a new batch. I just make a note in my planner so I know which one to grab. It takes 10 days in my kitchen to brew a 1st ferment. I used to have to mark each jar each time I made a new batch. The colored bands eliminates these extra steps.
Finally, you’ll need containers for your new home brew. Each time I’ve purchased kombucha from the grocery store, I kept the bottle. I now have a small collection. If you’re just starting out you don’t need fancy glass bottles. You can always store your brew in mason jars in the fridge. I just like the bottles because I’m reusing bottles instead of sending them to recycling or the trash. Also, they fit in the cup holders in my car. Use what you have.
How To Actually Brew Kombucha At Home
Once you have all your supplies, it’s time to become a home brew master. The process is easy. I make a gallon at a time. This is how I make two 1/2 gallon jars. If you’re using any other size, it’s just a little math.
In a clean, 1/2 gallon mason jar, add 1/2 cup of your organic cane sugar.
Add 4 organic, black tea bags to each jar.
Heat your water to a boiling point. I like to warm up the jar before adding the hot water by running hot water around the outside of the jar.
Add your hot water to the jar and stir to dissolve the sugar. Let it sit until completely cool. Do not add your scoby to the jar while the water is still hot. It can kill your scoby.
Once the tea is completely cool, remove your tea bags and add your scoby and the reserved kombucha that comes in the package. Add your lid/cloth and let it sit until it’s ready. This will depend on the temperature of your kitchen. We keep our house relatively cool so a first brew takes about 10 days.
At this point, you can drink your kombucha as is. I am not a huge fan of the original vinegar drink. I like mine a little fruity. This is where a second ferment comes into place.
For a second ferment, take the original vinegar tea that you just brewed and add it to some organic fruit juice (tart cherry is our favorite!) and let it sit in a dark place for a few more days. I like to add 1/3 organic fruit juice and 2/3 kombucha tea. I don’t measure, I just eyeball it. Leave it to sit in the pantry for 3 days before putting it in the fridge. Cold kombucha is sooo good on a hot summer’s day!
Do you drink kombucha? Have you ever made your own home brew? What are your favorite flavor combos? Let me know below!
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