I. Love. Kombucha. And although I’ve been loving it for a while now, I didn’t always feel that way. The first time I tried it my initial reaction was, “ew no.” It was like a less sweet, more tangy soda with almost a vinegary taste that totally threw me at first. But then after about 10 minutes, I wanted another sip. I liked it a bit more, and by the time I finished that first bottle I was hooked! Considering how expensive it can be, and going along with my recent probiotic kick, I decided I wanted to learn how to make my own.
Kombucha is a fermented tea that contains tons of healthy probiotics – which in our overly sterile world we could all use more of. The basics of how this is made are: (1) make a big batch of plain black tea (a little green is ok as well, but the mother likes the caffeine content of the black tea so don’t use all green) and add organic unbleached sugar; (2) let it cool then slip in your “mother” aka SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) which is like a starter for your kombucha; (3) loosely cover and let sit in a dark area for about a week; (4) add a bit more sweetener and cover tightly for 2 days to perform a second fermentation if you want flavour or carbonation; (5) enjoy!
Why buy expensive probiotic pills that may or may not still have active colonies in them when you can make this yourself? When you make kombucha, you don’t need someone with a microscope doing quality control to ensure you’re getting live probiotics – you can just look at it and see the bubbles being made as a by-product of the healthy yeasts and bacteria eating the sugar out of the sweet tea mixture you make.
Once you have a ‘mother’ and the basics down, kombucha practically makes itself. I’m doing this now on a weekly basis, and always have an abundance of kombucha ready to enjoy and share. My mother also keeps making ‘babies’ so I’ve been trying to pass them around and get other people in on the probiotic fun! If you don’t know someone who can pass a SCOBY on to you, you can get one at almost any health food store, or even online.
1. Bring the water to boil, then remove from heat.
2. Add sugar & tea bags, stir, then let sit for 20 minutes.
3. Remove tea bags, and allow tea to cool.
4. Transfer tea into a large glass container, cover loosely with cheesecloth, paper towel, or a clean tea towel.
5. Place is cool dark place and leave alone for 1 week.
--After this, the kombucha is ready if you want it flavored / carbonated - continue to secondary fermentation. Remember to always set aside the mother in 1/2 cup of this ready tea to use as a starter for the next batch.
1. Remove mother & 1/2 cup kombucha to use as a starter for next batch.
2. Add 1 cup juice of your choice.
3. Transfer kombucha into multiple small bottles that can seal tightly with a lid and set aside for 1 day.
4. After 1 day, taste it - if it is too sweet or doesn't have enough bubbles - let it sit another day. Don't forget about it or it can explode!
5. When flavour and carbonation are to your liking, put in fridge to slow the fermentation process.
1. If you want green tea as well, you can use 3 black + 2 green tea bags but don't use tea with added flavors as it can damage your SCOBY.
2. I have tried pineapple, mango & apple juice and loved them all.
3. My secondary fermentation takes 2 days to create the taste & carbonation level I like, but I've heard that little things like temperature can make the kombucha ferment at different rates.
4. After a few ferments, your mother will have a medium sized SCOBY baby attached to her. Gently peel it off, and set aside in a container or zip-lock bag with 1/2 cup starter tea -- give them away to share the kombucha love!