If you haven’t heard of Kombucha, or don’t know much about it, this is a very popular probiotic-friendly tea that is a great addition to any healthy diet. This isn’t your regular kind of tea, but it often includes types you may be familiar with if you are a tea drinker. Often using black tea as a base ingredient, yeast – referred to as a SCOBY – is combined with other items that actually ferment the tea into a blend of nutrient rich goodness.
A SCOBY is also referred to as a mushroom, mother, or a starter culture. Think of this as the same type of base needed to make great sourdough bread. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. This mother culture is the key to the many nutrients that are created in a home brewed Kombucha. If you know someone locally who has a good supply of SCOBY, you just need a mother culture from them. Or, you may purchase one online from any one of the reputable suppliers that are available now.
There are several commercially bottled Kombucha teas on the market today. Many are flavored teas due to the fact that raw Kombucha tea is rather bitter tasting. Let’s also not forget that they’re a bit pricey for individual bottles, but you can make your own for a fraction of the cost. Choosing to make your own Kombucha also means that you get to create your own mother SCOBY for the next batch.
Here are the ingredients and tools you’ll need to make homemade Kombucha:
1 large glass container (not plastic or porcelain), sterilized
1 gallon of filtered water
6 to 8 black tea bags (however, may use any tea of your choosing)
1 cup to 1 ¼ cup of sugar (depending on your preference for sweetness)
1 Kombucha SCOBY from a reputable source
1 cup Kombucha tea that your SCOBY culture was stored in when you received it
1 coffee filter big enough to go over the mouth of your glass container, or clean cheese cloth
1 large rubber band (to go around the glass container)
1 – Sterilize all your tools that will be used, and this includes your hands. This is an important step! Your goal is to create a healthy Kombucha, so don’t let any harmful bacteria side-track that.
2 – Boil the water in pan and add the tea bags.
3 – Once the tea has brewed on the stove for a minute, remove from heat and turn off the burner. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature before moving on to the next step. This is highly important, as your SCOBY is highly sensitive to changes in temperatures. If you add tea that is too hot to your mother culture, you run the risk of killing it. Room temperature (not cold) is best.
4 – After cooling to room temperature, pour the tea into the glass container. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved completely.
5 – Add the cup of pre-made Kombucha tea that came from either a previous batch you made or what came with the SCOBY you purchased. This helps the tea ferment quicker, since that one cup already has many of the necessary (and healthy) bacteria in it.
6 – Gently place the SCOBY just on the surface of the tea in the glass container and let it float there. A quality SCOBY floats fully on top of the tea. If it floats for a bit and then drops down a little, that’s okay. Don’t’ attempt to force it to float again – just leave it alone. But, be watchful during this process, because a SCOBY that doesn’t float at all indicates that you have a bad starter culture.
7 – Place the cheese cloth or coffee filter over the entire mouth of the glass container. Keep it in place with a large rubber band.
8 – Move and place your container in a warm place to allow it to ferment and mature. The whole fermentation process usually takes three days, but may be a little longer if you have a young SCOBY, as well as the room temperature of the location where you placed it.
Remember that the longer you leave the Kombucha to brew and ferment, the more potent the tea will be in the end. However, stronger Kombucha has a more sour taste than if you were to stop the process sooner. Test it out with different timing to find the timing that is best for you.
9 – When you find the best flavor for your batch (based on how long you allowed it to ferment), pour the tea into glass jars (yes, sterilize them), and seal them with good lids. Store the jars in a cold place for a few days before serving.
Don’t forget your SCOBY! Take enough of your newly brewed Kombucha tea and cover the SCOBY with that in a glass container. You may reuse this for your next batch, and watch it grow another SCOBY with use for you to separate and either use to make more batches or give away to a friend. Just make sure that your SCOBY is fully covered in tea to avoid molding.