Kombucha is a fermented beverage that is loaded with beneficial microorganisms. It has a slightly sweet taste and can be fizzy like sparkling water. Similar to taking a probiotic capsule, drinking kombucha adds beneficial bacteria to your gut. Having a healthy gut is vital to your health. The gut is where your body absorbs the nutrients you take in. You can eat all the vegetables and drink all the green juices, but if your gut is not absorbing the nutrients, then you are not benefiting from these healthy foods. Eating fermented foods and drinking fermented beverages like kombucha can give your gut a probiotic boost.
Making your own kombucha saves money and allows you to customize the kombucha to suit your tastes. It’s a two step process that takes about two and half weeks total. The first phase is the initial ferment. This is when the SCOBY turns the sweetened black tea in to a fermented beverage. The second phase is where you add the flavor (fruit juice) to the kombucha and it gets fizzy. We prefer ours slightly less sweet with a nice ginger kick to it. The flavor combinations are endless.
How to Brew Kombucha: Supplies
First, you will want to gather your supplies.
- 1 SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) – you can get this from a friend or online
- 1 gallon glass jar
- 6 16 oz. glass brewing bottles/flip top bottles
- 10 bags of organic black tea
- 1 cup raw organic sugar
It’s important to make sure that your glass jars, funnel, hands and any other equipment being used are very clean. I like to run my bottles through the dishwasher before I use them. You could also just was them with really hot, soapy water or rinse them with vinegar.
How to Brew Kombucha: Part 1 – Initial Ferment
- Make sweet tea: Boil 6 cups of water in a pot on the stove. Once a boil is reached, remove from heat and add 10 bags of organic tea (or equivalent of loose tea). Brew for 3 – 4 minutes. Discard tea bags and add 1 cup raw organic sugar to the tea. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. The sugar and caffeine get consumed by the SCOBY during the fermentation process, so the resulting beverage is not loaded with either sugar or caffeine. They serve as the food for the SCOBY and keep it alive to let it do its fermentation thing.
- Add the sweet tea mixture to your gallon glass jar. Fill the rest of the jar up with water, leaving enough space for about 1 cup of existing kombucha. The tea needs to be room temperature before the SCOBY can be added. I typically add cold water to my tea during this step to quickly cool down the hot tea.
- Next, pour about 1 cup of existing kombucha into your sweet tea mixture. Using very clean hands, place the SCOBY in the tea.4. Cover the top of the glass jar with a paper towel using a rubber band to secure it in place.
5. Place your kombucha in a dark, cool space in your home. We brew ours in our pantry and cover it with a dish towel to block the light. Leave your kombucha here untouched for about a week and a half to two weeks. How long you brew the kombucha depends on how you like it to taste. The longer you let it go, the less sweet and more vinegary it will become. We have found ours tastes best after about 2 weeks. You can taste test the kombucha during the fermentation process using a straw: stick the straw in the kombucha, plugging one end with your finger so that you can take some.
How to Brew Kombucha: Part 2 – 2nd Ferment
After your kombucha has gone through the initial ferment outlined above, it’s time for the 2nd ferment. This is when the flavor gets added.
- The first step is to remove the SCOBY from the brewed kombucha: Using very clean hands remove the SCOBY from your kombucha and place in a clean glass container with enough of the brewed kombucha to cover it. Next, using your fruit of choice, juice enough to yield 12 ounces of juice. Our favorite combination is orange and ginger.
- Pour ¼ cup of juice into each brewing bottle (16 oz. glass flip top bottle).
4. Place bottles back into the dark, cool space they were in for their initial ferment. Leave the bottles here for another 2 – 3 days. Once the 2nd ferment is done, store in the refrigerator. Be careful when opening the bottles, they can be under a lot of pressure. I have had some shoot kombucha all over my kitchen. Treat it as you would any carbonated beverage.