The Joy of Homemade Kombucha!

Do you love buying kombucha from the store, but hate paying those prices?  Have you ever considered making kombucha at home?

Hey y’all.  Long time no see!  Sorry for the neglect.  I’ve actually been struggling with what direction I want to take this blog and how to go about getting there and I haven’t made up my mind yet, but I’ve at least got an exciting post to write about Kombucha today.  Recently, I’ve been on a kombucha kick.  It’s just so good!  The cool, refreshing fizziness and the supposed health benefits and it’s something to drink that isn’t water since water is all I normally drink.  But at more than $3 a bottle, the price tag  for this kick is adding up quickly.  So I took to the internet and to Pinterest to guide me in a quest for a solution.  I am super excited to share with you what I’ve learned and how my journey has progressed so far!!!

So, what in the world is kombucha?  Kombucha is a fermented, lightely effervescent (I prefer fizzy) sweetened black or green tea.  Kombucha is produced by fermenting tea using a “Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast” lovingly known as a SCOBY.  The origins of Kombucha are unknown, but it has been brewed for thousands of years around the world and the name translates to “tea fungus” or “tea mushroom.”

Kombucha!
Kombucha!

Many people claim kombucha is excellent for health and a quick google search will show you thousands of websites touting health benefits.  However, there is no scientific evidence or studies proving these health claims.  Therefore, I am not here to tout its health claims, I’m here to offer an alternative drink that is delicious and exciting to make.  I will say, from personal experience, that I FEEL better when I drink kombucha, but again, this is not scientifically backed.  It has been said that due to the yeast and bacteria in kombucha that it is a great pro-biotic and is excellent for gut health.

Let’s get started on how to make the magic happen!!!  I’m going to preface this with when you’re making kombucha, the need for cleanliness is great.  You need to make sure you’re thoroughly washing EVERYTHING (especially your hands).  Make sure all surfaces and utensils are clean.  You do not want any kind of contaminants or your mother (SCOBY) will fail.  Keep cleanliness on the forefront of your mind when you’re brewing and you’ll be golden.

The Makings of a Mother

Terminology: SCOBY describes the colony of yeast and bacteria present, but a mother is the actual mushroom top used to make kombucha.  More often than not, the two are used interchangeably, I won’t get too picky here and will most likely call it a mother from here on out.

Mothers can look very different
Mothers can look very different

I started my SCOBY from store bought kombucha.  It is recommended to use the original, non flavored kombucha from the store, however, when I went to buy kombucha that day, they were out of original.  Not wanting to wait or go to another store, I chose 2 bottles that seemed to have the least amount of juice added to them.  You also want to make sure you’re buying raw and not pasteurized kombucha.

Materials needed:
-Glass bowl
-Filtered water
-Raw original (no fruit juice added) Kombucha from the store
-Green or Black tea with caffeine
-Granulated sugar
-A clean towel-paper towel or linen towel
-A big rubber band

*Boil 2 cups of filtered water (tap water tends to have too much chlorine in it).
*In your glass bowl, add 2 tea bags, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and pour in your 2 cups of boiling water.
*Allow to steep for 10 minutes.
*Stir to make sure sugar is dissolve, then allow to cool to room temperature.
*Add in entire bottle of store bought kombucha.  Do not use metal once you’ve poured in your kombucha.
*Cover bowl with your towel, secure with giant rubber band.
*Place in warm, dry place (I put it on top of my fridge) for 14 days!

That’s it!!!  Now you can forget about it for 2 whole weeks.  I kept checking on mine, but I couldn’t really tell if anything was happening.  It’s not very exciting to watch.

The beginning of something great...albeit kinda weird looking.
The beginning of something great…albeit kinda weird looking.
The small white spots aren't mold, they're trapped CO2 gasses.
The small white spots aren’t mold, they’re trapped CO2 gasses.

My SCOBIES turned out really ugly and weird looking, but don’t worry, they’re not supposed to be beautiful.  They actually start looking smoother and nicer after you’ve used them a time or two.

 

How to make kombucha!
I have a SCOBY, now what in the world do I do?!?!?!

Now you’re at the even easier part of this process.

What you’ll need:
-A big glass container (you don’t want to use metal or plastic)
-Your new, beautiful SCOBY
-Filtered water
-Tea bags
-Sugar
-A towel
-A rubber band

*I use a 2 gallon glass mason jar for my kombucha, but you can use whatever size you feel fits your needs.
*Boil 2 gallons of water, add in 5 tea bags and between 1/2 and 3/4 cups of sugar.
*Cool to room temp, then pour into your jar.
*Thoroughly wash your hands before you touch your SCOBY.  You want the lowest chance of contamination possible.  Any time you touch your SCOBY, make sure to wash your hands very well.
*Now add your SCOBY into your tea mixture in your jar, cover it with a towel and rubber band it.
*Keep your jar in a warm, dry area (I just put mine on the top shelf of my pantry) for 7-10 days.
*At the 7 day mark, taste test it and see if it’s ready.  If it tastes like vinegar, it’s overfermented.  If it’s a slightly tangy, fizzy tea, then it’s perfect.
*From this point you have two options-bottle and drink, or second fermentation.

Momma doing her thing.
Momma doing her thing.
Pretty momma!
Pretty momma!

Second Fermentation

Second fermentation is adding in flavors to the kombucha.  This is where experimentation comes into play.  I’ve tried berries, strawberries, and an orange ginger one.  So far the orange ginger has turned out the best.  Per jar of kombucha, I added 1 sliced orange and 1/4C orange juice and a couple slices of fresh ginger and let it ferment 3 more days.  My two berry ones turned out well, but the flavor was weak.  You definitely want to add a lot more berries than you think you’ll need so the flavor comes out crisp and delicious.

Go forth and make kombucha my friends!  I’ll be updating this post as I make more varieties and as I learn more through trial and error.  I’d also recommend checking out this site for a lot of kombucha info.

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