Kombucha, the fermented, sweetened tea that has caught the attention of many, has actually gone through several phases of popularity over the years. The traditional tonic is quite trendy right now, but the natural probiotic drink has a number of health benefits and tasty flavors that date back to 221 B.C when it was known as the “elixir of life.”
So what is it exactly? Kombucha is a beverage made from sweetened tea and a mother culture known as SCOBY or symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. The biggest health benefits are the probiotic aspect – the good bacteria that helps your gut – and the antioxidants naturally found in the tea.
As kombucha grows in popularity, the price of it has unsurprisingly gone up. It can be hard to make kombucha a part of your everyday diet when it’s so pricey. So increasingly people are opting to make the beverage at home; creating the flavors they want and saving money at the same time.
What You’ll Need
Making your own Kombucha can be a daunting task, which is why, based on experience, I am suggesting you buy a starter kit. There are several things that you will need to invest in, but it’s worth it if you want to repeat the process easily. Starter kits can range in price, depending on anything from the thermometer to how you want your gallon vessel to look while it sits on your counter.
Of course, there are pricey options, but I found a reasonably- priced kit on Amazon that had everything I needed.
A Note On Honey And Sugar
You may have noticed that the kit I chose is called a Jun SCOBY brewing kit. There is a difference between Jun kombucha and regular kombucha: one is made with honey and one is made with sugar. They both make great kombucha. Jun Kombucha has been known to brew a little faster and be more forgiving during the process.
However, it’s important when you are brewing to use the sweetener called for in the instructions. When you begin brewing you are given a mother culture, which has been trained to feed off of honey or sugar.
The child culture that forms will need a consistent sweetener, so it is important to follow the directions. Once you’ve decided on your starter kit and the type of kombucha, you’re ready to brew.
How To Make Homemade Kombucha
Ingredients And Tools
- a 1-gallon, glass vessel
- SCOBY culture
- 1 cup of organic honey or sugar
- 3 tablespoons organic tea blend
- Steeping bag
- pH strips
- cotton cloth
- rubber band
- filtered water
- wooden spoon
- vinegar to sterilize your hands and jars.
- Boil 1 1/2-2 quarts of filtered water.
- Remove the water from the heat and steep 3 tablespoons of tea in the cotton bag for 5-6 minutes.
- Add your freshly brewed tea and 1 cup of honey to the 1-gallon vessel and stir until the honey dissolves.
- Fill the rest of the vessel with filtered water, leaving 3 inches of space at the top. The temperature should be between 68-82 F.
- Use a thermometer or a temperature strip to accurately determine the temperature.
- Sanitize your hands with vinegar, remove your culture from the bag and carefully place it into your gallon vessel.
- Stir the tea with a non-metal spoon once or twice and then test the pH (it should be 4.5 or below).
- Add a tablespoon of vinegar to your mixture if the pH is off and test again.
- Place the cloth and rubber band over the vessel securely.
- Store the tea solution at room temperature and out of direct light for 7-10 days. A new, cream-colored culture will form at the top of the jar.
- Sanitize hands and remove the cream-colored culture that forms on the top of the jar. This is your new culture.
- Place the new culture in a Tupperware with 1 cup of your freshly brewed kombucha and store in the refrigerator.
The rest of your kombucha is ready to enjoy. You can store your kombucha in glass bottles or in your one-gallon vessel. I opted to use empty kombucha bottles that I washed with vinegar to make drinking it easier.
If you use a funnel make sure it is not a metal one. You may notice there is some settlement in your kombucha. This is harmless.
You are free to strain your kombucha for a smoother beverage.
Flavor Your Kombucha And Enjoy
Your kombucha is naturally tasty being made from tea and honey or sugar. However, there are several ways that you can flavor your brew. Here are some options when it comes to adding a kick to your kombucha:
Blueberry and ginger kombucha requires 1 gallon of Jun kombucha, 1 tablespoon of organic dried blueberries and 1 tablespoon of ginger. Other options include using hibiscus flowers, cranberries, chia seeds and elderberry flowers.
The best part about brewing your own kombucha is that once you start, you can continue brewing without buying all new ingredients. Your mother culture has everything it needs to create new cultures.
You can enjoy one brew as you’re making the next one. Kombucha is a tasty and beneficial beverage. Making it in your home can easily make it a part of your everyday diet. Enjoy!
Freelance writer, Marlene Ridgway, grew up in rural West Virginia, cooking, keeping chickens, stacking firewood, picking blueberries, and gardening.