Kristen MartinekComment

Brew Your Own Kombucha

Kristen MartinekComment
Brew Your Own Kombucha

I'll be the first to admit I am a kombucha addict. There is just something so satisfying about the bubbles, the tanginess & endless flavor profiles one can create. And since I so rarely consume any form of alcohol, this is a really delicious alternative that happens to also be host to a myriad of health benefits. The only downside is it can be expensive if you are buying it all the time, something that can so easily happen with me if I'm not keeping myself in check. Thankfully the cost of brewing it at home is pennies, comparatively, and the process requires minimal work. 

Benefits of Kombucha

Let's start with the basics, that being what kombucha is and where it's history lies. Kombucha is a fermented sweet tea rooted in ancient Chinese culture, that derives its nutritional benefits from a SCOBY {symbiotic culture of bacteria & yeast). Sounds gross, looks gross, feels gross (or cool depending on your threshold) but this liver look-alike produces pure magic. 

Some of the health benefits of consuming kombucha, without getting too scientific:

  • DETOXIFICATION. Kombucha is rich in detoxifying supportive enzymes & acids, helping reduce the demands of your liver and aids in the prevention of cancer & disease. 
  • SUPPORTS BLOOD HEALTH. Regular consumption of this fermented beverage has been associated with reversing various stages of arteriosclerosis, lowering blood pressure, cleansing the blood & normalizing blood pH.
  • SUPPORTS JOINT HEALTH. Due to the presence of glucosamines, kombucha is great for preventing & alleviating expressions of arthritis. Glucosamines increase hyaluronic acids which are responsible for supporting lubricated joints and preserving cartilage structure. So instead of turning to copious amounts of NSAIDs (like tylenol), start to consume some kombucha for joint pain relief. 
  • PROBIOTIC: As a probiotic, kombucha helps improve/support digestion and may be helpful in fighting candida. Kombucha is absolutely my favorite natural remedy for helping calm an upset stomach or digestive distress. 

Other conditions kombucha has been associated with in eliminating or improving are gout, rheumatism, depression, anxiety, mental clarity, and increasing overall vitality. The best side effect is HAPPINESS, in my opinion.

Excuse the dirty nails :) 'tis life of a farmer.

Excuse the dirty nails :) 'tis life of a farmer.

Let's Brew! 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unbleached sugar
  • 6 black or green tea bags* (or 6 tbsp of loose leaf)
  • 1 gallon purified water
  • 1 scoby
  • 1-1.5 cups of liquid starter (aka kombucha)

*Stick to basic teas like plain green or black to prevent volatile oils present in flavored teas (such as earl grey) that may affect the brew.

Materials

  • Large pot
  • Large mouth glass container(s)
  • Large stirring spoon
  • Thin, breathable sheet of cotton {I use thin pieces of fabric. Over the years I have used (clean!) old shirts, napkins, tea towels, hankies, etc. Something that is thin enough to allow exchange of air yet prevents unwanted friends}. 
  • Rubberband

Directions

  1. In a large pot, boil about about one gallon of water. I eyeball it by simply filling the pot about an inch from the top.
  2. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, add sugar. Stir it around a bit and let sugar crystals dissolve.
  3. After a few minutes the crystals should be dissolved; lower the heat to medium/low & add your tea. If using tea bags, I remove the paper tags so dyes leech into my drink. 
  4. Allow the tea bags to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat & allow to brew an additional 15-30 minutes. 
  5. Remove the tea bags & allow your sweetened tea to cool to at least 115 degrees. An easy way to ensure the tea is cool enough to combine with the scoby is by letting it sit, covered, overnight or all day.
  6. Once you are certain it is cool enough to combine (the idea being you don't want to cook the scoby), pour the brew into your large glass jar(s), leaving enough room to add the scoby and have at least 1 inch from the lid. 
  7. Make sure the jar's rim is dry & cover your jar with fabric & creating a tight seal with a rubber band. Set aside in a warm place, preferably out of direct sunlight. 

Some additional Notes

ACQUIRING A SCOBY. Depending on where you live, acquiring a scoby may be incredibly easy or quite difficult.  In my opinion it's best to inherit one from a friend, community member or local kombucha brewing company. In times of need (after long distance moves) I have always acquired a new 'mother' from a friend, guaranteeing that the lineage is healthy & pure. If you're having trouble getting your hands on a healthy scoby, you can always order one online through Cultures For Health. Each new brew produces a new layer (a scoby 'mother'), that can be separated and shared with others who are looking to brew their own. You can just as easily leave them accumulating in your jar for multiple batches but if you have really healthy scobys like myself, you'll realize if you don't find new homes for them, you'll devote more jar space to scobys vs kombucha.

PREVENT CONTAMINATION: Always ensure your hands and all materials you are using are CLEAN. You don't want to contaminate your cultures with any potentially harmful bacteria that may be hanging out on your hands.

WHEN'S IT DONE?: In warmer climates, kombucha tends to brew quicker. Either way, you can start to test your booch as early as 9-14 days. Take a sip and see if it's at your preferred stage of fermentation. The longer you let it brew, the more vinegary it will become. Once you have determined it's ready, pour your brew into another large jar or into individual bottles. This is when you can add any flavorings. Cap your jar(s) and leave them sit at room temperature again for 3-7 days. This is the second fermentation process and what encourages the bubbles. If you prefer not creating a bubbly drink, simply stick them in the refrigerator right away to halt the fermentation process. 

ADDING FLAVOR: My all-time favorite flavor is simply fresh ginger. The digestion supporting combo of ginger & kombucha is a powerhouse duo. Adding in fresh fruit juice or mashed fruits is great for increasing the bubbles. Herbs, flowers, fruit/fruit juices, spices are all great ways to add delicious flavor. 

And voila, thats it. SO SIMPLE. Right? The challenging part for most people tends to be finding consistency in your batches, whether that be amount of bubbles & not letting it get too vinegary (unless that is your thing!). Some good old trial & error is the best way to learn and master your own kombucha.