Home-Brewed Kombucha Recipe

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Kombucha is more than just a health-food trend or an overpriced beverage for hipsters. It’s a traditional fermented tea that offers numerous nutrition benefits including probiotics, powerful plant polyphenols, and antioxidants. In addition to being a bit pricey, commercial brands are often over-sweetened with sugars or juices, diluting the amount of actual kombucha per bottle. Thankfully, it is easy and inexpensive to brew your own kombucha at home!

Before we get into the step by step instructions I follow to brew my own kombucha, let’s cover a few ‘housekeeping’ topics:

  • Always use very clean (sterile) equipment, kitchen surfaces, and hands while brewing or bottling your kombucha. If you have ever tried home canning, those skills may come in handy here.
  • Kombucha should smell fresh and tart (maybe slightly like vinegar) but it should not smell rancid, cheese-like, foul, etc. If it smells anything other than good, do not drink it.
  • The scoby (the cute little congregation of bacteria and yeast who do all the fermenting) should be opaque and a slight white hue. It should not have any mold (green, black, etc.) and if you see any signs of this, throw it out and do not drink the kombucha.
  • The fermentation process does produce trace amounts of alcohol. The exact amount will vary by batch, but its estimated to be 0.5-2%.
  • When brewing, I have found that the scoby and kombucha can be sensitive to metals. I boil water in metal stock-pots, but I try to only use glass or plastic in the kitchen utensils, brewing and storage containers that I use in making my kombucha.

 

HOW I MAKE MY OWN SCOBY

Scoby is an acronym: Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. I like to think of it as a little village of bacteria and yeast who do the heavy lifting of turning sweetened tea into kombucha. Some people choose to buy pre-formed scoby or get one from a friend who also brews, but I found that making my own was quite simple!

INGREDIENTS

  • 7 C Water (I use filtered tap water)
  • ½ C Granulated white sugar
  • 4 Bags of tea (for brewing kombucha, we use only plain black or green tea HERE)
  • 1 cup unflavored/original kombucha (I use GTs Kombucha found at my local grocery store)
  • Stock-pot
  • Gallon glass jar
  • Coffee filters
  • Rubber-band

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a stock-pot, bring the water to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, turn off the heat and add the sugar and tea bags (remove the string and paper tags from the bags before putting them in the boiling water).
  3. Allow to steep while the water cools.
  4. Once the water (now, sweet tea) has cooled to room temperature, remove tea bags and pour liquid into the gallon glass jar.
  5. Add the store bought kombucha and stir to combine.
  6. Cover the jar with a new paper coffee filter and fasten with a rubber-band.
  7. Set on a kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight where the jar will not be disturbed. Allow 1-4 weeks for the scoby to form. At first you will see a light film on the top of the liquid. Over the coming weeks, this film will thicken and become your scoby. You should be checking on it periodically to make sure that the scoby formation process is progressing and that no mold is forming. Remember that there should be a tart, fresh, vinegar like smell – nothing rancid or foul. Once the scoby has reached a ¼- ½ inch thickness, it is ready!

Note: The remaining liquid is technically kombucha, although it will be far too vinegary for you to drink. Reserve 2 cups of this brew to start your next batch, toss the rest.

 

HOW I BREW MY OWN KOMBUCHA

With a fully formed scoby, you are ready to go to town brewing your own kombucha! When I remove the scoby from the jar (just reach in there – with clean hands, of course – and grab it) I place it on a clean plate while getting the next batch ready.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 1/2 Quarts of water (I use filtered tap water)
  • 1 C Granulated white sugar
  • 6-8 Bags of black or green tea HERE
  • 2 C Kombucha from your previous batch
  • Stock-pot
  • Gallon glass jar
  • Coffee filters
  • Rubber-band

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a stock-pot, bring the water to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, turn off the heat and add the sugar and tea bags (remove the string and paper tags from the bags before putting them in the boiling water).
  3. Allow to steep while the water cools.
  4. For the kombucha you have already brewed, remove the scoby and set aside on a clean plate. Set aside 2 cups of this kombucha (this will be used in your new batch).
  5. Pour the remaining kombucha into glass storage containers. Put in the refrigerator to enjoy over the next few days.
  6. Once the water (now, sweet tea) has cooled to room temperature, remove the tea bags and pour the liquid into the gallon glass jar.
  7. Add the 2 cups of kombucha you set aside earlier and stir to combine. Gently place your scoby back into the jar to ferment the new brew.
  8. Cover the jar with a new paper coffee filter and fasten with a rubber-band.
  9. Set on a kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight where the jar will not be disturbed. I make a new batch every 10-12 day, but you can start to check the taste of the kombucha around day 8 by pouring a small taste or using a baster to extract some from your jar. The longer the scoby is allowed to remain in a batch of kombucha, the more tart or vinegary the kombucha will be. You will get to know your scoby and learn when the ideal time to start a new batch is per your taste.

 

tips & tricks

  • Your scoby will continue to grow/thicken as you brew additional batches. You may find that it gets to a point where you can split the scoby and start a second brew in a new jar or gift that scoby to a friend or family member who is interested in starting their own home operation.
  • If you go on vacation and are unable to change start a new batch, you can ask a friend to take care of it for you (reference them to this blog so they know what to do), or let the batch brew a little longer than you normally do while you’re away. You will likely have to toss the kombucha from that batch since it will be quite vinegary. Scoby may be able to survive without new tea for up to 6 weeks. I would try to add a bit more sugar to the batch (the food/energy for the scoby) if you are planning on being away from it for longer than usual.
  • Make your brew last longer by adding your finished kombucha to iced tea (such as an herbal tea, Earl Grey, or flavored green tea) or fruit/vegetable juice. My favorite recipe is an anti-inflammatory juice-tea blend HERE.
  • I typically store my kombucha in ½ gallon glass jars. This works great, but I noticed that the lids can get rusty over time. I started using plastic lids for these jars HERE and its much nicer.

 

 

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