I’ve been a big fan of Kombucha for some time now. I would buy it every now and then as a “treat yourself” kind of situation. But kombucha just has so many health benefits that I wanted to be consuming it on a more regular basis, it just wasn’t in our budget. So I finally got around to brewing my own, a much more bank account friendly way to get more of this bubbly goodness in my life! Woo hoo!! If you have everything you need, the process is really not hard. So what do you need and how did I make it?
Thanks to my girl Melissa at Black Sheep And Honey Bees Blog (she also happens to be our amazing daycare provider and friend ♥), I scored a few SCOBY’s to start my brew. A SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) is similar to “the mother” in apple cider vinegar. It’s what carries all the nutrients and bacteria to be able to brew and the health benefits. You need one of these along with 2 cups of a previous brew or store bought brew to get started. The rest is simple grocery ingredients: tea and sugar!
Here is what I used:
- 1 SCOBY (mine was given to me by a friend, but you can buy them online or ask around to see if someone has extras- they likely do!)
- 2 c. brew from a previous batch or a store bought (you want this without flavor, so buy original or save 2 cups from a previous batch before flavoring)
- 8 tea bags (You can also use 2 tbs. loose leaf tea)
- 1 c. sugar (cane sugar is good but plain white sugar is just fine- this is for the SCOBY to eat only)
- 14 c. water – boiled
And here is what I did…
- Boil water, remove from heat and stir in sugar to dissolve
- Add tea bags and let step 20 – 30 minutes
- Remove tea bags and allow to cool until room temperate or around 70-80 degrees. [NOTE: this is an important step- you will ruin your SCOBY if you don’t wait until it is cooled, this took about 3 hours for me, so allow yourself time!]
- Once cooled, transfer to your jar(s). I used a 1 gallon glass jar like this.
- Add in 2 c. of “starter brew”. I bought an original flavor from the store. But will save 2 c. of this brew for starting my
- With VERY clean hands remove your SCOBY from its storage and place in the jar.
- Cover the jar with a cotton cloth (I used a cotton dish cloth) or a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band
- Allow it to sit in a room temperature space for 7-15 days, without moving it (movement can disrupt the SCOBY)To Flavor:
Some people like to drink it as is, but you can also flavor your brew however you’d like through a second fermentation process. This will also add in more fizz. To do this:
- Pour finished brew into glass air tight bottles (I used to half gallon mason jars), add your choice of flavoring and screw cap on tight cap. You may want to “burp” the bottles daily until they are at your desired fizz and to keep them from building to much pressure.
- Remove any floating fruit and store in fridge (the cool temperature stops the fermentation process)
- Flavor Recommendations: Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries) Citrus slices (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit), watermelon, lavender, ginger, cinnamon, organic juices or purees.
- My favorite flavors have been mandarin orange slices and organic strawberry lemonade.
Tips and Pointers:
- Start checking your brew around 7 days by putting a straw in and tasting, the less time it brews the sweeter it will be. Typically you want a mild tartness with a hint of sweetness.
- My best brew was at 14 days, but this can change depending on seasons and temperature.
- Do not let the SCOBY (or even the the 2c. starter brew) to touch metal.
- Make sure to Let. IT. Cool. so you don’t ruin your SCOBY
- You should have a new SCOBY by the end of the brew, you can save this in a jar by pouring some of your brew over it and storing in an air tight jar (I have stored in both the fridge and out of the fridge and have had success- you will read differing opinions on this!), or you can go right into your next brew!
- If your brew is “too done”, meaning it now taste mostly like straight vinegar, and that isn’t your thing, you can use that vinegar for cleaning. But still save out 2 cups to start your next brew, and some to cover your SCOBY until that next brew happens.
- You will likely have some stringy things hanging from your SCOBY, that is normal. These can be light or dark in color.
- If you have any fuzzy matter on top of your SCOBY (usually white or blueish in color), I would recommend dumping that brew and SCOBY, as this is likely mold.
- It’s ok if your SCOBY floats or sinks!
- Depending the condition and how active your SCOBY is, your first new SCOBY may not grow to be very thick or solid. That’s ok! Save the first SCOBY to use in your next brew (and discard the not so hardy new one). As you brew more, and the SCOBY becomes more active, you will start getting better and better new ones.
- You can then give away your old ones, or store them in a SCOBY hotel for a just in case moment (a jar with enough liquid to cover the SCOBY(s) and store in the fridge.