Brew your own Kombucha!
Everyone is talking about Kombucha recently. And for good reason! Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that contains healthy probiotics which are very beneficial for your gut health! Gut health effects nearly every other part of your health including skin health, hormones, weight, etc. This is why you’ll hear people raving about Kombucha’s health benefits! Store-bought Kombucha is very pricey. Often at $4-5 for a small bottle! Making Kombucha yourself is very easy, and SO affordable. The initial investment may be up to $30, but after that it costs less than $1 to brew several bottles of Kombucha!
This process may seem complicated and confusing at first, but I assure you that ANYONE can do it! If you are more of a visual learner, I have filmed this entire process as well!
This post is very long, but be sure to read it all the way through. I hope this is helpful, and encourages you to start brewing your own Kombucha!
What you’ll need:
- A large glass (non-metal) bowl. For making the sweet tea mixture.
- A gallon glass (non-metal) jug/pitcher. For brewing the Kombucha. Here are some options: Ikea , Amazon.
- Clean Cheesecloth or dish towel.
- Non-metal mixing spoon
- Non-metal measuring cups
- Elastic band
- Glass jars to hold finished Kombucha. I use 1L jars from Ikea (One batch fills 3 jars) . Other options here, here and here.
- 15 bags of high quality green or black tea bags. I prefer brewing with green tea, but this is completely preference! However, it is vital that the tea you chose has no added ingredients or flavouring.
- 1 cup cane sugar or white sugar. Sugar subsitutes such as stevia, brown sugar, xylitol, etc will not work. The Scoby needs real sugar to consume. By the end of this process, there is little to no sugar left! In fact, Kombucha is Whole 30 approved!
- Scoby. See below.
- 1 cup starter. See below.
- 1/2 cup white vinegar. For cleaning purposes.
Scoby: Scoby is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bactera and Yeast. The Scoby is the mother or home of the bacteria. It is responsible for converting a sweet tea mixture into a fermented, fizzy drink – kombucha. It is a white/yellow, rubbery pan-caked shape structure that sits on top of the kombucha. Scoby can purchased on Amazon, at a local Health food store, from Facebook marketplace (that’s what I did! Lol), or from a friend!
Starter: An amount of completely brewed kombucha that is added to a sweet tea mixture to brew a batch of Kombucha. You should get starter when you purchase your Scoby.
Clean: Fill your sink with hot water and 1/2 cup white vinegar. Soak all materials you will be using (jars, pitcher, bowl, measuring cups, etc). Since Kombucha contains bacteria, it is very important to be using sterile materials!
Sweet Tea Mixture:
- Boil kettle. It is ok if you have to use a metal kettle.
- While kettle is boiling, add 15 tea bags and 1 cup of cane sugar into a large glass bowl (NOT METAL).
- Add 6 cups of hot water from kettle to the bowl with tea bags & sugar.
- With a NON-METAL spoon, stir until sugar has desolved.
- Let steep 4 minutes.
- Remove Tea bags from bowl.
- Add 8 more cups of room temperature water to this sweet tea mixture. I just use tap water, but if you don’t normally drink your tap water, use filtered water. Stir again.
COVER AND SET ASIDE FOR SEVERAL HOURS.
- Sweet tea mixture MUST be room temperature before you add your Scoby. Hot water will ruin the scoby.
- Once the mixture is room temperature (This make take 3-5 hours. DO NOT RUSH this process) it is safe to add the Scoby.
- Take the large glass pitcher that you plan on storing your Kombucha in. This should be sterilized with hot water & vinegar. I used a juice pitcher with a spout. Here are some options for you:
- Pour the room-temperature into the pitcher. Add 1 cup of Starter.
- Carefully place the Scoby on top of the mixture. It’s normal for the Scoby to sink, float, turn onto it’s side, etc. Eventually it will settle naturally.
- Cover the jar with a clean dish towel or cheesecloth and set aside.
STORE IN A NON HIGH TRAFFIC AREA OF YOUR HOME. Avoid direct sunlight, drafts, etc. Leave alone for 7 days.
On day 7, your Kombucha is ready to taste test! If you prefer your Kombucha more bitter wait 2-3 extra days. If you prefer it more sweet it is finished on day 7. I prefer mine more sweet so I stop the brewing process on day 7.
The second fermentation really refers to the process of flavouring your Kombucha. This step is not necessary, but I will give you ideas on how to flavour your brewed Kombucha.
Clean: Chose whatever jars you plan on storing your Kombucha in, and ensure that they have been cleaned and sanitized with hot water & vinegar.
Since I store my Kombucha in bottles with very narrow openings. I prefer to strain the Kombucha mixture into a larger pitcher first. Make sure that whatever is touching your Kombucha has been sterilized.
- Remove Scoby and place on a sterilized, glass plate.
- Give Kombucha a light stir to ensure that everything is mixed together. This makes your Kombucha nice and fizzy!
- Cover the jar with a cheesecloth. I have linked a few options here, here, and here.
- Carefully pour Kombucha into the jar, allowing it to strain through the cheesecloth.
- Remove the cheesecloth. Any strands that have collected in your cheesecloth can be discarded.
- Pour strained Kombucha into individual jars. A funnel may be helpful!
- Set aside 1 cup of kombucha. This becomes the started for your next batch!
Repeat the FIRST FERMENTATION process with your Scoby and Starer!
- Add falvouring to your jars of Kombucha. I like to do 3 different flavours in my Kombucha. My favourites are: 1. Lemon: Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a bowl. Strain and add to one jar. 2. Lemon & Ginger. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a bowl. Grate 1 tsp of fresh ginger into the bowl. Add to 1 jar. 3. About 15 frozen raspberries.
Once bottles are filled and flavoured, close lids and store in the refrigerator or a cool dark place. Kombucha is good for up to several weeks!
This process becomes easier and easier every time you do it!
- When brewing Kombucha, the Scoby will grow and change. It may have brown spots from the tea. There may be floaties, or brown strands throughout the mixture. It may have bubbles or air pockets. All of this is normal!
- Your Kombucha will have a vinegar smell. If it smells rancid, it has gone bad and you’ll have to start over with a new Scoby!
- Your Scoby should never have MOLD! If it molds, start over with a new Scoby.
- Your Scoby will grow and get thicker. Once it grows more than 3 inches thick, you’ll want to peel a layer off. This is an excellent opportunity to help a friend start brewing their own Kombucha!