Then the day came... a dear friend brought me a bottle of home brewed kombucha.
Wow. It was deliciously sweet and made with love. Plus, it came in this ultra-cool blue glass bottle (I have a thing for colored glass)! I used the spore juice left at the bottom to make my own batch, and I've been hooked ever since.
Kombucha - or 'Booch', as I like to call it - is really easy to make. Plus, you can make a liter of it (a little more than two 16-oz. bottles) for approximately $1 and half an hour of your time.
When you make your own kombucha, it's designer - everything, from tea/herb/juice blend and type of sweetener, to the degree of acidity and alcohol content is up to you.
I'm not going to list off its health benefits, because I don't know and I don't really care. All I know is that live cultures are good for you and it tastes awesome.
So! Ready to learn? Good.
You Will Need:
~ tea blend/herbs/juice
~ live kombucha culture
~ large pot
~ 1-2 liter jar
~ 1-2 liters water
~ small cloth
~ rubber band/string
Boil water (enough to fill your jar) and add your tea bags, tea blend, or herbs. Make it strong! I used 5 tea bags for 1.5 liters of water, as pictured.
Let it steep for about 15 minutes.
I used agave nectar, but you can use honey, cane sugar, maple syrup... anything else you can think of.
Add 1/2 cup sweetener per liter (more or less, depending on its intensity), but remember to make it super sweet - sweeter than you ultimately want it to be! The kombucha culture will eat the sugar as it grows, so the end product will be much less sweet.
Let the tea cool. It needs to be at or slightly above body temperature. You can put it in the fridge if you're impatient, but don't let it get cold!
Clean the jar. Make sure your glass jar is really clean - double check with soap and hot water.
Ready your kombucha culture, sometimes called the 'scobi', 'mother', 'weird floaty thing', or 'tea beast'. You can get your scobi from a friend as a mature mother (pictured at left) or as the wispy strands found in the bottom of commercial kombucha bottles.
You don't actually need to do anything to prepare it, just have it nearby.
Pour the now-cool sweet tea into your glass jar. Make sure to stop before the neck narrows - you want the culture to have the widest amount of surface area possible.
If you're working with an immature, liquid scobi, pour 1/2 cup of the tea-beast solution into each liter of tea. A gelatinous mother like those pictured will develop after several weeks.
If you have a mature mother you can place it on top after you pour the tea (firm, opaque side up), or if this is a repeat batch and the mother is already in the jar, just tilt the jar and let the tea run along the side and underneath the mother.
Cover the jar mouth with your cloth and secure it snugly with a rubber band or string.
This keeps bugs & dust out but lets air in, which allows the mother to form at the top.
Put your jars of kombucha somewhere out of the way - I keep mine in the corner of a back room (pictured, with my sourdough starter, yogurt cheese, and clover sprouts!). My housemates keep theirs on top of the fridge, on a side counter, and even on the floor under a paper bag.
Your kombucha will take anywhere from 5 days to 3 weeks to brew, depending on the temperature of the room, the maturity of the mother, and how acidic you want it to be.
Step 8: Taste Periodically & Determine Readiness
Dip a ladle in to taste test every 3 days or so, until it reaches your preferred acidity.
If you started with an immature scobi, you probably don't need to start tasting until the mother forms a ~1-2 mm. layer on top - a week or two into the brewing, most likely.
(Some people say that metal utensils damage the culture, and not to use them - it may be true, but I've taste tested with a metal ladle for months and it seems just fine.)
Step 9: Bottle
When it tastes good to you, bottle your kombucha in whatever (clean) containers you have. Just pour in the kombucha - a funnel helps a lot, but you can use a saucepan with a pour spout (or simply a steady hand).
Let the mother culture float as you pour, and leave it floating in 2-3 inches of tea. This will start your next batch.
Close off the bottles. You can store them in the fridge right away, or you can keep them at room temperature for a few more days - they will continue to ferment, become more bubbly, and slightly more alcoholic. They will store in the fridge for a very long time (of course, mine never last longer than a month).
Step 10: Start a New Batch
Option 1 - Start a new batch right away by repeating steps 1-9.
Option 2 - You can wait to start your next batch until later. If you do this, add a strong solution of sweetened water (room temperature!) to the tea left in jar. This will feed your mother tea beast and allow it to keep growing until you are ready to start a new batch.
I hope you enjoy your booch-brewing adventures! Try using different combinations of flavor - my current favorite is lemon-ginger, but orange black tea is pretty amazing too.
Have you made kombucha before? Got any more tips? What are your favorite flavors to make?
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