What the heck is Kombucha? Most people have heard of it, seen it in stores, even tried some and learned they liked it (or hated it). When I tell people that I make my own Kombucha, I sometimes get asked what it is. Finding myself excited at the thought of sharing something that I love with someone new, I stumble awkwardly through my description. It usually goes something like “It’s a tea that’s fermented by this weird gelatinous rubbery jellyfish-like blob called a SCOBY. The blob floats on top of the sweetened tea & eats the sugar & makes Kombucha”. Ewwww. Instead of mesmerizing my captive audience with the vast health based knowledge I have accrued, I am confronted with looks of dismay, bewilderment, & is that disgust? I quickly follow up my “show and tell” with pictures of said SCOBY & this does nothing to help my cause.
As I said earlier, those familiar with Kombucha either like it or love it (occasionally there are exceptions to my rule). It has in recent years become a huge market with hundreds of companies vying for your purchase and loyalty. A newer thing in recent years are bars that specialize in house brewed Kombucha, often served on tap. For a person who really enjoys Kombucha this is all wonderful. However, at anywhere from $3-6 a bottle it can be quite costly for a frequent connoisseur. Making Kombucha at home eliminates this financial burden. At first most folks, including myself, find the thought of home brewing intimidating. They fear that they will make a mistake or make themselves ill. My personal take on this is that people have been making “booch” at home for 100’s if not 1000’s of years. One can imagine that in many of these situations the sanitary conditions were less than ideal and yet Kombucha making has survived & flourished. With the same care one takes in preparing a ready made food such as a salad and in less time you can be on your way to having a fresh, delicious, effervescent tea with the flavor of your choosing for pennies a serving. The first time I made Kombucha I admit I was nervous but I soon got the hang of it. Now I find it a fun and creative process. I love trying new flavor combinations and testing the different variables such as tea types & strength and length of time in the 1st and 2nd fermentation. Below you will find a basic recipe for homemade Kombucha and some additional information. A follow up blog will include directions for the 2nd fermentation and adding flavoring.
1 organic SCOBY
1 cup unflavored/organic Kombucha
6-8 bags organic tea (preferably black)
1 cup organic/non gmo cane sugar
1 gallon filtered water
1 large open topped glass jar (at least 5 liters)
Clean cloth/cheese cloth/or paper towel
- Making sure your hands and all supplies and surfaces are clean/sanitary, bring 2 cups of filtered water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add tea bags and sugar. Brew until dark brown, & stir occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. This should take about 5-8 minutes
- Add the rest of the filtered water to the large glass jar.
- Making sure the sugar is mostly dissolved and the tea is no longer piping hot, add to water.
- Add cup of Kombucha and SCOBY. The SCOBY might float, sink, or turn sideways. All 3 of these things are normal.
- Cover the jar with cloth, cheese cloth, or paper towel and bind it with rubber band. (I use paper towel and after binding it I cut around it to make it look like a doily)
- Store in a not brightly lit, warm and dry place. I find the top of my refrigerator to be ideal.
What is a SCOBY? The first time I actually saw a SCOBY it kinda freaked me out. I’m sure most people have this response. It is actually an amazing thing once its understood. The word SCOBY is an acronym that stands for Symbiotic Culture (or Colony) of Bacteria and Yeast. It is a not alive like an animal or plant, but it is like a tiny world of living bacteria and yeast. It “makes” the tea in Kombucha by eating the sugar and then the Kombucha “makes” a new SCOBY. This is referred to as “The Mother” and “Baby”. Each batch of Kombucha makes a new layer on the SCOBY. That new layer is in itself a new SCOBY that can be separated to make an additional batch of Kombucha. If you do not have someone or someplace to get a SCOBY you can order one on amazon in the link below.
Is Kombucha good for you? It is purportedly healthy in many ways. There have been some studies done but in my opinion not nearly enough. Some but not all of the proven benefits are that it is loaded with probiotics, polyphenols, and antioxidants. There is evidence that it helps fight infections and bad bacteria and yeast. Studies have suggested that it can help lower bad cholesterol and control type 2 diabetes. Studies also suggest that foods and drinks high in antioxidants and polyphenols aid in preventing and controlling cancer cell growth. The most talked about benefit of Kombucha is that its probiotics can help one maintain gut health…meaning less bloating, indigestion, and heartburn along with a stronger immune system.
If anyone has any questions that I might be able to answer, please feel free to direct message me in Instagram or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.