Kombucha is made by fermenting tea and sugar together. It is a “living” health drink and has been consumed for centuries. It is believed to have originated in Asia and consumed for over two thousand years in Eastern Europe. The Kombucha culture or “Scoby” is a symbiotic culture of bacteria (good) and yeast that feeds off the sugar and tea causing fermentation. Every time you brew Kombucha a new layer forms on the scoby. You can leave it on or remove and give to a friend, or store in case something goes wrong with your scoby.
Kombucha has many health properties and is rich in probiotics and antioxidants. You can purchase Kombucha at any health food store and now in almost any grocery store. Restaurants are also serving this tangy pop alternative. Making your own Kombucha is very easy once you get the hang of it. You can purchase a “Scoby” at various health food stores or you can make your own (which is easy and less expensive)
What you will need to start
- Small bottle of Original Kombucha (not flavoured). I used GT’s original
- 2-3 Tea bags (Black, Oolong, Green, or White tea only)
- 1/2 Cup Sugar ( You must use sugar for the fermentation process)
- 2 Cups Boiling Water
- Wash a large mason jar or glass jug thoroughly. Add sugar and tea bags.
- Add boiling water to sugar and tea bags. Set aside to steep for a few minutes. Stir with a clean plastic or wooden spatula.
- Remove tea bags and cool tea until room temperature.
- Add the bottle of purchased Kombucha to the brewed tea mixture, cover with a breathable cloth (I generally use a new J-Cloth and secure it with an elastic). Do not close with a lid as it requires oxygen.
- Place your Kombucha mixture in a well ventilated dark area (I put mine in an empty cupboard).
- Leave mixture untouched for 7-10 days.
After 7-10 days you will see a thin rubbery looking layer on the top of the tea, this is your Scoby! If there is mold on the scoby please discard and repeat the process but ensure everything you use is sterilized and clean.
Making your first batch of Kombucha!
Now that you have your Scoby you can start making Kombucha. It is almost the same process.
- Wash and sterilize a large glass jar or container that can hold 8 cups of brewed tea. I use a large glass drink dispenser.
- Add 8 cups boiling water, 8 tea bags and I cup sugar.
- Cool to room temperature.
- Add Scoby and 1 cup of the previous kombucha mixture that the scoby was in to the cooled tea.
- Cover top with sterile breathable cloth (cheese cloth or J-Cloth).
- Set aside in a dark room temperature area for 5-7 days.
- Check mixture after 5-7 days, a new scoby should have formed and the tea will be lighter in colour. Taste should be slightly sour but not over powering (if left too long it will take on a very vinegar like taste and smell)
Even though you are excited and ready to try your Kombucha there is ONE more step! In order to get some of that fizziness into Kombucha and/or to flavour it there is a 2nd Ferment to be done. If you would like to flavour your kombucha with fruit or flavoured tea you can add it to a glass flip top bottle before adding the kombucha. Make sure you leave about 1/2 cup of Kombucha in the container with your scoby. I pour the mixture into a measuring cup, then using a funnel pour into the flip bottles. Fill the bottles leaving some space for air. Close them up and leave on the counter for 1-2 days. (You will see bubbles forming as the fermentation process continues.) After 1-2 days taste your Kombucha it should have a slight fizz. You can now store in the fridge and enjoy! It will keep for a few weeks. Now you can start your next batch!
Each time you make a batch always leave some of the original brew with your scoby. I always brew a new tea in a separate container and wait until it is room temperature and then add it to the existing scoby mixture, this way I do not have to handle the scoby too much or disrupt it. Never add the boiling mixture directly into the culture as it will kill the scoby.