Have you ever tried kombucha before? If you do not know what it is, it is a probiotic, fermented tea. It has a bright, tangy flavor that I absolutely love, and is crammed with beneficial bacteria that is wonderful for your digestion.
The only problem with this probiotic tea is that it super expensive. A single bottle of the stuff can easily go for $3.50 or more at the stores by me. After a while, this cost can really add up. Instead, spare your wallet and make kombucha at home! Kombucha brewing is incredibly easy, and this process will allow you to get kombucha’s positive benefits without destroying your food budget.
First, go out and buy your last bottle of kombucha at the store. Be sure that the bottle you get is labeled as raw. The bottle you buy needs to have live active cultures, otherwise this brewing process will not work. From your bottle, drink about half of it and leave the rest aside. You want to make sure that you can see little bits at the bottom, as this is the beginning of your SCOBY (short for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, basically the bacterial mixture responsible for kombucha’s tangy taste and its healthy benefits).
Secure a clean cloth to the top of the glass bottle in place of the cap, and leave in a dark corner until the bacteria at the bottom noticeably multiplies. You want to make sure that you place the bottle in a temperature-controlled corner, as if it is too cold or too warm the bacteria will die. In general, this process will take anywhere from one to three weeks, or even sometimes a month. The live culture at the bottom of store bought kombucha needs time to multiply, but the time needed varies. It will be ready once you see about a half-inch layer of the bacterial mixture at the bottom. It took me about three weeks to grow a sufficiently large colony from a store bought bottle.
Once the bottle is ready to go, it’s time for kombucha brewing. On your stovetop, bring 12 cups of water to a boil, and completely dissolve in 1 cup of sugar. For this, you have to use real sugar and not a sugar substitute as the sugar serves as the SCOBY’s food source. Then, steep four bags of black or green tea in the water and let everything completely cool. Once the tea is not longer hot, pour it and the contents of the saved bottle into a large glass container. Glass is the best material as kombucha is slightly acidic and will break down plastic. Cover the glass container with a new clean cloth and secure the cloth tightly to the bottle. Let this now sit in a temperature-controlled dark corner for about one to two weeks. The amount of time needed will depend on the strength of your SCOBY and your desired taste. I like things on the sweeter side, so I let it sit for about a week.
Once the kombucha has been sitting, it’s time to serve and enjoy. Ladle the mixture into clean re-sealable glass bottles and stash in the fridge. Be sure not to break apart the large gelatinous mass that will have formed on top of the tea. This is your SCOBY, and it is where all of kombucha’s magic happens. To make more kombucha, simply make a new batch of the tea-sugar mixture on top and let sit again.
Working with live bacteria can be a bit intimidating at first, but really kombucha is unbelievably easy to make. Sure, it requires some patience on your end but the end result is totally worth it. Once you’ve gotten the hang of kombucha brewing, you can experiment with flavors. I love adding fresh ginger to a batch made with jasmine tea. Just be sure not to add any flavors that will upset the pH balance of your kombucha, as you might accidentally kill off your SCOBY.
This method turns one expensive bottle of kombucha into an almost limitless supply, meaning you can have as much kombucha as you want for only the cost of tea bags and white sugar. Make kombucha at home to have a cheap, easy, and delicious source of positive probiotics!