So I’m finally growing my own, guys.
Kombucha cultures. What were you thinking? Ha!
This post has seriously been years in the making, and I’m super psyched for it! I’m going to give you step-by-step instructions for brewing your own kombucha. Which is, by the way, a fermented tea with lots of amazing health benefits and a taste I happen to love. Benefits purportedly include:
- Boosting immunity
- A relaxed energy
- Appetite reduction
- Helps digestive system by providing probiotics/healthy bacteria for your gut
Is it a bit of an acquired taste? It can be, especially if you’re not a beer or wine drinker. But if you already like any of the following: beer, wine, or tea, odds are you’ll dig kombucha.
But first, a little history. Scroll down if you’re just here for the recipe. Read on for the backstory:
Let me say that this all came about because I got seriously addicted to this kombucha stuff after a couple of my Yoga teaching friends put me on to it a few years back. Like any addiction, it was costing me. Why so hooked? Well . . .
- The way it quieted my appetite on busy days (not as a weight loss tool, but as a “I hate teaching or taking Yoga hungry or on a full stomach” tool).
- The way it tasted, foamed, and made me feel. Clean, energized, yet relaxed. Yes, it honestly relaxes me. No small feat in a busy life in this busy city I live in.
- Drinking some post-Yoga kind of gives me a little buzz without the Day Drinking consequences (not that I’d know anything at all about Day Drinking 😉 )
- Plus it is great for immunity. You should know that I’m mildly obsessed with immunity (of the bodily kind; not the diplomatic or criminal justice kind).
But this buzzy immunity boost, it was costing me. Plenty. To the tune of $25-30 a week, because it’s at least $3.50 a bottle at most places around town, usually more. That calculates out to at least $100 a month/$1200 per year. Minimum. Ridiculous. Forget the “latte factor.” This was the “kombucha factor.” This money could easily buy at least two plane tickets to the Caribbean.
While re-populating my gut with friendly bacteria, the drink was stripping my wallet. I was going broke drinking the brew. So I decided to limit myself to buying one bottle of bought ‘booch a week (preferably after an intense Yoga sesh), and then auto-draft that money I once spent on the brew into my savings account instead. Of course, this would mean I’d need to brew my own to get my nearly daily fix. Start up cost? About $35.
Oh, and by the way, by simply auto-drafting that $25 per week, I’ve socked away more than $500. Score! Found money!
And now, I’m bringing you the recipe.
Checklist of Ingredients:
- First off, you have to score a SCOBY, which means Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. (I bought mine from a girl who was selling them on Craigslist. New Yorkers, if you want to buy a starter kit, including SCOBY and started liquid, from me, email me. I can sell it to you for $20-25, depending on if you also want the tea and a glass jar to brew in.)
- 2 cups of starter liquid. This should either come with your SCOBY, or buy 16 ounces of GT’s PLAIN kombucha (the only commercial brand I consistently like.)
- 12 cups of filtered or distilled water
- 12-14 bags of black or green tea or an equal number of teaspoons of loose tea (can use a combo of the 2 tea types–green and black, and can use both loose tea and tea bags)
- 1 cup of sugar (organic cane sugar recommended)
- A gallon glass jar, wide-mouthed (so the SCOBY can fit inside of it). A food grade plastic jar could also work here. Look for the number 1 or 2 on the etching if you’re going with plastic.
- A towel to cover the top of the jar, so the brew can breathe
- A rubber band to secure the towel
Here are the directions…
1. In a large, clean pot, boil the water. Don’t overboil…just get it to a rolling boil, then turn it off after a minute or two.
2. Add the sugar in, stir, and dissolve.
3. Add tea. Allow to steep 10-12 minutes (I’ve accidentally left my tea longer…like close to an hour, and it was fine. In fact, some folks steep theirs overnight). Once steeped, remove teabags and leaves.
4. VERY IMPORTANT: Allow tea to cool to room temperature BEFORE pouring it, carefully, on top of the SCOBY and starter liquid, which are waiting in your gallon jar.
5. Cover mouth of jar with a cloth, which will allow the brew to breathe and will keep pathogens OUT. Secure the cloth with a strong rubber band.
6. Put in a quiet, shady indoor spot, away from direct heat sources. (In other words, don’t park it by your radiator or stove or near a window!) Let ferment 6-14 days. I begin tasting mine around day 6 or 7 to see if the taste is where I want it.
7. Once your brew has reached its desired taste, remove the new SCOBY. Pour out the fresh new kombucha, and refrigerate. Make sure to leave enough kombucha liquid behind in your brewing jar to start a new batch (about 16 ounces of liquid should be left behind). This new brew is now your starter liquid.
8. This new SCOBY that has formed is the baby, and it always forms on top of the mother. Awww, how cute! Remove it, place in a second jar, and add 16 ounces of starter liquid. Start the process over again; now you have two jars going. If you’re not going to brew multiple jars right away, you could compost the SCOBY, give it away, or store it in some starter liquid, which I’ve done for a week or two.
9. Don’t panic at the amount of sugar or caffeine…the SCOBY eats up the tea’s tannins and the sugar. It needs them to grow and for the brew to ferment. By following the instructions, you’ll end up with something that’s neither high in caffeine or sugar. Don’t be ridiculous and go subbing in stevia or Splenda or anything else for the sugar. Trust me on this. The sugar is KEY.
Feel free to ask me any questions you might have.
And there’s an excellent kombucha FAQ can be found here.
Step-by-step visual guide can be found here.