If you run in the same circles (virtually, I suppose) that I do, which I’m assuming is the case for most of you since you’re here, then you’ve probably heard of kombucha.
Very simply, kombucha is a drink made by fermenting tea. I know, sounds delicious.
I’ve known of its existence for several years, but wasn’t something I’d actually tried until very recently. Mostly because I was scared. Some of my fellow bloggers made it sound kinda nasty, and if you need to double ferment something and add lots of fruit to make it palatable, was it something that really interested me? I generally don’t consume anything unless I enjoy it, and the literature I found convinced me that it wouldn’t really be all that enjoyable. So I passed.
Until just a few months ago, when my sister brought home a SCOBY. The SCOBY (a fun-to-say acronym standing for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) is how that tea turns into kombucha, sort of like a vinegar mother. In simple terms, the bacteria and yeast in that SCOBY eat the sugars from the tea, slowly turning it into a lightly fermented, mildly fizzy, probiotic-rich drink. And one that, to my surprise and enjoyment, actually tasted pretty good. So good that we’re now officially hooked, and I’m going to share how to make kombucha with the world at large.
The health benefits of kombucha are many. Of course, the probiotics are great for the system and help with digestion, fighting candida, and since health starts in the gut, they’re a great immune-booster too. Kombucha also increases energy, detoxifies and improves liver function (glucaric acid, which has been shown to fight cancer), helps fight many common joint problems such as arthritis (glucosamines), and is full of antioxidants.
A small bottle of this from a store will set you back $3-4, but I can tell you how to make kombucha at home for maybe a buck or two per gallon. Actually, probably hundreds of people can tell you how to make kombucha, but here you are anyway.
You just make a big pot of tea, add some sugar and a SCOBY, and let it sit for a week or so. Of course, you need a SCOBY, which can be obtained via a friend or family member, or sometimes from a bottle of store-bought raw kombucha, if you let it sit out for a few days. And Amazon. You can buy anything on Amazon.
A week is generally a good starting point. Start to taste it after four or five days. The longer it sits, the more fizzy it will get, and eventually, the more vinegary it will get too. When it’s to your liking, pour it into bottles (old wine bottles work great). Here’s the fun part – you can create an endless variety of flavors by adding fruit and herbs (or even vegetables, I suppose) to each bottle. We’ve tried a lot of variations, some better than others: strawberry-lime, pineapple, pineapple-ginger, apple-cinnamon, pear-cinnamon, banana, blueberry, blueberry-mint, blackberry, peach… you get the idea. Experiment away.
A few tips: use a big glass jar, not metal or plastic. Use a paper towel and rubber band to cover, not the lid. Let the tea cool before you add the SCOBY. Try to keep the SCOBY from contact with metal, as this will cause it to degrade over time. The SCOBY will produce ‘babies’ with each batch – they look like new layers and separate fairly easily. Gift these to unknowing family members. Don’t grill any SCOBY and think you’re going to eat it. Just don’t.