Sooo, for the past two months I’ve been trying my hand at making Kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented, effervescent, slightly sweetened tea drink. Its believed to have many health benefits, but there’s little scientific evidence to back these claims. I started drinking Kombucha because I’d heard it was a good probiotic.
Other claims include: Kombucha helps maintain a healthy liver, it’s good for the cardiovascular system, helps manage diabetes, it’s a powerful antibacterial agent, it’s beneficial for the lungs, and it may improve your mental state. That’s always good, right? Haha. I’m not a doctor, guys, but if I was I’d be prescribing kombucha.
The first time I tried Kombucha I didn’t like it at all. It tasted like vinegar! I kept drinking it and eventually I grew to love the fizzy sweet acidic drink. Plus, I’m getting all of that good gut bacteria. But what’s a poor flight attendant supposed to do when Kombucha is $3 a pop? You gotta hustle and learn to make your own.
First of all, you need a SCOBY. A scoby is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. It’s a cute little guy (just kidding, they look disgusting). It looks like a chicken cutlet shaped like a pancake. It’s weird… don’t think about it too much. I ordered my first one off of Amazon along with some of the starter tea. You need the starter tea for your first batch.
You also need tea bags; I’ve used both black and green tea. I think you want to avoid using any strongly flavored teas or teas with oils. You’ll also need sugar and distilled water. For this batch I used an organic cane sugar. I think the purer the sugar, the better. Oh and just buy the distilled water… I tried making distilled water and it was a pain in the a**. Seriously, what was I thinking? Distilled water is like fifty cents a gallon. I like to make things more difficult for myself.
For a smaller batch, boil half of the gallon of water in a large pot on the stove. Remove from heat, stir in 1/2 cup sugar, add 5 tea bags and let them steep.
Remove the tea bags and allow the mixture to cool completely. Seriously, let it cool – you have to otherwise you’ll kill the scoby. I’m just as impatient as you. I recommend eating fried cheese curds as you wait.
Pour the cool tea into a large jar and add your scoby, along with the starter tea. If anyone lives in the Springfield area I can hook you up with a scoby and starter tea. Every time you make a batch of kombucha, a new scoby forms. So I’ve got a lot!! Cover the jar with a coffee filter and a rubber band. Place in a cool, dry area with no light. Then you let the kombucha sit and ferment for 7-30 days. I can tell you that 30 days is wayyy too long. The first batch I made I let it go seven days and it was too sweet. The second batch I let it go two weeks and I thought it was too sour. So this next batch I’m going to bottle at ten days. Don’t peek at all during this process! Leave the kombucha alone.
When the Buch is finished, you’ll see a lot of particles floating around, along with the scoby(s). Once again, don’t think about it too much. At this point you can flavor it and place it in bottles. When you bottle it and let it sit out for about three days it builds up carbonation. I’ve used fresh ginger root for flavor with each batch because I’m trying to be consistent until I get the basic recipe right. After flavoring and bottling, keep it in the fridge and enjoy!
Save the scoby along with about a 1/2 cup starter tea, in the refrigerator, to use for your next batch. I’m still figuring this process out, but if you have any questions, let me know. Fingers crossed this next batch will be perfect!