Slightly sweet, natural, a little bit sour and a little bit fizzy. Kombucha is a drink to LOVE, and especially homemade. This is the ultimate easy kombucha guide, explaining you how to make it yourself, flavor it, and store it. This guideline explains you everything you need to know about kombucha and helps you become a brewer yourself!
This homemade kombucha is inspired by Myrthe from Rooted Lifestyle, our dear kombucha friend and the recipe is originally from yvetteshealthykitchen. Thank you both for sharing your kombucha knowledge with us!
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a probiotic drink that you’ve probably seen in your local natural foods store. It’s widely popular but oh so pricey. That’s why you should definitely try to brew it yourself, because once you find out how easy it is you’ll never have to buy it again. Therefore once your start you won’t stop and always have a batch of cold kombucha in your fridge. This has all to do with the scoby that needs to be fed. Scoby stands for ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast’. It’s a thick, dense, rubbery mass with a vinegar-like smell that aids the fermentation process. In this process carbohydrates like sugar or starch turn into alcohol or acid. Kombucha is made by adding a scoby into sweetened black tea and letting it ferment for 7-14 days. The bacteria and yeast in the scoby breakdown the sugars in the tea and coverts them into acids, carbon dioxide and alcohol. This results into a fizzy beverage with a tangy, sweet and sour taste. It’s flavor depends on how long you ferment it and what flavors you add to it.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Kombucha?
The fermentation process transforms the tea into a drink loaded with B vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants, probiotics and acids like acetic acid and glucaronic acid. These acids help to eliminate poisonous substances in the body.
Don’t worry about the sugar, because the bacterias in the scoby eat the sugar. They need this food to turn the tea into kombucha. Therefore the longer you ferment it, the more sour (and less sugar) it becomes. Kombucha actually is a natural super food that can benefit your health in many different ways like for example:
- improve digestion
- help to detox the liver
- add healthy bacteria and yeasts to the gut
- boost the immune system
- reduce oxidative stress on cells
- satisfying cravings for carbonated beverages
- boost mental health thanks to the B vitamines because they have impact on energy levels, brain function and cell metabolism
Must Needs For Homemade Kombucha
- tea: preferably start with black tea, later on you can try to experiment with white tea, green tea, jasmine and oolong tea.
- sweetener: preferably organic raw cane sugar but if you’re sensitive to sugar you can use raw honey.
- a kombucha SCOBY. Get one from a kombucha friend or you can buy them hydrated or de-hydrated online or in your local natural store.
- a large (3 liter) glassed jar or vessel.
- 4-5 bottles with a buckle cap.
- wooden spoon, because the acids from the scoby can interact with and leach metals, which could disrupt or harm the scoby.
- cooked water.
- 3/4 cup of kombucha.
- paper towel and a rubber band.
How To Flavor Your Homemade Kombucha ?
After the first fermentation you can flavor your kombucha, after you transfer the batch of kombucha into small bottles with a buckle cap. Now you infuse your kombucha with anything you like, but here is some wonderful ideas:
- rosemary and lemon skin
- 1 tbsp of frozen berries (any kind)
- kaffir lemon leaves and two pieces of lemon skin
- crushed lemongrass
- fresh ginger and lemon
- sage and strawberries
- cinnamon stick
What To Do With Your Scoby After Brewing?
Either you make a new batch or you pause the brewing and keep your scoby in a smaller glassed jar in a dark place. First of all make sure your hands are clean before touching the scoby. Be sure to wash all the soap off because it can harm your scoby. Your scoby needs to be in new tea or kombucha from your former batch all times, so make sure to pour this (room temperature) in the jar or container. Simply grab the scoby’s with clean hands and remove it/them. During the fermentation you may found a baby scoby in your kombucha or on top of the mother scoby. If mother and baby are attached you can either keep them together or gently separate the two. Place them in a clean glass jar and add 1-2 cups of your fermented Kombucha (starter tea) into the jar with them. Cover the jar with a coffee filter or kitchen paper and rubber band for protection. As with every batch new scoby’s can appear you might end up with a scoby hotel. That’s how a jar filled with scoby’s is called. A healthy kombucha culture produces scoby baby’s each batch. When you keep them all together in a jar with kombucha or tea they can stay alive for weeks and even months, but they need to be maintained. Kombucha kamp, wrote an article about how to maintain a kombucha hotel which is very useful if you entered that stage. Good luck, kombucha friends!
- 1 glassed jar 3 liters
- 5 bottles with a buckle cap
- wooden spoon
- kitchen paper towel
- rubber band
- a large jug
- deep plate
- 1 scoby
- ¾ cup organic raw cane sugar
- ¾ cup kombucha
- 6 tea bags black tea
- ½-1 liter cooked water
- Take off the paper from the tea bags and add them to the big glassed jar. Pour the hot water in the jar. Make sure the water touches first a spoon before the jar to prevent the jar from bursting from the heath. Fill it up for about 5 cm from the bottom. Let the tea steep for 10 minutes.
- Add the sugar and mix it with a wooden spoon until it dissolves completely. Pour in running cold water up to about 'the width' of your scoby, so just before the 'neck' of the pot begins.
- Pour in ¾ cup of the previous kombucha (or from a kombucha friend if it's your first time)
- Feel with your finger if the kombucha is at room temperature, only then should you add the scoby (it does not like 'too hot'). Only touch the scoby with clean hands, soap well washed off, otherwise it can harm your scoby!
- Write down the date on a piece of kitchen paper so you know on what day the brewing started. Seal the jar with the kitchen paper and rubber band.
- Store it in a slightly dark place and at room temperature. The higher the temperature the faster the fermentation process runs.
- Open the jar from time to time and immerse the scoby with a clean wooden spoon. Then seal it again. After a week, check how the taste is. If it is still too sweet, let it stand for a few more days. On average, fermentation takes 7-15 days.
When bottling your first kombucha batch
- When the flavor is right, remove the scoby and place on clean deep plate.
- Using a strainer, pour the kombucha into a large plastic jug.
- Reserve ¾ cup of this kombucha for the next batch!
- Pour the kombucha into the bottles using the funnel.
- Add any of the suggested flavors or just leave it natural and carefully close the bottles.
- Keep the bottles at room temperature for 48 hours, opening the bottles once a day to vent the built up 'carbon dioxide rush'. After two days, place in the refrigerator, and drink nice and cold. It will keep for 2-3 weeks.