All of a sudden, kombucha is everywhere. It has gone mainstream, from an obscure, health food specialty item to kombucha bars popping up everywhere. My local grocery store even carries 3 different brands and several different flavors. A trip to Kauai last month, where the local kombucha brew sells for $7.25 per 16 ounce bottle, had me thinking I was in the wrong business! Luckily, kombucha is easy to make at home.
What is Kombucha?
The short answer is that kombucha is fermented sweet tea. Flavored kombucha may be fermented a second time with a specific flavoring. Kombucha is available with varying degrees of acidity. Some is very mild, while other brands are almost like vinegar. Kombucha is fermented with a SCOBY, which is similar to a mother-of-vinegar. Some people call the SCOBY a mushroom, since it has a similar shape. But to me the SCOBY has more of a jellyfish look and shape.
When making your own kombucha, you can use the partial SCOBY found in the bottom of a purchased bottle of kombucha, or order your own SCOBY online. I purchased a dehydrated SCOBY from Cultures for Health last summer and it has worked well through my three kombucha batches. Any kind of tea works as long as it is real tea, i.e. white, black, green, oolong, and not just an herbal blend. Use unflavored tea only.
How to Make Kombucha
- Follow the manufacturer’s directions to rehydrate your SCOBY.
- Dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 14 cups of hot water in a large glass jar.
- Add 2 Tbsp of loose tea or about 8 tea bags.
- Let the tea steep until the water has cooled to room temperature.
- Remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea leaves.
- Add the SCOBY and about 2 cups of starter tea (left from your last batch) to the jar.
- Cover the jar with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and place in a warm spot, out of direct sunlight for at least 7 days. How long you let the tea ferment depends on how sweet you want your kombucha. The longer the fermentation period (14 – 25 days for example) the less sweet it will be.
- When the kombucha is fermented to your liking, remove the SCOBY and 2 cups of tea. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for your next batch.
- The kombucha is now ready to drink, or you can add flavorings, fruit or fruit juices, at this point.
- If you want a more carbonated kombucha, bottle the tea-juice combination in air-tight bottles and let sit and additional 4-6 days at room temperature. Refrigerate and enjoy!
Next time I will discuss kombucha’s health benefits and share my kombucha experiments thus far.