Kombucha is becoming increasingly popular and it’s no wonder why when you look at the astonishing health benefits gained from it.
“What is kombucha?”, you ask.
Well, let me tell you!
I usually recieve this question along with a weird look when I explain what exactly kombucha is. In all reality, kombucha is quite simply fermented tea. Now here’s where the weird look comes in: when I tell said person that in order to ferement the tea, you need a S.C.O.B.Y. Which is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. SCOBY’s are formed from the “Mother” which is a culture of bacteria found in apple cider vinegar (it’s the brown floating residue you find in a bottle).
“Come again?”, you say.
So I proceed to show them a picture of my dear old SCOBY, Benjamin (Yes, I named him. I’ve had him for two years and I take care of him. So, he’s basically a pet).
Here’s what a SCOBY looks like:
*cue the screaming and running away*
Yes, even I have to admit that the sight of a SCOBY is quite terrifying, but the immense health benefits they give in the form of kombucha outweighs their appearance.
As I mentioned before, kombucha is fermented tea. Through the fermentation process, billions of probiotics are added to the tea. Probiotics are essential in order to have a healthy gut (which many lack nowadays due to antibiotics which kill both the good and bad bacteria in the gut). Here’s where you should be thinking, “Golly, I should really begin to drink this stuff.”, because gut health is EVERYTHING! What people don’t realize is that many health issues such as indigestion, diabetes, some cancers, food intolerance, and inflammation can occur due to poor gut health. I could go into further detail, but I’ll link an article that you can read for more in depth information.
Zhang, Yu-Jie, et al. “Impacts of Gut Bacteria on Human Health and Diseases.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, MDPI, 2 Apr. 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425030/.
(If you don’t read it, here’s what you need to know in a nutshell: take care of your gut and your gut will take care of you).
Now kombucha is more than just a probiotic tea. It contains many other healthy benefits as well. Here is a list of some other properties of kombucha:
- This aids in healthy aging by stopping or limiting damage done to cells by free radicals.
- Depression, skin blemishes, and certain diseases are linked to inflammation. Drinking kombucha daily can decrease these problems.
- B Vitamins
- B1, B6, and B12 are in kombucha and they help to naturally give your body energy and can also improve skin clarity and aging.
- Probiotics in kombucha aid in the digestion of food which can help with indigestion, “going regularly”, bloating, weight loss, and food intolerance (i.e. dairy).
- Increase in Nutrition of Food
- This is my favorite. Being as it is fermented and probiotic, kombucha will increase the nutritional value of the foods you eat. This why you should drink a little bit of it with every meal.
- It’s a bubbly, sweet, tangy drink that’s healthy for you. What more could you want?
Now that you know the basics of how to make kombucha and why it is good for you, let me tell you how you can make it. While you can easily buy it from the store, it can be expensive considering that each bottle typically costs 3-4 dollars, but you can make a gallon of your own kombucha for about the same price or less as one 16oz bottle.
This is a recipe to make 1 gallon of kombucha. You can easily cut this recipe in half or double or triple it.
- you can order them online or if you know someone that makes kombucha, ask for a bit of their SCOBY.
- 2 cups of stater tea
- this will come with the SCOBY. It’s basically really old kombucha that smells and tastes like straight up vinegar.
- 14-16 cups of water
- 8 tea bags (green, black, and butterfly pea tea all work for this)
- or use 2 tbsp of loose tea leaves
- 1 cup of cane sugar
- Cane sugar is preferred because it contains more nutrients for the SCOBY. Do not use molasses or refined sugar. You will find yourself with an unhealthy SCOBY.
*You will need to store the finished product in either a glass or ceramic container. Plastic and metal containers can harbor bad bacteria and contaminate the SCOBY.
Now it’s time to get this kombucha going! This part is pretty simple as you’ll soon find out.
Place your SCOBY and starter liquid in a clean glass or ceramic container. Then, add your water, tea, and sugar to a pot and set on medium-low. You only need to heat up the water until all the sugar dissolves making sure to stir the pot every now and then.
Once the sugar has dissolved, let the mixture cool for a little bit. If the tea is too warm it will kill your SCOBY, but you need to have some warmth to it in order for the fermentation to take place. The best way to test the warmth of the tea is on your wrist. Just place a couple drops on your wrist and if it’s too hot on your skin then you know that it’ll be too much for the SCOBY.
When you’ve reached a comfortable temperature for the tea you can add it to your container with the SCOBY.
Make sure you leave at least two inches of space from the top of the container.
You can gently stir the liquid and then cover your jar with a cloth of some sort i.e. towel, cheese cloth, etc. The SCOBY needs to be able to breath so don’t put on a tight lid of any sort. You can put a rubber band around the top of the jar to keep the cloth in place.
Now all that’s left to do is place your first ferment of kombucha in a dark, warm place. Too much light will kill the SCOBY as well. So be sure to keep it out of direct sunlight. Also, if it’s too cold, your kombucha will take longer to ferment or not ferment at all.
It’ll usually take about one week for the first ferment to finish, but you’ll want to taste test it around day 4-5 and see if it needs any longer. Your kombucha should taste a little zippy and slightly sweet still. There will be undertones of some vinegar. If it’s too vinegary you can still do a second ferment or you can just start over.
Your SCOBY will have new growth once in a while. It’ll look like a white layer forming over your existing SCOBY. Eventually you’ll have to start peeling it off and give it to someone else or save it for your self. If you let your SCOBY get too large you risk having your kombucha fermenting too fast and becoming vinegary.
The second ferment is the best part! This is where you can add all sorts of different fruits and create a multitude of flavors. I’ll give you a list of some of my favorite flavors down below.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Fruit (Use as much fruit as you want. More fruit=more flavor. The more the merrier.)
- Glass bottle( bottles with pop tops work the best *see picture below*)
All you have to do for the second ferment is pour some kombucha and fruit into each bottle, tightly close the lid, and then leave it in a dark, warm place for 2-3 days.
BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU OPEN YOUR SECOND FERMENT!
Kombucha has been know to explode and go everywhere except your cup. Open the bottles slowly and “burp” them. Burping them means opening them slightly and then closing the lid to let it settle. You may have to do it a couple of times.
Store your kombucha bottles in the fridge, they can last for up to a month. So don’t worry if you forget about it.
Well, an early congrats on your boocha (kombucha) and well wishes that it all goes well!
Though I can tell you from experience that you will have at least one bottle explode or have kombucha rocketing all the way to outer space.
But have fun! Kombucha is such a wonderful drink and so tasty. It’s really not too hard to do once you get going. I promise that you will not regret making your own and that you’ll start to feel the wondrous benefits of it after implementing some into your diet. It’s also neat that you can create your kombucha according to your preference in the second ferment. Create any sort of flavor your heart desires. You do you, Honey!
Here are some of my favorite ones that I’ve done:
- Strawberry Basil (literally my favorite)
- Blueberry Mint
- Apple and Cinnamon
- Orange Cream (oranges and vanilla extract)
The list goes on, but your attention span does not; so, I’ll leave that there and let you get your boocha a-brewing.
Happy fermenting peeps!
~xoxo Juliana Marie