How to make Kombucha

Last week in my post I mentioned that every night I like to drink a glass of kombucha and this week I’ll explain why and how to make your own!

First off, I tried kombucha for the first time many, many years ago and I hated it. It tasted like bad beer…or just bad something.

Then, maybe a year ago my friend Tiana urged me to try it again but told me I needed to try the fancy, fruity flavored kind from whole foods. I believe I shelled out around $4 (that killed me) for a bottle of pink, guava flavored kombucha. I still hated it.

But then, I was listening to NPR and heard the author of a book called Missing Microbes talking about how messed up our stomachs are from taking antibiotics, among other things. We are born with good bacteria in our gut but the good bacteria can easily be overtaken by not-so-good bacteria thanks to antibiotics and just modern life in general.

Quick background on me: several years ago I did 2 rounds of antibiotics for 3-5 months each time to try to get rid of my severe acne. FUN!! That is a whole post in itself but I have a hard time getting excited about writing about that one time when I turned 30 and suddenly got acne so bad I didn’t want to leave the house. Another time maybe.

Amazingly enough I don’t have any stomach problems (I don’t think anyway) from taking antibiotics long term. But it’s not just stomach problems that “missing microbes” can cause! It can also cause obesity, autoimmune disorders and some believe it can even be linked to autism!

So how do you fix that ecosystem in the gut? Probiotics. Where do you get probiotics from? Kombucha. You can also get it from kefir (a yogurt drink), some yogurts, miso (fermented brown rice paste) & sauerkraut. You can also take probiotic pills. My husband and I have both taken the pills and we didn’t notice any difference.

Ok, this story is getting really long now, so fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was at my friend Tiana’s house talking about kombucha because she makes her own. She gave me a sample to try and I LOVED it. And then she taught me how to make it and so now I’m posting it up here because I think everyone needs to know this stuff!

Here are directions straight from Tiana, queen of Kombucha!

How to Brew Kombucha
You’ll need:
-gallon glass container (I got this one from amazon)
-green, black, or white tea (no herbal or flavored teas like chamomile, bergamot etc!)
-sugar
-SCOBY & “starter brew” from a previous batch

First off, you can get a SCOBY (culture) from a friend, buy one on Amazon (sketch?) or even just use a bottle of kombucha from the grocery store to start your batch!

Boil water for brewing about 4 cups of super concentrated green, black or white tea (I used green). Use 4-5 bags per gallon (I used 8 because I subscribe to the more is better mentality for everything).

After you make your concentrated tea and while the water is still hot, add sugar. You need at least 1/4 cup, but can add more if you want it to turn out sweeter (fear not-the sugar is metabolized by the bacteria so the end product actually contains very little sugar unless you add a bunch of sugar).

Then cool off the tea/sugar mixture by adding cold water (hot liquid would likely kill the SCOBY). Add enough water to get liquid level to within a couple inches of the top of the jar and add the SCOBY and starter.

Cover with cheesecloth or paper towel and rubber band/string around the top. Let brew in a warm dark place. Check the top of the liquid for a film after several days. When a film forms, you’re there! It gets more vinegar-y with more time (I personally love the vinegar taste). Time can be 7-30 days to brew.

You can do a second fermentation by bottling it and putting it in the fridge-that makes it fizzy naturally. You can also add things at that point like fruit, ginger, lemon etc. Start your new batch in the exact same way.

You’ll know if it has gone bad-there might be black mold on top of the SCOBY or it will smell foul. Throw everything out at that point and start over. Use clean everything when making and handling-that’ll reduce the chance of contamination.

Alright, here are pics from my brew!
I made green tea in my glass measuring cup using 8 bags even though Tiana said only to use 4-5.

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I left mine to brew for about 2 weeks in a closet because I like it to taste like vinegar (why am I weird?). I found out it’s normal to get brown “streamers” that hang off the SCOBY. I thought my batch had gone bad but it turns out that’s all normal, it just looks really gross.

Then I bottled it up in these bottles I got from IKEA for about $4 and put it in the refrigerator to bubble up some more. In hind sight, I wish I would have “splurged” on these weck bottles because they would easily fit in the dishwasher. The bottles I got don’t really work in the dishwasher. They are $5-$6 though. Geez Laura, it’s $1 extra dollar. Get a life.

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I didn’t add any fruit/lemon/ginger to mine, I just like it straight! I’m still a beginner though so I will update with any new techniques I learn.

I have a bunch of Rocco pictures to share but since this post has turned into a novel I’ll save them for another day. I’ll end the post with just one picture of him. He’s so cute!

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Have a great week!
Laura

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