I love kombucha. I’ve talked about why I love it before, but the problem is that it costs a fair bit when you want to drink it five times a day, like I do.
The solution? Brewing my own kombucha!
Now, I’ve been putting this off for a long time now. Like, a long time. I don’t want to admit to you how long I’ve had a kombucha starter kit in my possession and not gone ahead and made it.
Why? Well, I was afraid it wouldn’t work. That, plus I was travelling a lot and kombucha takes 1-4 weeks to brew.
I finally decided to break through my resistance and get it brewing! And to be extra brave, I decided to film my very first time brewing it on video for you.
I’m using a starter kit made by OK Kombucha. The instructions I’m listing come from their instruction sheet, which is highly informative, quite entertaining and surprisingly succint.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Brew Some Tea
You have to brew 1 gallon of tea, so get some water boiling. I had a huge tea bag in my starter kit, but if you’re doing your own use 10-15 regular tea bags, or the equivalent in loose tea.
Steep your tea, and stir in 1 cup of sugar. I used sucanat, which is an unrefined sugar, and coconut sugar would work nicely as well. OK Kombucha recommended avoiding agave or maple syrup or honey or any other liquid sweetener.
Step 2: Let It Cool
You have to let the tea cool because you’re going to add a live culture (called a SCOBY) to it. So have a break while that cools off.
Step 3: Add the SCOBY
Just pour it right in! This is the culture that’s going to turn your sweetened tea into bubbly, wonderful kombucha.
Step 4: Let It Culture
You don’t have to do anything, but the instructions told me this was the hardest part – and it was! It takes 1-4 weeks to become kombucha, so it felt like a long wait.
Make sure your brew is somewhere warm – 80F or so – and that it has air flow but is covered to keep out the fruit flies. My instructions recommended using a tea towel secured with an elastic band. I used a juice pitcher with the pouring spout open, and that was enough ventilation for mine.
Step 5: Sample
I took a taste after 7 days, and it was pretty nice but I wanted to let it brew longer. So I’ll check in with you next week and see where we’re at, as well as fill you in on the rest of the steps of storing your kombucha – and preserving your SCOBY for your next brew!
Step 6: Bottle Your Brew
Once you get your kombucha to where you like it (I decided to cap mine off after 14 days this time, but will try longer next time), you want to put it in air-tight bottles to store in the fridge since it’ll start to go bad without the SCOBY fermenting it.
You can also add other juice or pureed fruit or chia seeds at this point, to infuse while it’s in the fridge.
Then, when you open a fresh bottle, you’ll get a satisfying fizz from the natural carbonation of the cultured drink.
Step 7: Store Your SCOBY
After brewing, you can either use your SCOBY to brew a new batch right away, or store it to start a brew whenever you choose!
Since it takes 1-4 weeks to brew, I’ll probably start doing continuous brews from now, but this time I decided to store my SCOBY in the fridge to start in a few weeks.
All you need to do to keep your SCOBY alive is put it in an air-tight container with some kombucha in the fridge.
As it brews your kombucha, your SCOBY will grow, so you can start sharing with your kombucha-loving friends.
Make Your Own Kombucha!
Have you ever made kombucha? I have to say, although I was intimidated before by other cultured food prep, this was amazingly easy!
Tea and sugar are easy to find, but if you don’t know where to get a SCOBY to start you off, here are a few sources:
- Farmer’s market: Sometimes there are kombucha brewers at farmer’s markets who sell SCOBY’s. They grow in size when you brew, so they’re totally shareable!
- Friends – if you have friends who brew kombucha, they will have scoby-babies they can share
- OK Kombucha: Get the kit I used, or one of their other packages, directly from the company that makes them!
The best part is, once you get your SCOBY you can keep using it forever! So you don’t have to worry about buying a constant supply of new kombucha kits, you can just keep using the same one.
I’ve already started thinking about flavor combos for my next brews… I’m thinking chia + berry tea and peach-ginger tea with fresh ginger… this could be dangerous…