Kombucha – Make your own at home for a fraction of the price!

I remember when my kids were little, my mom used to make Kombucha all the time and give it to them to drink. She would call it “Magic Potion” and I think that because she called it that, they sort of liked it.

I, myself, couldn’t stand what I referred to as “Mushroom Juice”. I tried to like it because it was supposedly good for me, but it never worked. I despised the stuff so much, I had to block my nose to drink it.

I guess you can very well imagine that I never quite understood the craze around Kombucha and why people were willing to dish out 3, 4 and even 5 bucks for a single bottle of the stuff!

Still, one day I decided I had to give it another chance. Hey, maybe I’d changed enough in all those years that I would now appreciate it? After all, it had been well over 15 years since I’d last had some.

So I actually stopped by the store on my way back home one night and bought myself a bottle. Of course, I had to absolutely love it. Because I needed another addiction, you know. Another expensive addiction, at that!

It didn’t take long before I decided I needed to try my hand at making my own. Hey, if my mom had been able to do it for so long, surely it wouldn’t be a problem for me. I was only hoping that the home made stuff would taste nothing like what I remembered and more like the stuff I’d been getting from the store!

So I started reading on the subject and found many great articles, namely on Cultures for Health, as well as in Fermented: A Four Season Approach to Paleo Probiotic Foods by Jill Ciciarelli (if you are the tiny least interested in food fermentation, I strongly recommend you get this book, by the way), but it wasn’t until Josh, the amazing young man behind Slim Palate, posted about his Kombucha making experience  that I finally decided to take the plunge. His instructions were so very clear and concise, and he made it look so easy, he convinced me to finally give it a go.

Make Your Own Kombucha | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

But before I could get started, I needed to get my hands on a few mandatory supplies:

#1 – A large container for the Kombucha to ferment in

I decided to use a 1½ gallon Beverage Dispenser which I found at my local Target. This kind of container makes tasting your Kombucha so easy! A little too easy, perhaps…

#2 – Several glass bottles to keep my Kombucha in after it’s done fermenting

I purchased several of these beautiful flip top glass bottles at my local IKEA, but I’m sure you could find these pretty much anywhere. You can also reuse any glass bottle that has a screw-on cap, although the flip tops are preferable if you’re opting to do a second ferment. Also, if someone in your entourage happens to be drinking Grolsch beer (like my son does), have them keep the bottles for you!

#3 – Some suitable tea

I chose to go with one of my ultimate favorites, a black Pu Erh, but you can use any tea you like, so long as it’s true Camellia Sinensis, NOT herbal tea, and doesn’t contain any kind of artificial flavoring.

#4 – Most important of all… I needed to find me a SCOBY and some starter tea

Now this is probably the trickiest part. While I know that you can start your very own SCOBY from scratch (well, more from store bought unflavored kombucha) I found it was harder for me to get my hands on some of that unflavored tea than it was to find an all grown up and ready to use mama SCOBY. Plus, when you purchase a SCOBY, it usually comes packed in enough starter tea to get your batch going.  There are several online sources where you can buy them and a lot of natural health food stores also keep them in stock.

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Get all your stuff ready before you start.

I used a 1½ gallon glass beverage container, an organic black Pu Erh tea that I really like and got me a SCOBY as well as some starter unflavored Kombucha tea at my local health food store

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Ready? Let’s go!

Pour 2 cups of simmering water over the tea. You can use tea bags, discs, bricks or even loose tea, so long as it’s the real thing. No herbal teas, no flavoring.

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Let that tea steep for 5-6 minutes, then remove the bags or strain the leaves.

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Add the sugar to the hot tea. Yeah, I know:  it’s sugar. WHITE SUGAR!

But don’t worry, your SCOBY will be eating most of it and very little will be left in the final product.

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and allow to cool to room temperature.

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Fill the glass container with cold water and pour the sugared tea right in. Make sure you leave enough room for the starter tea and SCOBY to go in!

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Add the starter tea and SCOBY to the beverage dispenser or glass jar.

Just make sure both the liquid in the jar and the starter tea are at the same temperature. Adding the SCOBY to hot or even warm liquid would likely kill it.

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

See how that SCOBY is happily it’s floating in there?

We’re pretty much done for now. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Cover your jar with  2 or 3 large coffee filters and secure them with rubber bands. You could also use a clean tea towel if you don’t have any coffee filters on hand.

Make sure that you use something that lets air through but that is woven tightly enough to keep bugs and dust out of your brew!

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Now for the hard part. You need to leave your kombucha alone for the next 2 to 3 weeks.

Total fermenting time can vary greatly depending on many factors, such as ambient temperature, light, ingredients used, as well as your own personal preference, so start tasting after about 10 days.

Set your brew in a warm, well ventilated and well lit area, but away from direct sunlight. You don’t want to hide your kombucha in a cupboard or closet, completely away from light as your SCOBY does need light in order to feed. The kitchen counter works perfectly well for me.

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

After a couple of weeks, your kombucha will be ready to drink.

Notice the beautiful SCOBY that grew on top of the other one. Fascinating!

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Now you can use that SCOBY to start another batch right away.

Just start the process again right from the beginning.

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

If you’re pressed for time and can’t really get another batch going immediately, you can always store your SCOBY in the refrigerator for a little while. Just place it in a clean glass jar along with 1 or 2 cups of unflavored tea. This also is a great way to keep an extra SCOBY on hand, in case something unfortunate happened and you needed to throw out an entire batch, SCOBY and all…

Plus, these things they multiply with every batch, you know, so chances are you’re gonna want to share with your friends and family! Keep your mushrooms in a jar like that until you find a new home for them.

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

And there you have it, you can now enjoy your delicious home made fermented tea.

Just transfer it to glass bottles or jars and store it in the refrigerator.

It is very important that you keep the finished kombucha in the refrigerator, otherwise it would continue to ferment even though the SCOBY has been removed.

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

If you want to add a little bit of flavor, as well as a tad more fizz to your already delicious brew, this is the time to do it.

Simply add a few pieces of fruit or a little bit of natural fruit juice, a little bit more sugar and a few herbs and spices right into a flip top bottle, fill with your unflavored kombucha and leave the bottles on the counter for another 4-5 days, or up to a week, to ferment for a second time.

Don’t be afraid to experiment, here. The sky is pretty much the limit!

I personally added a dozen popped fresh cranberries, about a tablespoon of sugar and a half teaspoon of chai spice to a 1 liter bottle. In another 1 liter bottle, I added a few pieces of fresh ginger, a tablespoon of unpasteurized honey and a quarter of a teaspoon of vanilla powder.

Both turned out amazing!

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

After the second fermentation is done, transfer the bottles to the refrigerator and allow the tea to chill completely before attempting to open the bottle. Failure to do that may result in a Kombucha volcano erupting in your kitchen!

Even after refrigerating, always be extra careful when opening the bottles.

It’s not a bad idea to cover them with a clean dish towel just in case…

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Time to pour yourself a glass and pat yourself in the back for a job well done, and for saving all that money!

Making Kombucha at Home | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Just look at that beautiful color. And can you see the fizz?

Oh yeah! It fizzes!

And it tastes amazing…

Kombucha – Make your own at home for a fraction of the price!

Kombucha – Make your own at home for a fraction of the price!

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 bags, pellets or teaspoons pure, unflavored tea of your choice
  • 5½ liters (22 cups) cold water (preferably filtered or bottled)
  • 1½ cups sugar (regular white works best)
  • 1½ - 2 cups cups unflavored starter Kombucha tea
  • 1 SCOBY

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the tea. Let steep for about 5-6 minutes then remove the teabags or strain the leaves. Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved; Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Add about 20 cups of cold water to a 1½ gallon glass jar. Pour the cool sweet tea right in then add your SCOBY and starter tea.
  3. Cover the jar with coffee filters and secure them with rubber bands. You could also use a clean tea towel if you don't have any coffee filters on hand. Make sure that you use something that lets air through but that is woven tightly enough to keep bugs and dust out of your brew bucket.
  4. Place your jar in a warm, well ventilated and well lit area, but away from direct sunlight. You don't want to hide your kombucha in a cupboard or closet, completely away from light as your SCOBY does need light in order to feed. The kitchen counter works perfectly well for me.
  5. Now for the hard part... leave that brew alone for the next 2 to 3 weeks, testing it for taste from time to time, but leaving it undisturbed for the most part. You don't want to be moving that jar around. Total fermenting times can vary greatly depending on many factors, such as ambient temperature, light, ingredients used, as well as your own personal preference. The longer you allow your "buch" to ferment, the more acidic it will become. The less time you give it, the sweeter it will remain. Start taste testing after 10 days or so. That's where the beverage dispenser comes in handy, all you need to do is open up the valve and let a little bit out. If you don't have a beverage dispenser, you can use a straw. Ideally, you want to plunge it as far as you can, block the hole with your thumb and take it out, which will remove a little bit of liquid.
  6. When your kombucha is to your liking, you can transfer it to glass bottles or jars and store it in the refrigerator. It is very important that you keep the finished kombucha in the refrigerator; otherwise it would continue to ferment even though the SCOBY has been removed.
  7. If you wanted to add a little bit of flavor, as well as a tad more fizz to your already delicious brew, this is the time to do it.
  8. Simply add a few pieces of fruit or a little bit of natural fruit juice, a little bit more sugar or maple syrup or honey and a few herbs and spices right into a flip top bottle, fill with your unflavored kombucha (leave about 1½ inch of head space) and leave the bottles on the counter for another 4-5 days, or up to a week, to ferment for a second time.
  9. After the second fermentation is done, transfer the bottles to the refrigerator and allow the tea to chill completely before attempting to open the bottle. Failure to do that may result in a Kombucha volcano erupting in your kitchen! Even after refrigerating, always be extra careful when opening the bottles. It’s not a bad idea to cover them with a clean dish towel just in case…
  10. Once you got that bottle opened, just pour yourself a glass, sit back and ENJOY! Oh, and start thinking about your next flavor combination. Don’t be afraid to experiment with that. The sky is pretty much the limit!
http://thehealthyfoodie.com/homemade-kombucha/

 

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Comments

  1. Manon says

    Great post Sonia, especially since I am so thirsty right now. Really outta try with a store-bought mama scoby, I think Crudessence delivers them, right ?

    • says

      Yes, I believe they do through their website (link in my post somewhere) but you can also buy it in some of the health stores that carry their kombucha. I got mine at La Moisson right off the 15 (exit 23). I’m lucky enough for it to be on my way home from work, so it makes it easy for me to stop and grab a few things, even too easy to stop for a quick kombucha fix, but now I’ve got my own, so I don’t need to do that anymore! ;)

  2. says

    Wait wait wait, hold on a minutes…Kombucha is a drink?! I always thought it was just silly people messing up the word “Kabocha” (the most delicious squash to ever walk (or maybe it rolls?) the face of planet earth!) Can you maybe explain to me what kombucha is? I have heard a lot about it and I feel like this should be knowledge that I have in my brain. Thanks girl!

    • says

      OK, this made me smile. Not laugh, I promise! SMILE! ;)

      In short, Taylor, kombucha is nothing but fermented tea. Just like any fermented food, it has amazing health benefits and is especially helpful in detoxifying your body, aiding with digestion and keeping your gut healthy. There are many, many websites that deal with this subject. A quick search in Google for Kombucha Health Benefits will yield tons of results and will have you occupied for weeks to come!

      And I say you should seriously try and get your hand on a bottle. Then get back to this post, cuz you’ll want to be making your own! :)

  3. says

    You know me loves ‘buch (yeah, hipsters refer to it as just ‘buch not kombucha ;-) ) it’s the best fizzy drink ever and so good for you.

    I like mine plain but that honey+ginger one seems to good to pass up.
    You know what? I’m gonna try it today (I have a batch that should be ready just about now!)
    Thanks for the inspiration hon.

    PS the pictures are GORGEOUS!

    • says

      Awwww, thank you so much sweetheart, that is so very kind of you to say! :D

      As for the inspiration, I don’t know who is inspiring who… My next flavor combo? SWEET ROSE-MARY GOJI. Oh gee, I wonder where that comes from? ;)

  4. says

    This post is exactly what I needed to start brewing my own. I’ve read a lot on how to do it, but your photos are SUPER helpful to me (yeah, I’m a visual learner). Now I’m confident I can make my own continuous brew system, thanks!

    • says

      That’s just AWESOME, Jackie! So happy to hear. I too, happen to be a visual learner, that’s why I like to include lots of Step by Step pictures in my posts whenever I can. Glad to hear you find them helpful! Good luck with your Kombucha brewing, and mostly, enjoy!!! :)

  5. Ellen says

    The Kombucha tea i have made in the past consisted of a special muchroom, brown sugar, purified water, wooden or plastic utensils,stainless steel cooking pot. the flavor was a vinager taste, color was a golden brown. It sat for 2 weeks , poured into glass bottles. I not only drank it and it helped with weight loss, any joint problems i had, cleansed out my body of toxins. I also used the mushroom for sores on my body. cuts, abrasions. which healed in 2 days, compared to 1 to 2 weeks from the doctors prescription.
    I quit making it as there was alot of work and time involed into it.
    Now i drink Sunrider tea– which does the same for me, plus extra’s. If anybody is interested or wants to know more about sunrider- email me @ ellenroux@ymail.com or pull it up on the internet. Thankyou!

  6. tatiana ramos says

    Is posible to replace the white sugar,for sugar cane?
    a friend give me a scoby, and she is been brewing it for 20 years only in sugar cane,
    and i would like to start a new batch with tea, and sugar cane, do you think that is possible or maybe i kill the scoby?
    Oh, and i start drinking the cane sugar batch, for 2 days and i feel a litlle tummy achee, this can be normal at the beginning?
    Thanks

  7. Connie says

    Hi There!
    I just obtained my first Kombcha scoby and am brewing my first batch! So exited! I noticed that your swing top bottle don’t have the rubber rings on them. Does this help to avoid exploding bottles by allowing some of the gasses to release during the second fermentation?
    Thanks again for all your awesome recipes!
    Connie

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