I recently started drinking kombucha (fermented black or green tea), but it got pretty expensive, so I started making my own.
I found that it is SO easy to make kombucha. I started about two months ago with a one gallon glass container, but quickly expanded to two gallon containers, because I found that I could easily drink two gallons by the time the second batch was ready (two weeks later.) I found that I prefer a tangier flavor, so I have been experimenting with how my climate effects the flavor and how long to brew in relation to my taste preferences. I live in Florida and like a two week week first ferment, and then bottle in airtight containers for a second ferment. I drink from the second ferment bottles, so they ferment until I’m ready to drink. (I filter the kombucha into different cups when I’m ready to drink.) I also found that I enjoy the taste of the natural kombucha, so I rarely add juices to it. I have tried cranberry juice, and it was good, but unnecessary.
For my kombucha, I use organic yerbe matte green tea, organic cane sugar, and distilled water. For my first batch, I tried turbinado sugar, but I found that the SCOBY (the “mushroom” culture as I call it for my mom to avoid the “ewwing”) seems happier in the cane sugar. I have only tried green tea thus far, because I believe it is healthier, though I may try black tea since that seems to be what most people use.
The first photo shows how many SCOBYs I have grown! It’s so easy to make that if you want to make your own kombucha, you might want to find ways to get rid of some SCOBYs so that you don’t end up like me with a ton in the large bottles. I felt bad to throw them away and couldn’t find anyone who wanted one. The photo is before I added a new batch of tea to the large bottles. As you can see, the many SCOBYs are sitting in the starter tea. I use 2-4 cups of tea from the last batch.
The second photo is of a second ferment in an airtight glass bottle. I was so happy that when I opened the top, it popped, and fizzed like champagne! I noticed that when I fill the kombucha up to the top of the bottle for the second ferment, it carbonates more.
If you would like to make your own kombucha, there are MANY blogs online with instructions. I received my SCOBY from my nutritionist aunt, but I’ve read several ways to make your own, though I haven’t tried any.
For troubleshooting tips, I liked this website: http://users.bestweb.net/~om/kombucha_balance
Though there are many tips online, I have learned a few from my nutritionist aunt:
- Do not boil the tea. This will roast or burn the leaves.
- To get the most out of the tea, steep the tea for a long time to get all the oils out of the leaves. I leave it overnight in the refrigerator.
- Do not use metal around the SCOBY, or else it may kill it. Instead, use plastic, glass, or wood. (spoons, straws, etc.)
- I’m not sure if this makes a difference, but I read on the tea package to moisten the tea leaves in room temperature water first before you add it to the hot water. I add the loose leaves to 1 cup of room temperature water before pouring that into the heated water.
- Lastly, if you’re making a large batch of kombucha (in my case, 1-2 gallons), only heat a little water to make the tea to save some time. I heat 4 cups of water, let it steep/cool overnight, sift it, and then add the remainder of the water needed right before I pour it into my SCOBY container.
I have been enjoying fermenting so much, I think I am going to add other fermented foods to my diet to increase my probiotic intake. I’m thinking veges next, possibly carrots, beets, and cabbage.