Updated: Mar 26
I love to drink kombucha and it is so easy and cheap to make at home. It costs a fraction of the price of store bought kombucha. I like the taste and have a glass most mornings. I've been fermenting my own 'booch' for about 4 years now. You need to start with a 'scoby' which stands for a 'symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast' - it sounds really yummy put like that doesn't it?
Kombucha is packed with probiotics and I've found it has helped my gut health. Some people call it a 'wonder drink'. I don't make miraculous claims for it, but I do believe it supports my own health as part of a nutritious diet. I talk about various fermented foods as part of my Sacred Vessel programme as I am a big fan of them. These foods have an ancient pedigree, and it is thought that consuming them can support a healthy gut microbiome, which is often challenged by modern life.
Here's a photo guide to the method I follow:
This is a scoby - it won't win any beauty prizes. I grew my own starter scoby from an unflavoured bought bottle of organic kombucha - you'll need a little patience if you want to grow one this way! If you want to start sooner then beg a full size scoby from a friend who brews, or they can be found online. My first scoby grew big enough to start brewing in a month and I've kept this same brew going for four years now.
Your scoby grows a new layer each time you make a batch of kombucha. You will soon have more scobies than you need. Spares can be kept in a 'scoby hotel' so you have back ups in case of any problem with your main batch spoiling, or you can pass some on to friends of course. Discard any really old, tired, layers & put them in the compost.
I brew my kombucha using four bags of black tea plus a couple of bags of lapsang souchong which gives it a smoky flavour I like. This amount works for me and is enough to brew 2 litres. Some recipes suggest more teabags but I don't like the flavour too strong. You could experiment with other kinds of tea. Don't use Earl Grey - apparently kombucha doesn't like the citrus oils.
Make a really strong brew. I leave the teabags steeping until the water has cooled down to room temperature - don't put your scoby into hot tea! Remember first to heat up your jar if you are using glass, I wash it in hot tap water. It sounds obvious, but I forgot once, blame the menopause. As I poured from the kettle the jar cracked and it was lucky I jumped out of the way of the scalding water!
If you only half fill your jar you can top it up with filtered water once the tea is strong enough and has cooled a bit. This cuts down the overall cooling time. I use a 2 litre kilner jar for my brewing.
I make a new batch of kombucha every two weeks. Along with strong black tea the scoby feeds on sugar. I dissolve 100g of golden caster sugar in my strong tea whilst it is hot. You have to add the sugar or it won't brew, however your end result will be less sweet the longer it ferments.
Waiting, letting the tea cool. I use a clean dishcloth to cover the brew so no flies get in and a pan lid to keep the scoby safe while it waits to go back in its jar. When the tea is cool remove the teabags. Reserve 200ml of your last batch of kombucha as a starter which you add to the cold sugary tea and then pop the scoby in, which will float itself back to the top.
Cover the open neck of your jar with a fine knit clean dishcloth to keep flies and other bits out. Kombucha ferments well at room temperature so you can just push it to the back of the kitchen counter and let it quietly do its magic.
Once it has brewed long enough you can decant your kombucha. Strain it with a fine mesh sieve so you don't get any slimy bits into your bottle!
I use strong glass bottles to decant into as kombucha is slightly fizzy and pressure can potentially build in the bottle, especially when the weather is warm. 'Burp' your bottle once a day if you aren't drinking it to avoid problems!
You can experiment with flavours to go into your bottled kombucha. I like to add lemon juice and finely chopped ginger; lime juice also tastes good. Don't add flavours to the batch of kombucha you are brewing - only to the bottle. Don't forget to keep 200ml of unflavoured kombucha as your starter for the next batch.
Left on the side at room temperature the kombucha in your bottles will still be fermenting. You can slow it down by putting the bottle in the fridge. I use a tea strainer to remove any bits from my morning kombucha.
As with any dietary changes you should go slowly at first, give your body a chance to accustom itself to the new food and check it agrees with your system. If you are pregnant or have compromised health you may wish to consult a medical practitioner before consuming kombucha and other 'functional foods'.
That's about all there is to it! It sounds like a lot of steps, but they are all simple and it really doesn't take much active preparation time - the longest wait is for the tea to cool.
Comment below if you add favourite flavours, or use different teas to brew your kombucha.