I had heard rumbles about this health drink called Kombucha and may or may not have tried to gulp it down before re-locating. But when we drug our tired weary selves into a new town and in one of my sicker moments I decided to try it at the local coffee shop.
And I felt better.
And it changed my life.
So began the hunt to make my own because $4 for a little bottle just wasn’t going to make it into the budget when I was downing a bottle a day and hubby wasn’t buying how much I thought this helped me heal and feel better.
So I found a friend who had a mother (aka scoby…symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and I began a life changing journey that I am passionate about. I will say it was frustrating and I almost gave up because there are very few specific recipes for the second ferment on the web and what I was really craving was the effervescence that is in this fine drink. And I was discovering through failed attempt after attempt that it’s an art to get there.
So in an effort to make it easy for you, here are my tips and very basic recipes. Feel free to post questions and I will do my best to answer.
First you need to find a mother or scoby. Each batch makes a new mother so if you have a friend making Kombucha they will most likely be happy to get one off their hands. Also health food stores sell them as do websites. I like cultures for health as they are reputable and reasonable. There are also lots of good tips about Kombucha and other fermented products that are good for your body with probiotics and prebiotics etc. on their site.
To make your first ferment find a gallon glass jar (or you can half the recipe for a half gallon).
In a pot pour 4 cups of filtered water and 1 cup of sugar. Stir bringing to a boil on the stove.
Add your tea bags. You can have fun with this using white, green or black unflavored teas. It cannot be herbal or flavored tea as it will kill your mother. I like to use 6 black tea bags and 2 green. Turn off water and let tea steep until room temp.
Next pour your cooled sweet tea into the glass jar and add your starter Kombucha liquid that came with your scoby. For 1 gallon you should have 2 cups of starter.
Next add your filtered water until it almost reaches the top and place your mother in the tea. Cover the top with a towel that will allow the Kombucha to breathe but will keep out fruit flies.
Place out of direct light on your counter or in a cupboard and let it sit undisturbed.
Begin tasting your Kombucha day 5 with a straw that you slip down the side of your jar capping it with your finger to draw it out and sample it. When it starts to have a bit of effervescence and it no longer tastes like tea you know your ready. I’ve found it can take anywhere from 1 week to 3 before it is ready depending on the temperature of your home, how much bacteria is in your batch etc.
Next is the fun part! You can either drink the raw plain unflavored Kombucha as is or second ferment for more bubbles and an infused flavor. I always second ferment and the two flavors that we have got down to a science are mint and ginger.
Ginger Kombucha (for each 24.5 oz bottle. I found these lemonade bottles at Harris Teeter and I LOVE how tight their seal is. It really makes a difference on having extra bubbles. You can always buy plain bottles online too in any size.)
1 TBL peeled finely grated fresh ginger (I’ve tried blending it, using chunks but this seemed to work the best)
1 TBL sugar
Raw Kombucha (first ferment)
Stuff your tablespoon of ginger into each bottle. Using a plastic funnel (metal is supposed to hurt the good bacteria in the kombucha) add your tablespoon of sugar. Taking your mother(s) out of your raw kombucha using your funnel pour from your gallon glass jar until it almost reaches the top of your bottle. Seal and lightly shake to mix sugar and place on your counter for 4-5 days without opening for best bubbles. At the end of those 4-5 days place your bottle(s) in the fridge. I found each gallon jar can make 4 24.5 oz bottles per batch. That will leave you enough raw kombucha at the bottom of your jar to start your next round.
Mint Kombucha (for each 24.5 oz bottle)
1 large stem of mint (or 2 small)
1 TBL sugar
Follow the exact directions above for the ginger flavor. (My kids love this one!)
RULES TO ALWAYS FOLLOW
- Always listen to mother, she rolls au naturel (never use antibacterial soaps on anything that will come in contact with kombucha, don’t use flavored or herbal teas, don’t use metal in any part of the process except for the brewing of the tea…although some people say stainless steel is fine I have stayed away from it all.)
- The more the merrier: until it starts to ferment too quickly keep all your mothers in your new batches and just throw the ones out that are looking pretty ratty tatty.
- Clean freak: always wash your hands (but not with antibacterial soap) before working with your kombucha. Your mother is sensitive to bad bacteria.
- Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty: get familiar with your scoby. She doesn’t bite! And she isn’t as gross as you may think. It’s good to not be afraid to handle her with your hands as you put her in and out of the kombucha.
- When you fail, try try again: if you let your first ferment kombucha go too long and it tastes too sour like vinegar. DON’T TRY TO FIX IT. Just dump out all but 2 cups of starter and begin again. There are lots of options for what people suggest to do with too sour kombucha on the web, but I have yet to go there.