DIY: Home Brewing Kombucha

IMG_4346A couple weeks ago, my husband and I took a kombucha brewing class at Kombucha Brooklyn—we were gifted tickets to the class over the holidays. And we loved the class! So much so that we bought a Home Brew Super Kit to try out for ourselves.

What is kombucha? The simplest definition is that it is fermented tea. Kombucha contains probiotics, which we all know from watching yogurt commercials are good for the gut. According to Kombucha Brooklyn’s website, the drink “nourishes your body with compounds that detoxify, energize, support your immune system, streamline your digestive system, clarify your skin, prevent disease and elevate your mood.” Sounds pretty promising, right? I don’t believe that it’s the cure for all that ails us, but I would think that drinking kombucha in moderation on a regular basis might indeed have health benefits.* I have not been a regular kombucha consumer in the slightest so this is all pretty new to me, but I’m excited to get started with this unique beverage.

Basically, kombucha is made by brewing tea (the “real” stuff like green, black, oolong, etc.—not herbal tea), then mixing it with sugar and adding a “starter” (previously made kombucha) and a SCOBY. Then you just let the mixture sit in a warm spot for awhile. Wait…SCOBY? That’s an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. A SCOBY is a gelatinous, brain-looking blob (seen in the baggie on the lower right of the above photo; click for a bigger view) that feeds on the sugar and tea that you’ve brewed and protects the liquid as it ferments. They’re incredibly nasty-looking (Buzzfeed has a pretty horrifying post about them) but they sure do help make a tasty drink!

Yesterday we decided to start brewing our own kombucha, so of course I documented the steps as we went along so I could share it here! The brewing process is really quite simple and requires few tools. All of the ingredients we used (except water) were included in our home brew kit, but most of the items can easily be found at your local grocery store. I should note that we washed our tools and brew jar with soap and very hot water, then rinsed really well. We also made sure to wash our hands properly. Sterilization isn’t necessary here, but cleanliness is still very important.

1. First, we boiled two cups of filtered water and steeped one tea bag (a blend of organic black, green, and white teas) in it for 20 minutes.

IMG_43492. Then we added one cup of organic cane sugar and stirred until it was fully dissolved.

IMG_43643. Next, we added a half gallon of cold, filtered water to cool down the hot sweet tea.

4. Once the mixture was sufficiently cooled, we poured it into our kombucha brewing jar.

IMG_43665. The next step was to top off the jar with additional filtered water, just to the fill line marked on the label.

IMG_43676. It’s SCOBY time! We added the SCOBY and starter to the jar. Look at that blobulous** marvel.

IMG_43687. Then we covered the jar with a piece of organic cotton, secured it with a rubber band, and placed it in a dark, warm spot (between 72°F and 80°F is recommended). We also stuck a label with yesterday’s date on the jar so that we know when we got it started.

IMG_4375And that’s it! Easy peasy. According to the instructions, we should see a new SCOBY growing on the surface within 5 to 6 days, and the kombucha itself should be ready in 9 to 14 days. At that point we can bottle it, flavor it, and allow a secondary fermentation, which causes carbonation. Bubbles!

We’ll see how it turns out—if all goes well, we will be able to reserve some of the freshly fermented kombucha and the new SCOBY for making up the next batch. Stay tuned for the results!

*I’m no expert, so please do not take this statement as gospel.

** New word alert!

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