I remember the first time I tried Kombucha. I was home in Texas (perhaps for the summer?), and my mom and I saw bottles of GT’s in our local grocery store. Curious, we took some home, poured two small glasses, and tentatively took a sip.
The vinegar smell was overwhelming, and we were not convinced.
Fast forward a few years, and I found myself buying Kombucha at least once a week. I’m not sure when I became a fan, or what changed from that first taste, but somewhere along the line I got hooked on Kombucha!
At $4 per bottle, however, my weekly treat was becoming an expensive habit…
So I took the plunge, bought the Brooklyn Kombucha Home Brew Kit, and began to make my own ‘buch.
**NOTE: You by no means need a kit to make your own– all you need is a tea, sugar, a bottle of Kombucha, and a large jar. I decided to buy the kit because it was an easy way to get the right sized jar, it came with a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), and it was on sale.
To Make Kombucha:
- You will need a large jar (instructions below require a 1 gallon jar).
- Brew some sweet tea: Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Remove from heat and add 6 tea bags (green or black, unflavored). Let tea steep for 20 minutes, then stir in 1 cup of sugar.
- Add 8 cups cold water. Pour tea into the jar.
- Allow tea to cool to below 90 degrees. Then add 1.5 cups kombucha and a SCOBY (saved from a previous batch, acquired from a friend) **You can also use ~15 – 20 ounces of bottled Kombucha if you do not have a SCOBY.
- Cover the jar, and place it in a dark, warm place, and let it sit for 1 – 3 weeks.
- A new SCOBY will form after about a week. Check the kombucha, and when it has stopped being sweet and acquired a “vinegar”-like taste, it is ready to be flavored and bottled.
- Use clean hands to remove your SCOBY and place it in a sealable jar or ziploc bag along with 1.5 cups kombucha. Store SCOBY in the fridge until you are ready to make your next batch.
- Pour kombucha into bottles, along with a splash of juice or other flavoring.
- Let the jars sit at room temperature for a few more days, until they have become carbonated to your liking (2 – 5 days). Then move the bottles to the fridge. The longer they sit at room temperature, the more effervescent the ‘buch becomes.
I’m not sure if Kombucha really has the health benefits that I often hear associated with it. The Mayo Clinic is skeptical:
“Health benefits attributed to kombucha tea include stimulating the immune system, preventing cancer, and improving digestion and liver function. However, there’s no scientific evidence to support these health claims.” (Source)
I think Nugget’s says it best:
“Known for a staggering array of health benefits from aiding in digestion and metabolism, to cleansing of the liver and kidneys, all the way to healthier skin and hair, and body alkalizing properties. Kombucha has also been known to contain viable pro-biotic’s, amino and other organic acids, and B-vitamins. Research on it in this country has been very limited, so none of these claims have scientific data backing them, which is why they cannot be presented as statement of fact. If you are curious about the benefits of drinking Kombucha, we recommend doing your own test and try it out for yourself.” (Source) (Emphasis added)
If you haven’t tried Kombucha, go out and buy some, and see how you feel. You may find that you see some health benefits, or you may find that you just like the taste– I know I do!
I have been making my own Kombucha for a few months now, but until recently, my flavorings had been fairly basic– just a splash of whatever fruit juice we happened to have on hand, or pressed ginger juice (my favorite!).
But then I discovered Nugget’s Raw Kombucha, a new brand made locally in Charlottesville. They have started selling at the City Market, and for the past month of so, I’ve been doing “research” into more exotic flavors, purchasing at least one bottle of their incredible offerings – Espresso, Mint, Citra Hops, Appalaichian Harvest. The Espresso flavor in particular served as inspiration to try something new.
My most recent batch of ‘buch featured one “lazy girl’s” flavor – Berry, made with a Bolthouse Farms “Blue Goodness” juice – and two attempts to replicate my favorite findings – coffee and Apple/Carrot.
I added about 1/4 cup of juice/coffee per 4 cups of Kombucha.
I’ve heard you can flavor kombucha with raisins–just add a few to the bottle, spices, and herbs. Now that I’ve branched out a little, I need to get creative! Stay tuned for more on my adventures in home brewing. I’ll let you know what flavors I create.
Coincidentally, I have not one, but two friends who started their first batches of home brewed ‘buch this weekend! If you make your own, I’d love to hear about your favorite flavorings.