I've been itching to try making kombucha at home for quite some time now, and finally the health food store in my area called to say they had kombucha babies in stock again, so I rushed in and picked mine up full of anticipation! Any family with a toddler will know that colds make endless rounds, and I've been trying my hand at more and more fermented foods to take advantage of their probiotic qualities, which help the body in endless amounts of ways, but assistance in detoxifying (and fighting colds) is one major plus!
Kombucha has been hailed as a popular health tonic for years now, but the roots of kombucha are much deeper than that. The ancient Chinese referred to it as "the tea of immortality", and although the actual genesis of kombucha is unknown, evidence shows that particularly Asian and Eastern European cultures have been brewing and drinking it for thousands of years. Kombucha has also been called the "elixir of life" and the unique blend of probiotics, amino acids, and B vitamins have been shown to detoxify the body, aid digestion, maintain good health and balance in the gut and intestinal tracts, reenergize the mind, lower cholesterol, help with weight loss, promote a general sense of wellbeing, and even help reverse/relieve the symptoms of cancer. Even if just half of these benefits are true, it seems worthwhile to make it a daily habit, so I was anxious to get started and brew my first batch of kombucha.
Before I get started with the DIY, you might be wondering what kombucha actually is! Put simply, it's fermented tea, usually black or green tea, but many other varieties can also work. The key to making it is a live culture called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), also called a "kombucha baby" or "mother", which contains beneficial microorganisms (bacteria and yeast), that, with the right ingredients and environment, work to transform regular tea into a tonic teeming with life that works wonders on the body.
Making it at home is deceptively easy although a bit time consuming. I am timing this feature with the start of a batch in order to walk through the entire process together, in case you care to join me in making your first batch!
Across the web, you will find varying recipes for brewing kombucha, but the ratio remains fairly consistent. Here is the recipe that I used, which came with my SCOBY:
Note: If you don't have a gallon sized jar and/or are using 2 smaller jars, you will need another SCOBY for the 2nd jar. You can adjust the receipe for a smaller/larger batch, just keep the ratio roughly the same).
We'll be posting Part 2 of this DIY when the batch is ready. We'll walk you through harvesting your kombucha, what to do with your SCOBY (which will probably have sprouted a baby!), flavour infusing your kombucha if desired, the 2nd fermentation to carbonize, and keeping organized for your next batch so you never run out!
Are you a homebrewing kombucha master? We'd love to get your tips and advice, share in the comments below, OR if you are following along with your first batch and need some troubleshooting, leave a comment and we'll try to help!
RESOURCES: The method and recipe for this post was created in conjunction with the instructions I received with my SCOBY andKombucha Revolution: 75 Recipes for Homemade Brews, Fixers, Elixirs, and Mixers by Stephen Lee with Ken Koopman.