Homebrew Kombucha from Pure Green Magazine!

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! 

WHAT YOU'LL NEED TO GET STARTED:

  • 1 SCOBY or Kombucha Baby
  • Organic Loose-Leaf Starter Tea (I suggest black or green tea to get started)
  • 6- to 8-quart Stainless Steel Pot with Lid
  • Purified Water (chlorine and fluoride free; for optimal results use fresh spring water)
  • Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar
  • Thermometer
  • Cotton Cloth (cut roughly 6" square)
  • Large Rubber Band
  • Gallon-Sized Widemouth Brewing Jar
  • Strainer
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Wide Mouth Funnel
  • Bottles

BREW KOMBUCHA:

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:

  • 14 cups purified water
  • 6-8 tsp loose-leaf tea
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 2 cups starter tea (can use plain, raw storebought)
  • 1 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).

  1. Heat 6 cups water to 212°F for black tea, and 185°F for green. Add tea leaves, stir, and cover with lid. Steep for 4 minutes, stirring once midway. 
  2. Once steeped, pour through a strainer; compost the leaves.
  3. Add the sugar to the tea, stirring until dissolved. Add remaining 8 cups of water; this is a nice trick to cool down the tea quickly (one that I didn't know, and it took hours to cool on the counter).
  4. Check the temperature, it should be around 72°F or cooler before you add your SCOBY and starter tea. If you're there, go ahead and add them! *If you need to handle the SCOBY, make sure to do with clean hands only!
  5. Stretch the cloth over your opening and secure tightly in place using the rubber band.
  6. Find a spot in your home that's consistenty warm (room temperature) and out of direct sunlight, and leave your kombucha undisturbed for 7-10 days. *Not sure if this really matters, but I was advised to store the brew away from kitchen appliances as well, particularly the microwave, dishwasher, fridge and stove.
  7. That's it! You've successfully completed the first steps to creating amazing kombucha at home.

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.

ADDITIONAL PHOTO CREDITS: These photos deptict Jodi Mockabee's kombucha, which was photographed during our shoot for Volume 9. Images styled by Carrie Moe.

This blog post is courtesy of Pure Green Magazine, Sustain's sister company, with full permission from Celine MacKay, PGM's editor-in-chief. For more great articles like this sign up for Pure Green Mag's online community here. It is totally free and you will receive access to community only blog posts and email newsletters so you can stay in the loop!



Celine MacKay
Celine MacKay

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