An ancient elixir legendary for its health promoting benefits, kombucha has become a staple in many kitchens around the world. You can also find it bottled at your local health food store as well as most supermarkets for around $3.50 per 16 oz. bottle. Or, you can make it yourself for pennies a glass.
Kombucha is simply fermented sweet tea. Anyone can make it at home with the most basic tools. The one thing you probably don’t already have on hand is a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).
Alive with probiotics, amino acids, B vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy acids, kombucha aids digestion, detoxifies and energizes the body, and supports the immune system. My dear yogi friend Ellie, who was selling her incredible kombucha to several local eateries and food coops, taught me a fool-proof recipe. I’ve used it for over a year now without fail. Simple, delicious and good for the gut.
WARNING: Scobies can be frightening if you’re unfamiliar with them. They’re rubbery, mushroomy, pancake-like yeast and bacteria cultures that float and carry trails of stringy brown goo. But they are the magical ingredient behind kombucha, so ya gotta get over it.
Ready? Let’s brew.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 3 quarts water / 12 cups of water
- 6 teabags / 4 tablespoons loose tea (plain black, green or oolong tea, with no added ingredients, flavors or oils)
- 1 cup cane sugar
- 1/2 cup plain kombucha (from a previous batch or store-bought)
- 1 SCOBY
Add whatever you’d like to infuse your kombucha with (fresh ginger, apples, cardamom, lavender, goji berries or any other herbs and spices you love) to a pressure top bottle. Use a funnel to pour in your kombucha, leaving about an inch of head room. Seal the bottle and let sit out of direct sunlight in room temperature for 1 – 3 days, or no more than half the time you let it ferment during the first round. This will lend some serious flavor and fizziness to your kombucha. Store in the fridge, sealed, for several weeks once done.
NOTE: Refigerate your SCOBY and Kombucha when not wanting to ferment further. During each brew, your “mother” should produce a “baby,” which is often attached to the mother, growing above it. You can peel off the babies and use them for fresh batches, passing the mothers on to friends who want to try their hand at brewing. Be sure to discard your “mother” SCOBY when it sinks, usually after about 6 uses.
I love to mix my kombucha with a splash of tart cherry juice and seltzer or tonic water over ice as a cooling and energizing summer mocktail! What’s your favorite way to drink kombucha?