Kombucha is an obscure drink when it comes to having any known benefits that it might have on the body – literally, there is next to nothing known except that it is fermented and contains microbes (probiotics) -there’s plenty of speculation and anecdotal evidence regarding its benefits, and, interestingly enough, there’s historical evidence of its use dating back to the 1800’s, but this delicious beverage is still a bit of an enigma. Then what explains its popularity in the health world? There’s a myriad of brands touting its benefits; it’s sold on tap at many places across the US. Essentially this health celebrity is fermented sweet tea that uses a fermenting culture known as a Mother, or SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). The SCOBY fuels the fermentation process procuring healthy bacteria and enzymes believed to be beneficial for digestion, and just feeling great. Some people buy Kombucha for its apple cider or carbonated taste, some to ease a fussy tummy or recalibrate on a road trip, but all in all the cost of this beverage can add up. Being a Frugal Franny and loving the taste of this fermented beverage, here are my DIY steps on making your own kombucha.
What you need to know before brewing:
1. Cleanliness is key. As with any fermentation process, your gear should be sterilized to prevent the growth of harmful moulds and bacteria.
2. Rinse your SCOBY in distilled water before placing into tea, and make sure not to use any materials that could collect bacteria. I.E.: wooden spoons
3. The SCOBY produces healthy bacteria known as probiotics. Probiotics have shown to be beneficial for the digestive tract, and immune function; however, not all bacteria are created equal. 1 Check in on your kombucha throughout the process. Brown stringy goop on your SCOBY, or floating down to the bottom of the jug, is completely fine. Your SCOBY will even grow during fermentation, sink or float. The red flag you want to look for is mould growing at the top of the liquid, whether it is black, grey, or any other typical mould color. If this happens you want to start over with a new culture.
4. For those sensitive to alcohol, kombucha fermentation can create up to 1% alcohol content.
Making homebrewed kombucha:
- 2 large glass jars, 2 quarts each, or 1-gallon glass jug. (Using glass is important to ensure cleanliness and to prevent contamination. Steel will denature the culture).
- One stockpot
- One plastic spoon (not wood, which could carry unhealthy bacteria).
- 16oz sealable bottles for post fermentation (Grolsh or old kombucha bottles work best).
- Paper towel or clean dishtowe
- Large rubber band.
- 8 bags Black or green tea (herbal teas, unfortunately, do not do the trick).
- 1cup Organic Cane Sugar.
- 1 SCOBY, 2 if you are using 2 jars.
- 2 cups of kombucha starter (this is raw unpasteurized kombucha).
- 3 ½ quartz of distilled water
1. Sterilize your glass jug in hot boiling water.
2. Brew tea in stockpot: bring water to a boil then remove from heat. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add tea and steep until liquid is completely cooled. Remove tea.
3. Now add the kombucha starter (this will add acidity to the batch preventing the growth of bad bacteria).
4. Pour into glass jug for fermentation; add the SCOBY and cover with paper towel, sealing the jug with a rubber band.
5. Ferment for 7-14 days. At day 7 start tasting your kombucha. It will be sweet at the beginning and sour near the end.
6. When it’s reached your desired taste, remove and pour into your 16oz bottles. To build carbonation, seal and sit on counter for 4 days before refrigerating. Enjoy!
* To add flavor you can add herbs or fruits to the 16oz bottles before sealing. Ginger and hibiscus are 2 personal favourites.
References (APA Format):
1. Gourbeyre, P. Denery, S. Bodinier, M. (2010). “Probiotics, Prebiotics and Synbiotics: impact on the gut immune system and allergic reactions.” JLB. Received: October 11, 2013 from: http://www.jleukbio.org/content/89/5/685.full.pdf+html
Megan Wollenberg, RHN
Megan Wollenberg is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and specializes in digestive health, and individualized nutrient dense diets. Passionate about food policy and local foods, she encourages getting back to basics when it comes to food. When she’s not tending her herb garden, she can be found cycling and stretching on her yoga mat.