How to Brew Your Own Kombucha
I never really wanted to brew my own kombucha, as I was always scared of it after I learned that it involves feeding a bacterial organism called a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Google it and tell me if the pictures don’t freak you out! But, after several years of $3 bottles and even the “cheaper” option of paying to stock up my growler, my wallet was hurting.
So one day a couple of years ago Ruben and I spontaneously picked up a SCOBY at Powells on Hawthorne (only in Portland would a book store sell SCOBYs…). I had always heard it was easy to brew, but never believed it until I started. It really was as easy as everybody says. The process is as simple as:
After the first day or two, our SCOBY freaked us out by sinking to the bottom of the container. It had been floating for the first few days and all of a sudden one day we came home & it was on the bottom of our jar! We thought for sure we had killed it.
After a little google searching, it seemed like it would be ok, but we couldn’t really know until we had tried it….
So what did we think of how it turned out? Pretty great! Since we made sure to check it often (every few days), we got the kombucha exactly how we wanted it. We were so pleased with the first batch that the very same day we finished it we began brewing another! We have used black, green and white tea and they have all turned out great.
So here’s a more detailed step-by-step directions of what we did to make our own citrus-flavored kombucha:
1 SCOBY (can get from a kit, order online, or ask me for one – I have been growing them as well)
1 gallon water
1 bag or 1 tablespoon loose leaf black, green, or white tea (NOT herbal tea)
¾ cup organic cane sugar
~1/4 cup lemon juice (more if you like it more tart)
1 lemon or 1/2 lemon + 1 lime, sliced (optional)
1 Gallon container
Funnel – not necessary, but helpful for pouring the kombucha
Cloth or cheesecloth
Bring water to boil, in batches if necessary.
Add tea bags and let tea steep for 3-6 minutes, depending on type of tea.
Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
Let the tea mixture come to room temperature. To make this go faster, I always transfer it to a large, wide pot at this point.
Once the tea is cooler, add the SCOBY. If you add the SCOBY when the tea is hot, it will die, so it is very important to let the tea cool first.
Put the tea with the SCOBY in a gallon container and cover the opening with the cloth or cheesecloth. Secure with a rubber band.
Store in a dark cupboard for at a minimum of 2 weeks. Strain and taste a small amount after 2 weeks. If it tastes good to you enough, then you can move on to step 8. The longer you wait the more bitter the drink will become, so if it is too sweet wait another week or so and test it again. Once it is to your liking, move on to step 8.
When the kombucha has become drinkable, it is time to carbonate it. Strain the kombucha and remove the SCOBY. (To store the SCOBY for reuse, simply put in a jar with ½ cup of kombucha and leave it in the fridge.)* Put the kombucha back in the jar and seal it.
Place the carbonating kombucha back in the dark cupboard and leave for about a week, or until carbonated.
Chill in the fridge and serve once cold. It will last for months in your refridgerator.
For citrus kombucha, simply add lemon juice, sliced lemons and/or limes to the finished and carbonated kombucha. This flavoring makes it even more tangy and bitter, but the citrus really blends nicely with the vinegar-y drink.
*It is important to strain it because sometimes there will be remnants of another SCOBY growing. You can either throw this away or keep it in a jar with a bit of kombucha and let it grow into another SCOBY.