Okay, if you are like most people I know, you have never heard of kombucha. When I told some friends and family I was going to make my own kombucha, pretty much everyone’s reaction was the same…
“Kom – boo – WHAT?”
Kom – BOO – cha.
It is a fizzy, fermented drink made from tea, sugar, and a culture of bacteria and yeast. Now before you go running away, hear me out. It’s really not very different than wine or beer, except that the final kombucha product has a negligible amount of alcohol, if any. The bacteria and yeast consume the tea and sugar, and the final product has been known as a health elixir around the world for thousands of years. Kombucha is said to be chock-full of probiotics and bio-available C and B vitamins, among other things. Kombucha Kamp is a great resource if you are looking for more info on this unique beverage! As is Wikipedia. :)
There is lots of anecdotal evidence that kombucha increases energy, improves digestion, and helps promote a clearer mind. There is a whole list of anecdotal health benefits over at Kombucha Kamp. It’s very interesting!
Kombucha is popping up in stores, I’ve even seen it at my Super Target! It is pricey, though, generally running from $3.50-$5.00 per bottle depending on where you live. I’ve seen lots of talk online lately about making your own, so I thought, “What the heck?” I’m kind of up for anything when it comes to health-related stuff, so even though it sounds totally weird, I decided to make my own kombucha!!
Believe it or not, this is what I had to buy to get my brew going…
I’m sure you are ready to leave this blog right about now!! Haha! I know, it looks like an alien. What is that a picture of, you say?? It is a SCOBY – a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. This is the ‘magic ingredient’ that actually ferments the tea and sugar.
It’s kind of like when you were a kid and made friendship bread – you’d get a container with yeast bread starter, add some flour and water, let it sit and ferment, then pull some dough out to bake your bread. Then you’d pass the remaining yeast bread starter on to your friends so they could make some and pass it on. Same thing. :) See, it’s not that crazy. Okay, a little. :)
Anyways, I thought I would chronicle my kombucha-making adventure here on the blog! I know it’s weird, and I might totally fail on my first try. But you never know until you try, right?!
I bought my SCOBY online, and I was super excited the day it arrived. It came with full instructions, so below I’m going to share what I had to do in order to make my first brew!
Brewing the Booch
1. After purchasing my SCOBY, I purchased a 1 gallon glass jar (I got it at Target for under $6!). I sterilized the jar with hot water and vinegar. They do not recommend using soap for this, just the vinegar and water.
2. I heated 4 cups of purified water on the stove. When it started to boil, I turned it off and let it cool for a couple of minutes so it didn’t shatter my jar when I poured it in. I added the hot water to my jar, then added 5 tea bags (black tea is recommended).
3. After letting the tea steep about 5 minutes, I removed the bags and stirred in 1 cup of organic cane sugar. (By the way, that is my husband’s hairy arm, not mine. Just for clarification. Ahem.)
4. I added 8 more cups of purified water, which cooled the sweet tea brew down.
5. When I was sure the sweet tea brew was not warmer than body temperature, I added the SCOBY and the starter liquid (the liquid in the bag, which was basically fermented kombucha). If you add the SCOBY when the liquid is too hot, it could kill it since the SCOBY is a living organism!!
6. Then I had to cover the container with a cotton cloth and secure it with a rubberband. It needs to be able to breathe but also keep dust, fruit flies, etc. out.
7. Now is time to wait! I put this jar in my pantry since it calls for a dark, warm, ventilated area (we open the pantry several times a day!). I have to wait at least 7 days for this to ferment. During that time, the SCOBY will convert the sweet tea to kombucha, and it will grow a NEW SCOBY at the top!! So we are in full science-experiment-mode around here!!
Now, the directions say that talking and singing to the kombucha will encourage positive growth. Okay, peeps. I’m definitely not there yet. There was an article cited somewhere that talked about a scientific study of plants – when you separate them and yell negative things to one but use encouraging words and singing with another, the one that was spoken nicely/sang to will flourish while the other will not. Since the SCOBY is a living organism, they tell you that talking nicely and singing to it will help the process. I think I will skip that step for now. :)
Anyways, after I put this batch together, I read NOT to use Earl Grey tea for kombucha because the bergamot oil in that particular tea can kill the SCOBY! I panicked and emailed the place where I bought it, and she told me it should be fine for this one brew. So I will definitely choose a better tea for next time!! No need to go SCOBY-killing my first time out!
So anyways, this was my Day 1 Adventure in Kombucha-Making. I will keep you posted on the process. If you hear me singing to my SCOBY, you have my permission to let me know that I have officially gone crazy. ;)