We’re big on kombucha in my house. It’s is one of my favorite healthy thirst quenchers, and I wrote a guest post for MindBodyGreen about how and why to make kombucha at home. I’m posting the recipe below as well, along with some links to additional recipes and resources that may be helpful if you are interested in making your own kombucha :)
Note that I adapted this recipe just slightly from the new (and wonderful!) book Mastering Fermentation: Recipes for Making and Cooking with Fermented Foods. There are many different recipes for making kombucha floating around the internet, but I like this one because it’s very simple. A lot of people seem to be intimidated when it comes to homemade kombucha, but it’s not at all difficult. Give it a try! If you have questions or concerns, please ask them in the comments section below.
Recipe for Homemade Kombucha
You will need a SCOBY (a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) to make this recipe. You may obtain a SCOBY from a friend or from a reliable retail source. Each time you make kombucha, you'll "grow" another SCOBY: pass extras on to friends (a SCOBY in a small glass jar with some finished kombucha is a wonderful gift for someone eager to get started making their own) or store in the refrigerator immersed in finished kombucha (or apple cider vinegar) for future batches. If you end up with far more than you can use, you can compost them or use them to make SCOBY "candies".
Kombucha needs air to ferment, which is why you cover your jar with cheesecloth secured with a rubberband. In warm weather, your kombucha is likely to attract fruit flies, which is super annoying, and which is why you see I've covered my cheesecloth with a lid in the photo at the top of this post. I have found that because my jar is not filled to the top, there's enough air in the jar and my kombucha ferments just fine this way. In cooler weather, when fruit flies are not an issue, I don't cover the cheesecloth.
Though many who drink kombucha use it as a soda replacement, it's probably best if you sip it in small amounts rather than guzzling a lot at a time. I like to drink a small glass (often mixed with some fruit juice) along with a snack in the afternoon, or before I eat dinner.
Some people seem concerned about the sugar and/or caffeine in kombucha. Rest assured that finished kombucha contains very little of either one because the SCOBY consumes them during the fermentation process.
*13 cups water, divided (use filtered water, if possible)
*1 cup sugar (I prefer organic sugar; raw honey or molasses can be used instead, but most sources state that other sweeteners are not appropriate for making kombucha)
*5 teaspoons organic loose -leaf black tea
*1 cup finished plain kombucha (from a previous batch, a store-bought bottle, or from the liquid the SCOBY comes in)
*1 kombucha SCOBY (obtain from a friend or purchase from reliable retail source)
1. Boil 3 cups of water in a stainless steel pot. Add the sugar, and stir until it has dissolved. Remove pot from heat and add loose tea. Allow to soak/cool for about 30 minutes.
2. Pour sweet tea through a fine mesh strainer into your fermenting container (a 1-gallon glass jar with a wide mouth works well...don't use metal or plastic). Compost or discard the tea leaves (alternatively, you can place your loose tea into a muslin tea bag and simply remove the tea bag after steeping). Add the finished kombucha and the SCOBY to the jar with the sweet tea, then add the remaining water (10 cups). Cover the top of your jar with cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band. Leave undisturbed for 7-10 days in a warm, dark place. (As your kombucha ferments, a new SCOBY will grow attached to the original one to the width of your container.)
3. After a week, sample your kombucha to determine if it is ready to drink. It should be a bit bubbly and taste both sweet and sour without much hint of the tea. If you are pleased with the taste, use clean hands to remove your SCOBY (and carefully separate it from the new one) and store as directed above (if it's not ready, allow your kombucha to ferment for a few more days...it will take longer to ferment when the ambient temperature is cooler). Transfer kombucha to glass jars for storage (swing-top bottles work well), leaving about 1/2 inch headspace at the top. Allow bottled kombucha to sit at room temperature for a day or two to ferment a bit more/build up carbonation, then place in refrigerator until ready to drink. Kombucha will last in the refrigerator for up to three months, but it's best if consumed sooner: Mastering Fermentation recommends drinking it within a week of opening a bottle.
Adapted just slightly from Mastering Fermentation: Recipes for Making and Cooking with Fermented Foods
More Kombucha Recipes:
-Emma Christensen did a very comprehensive write-up on kombucha over at The Kitchn. She also has a book out called True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home: it’s on my wishlist.
-Kristen of Food Renegade wrote a post about How to Make Flavored Kombucha: I look forward to trying her method, too.
-Make “candy” from your extra SCOBIES! This post shows you how: Scoby Snacks.
-I’ve had my eye on this Kombucha Margarita for a while…I need to make it.
Additional Kombucha Resources:
-If you’re still unclear on the benefits of kombucha, check out my post about cultured foods.
This excerpt on kombucha from Sandor Katz’ book The Art of Fermentation is excellent. (I don’t have the book but I’ve heard it is wonderful: you can buy it here: The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World.)
-I purchased my SCOBY on amazon.com. This is the one I bought: Goldfinch Kombucha Scoby
-This is the jar I use to make my kombucha: Anchor Hocking 1-Gallon Heritage Hill Jar with Glass Lid
-I also see you can buy a DIY Kombucha Kit that has everything you need included!
-Cultures for Health is another great place to buy what you need to make kombucha and other healthy cultured foods.