I’ve been home-brewing kombucha for a couple years now, starting in college when one of my friends shared a layer of her SCOBY with me so I could start my own! It has been a little while since I’ve had another healthy SCOBY to use so I’m excited to be back to brewing! I’ve gotten some questions about how to make it after posting some pictures to my IG Story (@danielletkearns) so I wanted to share about my favorite drink.
What is it?
Kombucha is a tea that has been fermented by the living bacteria & yeast in the SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). The drink is made with water, green or black tea, and sugar. When you first make it and put the “Mother” SCOBY in, a new layer will be created on top to seal the beverage into your container and make an oxygen-free environment for the organisms to eat the sugar and create healthful bi-products as a result!
Why is it good for you?
Like other fermented foods, Kombucha provides living probiotics that help feed the good bacteria in your digestive system. There is lots of research supporting a relationship between your gut health and your overall health because of the influence it has on your body’s inflammatory response and general well-being. A healthy gut has been shown to; boost your immune system (helping you fight off illness from the common cold or flu to E.coli), improve your mental health, boost your energy, promote hormone balance, support healthy weight loss, and even improve oral health.
Refined and artificial sugars and processed carbohydrates have been shown to negatively impact gut health because it feeds the bad bacteria within our digestive systems, causing irritation that can result in an auto-immune response. That means your body is fighting itself and creating an allergy-type reaction against the foods you eat. The way we avoid this type of reaction is, of course, avoiding eating highly processed foods and excessive sugar. However, that is not always realistic or even possible, so consuming foods that feed the good bacteria in our bodies helps to balance out those reactions, improve digestion, and promote our overall health.
Kombucha is made with 1 cup of plain, white sugar which the SCOBY eats 90% of to produce the probiotics, Vitamin B (20% of your daily value), and healthy acids. It has a tangy flavor but can also be flavored with other fruits, herbs and roots to provide a healthful, satisfying drink to replace sodas, juices, and alcohol!
One of the acids produced, Glucaric acid, helps to detoxify the liver. The liver is our body’s detoxification system so keeping the largest organ in our body healthy is vital! It also helps to promote nutrient absorption, so that we get the most out of the other foods we eat!
What else is in the final product?
The majority of the sugar is broken down, but there is about 7g of carbohydrates in the final product. Since it is made with caffeinated tea, there is some caffeine still present as well, but not as much as the original tea. Because of fermentation, there is also trace amounts of alcohol present in the drink as well (only about .5-1%). Because of the caffeine & alcohol, prego-mama’s aren’t recommended to drink it 😦 … there are also some small risks with drinking it because of the live bacteria, so do your research first if you’re concerned!
How is it made?
Kombucha is made with 1 gallon of water (16 cups), 8 tea bag (green or black), and 1 cup of white sugar. Such simple, cheap ingredients! If you’ve ever purchased a bottle of Kombucha at the store, you know it goes for like $3-$5 so brewing your own at home is a huge money-saver!
Here are the steps to make it:
What you’ll need:
- A starter SCOBY. You can order these online or get a layer from a friend! (Let me know if you’re around and are interested in one!!)
- A large (>1 gallon), glass jar/drink dispenser (One with a spout at the bottom makes for easiest pour/refill)
- A breathable, small towel or paper towels (to cover the top of the jar with)
- Rubber band/ribbon/string to secure the towel over the top
- Glass/wooden utensils ONLY
- Boil 1 gallon of water in a large pot (filtered water, so your bacteria isn’t killed!)
- Once the water boils, turn the heat off and stir in 1 cup of white sugar.
- Soak 8 tea bags in the sugar-water for about 5 minutes. (I remove the tea-tags to avoid any of the print dyes soaking into the water)
- LET COOL…the water MUST be at room temperature before being combined with the SCOBY
- Carefully pour your starter SCOBY (should come in a jar covered in kombucha, to keep it alive) into your drink dispenser ***you cannot use metal on your SCOBY or in your kombucha, it will kill your SCOBY!***
- Slowly pour the tea-water into the drink dispenser. Your SCOBY may float up a little, but it doesn’t need to surface completely…it will create it’s own new layer on top.
- Cover the jar with a breathable towel and secure it with your band or ribbon…make sure it’s well covered and closed so the sugars don’t attract any bugs!
- Let it ferment for 1-2 weeks (depends on SCOBY strength), in a cool, covered area (no direct sunlight). It will have a vinegar-y smell when it’s finished and a taste-test shouldn’t be very sweet/sugary anymore.
- Can be stored in or out of the fridge, in covered glass jars.
HOW TO FLAVOR;
After the original batch is brewed, pour into glass jars and add your flavorings! Some ideas include;
Lemon, Grapefruit, Pineapple, or Cranberry Juice
Whole berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
So many different mix & match options! Let your contents soak for another week for max flavoring 🙂 *While continuing to ferment in a sealed container, carbon dioxide will be produced and built up in your container!!! That means it can be slightly carbonated, so careful with opening your jars and avoid shaking!!* My first flavor combo is going to be Raspberry-Basil, and Ginger-Tumeric-Lemon!