Home Brewed Kombucha

Home Brewed Kombucha

 Kombucha

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It’s taking the world by storm. Filled with naturally occurring probiotics, this Russian fermented tea-drink stimulates the liver, thus helping the body process and eliminate toxins. I’ve read testimonials where people credit their recovery from Cancer to this owner-drink.

My mother has been brewing it for years, long before it was available at every WholeFoods for $5 a bottle. She carefully brewed and fermented this refreshing and tangy drink until it was bursting with flavor and filled with little bubbles. Bottled in old-fashioned French-Lemonade bottles, it replaced soda and juice in my family and was so loved it even made an appearance at my brother Jake’s wedding! Since marrying and starting my own family, we’ve lived on 4 different continents and our Kombucha SCOBY has traveled the world with us.

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(Pictured above: the Kombucha SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) will grow and shape itself to whatever size glass jar you use. The darker spots are a sign that your culture is alive and active, so don’t rinse the SCOBY. Allow it to be itself!  Here you can see I have two sizes going!)

Kombucha begins as a strongly brewed sweet tea. Once the SCOBY is added, the fermentation process begins. Over 7-10 days the SCOBY eats the caffeine and sugar from the sweet tea, transforming it into a fizzy and refreshing drink.  The finished product is free of both sugar and caffeine, high in vital probiotics and aids the body’s digestive and detoxifying processes.

Drinking just 4-8 oz per day will have a profound impact on your health. It’s a great mid-afternoon pick me up and totally hits the spot on a hot day! My kiddos love it too! Before you begin brewing your own, I would recommend buying a little bottle of it, so you know what it should taste like when you test your first batch.

There’s a plethora of information available on Kombucha. I love this article from the Weston-Price Foundation, it tells a little about the history of Kombucha and also has a cool testimonial. I would encourage you to read up!

While the recipe is listed below, I’ve tried to photograph it step by step for you. The process of making it always seems daunting to me…but it’s really not. It just takes about 15-20 mins every 10 days. The fun starts when you do the second fermentation (explained below), adding flavor to the Kombucha with fresh or frozen fruit.

 

Step 1:

Start by boiling your water for 5 minutes. This purifies it and gets you off to a nice clean start. After 5 mins of boiling turn off the heat and add the sugar and teabags. Steep for 15 mins then remove the teabags and allow the tea to cool completely. (I often to this stage in the morning while I’m making breakfast and getting the kids off to school. I leave it to cool through the day, then move on to Step 2 later on.)
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Step 2:

Wash a large glass jar with really hot water, ensuring it’s super clean. Pour your cooled sweet tea mixture into the glass jar, along with the 1 cup of  starter Kombucha liquid. This starter is similar to making yogurt or sourdough bread.  You need a little previously made Kombucha liquid to get the process “started.” Place your SCOBY on top of it all. The SCOBY will probably float, but if it sinks or wants to be on it’s side…that’s just fine too.

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Step 3:

Cover the jar with a cloth, so the bugs stay out but the air can still get  in. Place in a dark and cool corner of your kitchen and let it brew for 7 days.  Dip  a cup in the jar and give it a taste on the 7th day. If it’s still sweet, let it go another 2-3 days. You know your Kombucha is finished with the first brew when it has little bubbles and tastes tangy.

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Step 4:

Gently lift out your SCOBY and place it on a plate (you can reuse it for your next batch…it will have doubled, so you will noW have two SCOBYS. You can toss one, or give it to a friend!). Strain your Kombucha into several quart-sized Mason jars, removing any stringy baby SCOBY pieces.

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Step 5:

Now we do a little 2-3 day second fermentation. This flavors the Kombucha and adds much more fizz: To each quart-sized Mason jar, add 1/4 cup of fresh or frozen fruit. I have used strawberries here, but you could use apples, pineapple, peaches…whatever you are into. There are SO many ideas! I have friends who add spices for a lovely Chai flavored Kombucha! The color is sucked out of the fruit and transforms the brown Kombucha into beautiful and vibrant colors. Your fruit will look whitefish in color after 2-3 days of this second fermentation.

Put the lid on, and store in a cool dark place for 2-3 days.

It’s now ready to drink! You can store the Kombucha in the fridge from this point on. 

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NOTE: Where should get your starter Kombucha and SCOBY? BEST is to get it from a friend who brews. Second is to find a local company that brews and ask to purchase from them. You can also purchase dehydrated SCOBYS online. I’ve done that before and it works fine but takes a few batches to really get going in my experience.

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