Kombucha is a great option for a healthy lifestyle and vegan diet. Please refer to our article on the benefits of kombucha. It has many benefits and virtues. That said, like any great organic product, kombucha comes with a heavy price tag. Sure, a daily bottle of kombucha at $5 is not that expensive, but at the end of the month, it is a significant amount of money. Not everyone has a monthly budget of over $150 for a fizzy drink. At the end of a year, it almost worth $1800 worth of fermented tea… It could be a brand new iPad instead or an airplane ticket to a dream destination. How can we have drink kombucha daily on a limited budget? The solution is the old DIY approach! Let’s do it at home!
Kombucha is not that difficult to make…
Let’s start with a positive and optimistic mindset. Making kombucha is easy. Sure. The steps do not require any special handling. The most difficult thing about making kombucha at home is finding a SCOBY, the “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”. The SCOBY may be referred as the “mother” or as the “mushroom”.
Kombucha is fermented tea. To start this fermentation process, we need the bacteria and yeast culture starter (the “mother” or the “mushroom”). There are 3 ways to find a SCOBY :
- We can purchase a bottle of commercial kombucha and empty it in a clean glass jar. At room temperature, a SCOBY will eventually form on top. This takes over two weeks depending on the temperature of the room. This option requires lots of time and patient.
- We can purchase a SCOBY on Amazon. This sounds weird, but in 2017, everything is possible. This option is the easiest to have a mature and active mother SCOBY.
- We could ask a hippie friend.
What are the steps? What to do and what not to do?
When doing a fermentation recipe, the secret is all about cleanness and sanitization. The most important things to know are :
- To work with clean hands
- To sanitize every tool and bottles with hot water
To make kombucha at home, there are several items needed :
- A glass jar : to contain the sweet tea while the fermentation happens
- A dry piece of cloth : to cover the jar to keep away the insects and flies
- An elastic : to hold the cloth over the glass jar during the process
- A kitchen pan or a water boiler : to heat the water for the tea
- A wooden spoon : to mix the sugar and the tea (DO NOT use a metal or stainless spoon, it will harm the SCOBY)
- A strainer : to filter the water from the tea leaves
- Glass bottles : to bottle up your kombucha
The ingredients are :
- 1 tablespoon loose black tea or 4 tea bags
- ½ cup or 120 ml of sugar
- 6 cups or 1.5 L of distilled water (tap water can contain harmful chemicals, one big #FAIL factor)
- 1 SCOBY
- 1 cup or 250 ml of kombucha (if possible, it will make the fermentation process shorter)
The ratio of the ingredients can, or should, be adjusted accordingly to the SCOBY’s maturity and the tea used to brew the kombucha. The room temperature also plays a part in the ratio. If the temperature is warmer, the bacterias will take less time to consume all the sugar. The mixture will sour a lot faster under warm condition.
How do we make the kombucha?
The recipe is very easy if everything is clean and sanitize. To make everything easier, the first step should be to boil lots of water and to rinse everything with that boiling water. Cleanness and sanitization!
Once everything has been boiled and sanitize, we can start :
- Heat the water for the tea.
- Once boiled, add the tea and the sugar into the hot water.
- Let the sweat tea cool down. If the sweat tea is too hot, it will harm the SCOBY.
- Once, the sweat tea has reached a temperature below 40°C or 104°F, it can be poured into the glass jar.
- Add the SCOBY.
- Cover the glass jar with the cloth and the elastic.
- Store the glass jar in a dark place. The mixture needs a dark for its fermentation process.
After one week or two, the sweet tea will be sourer. The sugar will have been consumed by the bacteria and the yeast. The kombucha is ready!
How can kombucha be flavored?
The kombucha can be bottled with fruits or ginger. This extra last step will make the kombucha fizzy. The sugar in the fruit will start a second fermentation step. Here is a list of ideas for a second fermentation and for more flavors :
- Ginger : the classic
- Strawberry : the most popular
- Blueberry : a colorful drink
- Lemon : a surprising twist
- Kiwi : an exotic idea
Once the basic kombucha recipe has been mastered, the possibilities are endless. The most frustrating about the learning curve is getting mold during the first fermentation. It is frustrating to start anew the brew after waiting for so long… It is part of the fun of making kombucha at home! No pain, no game.