I used to spend a lot of time baking because I love giving away treats and making people smile. Unfortunately sugar and flour don’t serve us well in the long run. In brewing kombucha I have found both a creative outlet and a product I love to give away. I have what I call “my SCOBY farm” at home.
My recipe for Brewing Kombucha
For one gallon:
1 Tbsp loose leaf black tea (brew in one quart of water)
1 cup organic raw sugar (dissolve in one quart hot water)
2 more quarts of water (in addition to the 2 quarts above to add up to 4 quarts total)
1-2 cups starter (I always leave this much from my previous batch to kickstart it)
One 8-inch SCOBY
I boil water, pour a quart over my tea in a French press and a quart over my sugar in a quart mason jar and stir to dissolve. I let these cool in the room until they are just warm (and won’t kill the SCOBY)
I then gently pour the strained tea, dissolved sugar water, and two additional quarts of water into the jar (I used 2 gallon jars so I have plenty of room) with the SCOBY and starter liquid. Label it with the date so you have an idea how long it’s been brewing.
I cover it with a coffee filter or sheet of thin cloth and let it sit. I don’t have a particularly warm place I keep them, so my fermentations can sometimes take up to 3 weeks. I use the spigots to taste test them so as not to disturb the SCOBY. When the brew is just barely sweet, it is time for the secondary fermentation. If it still tastes like sweet tea, you have more waiting to do!
The Secondary Fermentation
This is where the magic happens. When your brew is ready, have plenty of clean thick glass jars and bottles. If you use thin glass bottles they will explode, trust me I know, as pressure develops as bubbles form. I use recycled kombucha bottles, thick glass juice bottles (as shown above), mason jars, and growlers (they should be made to handle carbonation). Fill each container almost to the top, leave room for a tablespoon of flavoring in each pint bottle, 2 Tbsp in a quart, and 1/4 cup in a 64oz growler. Spoon or pour in the flavoring, seal and label with flavor and date. Leave these at room temperature. The secondary can take two or three days at the short end, and two or three weeks on the long side. Mine I typically leave for a few weeks, since my environment is not so warm and I like kombucha on the dry side. The longer you let them sit, the more sugar is consumed by the SCOBY. If you let them sit too long, you risk explosion. Thin glass bottles will shatter, thick glass bottles may pop their lid off. It’s quite exciting, but not highly recommended.
I either puree fruit or buy fruit juice. The pureed fruit or spices will add a cloudy layer to the bottom of your bottle, but I don’t mind this.
Some of my favorite flavors:
Ginger – puree ginger with a touch of sugar
Hopped apple – puree apples or use pressed apple juice with ground hops – they grow wild here and add an amazing aroma. I use a coffee grinder to grind them.
Spicy mango – pureed mango and cayenne. This is my biggest hit.
Watermelon Mango Lime – perfect in the summer and my nephew’s favorite.
Why Brew Kombucha?
Firstly, it is delicious. Secondly, they tell us it is full of probiotics that may improve our gut health. I am not sure where the research stands on that, so I won’t make any claims. The benefits of brewing it yourself: It costs less, you can make whatever flavor your heart desires, and you can make them with less sugar than your average store bought kombucha. Also, it’s quite fun, and you could convince your kids that the SCOBY is a pet. Maybe?