I first started to experiment with kombucha tea because I heard it balances the bodies’ pH and therefore helped with candida. A friend confirmed by dowsing that I would greatly benefit from drinking it. I was half expecting one of those foul-tasting medicinal concoctions, but man, was I ever wrong! Kombucha is oh-so delicious and refreshing, especially after the second fermentation! Now we can hardly do without! In fact, we’ve become so enthusiastic about taking it that during our travels, we’ve passed on more scobies than we can count! We found that our own brew is way better than the (expensive!) commercial brands we’ve tried. So for us, this is another clear case of ‘homemade is better.’
The kombucha culture contains a wide range of B vitamins (particularly B1, B2, B6 and B12), organic acids, probiotics, and enzymes that contribute to its extraordinarily beneficial properties. Drinking kombucha provides a powerful energy boost and detoxifies, helping the body to recover from various imbalances and conditions. These have been known to include arthritis pains, intestinal problems, digestive disorders, kidney stones, high cholesterol, chronic fatigue, asthma, bronchitis, migraine, eczema, headaches, constipation, diabetes, rheumatism, anxiety, dizziness and insomnia. Additionally, it has properties which may help with age-related problems, such as high blood pressure, poor eye sight, arteriosclerosis and gout.
What you’ll need:
- 1 gallon glass jar with a wide opening
- 12 cups filtered water
- 1 cup white or cane sugar (no sucanat, honey, agave or maple syrup)
- 5 bags or 5 teaspoons loose leaves of either black, green or white tea or a combination of them (no herbal teas or added fragrance as it could contaminate the culture)
- A nice healthy scoby (Kombucha mushroom culture)
1. Bring water to a boil. (I usually boil only half of the amount and put the other half directly in the jar as the tea cools off more quickly that way.)
2. Turn off heat and mix in sugar until dissolved.
3. Add tea and let steep for at least 15 minutes.
4. Transfer (strained if using leaves) tea to jar. Let cool off until lukewarm, as you don’t want to harm the scoby.
5. Add scoby.
6. Top with 1 cup of Kombucha tea starter or 1/4 cup vinegar. This makes the new tea slightly acidic and avoids the risk of mould.
7. Cover with a thin cloth or paper towel held with elastics, so that the mushroom is able to breathe. (No cheesecloth as fruit flies can sneak in)
8. Leave in a warm and cozy spot for one to two weeks; the length of time will depend on how warm your house is. Pick your spot carefully, as moving the jar will interfere with the brewing process.
9. Check to see if the tea is ready by inserting a pliable straw. It should taste slightly more vinegary than sweet.
10. Gently take scoby out (make sure your hands are clean!) Set aside in a glass pie dish along with 1 cup of starter tea.
11. Cover with a plate until you’re ready to add the scoby into the new sugar–tea mixture.
12. Pour kombucha tea into glass bottles with swing top (for maximum carbonation) or mason jars.
Technically you could stop here but for extra yumminess it is recommended to do what is known as a ‘second fermentation’. It will develop carbonation and deepen the flavor.
13. Now for the ‘second fermentation’ add whatever flavorings you’d like to the bottled tea such as fresh fruit (berries are great!), fruit juice, honey, maple syrup, fresh ginger slices (peeled), ground crystallized ginger, vanilla, etc… Lots of room to experiment! It’s a good idea to add something with a sugar content as it will help make the brew fizzy.
To give you an idea, some of my favorite blends are (for a 1-liter bottle or 2-quart mason jar):
* 6-7 raspberries or blueberries, 1 tablespoon ginger juice and 1 teaspoon raw honey or agave (optional)
* 2 fresh ginger slices and 1 teaspoon raw honey or agave
* 2 tablespoons mango, cherry or whatever juice (pasteurized is ok)
13. Screw the cap tightly on and set aside at room temperature for 4 days to 2 weeks.
14. Transfer bottles/jars to refrigerator before serving. (It’s so nice and refreshing cold!)
15. Enjoy and don’t forget to share your new mushroom layers with others!
– Don’t let the scoby come into direct contact with any metal.
– Don’t use herbal or flavored tea for the first fermentation.
– A new mushroom layer will grow on top of the old one. At some point, it will be thick enough for you to separate it. Do so gently, avoiding tearing the scoby. You can then pass a mushroom culture along to a friend so that they, too, can enjoy the benefits of kombucha!
– I have had a brew go bad only once, and I learned that it was caused by not putting enough kombucha tea starter. If mould does occur on your culture, I would suggest not taking any chances and throwing out the tea. Rinse your scoby very well under running water and leave it submerged in pure distilled vinegar for 2 days.
– I have read that there’s a chance that the glass containers explode during the second fermentation due to the carbonation, but I have never had any problems. If you are concerned, you could always place the containers inside a plastic bag.