How To: Kombucha

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After having dealt with many issues from taking too many antibiotics in my teens and 20s, I have pretty much sworn them off unless it is absolutely necessary. I took an antibiotic to help with acne for years only to find that over time, it just made things worse.  I also started having other gut issues because the antibiotics not only killed the bad bacteria, but the good as well.  In attempts to get things back to normal, I cleaned up my diet and started taking probiotics.  I also started drinking kombucha (a fermented beverage that has probiotics).  I was buying it from the store occasionally, but it was expensive and a little out of our budget. So… I decided to figure out how to make it myself.  I ended up buying this kombucha starter kit from Amazon and have absolutely loved the final product.  If you don’t want to invest in the entire kit, you can find someone who can give you a starter culture (they reproduce) and buy the other ingredients individually.

What you will need (these items are included in the starter kit mentioned above): 

  • 1 Gallon Glass Jar
  • Kombucha Culture (scoby) + starter tea
  • 3 Tablespoons caffeinated, loose leaf tea (black, white, green, or oolong)
  • 1 Cup of granulated organic cane sugar
  • Reusable cotton tea bag (or any tea bag you can put loose tea leaves in)
  • pH Test Strips (can be found a health food stores or Amazon)
  • Cotton Cover (or coffee filter)
  • Rubber Band
  • Optional: Temperature Gauge (this is also included in the kit)

 

Directions

  1. In a small pot, bring 4 cups of water to boil and turn off.
  2. Remove from heat.  Add your 3 Tablespoons of loose leave tea to your fillable tea bag and add to the pot.
  3. Let tea steep for 5-6 minutes, then remove the tea bag. If you are using a reusable cotton tea bag, rinse and hang to dry.
  4. Add your sugar to the pot and stir.
  5. Once the sugar has dissolved, pour the sweet tea mixture into the 1-gallon glass jar.
  6. Fill the jar with cold, filtered water, leaving 3 inches of space at the top.
  7. Your sweet tea solution should now be room temperature (in between 68 and 88 degrees F). If you don’t have a temperature gauge, simply wait a bit for it to cool down. If your tea is too hot, it will ruin your culture.
  8. Gently add your kombucha culture and starter tea.
  9. Stir once and then test the pH using your pH strips. It should read 4.5 or below. If it does not, add 1 Tablespoon of vinegar and test again.
  10. Cover with cotton cloth or coffee filter and seal with the rubber band. Do not put any other type of lid over the cloth/rubberband seal.
  11. Place your brew jar in a warm place out of direct sunlight, with plenty of air flow. Leave the jar for 7 days without moving it.
  12. After 7 days, you should see a new cream colored layer growing on top of your brew. This is the new culture. Test the flavor of your brew using a spoon. Continue tasting once a day until it has reached your ideal kombucha flavor. Typical brewing time for kombucha is 7-21 days depending on temperature.
  13. Use your pH strips and test again. Finished kombucha should have a pH that is between 2.5-3.5.

Tip: If it’s too sweet, put the cloth back on and let it brew a few days longer. If it’s too tart, you can add extra sugar after bottling and try brewing for fewer days next time.

Bottling Instructions

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Reach into your jar and remove the cultures (you should have your original culture and the new one that formed).
  3. Place them in a glass container with at least one cup of kombucha You can also keep the newest one and give the older one to a friend. If you do this, make sure that both cultures have at least one cup of kombucha covering them. This will be the starter for your next batch. Cover with the cotton cloth and set aside until you are ready to brew again.
  4. Once the culture has been removed, transfer the brew into jars leaving a little bit of room in each bottle. I use these jars purchased from Amazon.  They help to make the kombucha fizzy and more like a carbonated drink.
  5. At this point, I add about half a teaspoon of additional cane sugar and fruit and/or essential oils for flavoring. See below for flavoring options. Adding the extra sugar also helps the brew to be a little more fizzy.
  6. After bottling, let the jars set out in room temperature for about 5-7 more days and then refrigerate. Once they are cold, they are ready to be enjoyed!!

Flavoring Options (per bottle): 

  • 4-6 frozen cranberries + drop of wild orange or tangerine essential oil
  • 1 chopped date + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4-6 frozen blueberries + 1 drop peppermint essential oil
  • 4-6 chopped raspberries + 1 drop lemon essential oil

 

Anyone else out there brewing kombucha?  What are some of your favorite flavors?

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