|The Scoby, yes that’s the way it’s supposed to look.|
A few months ago a friend from my local Fibromyalgia support group told me about Kombucha. After reading all the natural things I’d been trying, she thought I might want to look into this, as well. I wasn’t really familiar with it, so I looked it up, and then went out and bought a bottle of the store bought Kombucha. The stuff is expensive at $4 a bottle, but I enjoyed the flavor and I’m up for anything that might improve my health.
My friend told me that since she and her husband had started brewing their own, he’d been able to cut out all of his antacid medications and they were both feeling much better when it came to GI issues. I’ll do anything that might help with my Irritable Bowel Syndrome. After trying the store-bought stuff when my friend offered to give me a daughter Scoby so that I could try making my own, I couldn’t pass it up.
I checked out a link that she sent me on how to brew Kombucha and then did a little googling to find a couple of others. I ended up settling on the instructions provided by FoodRenegade. To get started, you really only need a few things.
1. The SCOBY (that would be that gross looking thing you see floating on top of the tea in the pictures to the left). You can order these online or if you know someone who makes their own Kombucha, they can give you a starter. When you get your SCOBY it should come with at least a cup of Kombucha; leave him in that while you get everything ready.
2. A GLASS jar. Evidently, Kombucha doesn’t like plastic. I found this glass jar at Big Lots for $10.
3. Tea – You can use any blend of black or green tea from what I’ve read. I usually use a blend of about 50/50 Black and Green Tea.
4. Sugar – the real white granulated stuff. This is what the SCOBY eats. Don’t worry about your tea being sweet when it’s done (it’s actually pretty tart), or having a high sugar content, because it won’t.
5. Water. You’ll want to pick up a gallon of bottled water. SCOBY doesn’t like all the stuff in our tap water, so you are better off with bottled.
6. A clean towel and a rubber band.
I’ll be honest, this process seemed rather daunting to me when I started. I was sure I was going to screw it up, but I didn’t, because it’s actually so much simpler than it sounds.
When you get your SCOBY put it in the fridge. They are happy in the fridge for up to a week (from what I’ve read; I’ve not really tested this theory). Now, start your tea to brewing. Put your gallon of water in a pot to boil. Once it’s boiling good, take it off the eye and add your tea bags and a cup of sugar. Mix and let it steap. I usually leave my tea bags in the water until the water has totally cooled, but you can take them out earlier. (It just depends on how strong you like your tea).
Wait until your tea is completely down to room temperature. Once it’s cooled, put the tea in the glass jar and then add the SCOBY (and the liquid that he arrived in). He should float on top, but if he drops to the bottom, it’s ok. He’ll eventually rise back up, or a new SCOBY will form on the top. Cover the jar with the clean towel and secure it with a rubberband.
In about a week, come back and check on your Kombucha. Stir up the tea and then give it a taste. If you like the way it’s tasting, remove the SCOBY and about a cup of the tea and set it aside. Remove the rest of the liquid to smaller bottles / jars. I re-use the glass jars from the store bought Kombucha, and also have some bottles and jars I’ve purchased. If you want to add some fruit juice to flavor your Kombucha, now is the time to do so. Just make sure that you leave about an inch of room at the top of your bottle. My favorite addition is fresh Ginger juice. It doesn’t take much (maybe a teaspoon). Seal your bottles and leave them out at room temperature for a day or two. This allows for the second type of bacteria to form and it’s also what creates the carbonation in the drink. I’ve found that leaving them out at room temperature overnight is plenty long enough for my preferred amount of fizz. After a day, take the bottles and store them in the fridge until you are ready to drink them. I usually skim off the stuff at the top before I drink the tea.
I would suggest that when you are getting ready to bottle your Kombucha that you go ahead and start the next batch of tea and have it ready to go before you bottle. That way once your jar is empty you can just add the new tea and return the SCOBY and juice and have another batch started right away. If you do need to store your SCOBY in the fridge, make sure to mark it well. I had put a daughter SCOBY in the fridge (intending to pass it to a friend) and my husband threw it away, thinking it was some nasty bad chicken.
As far as sharing child SCOBYs go, I’ve found that mine has split about once a month so far. Granted, I’m in the South and it’s rather warm here. From what I understand, they do grow faster when it’s warmer. I’ve been able to pass on child SCOBYs to two different friends and get them started brewing their own.
|A Fridge full of home brewed Kombucha – The yellow is Ginger flavored, the red is berry.|