A few months back I bought some kombucha from the grocery store to try after hearing folks rave about it on the forums over at Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness. My kids aren't totally on the sauerkraut bandwagon, and so I figured it was worth a try to see if I could get them some other form of fermented food. I liked the bubblyness of it, but didn't find every flavor that great. Kera really didn't like any of them, and Lindsay fell in love with all of them. So I began buying a bottle or two, mostly for Lindsay, every week. But then I got to thinking about how I like to make my own of almost everything and surely that's cheaper in the long run. I'd seen several blog posts about how to make your own, so I decided to try my hand at homemade kombucha.
The first thing you need for kombucha is a SCOBY, or a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. You can order them online, try to find one locally or grow your own. I don't know anyone locally that makes their own kombucha so I decided to try to grow our own since it was much cheaper than ordering one online. I figured if I couldn't grow one than we'd try ordering. I found this great blog post about how to grow your own SCOBY and followed the directions. I wasn't sure if it would work, but I peeked in on it after a week or two and found a film growing on top just like it was suppose to. After about three weeks I had this beautiful 1/2" SCOBY:
Once you have a SCOBY, you get to brew your kombucha tea. I used a combination of directions from this post, this post and this post.
Basically, you make a gallon of tea, either regular or green tea. I used cheap ice tea in the family size bags. Four bags total for a gallon of boiling water.
Steeped it for 5 minutes and then added 1 cup of sugar. I don't use regular sugar anymore, but the SCOBY has to have something to eat, and there isn't any left after it's fermented, so no worries here.
Then, once the tea has come to room temperature, or the same temperature that the SCOBY is, you pour the tea into a large glass jar. I found mine at Walmart, I think it was originally a cookie jar but this is a much appropriate use. Carefully place the SCOBY on top with about 1/2 cup of the liquid from the SCOBY jar. My SCOBY actually sank the first time, which is suppose to be fine, but when I checked my kombucha a week or two later I found mold growing on top, so I ditched it all and started from scratch with growing the SCOBY. Now I make very certain my liquids are both at the same temperature before combining because I don't want to kill my SCOBY.
You cover it with a towel, secured with a rubber band and set aside for a week or two. This summer mine was brewing in 2-3 weeks, but this winter it will probably take longer because we keep our house pretty cool. I just leave mine on the counter completely covered by the towel.
After it's done brewing, which you can test by slipping a straw into the tea under the SCOBY and tasting it. It should be kinda tart but sweet. The longer it sits the less sweet it will be. Then you can do a second ferment with fruit juice which gives it flavor and makes it bubbly. This is the fun part. I've tried a variety of fruit juices to see what is our favorite. Lindsay loves hers made with grape juice, while Kera likes hers made with this juice called Razzleberry. (I like them all.) I love that I can make it in a way that both kids will drink it! Score one for fermented foods that the kids will eat!
I followed the directions in those prior links about second fermentation. Unless I give my SCOBY a break, I end up with a constant supply of kombucha in the frig at a fraction of the price of the store-bought stuff, which is great because we drink a little bit everyday, more if it's a flavor everyone likes!
Have you ever tried kombucha? Do you like it? Have you thought about making your own?