Kombucha wasn’t something I instantly fell in love with but when I did fall, I fell hard.
Initially, I wasn’t crazy about the slightly sour and fizzy taste. Maybe I just tried the wrong brands or wrong flavors? But I kept trying different ones and then something snapped for me.
I became hooked on GT’s Synergy – specifically Trilogy, Cosmic Cranberry and Gingerberry. One of the reasons I love those three so much is that they are super low in sugar – either 2 grams or 4 grams per serving (2 servings per bottle).
Now, while I clearly love the GT’s, they are really pricey. Where I live one bottle is somewhere between $3.29 and $3.59 each and it was quickly becoming an expensive habit.
This is where Hannah from Blue Kale Road comes in. One day while we were having coffee, she casually mentioned that she home brews her own Kombucha. I nearly fell over from excitement because I was really interested in learning but it just seemed so overwhelming to me and I had no idea where to get a SCOBY. Hannah told me you can usually get them at Farmer’s Markets (at least here in Seattle), some health food stores and I’ve since found out you can even get them online!
The way I remember it I practically begged her to give me a hands-on lesson and lucky for me, Hannah agreed! Fast forward a couple weeks and Hannah came over my house (after sending me a list of what I needed) and taught me how to home brew Kombucha. And you know what? It wasn’t hard AT ALL.
I really psyched myself out for no reason and I am thinking a lot of you might be doing the same so today I am sharing a tutorial for how to get started to make your own Kombucha!
Oh, and it’s important to note that I was in Canada a couple of weeks ago and tried a GT’s Synergy called Divine Grape that was by far and away my absolute favorite Kombucha I’ve ever tasted. It reminded me of a lightly flavored fizzy grape soda. I think I had at least one a day while in B.C. but I haven’t seen it anywhere in Seattle so when I put this last batch of Kombucha in to its second fermentation, I naturally made it Concord Grape. It’s delicious!
- I snapped all the in-process pictures at my house but the two main photos are from my friend Pamela of BOLIG PHOTOGRAPHY. I brought some of my precious Concord Grape Kombucha to Pam’s last week for our photo lessons and it wound up in front of the camera. Not an easy subject but Pam made it look beautiful (of course!) and I learned a lot about photographing beverages!
- I used Organic Sencha tea per Hannah’s suggestion and really love the light, delicate flavor of the finished Kombucha. My next experiment is going to be Yerba Mate but I know others who use different varieties of green tea and of course, black teas.
- 3 Tablespoons organic loose leaf tea (I used Sencha)
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 12 cups filtered water, divided
- SCOBY mother (What is a SCOBY?)
- 1 1/2 cups plain kombucha
- 4-quart (or larger) glass jar
- cheesecloth + rubber band
- candy thermometer
- mesh strainer
- straws for testing
- In a saucepan, combine 4 cups of the water with the sugar. Place candy thermometer in the pot and bring to a low (170F) boil. Stir to completely dissolve the sugar, turn off the light and add the loose tea. Stir and allow to steep for 15 minutes.
- While the tea is steeping, pour the remaining 8 cups of water into your large glass jar. Once the tea is done steeping, place mesh strainer over mouth of jar and pour tea through.
- Discard tea leaves and place candy thermometer in glass jar. When tea temperature is below 85F (room temp), pour in SCOBY and 1 1/2 cups plain kombucha.
- Place cheesecloth over top of jar and secure with a rubber band. Date the jar and set in a warm area (75 to 80F) of your kitchen (or somewhere else in the house). You need to let the tea ferment anywhere from 10 to 14 days depending on how warm the environment is that the tea is left in. The best way to gauge is to test with a straw (least disruptive to the SCOBY) every other day starting at day 9 or 10. If the tea still tastes sweet, let it sit. When it begins to taste slightly tart or sour, you can move it to the second fermentation. My tea was perfect (for me) at day 12 and our kitchen has been very warm (upper 70’s, low 80’s due to warm Seattle summer and no air-conditioning).
Second Fermentation (adding flavors and fizz):
- Gently remove the SCOBY and 1 1/2 cups of the mature Kombucha to a bowl or measuring cup (or container if not starting a new batch). *NOTE: This is a good time to reuse the SCOBY and start a new batch.*
- Decant the Kombucha into glass jars that have tightly seal-able lids. Hannah uses beer growlers and I used mason jars for my first batch. I’ve since been saving all of my GT’s Kombucha jars and removing the labels (I wish I would have thought about that before!)
- I added 1 ounce of Organic 100% Concord Grape Juice (not from concentrate) to every 3 1/2 cups Kombucha. Make sure to top off each glass jar so that you only leave about 1 to 2 ounces of air before sealing. This will help create a nice fizz.
- Cap the jars or bottles tightly, date them and leave out in the same spot you fermented the tea the first time. This is the really hard part, waiting around for the Kombucha to get fizzy and flavorful! It took me 6 days and may take you anywhere from 5 to 10 days depending on warmth in the area you are using. Once it is fizzy enough, move the capped bottles to the fridge to slow down fermentation and Enjoy!
Some Additional Notes:
- As you continue to brew, a new SCOBY baby may form. Over time it will thicken and you may want to remove the older piece and give to a friend to start their own Kombucha or even have multiple batches going at once. You can also compost or discard it.
- If you want to double the batch (which I have been doing), make sure to double the amount of tea, sugar and amount of mature Kombucha to start with (6 T of tea, 2 Cups Sugar and 3 Cups Mature Kombucha).
- Some Kombucha brewers have alerted me that mason jars may not be good vessels for 2nd fermentation becuase of the pressure buildup from the carbonation (they can explode apparently). Reusable glass bottles (like the GT’s) with screw-top lids and flip-top cap bottles seem to be very popular and yield good results.
- As for the Points Plus values, I used a bottle of GT’s Divine Grape to calculate the PP and one 8-ounce serving is 1 Point.
- I had a lot of questions about the SCOBY. “How do I know it’s healthy?” “Is there mold?” “What is the stringy stuff in there?” etc. Instead of badgering Hannah with a million and one questions, i did a bit of research and found the following sites to be the most helpful.
Continuous Brewing: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha-continuous-brewing-system
Kombucha Recipe and Cleaning Tips: http://www.kombuchakamp.com/kombucha-recipe