Have you heard of Kombucha?
Do you love it but are paying WAY too much each week for bottle after delicious bottle?
Kombucha is a fermented tea originating from Russia. Unlike some other fermented beverages from Russia, this one is really good for you! It’s full of natural probiotics, enzymes, and vitamins, just like cultured veggies! It’s also really easy and cheap to make (recipe below), and once you have a batch made, you can flavor it however you want (my favorites are ginger-cinnamon and fresh blueberry)!
I hadn’t really heard of it until last year, but now my husband and I love it and make it on a regular basis! It’s tangy, a little sweet, and naturally carbonated. I think it tastes a lot like hard cider.
However, despite the fact that it’s fermented and tastes like hard cider, kombucha is not really an alcoholic beverage (it does have trace amounts…).
We drink Kombucha as:
- a refreshing and energizing pick-me-up drink
- a substitute for beer or soda
- a substitute for wine (especially when we flavor it with berries or pomegranate juice!)
- an after-your-meal-when-you-want-something-a-teeny-bit-sweet palate cleanser
As Kombucha has become more popular, it’s more widely available in grocery and natural-foods stores…however…
- store-bought Kombucha is pricey. (usually $3.99 a bottle)
- store-bought Kombucha sometimes has hidden unwanted ingredients
Ok ok, so how DO you make Kombucha?
There are LOTS of resources out there for learning how to make kombucha, but instead of just referring you to them, I decided to put together my own little post on how I personally make my kombucha. That way I get to use my pretty pictures. 🙂
The basic ingredients are:
- black tea
- white sugar
- a SCOBY (stands for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast)
Wait, Rachel, black tea? White sugar??? Aren’t caffeine and sugar not very good for you?
Don’t worry, the sugar isn’t for you – it’s to feed the SCOBY, and the caffeine in the tea gets pretty diluted.
First, what I do is boil 1 quart of water.
Then I add 1 cup of white sugar, and stir to dissolve:
Then I pour it into a large glass container (at least a gallon), and add a second quart of water. Lastly, I add my SCOBY and 1/2 c. of kombucha from a previous batch (or store-bought).
There’s my SCOBY floating at the top…it’s pretty odd looking, and it may gross you out, but it’s pretty amazing nonetheless.
Here’s how it works:
- The yeast (The “Y” in SCOBY) gobbles up the sugar and converts it to alcohol (just like in beer making)
- Then the bacteria (The “B”…) eats up the alcohol and converts it to all sorts of good stuff, including enzymes, small amounts of vitamins, probiotics, and carbon dioxide (hence the natural carbonation)
Ok, here’s my recipe:
- 2 quarts filtered water, divided
- 1 cup sugar (unrefined is ok in this case – it’s easier for the yeast to digest)
- 4 Tsp black tea – or- 4 tea bags (stick with organic either way)
- 1/2 cup prepared kombucha
- 1 SCOBY
- 1 gallon-sized glass jar
Boil 1 quart of water. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Add the tea and let steep until the water has cooled to just warm. Remove the tea. Pour the sweetened tea and the second quart of filtered water into a glass container. Add the 1/2 c. kombucha and the scoby. Cover the container with a cloth or other breathable material that will not allow fruit flies in, and secure with a rubber band or string. Leave the container at room temperature (on a shelf, on the counter, etc.). I taste mine after about 9 days, then again after two weeks, and I keep checking to see when I feel like it is done. I like my kombucha to be not very sweet, that way I know most of the sugar has been used up by the SCOBY. You can either bottle it, or pour it straight from the “tap”. If you bottle it, you can add fruit, juice, ginger, etc. to the bottles to flavor your newly-made beverages.
One other cool thing about Kombucha is that each time you make a batch, a new SCOBY forms! So you can give that one away to a friend, or you can make another batch…whatever you want!
I hope that you make some time to try your hand at this delicious and healthy concoction! It really is so cheap and easy to make!
For those of you who are already making kombucha, what are your favorite flavors? Do you have any tips or suggestions? Have you tried making it with green tea (I haven’t yet)?