Brewing Your Own Kombucha

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I promised this post a while ago, sorry for the delay!  The Mr. keeps telling me that my absence on the blogosphere has been quite evident lately 😦  I don’t have an excuse other than I need more hours in the day!

Some of you may be wondering what the heck kombucha is and why in the world I’m “brewing” it.  Keeping it simple, it is fermented sweet tea.  And it’s been around for a helluva long time.  Remember all my kitchen pets I alluded to when I posted about the importance of breakfast…?  Well, this is one of them.

kt2I have a big SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) that I feed sweetened black tea to.  It “eats” the sugar and caffeine in the tea and leaves me with a wonderful, fizzy fermented tea to drink every day.  The finished kombucha is loaded with probiotics and beneficial bacteria to promote gut health, boost immunity, aid in digestion, as well as having a “detoxing” effect on the liver.  As you know, you can find a myriad of claims for just about anything on the internet, so while I won’t necessarily buy into all of them, I do think that it provides enough possible health benefits to make it worth my while.  Plus, I got such a good deal on a bulk purchase of organic black tea so it’s really super cheap to make.  I also actually like this stuff, believe it or not 😉

Since the SCOBY is converting all the sugar…you’re not really ingesting much sugar at all, if any.  It’s quite strong and vinegar-like actually, pretty sure there’s no trace of sugar in my stuff…sometimes a sip of it will put some hair on my chest.  Haha.  Not cute.

My very first brew with the SCOBY I was given before I had my crock. My SCOBY is at least 5 times that thick now, but hard to tell since I have a black crock.

My very first brew with the SCOBY I was given before I had my crock. My SCOBY is at least 5 times that thick now, but hard to tell since I have a black crock.

I got started about 3 months ago when a friend of mine (two, actually) split their SCOBY and shared with me.  The SCOBY grows bigger and bigger with every brew.  It basically gives birth to a baby SCOBY by adding a new top layer to itself, so it keeps getting thicker every time you feed it more sweetened tea.  So, I got SCOBY from a friend and bought all my equipment.  I knew I wanted to drink this stuff consistently, so I opted to do the continuous brew method and went right for a 2.5 gallon crock.  The continuous brew method basically means that you just keep the SCOBY in the crock, feed it sweetened tea, and when you pour the finished kombucha off a few days later (leaving some remaining to act as your starter liquid), you simply refill the crock with fresh tea and it goes right back to work.

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I keep a washcloth rubber-banded around the inside rim of the crock protection ring. This allows oxygen flow while keeping out dust, etc. Usually it’s a small one that fits just right, but today it was a big one that’s draping all on the sides.

I’m not going to go into all of the nitty gritty details of exactly how much tea or sugar to use, because there are just so many variations.  But the basic concept is that you need to use a caffeinated tea, dissolve pure cane sugar into it while hot, and wait until it reaches room temperature before you feed the beast.  I use organic black tea in bags, but you can use green tea, white tea, or a combination of different teas in bags or loose leaf form.  You can find fancy organic loose leaf kombucha tea blends that I’m sure would be great.  It also must be cane sugar (I use the organic cane sugar from Costco)…no sucanat, rapadura, coconut sugar, honey, etc.  This link has a helpful chart that’ll tell you how much tea, starter tea, water, and sugar to use depending on the size of your container.

IMG_1446The brewing time will vary quite a bit based on a number of different things.  Anything from the temperature of your house, the size of your SCOBY, the diameter of your container, and your personal taste preferences will determine how many days you let it ferment.  The longer it ferments, the stronger and more vinegary it’ll taste.  I believe the recommended time is 7-30 days.  Honestly, I have found that 5-7 days in my house yields a pretty darn strong brew…not sure if I could handle anything more than 8 or so days.

IMG_1359Lastly, you can drink your kombucha plain or flavor it with whatever you want after you’ve bottled your finished kombucha.  We like lemon ginger the best.  I simply add lemon and ginger slices to my bottles and store them in the fridge that way.  I also add berries sometimes, and recently I threw in some pomegranate seeds.  If you add any kind of sweetener (such as a fruit juice or additional sugar), you can let it sit in an air-tight container at room temperature for another couple of days for a second fermentation.   It’ll get really fizzy and basically turn into kombucha soda…kinda cool!

And, by the way, I’m no kombucha expert here, so if you’re interested in reading more about it, check out these sites:

www.kombuchakamp.com and www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha

Do you brew kombucha?  How do you do it?  Favorite flavors?  I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. My original SCOBY got so thick that I decided to trim it down and create a “SCOBY Hotel.”  It’s basically my backup in case I somehow kill mine.  These pieces of SCOBY are covered in kombucha and as far as I understand, they will pretty much keep indefinitely in a cool dark place.  I also read that I could dehydrate them and treat the dog to some SCOBY jerky!  I might try that one of these days 😉

Yep, an old pickle jar...which I don't buy/eat because of the yellow food coloring; but the jar works nicely ;)

Yep, an old pickle jar…which I don’t buy/eat because of the yellow food coloring; but the jar works nicely 😉

15 thoughts on “Brewing Your Own Kombucha

  1. Mrs SSC says:

    I have never tried kombucha, I’ve always been a little scared of it since I didn’t know what it is. Can you buy it in stores? I tried having a kitchen pet one – a sourdough starter. But, I couldn’t keep gnats away from it so I gave up because that seemed gross. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mrs. DTG says:

      Yes, you can definitely buy it in stores like Whole Foods or Sprouts, don’t think I’ve seen in at my big chain grocery store around me, though. It’s can be quite pricey though, making it a popular home brew because you can make it for much cheaper. I’d definitely recommend you buy some to try it out! Let me know what you think!
      About your sourdough starter, you can just keep it in the fridge and feed it once a week, then you won’t have a gnat problem. You’ll just have to bring it out and feed it a couple times before you plan to use it so get it active again. I’ve been keeping my sourdough starter since like February 🙂

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  2. our next life says:

    We make our own kombucha, and have developed our own variety based mostly on laziness. 🙂 After it’s done brewing (usually 14-21 days because our house is so cold), we bottle it and then let it sit for a few months at room temp. That gives it a long secondary fermentation that makes it super fizzy, but also makes it really, really dry. Basically every hint of sugar is gone. That’s a good thing in my book, but you could always add some honey or agave at that point if you want something sweeter.

    And we have a scoby hotel just like yours! They pile up so fast! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mrs. DTG says:

      Wow! Hadn’t really heard of such a long secondary fermentation for kombucha! How long have you been doing that? So are you not drinking it very often then if you have a brew sitting for so long at a time? How much do you make at a time? I feel like a smaller crock would be better for me…the big 2.5 gallon size SCOBY gets too much oxygen and ferments much too quickly. I seriously can’t imagine a 14-21 day fermentation! Does yours get fairly high in alcohol content by then? I’m gonna experiment more with leaving it out for a longer second fermentation and see how that goes!

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      • our next life says:

        We’ve been doing the secondary stage that way for a few years now. I just brew massive batches because I have so many scoby’s, and it doesn’t take long to build up more than you drink regularly, which then gives you enough to “age” it. (Big batch = four of those giant Ball jars, so maybe 4 gallons) No idea what the alcohol content is — never tested it, but it doesn’t get us drunk! 🙂

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  3. projectpatrol says:

    We make our own kombucha and love it. We’ve experimented with flavoring but, mainly drink it straight from our container after a few days. When almost out, we create a new batch and start all over. It does leave a few days in which we don’t have kombucha to drink but, we don’t mind. If I want fiz, I mix it with a bit of sparkling water. It’s so nice to be able to keep it going. I can’t believe I never thought to feed the SCOBY to my dog! We feed him raw and it would be a great addition of probiotics to his diet!

    Liked by 1 person

      • projectpatrol says:

        OK, yesterday I got right to it. We, too, have a jar (quart sized) with extra scobys. I took a chunk which had melded together and sliced it the best I could because I thought thinner would be better. They shriveled up soooo much so I took another scoby, not as thick, and only cut it in 1/2. It still shrank a good deal. I gave the biggest piece to him and he sniffed it, licked it and looked at me as if to say, ummmm, ya got anything else? Hehe 🙂 I ended up grounding up the rest of the dehydrated pieces and plan on sprinkling it into his food. So, no he didn’t like it but, it was worth it and I will continue to do it. Thanks!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Mrs. DTG says:

          Omg, awesome!! Haha too funny looking away like he’s grossed out. Love the idea of grinding it up and sprinkling it on his food, I’m def gonna do that!
          So actually, you said you feed him raw, I just gave my dog some raw chicken innards/giblets and he didn’t eat any of it 😦 I was hoping he would. Does your dog eat giblets or do use them for stock? Wonder if he’ll eat it if I chop it up and add it to his normal food.

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          • projectpatrol says:

            We do feed him chicken innards. Has yours ever eaten anything raw? If not, it could take time as he’s just used to his regular food? Although we’ll give ours an egg once in a while and he hates the shell. Even if I mix it in with ground meat, all that’s left will be perfectly cleaned egg shell pieces.

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  4. Ditching the Grind says:

    Project Patrol, when we got our dog from the boxer rescue, he was only eating raw. We’ve since been giving him regular hard dog food plus occasional meat scraps. He eventually ate the innards after I cooked them and mixed them with his food. Btw, our entire house stinks from dehydrating the scoby even with all the windows open!

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