Home-Brewed Kombucha

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There’s something so rewarding in reaching goals, re-skilling, and realizing your ability to complete tasks that I’m totally addicted to. I’ve been a fan of kombucha for a while now, but had been putting off brewing my own because it sounded pretty intimidating (I’m partial to RISE ginger kombucha when I buy it bottled).

Why drink it?
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that is full of probiotics that your intestines love (you’ve heard of those from yogurt commercials)! It’s good for your gut and a lot of people experience a boost in energy. Since it’s fermented, you need a yeast and bacteria colony to do most of the work.

What’s a SCOBY?
A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast that looks like a gelatinous mushroom-jellyfish. The culture eats up all the sugar in the tea and produces a secondary baby culture that can be used in future brewing! Knowing this, I’ve left the brewing to professionals in the past, put-off by the unfounded fear that I would poison myself.

The opportunity to be a SCOBY-owner fell into my lap when a friend of mine left on vacation with her boyfriend. As the three of us share a love for things like blenders and, apparently, bacteria cultures, she dropped off their SCOBY at my place with a scribbly list of brewing instructions. All I had to do was brew some kombucha and I’d have my own little SCOBY baby.

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Love at first sight! I texted a lot of pictures of the SCOBY mamma to my friends and loved ones…

What You’ll Need

  • 1 SCOBY (They come in all different shapes and sizes… And size doesn’t matter)
  • Any tea you want (But try to stick to natural teas without additives. I used about 5 tablespoons of Zingiber Ginger Coconut from Teavana)
  • 1 cup of kombucha (either from an existing brew or store-bought)
  • 3 litres of distilled water
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • A glass 1 gallon container (Don’t use plastics or ceramics! Plastics can leach into your drink and ceramics are often coated with lead)
  • Something to cover it with – I used the lid, others will use a cheesecloth with a rubberband. Just make sure some air can get in.
  • A wooden spoon for stirring

Make sure everything you are using is clean as you don’t want anything you use to harm the living bacteria.

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Let’s do it!

  1. Steep your tea in the water. You can either cold-brew overnight or boil and steep for the recommended amount of time (depending on which tea you use) but you must make sure your tea is completely room temperature before adding it to your SCOBY (hot water will kill it).
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To steep the tea i used a big glass bowl and a regular tea infuser that fits in your coffee mug.

2. Stir in the cool tea with the existing kombucha, the sugar, and the SCOBY

3. Cover. You can start tasting your kombucha after 7 days but may choose to leave it longer if your prefer a more bitter drink. I left mine for about 9 before getting too eager, but some people prefer to leave it for 30!

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I spent a lot of time google-imaging to make sure that everything was going right with my brew. You’ll notice some clowdy-yeasty brown bits floating around, which is totally normal! What you need to be weary of is an extremely rare case of mold, which will look very clearly like the mold you find on bread. If you see this, everything needs to be disposed of, including the SCOBYs. But again, this is unlikely to happen

4. Carefully remove your mamma and (new!) baby SCOBY and put them in jars with some of the kombucha they just made. My brother Ian and I named the new baby Simba, which is short for symbiotic, clearly.

5. Divide your kombucha into clean glass jars and refrigerate.

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from left to right: kombucha, momma SCOBY, baby SCOBY, kombucha, kombucha

Some people love to mix in teas and juices with the finished product, but I really enjoyed the taste of the tea I chose! I’m looking forward to making kombucha again this summer. It was much easier than I anticipated—And isn’t the colour beautiful?

If you’re interested in getting started, you can buy starter kits online (for example, here) or you can go the cheaper route of getting a SCOBY from a friend or off of Craigslist.

Questions? Hit us up on Twitter @GreenGuineaPigs or in the comments below!

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