The wildly popular fermented beverage kombucha is effervescent, low in sugar, and rich in probiotic benefits. Full of active and live cultures like sour pickles or yogurt, kombucha includes vitamin B, antioxidants, and organic acids, making this health angle a part of its widespread appeal. Though you can find this refreshing beverage in stores, it’s surprisingly easy to brew at home! If creating a microbiology project in a dark warm closet of your home sounds fun to you, here are the steps to brew your own homemade kombucha.
Making the Tea
First, select the finest tea leaves possible to brew your kombucha, preferably oolong, green, or black tea. Keep the brew small to make it more manageable. Boil three quarts of water in a kettle or pot. Filter the water beforehand to get an extra protective layer against unwanted bacteria. Add tea bags or tea leaves and let them brew to the strength of your preference. Then let the brew cool down to room temperature while dissolving ½ cup of honey or sugar into the tea.
Starting the Fermentation
The starter culture of making kombucha is a SCOBY, an acronym for ‘Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast.’ You can order one online to add it to your already brewed sweetened tea, and you can reuse it for future batches, too. It looks like a pale, flat, moist mushroom with a little rubbery and squishy texture. Just slide the SCOBY gently with clean hands into the jar of tea. Then secure the wide top with a tight weave paper towel or tea towel tied carefully.
Letting it Ferment
Store the tea jar out of direct sunlight, ideally at a temperature between 75oF-80oF. Allow the liquid to ferment for 7-10 days, without bothering it. After that, the SCOBY can look funny or strange, and the liquid can become murky or moldy looking. But, don’t let the appearance fool you, as this is all normal in the fermentation process, filling your kombucha with nutrients and giving it its fizzy texture.
Bottling Your Kombucha
After the fermentation is complete, remove and save the SCOBY for future batches. Now strain and pour the kombucha into jars or bottles, leaving about half an inch of headroom in each one to give room for possible carbon dioxide buildup. Store the bottles at around 70F (room temperature). At this point, you can add small amounts of herbs, spices, juice, flowers, fruits, etc. for an additional flavoring. Infuse them for two hours, and your home-brewed kombucha is ready to be enjoyed.