BYOB – Brewing Your Own (Kom)bucha
While once a drink for hippies and uber health nuts, kombucha tea can now be found in every corner market. However, they are expensive and not as potent as they’re meant to be. Many brands are pasteurizing them and killing off many of the healthy bacteria and probiotics that the drink is known for.
Good news: Kombucha can be made easily in your future AVA U District home for a fraction of the price! Making it yourself also give you the freedom to come up with new and interesting flavor combinations. And the best part is, after you grow the SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), all you will need to do is make a new batch of tea every week.
Image: The Kitchn
What exactly is kombucha? It is a fermented tea that contains tons of healthy probiotics that are good for intestinal health. There are also many other health benefits, like immune boosting properties, detoxification, and many say it helps ward off cancer. This tea has been around since ancient Chinese times and has proven to be the “immortal tonic” that it claims to be. For whatever reason you chose to drink kombucha, it is a fun way to experiment in the kitchen.
To start your batch of kombucha you can purchase a SCOBY, or create your own from the cultures in a store bought bottle of kombucha. Unless you can find a SCOBY for free online or through a friend, they can be more expensive than just making it from a bottle.
Image: Food Renegade
Here is the recipe if you chose to make your own from scratch.
A bottle of raw unpasturized kombucha (any flavor, but plain is best)
Your choice of fruit or herbs for flavor (optional)
A gallon size jar
An old t-shirt of breathable piece of fabric
Large rubber band
A few glass bottles with air tight seals
First, clean all your glass jars and bottles with hot water and soap. Make sure they are sanitized and leave no soap residue in the jars. Rinse very well and keep your hands clean through out the whole process. You don’t want any contaminants in your tea. Set these aside and start your tea.
In your pot, add about 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add your sugar and 8 tea bags. Remove from heat and let your tea steep. Let it cool until it is room temperature. Add in your bottle of store bought kombucha which contains the culture that will start your SCOBY. Place this mixture into your large glass jar. Cover the top with an old t shirt (clean of course), and seal it with a rubber band.
Set your tea aside somewhere warm and out of the sunlight like a closet. You should begin to see the culture forming in about a week, and it should be fully formed within 2 weeks. If your SCOBY isn’t forming, start again this time choosing a kombucha drink that has many visible floating chunks in it. If your SCOBY has formed, take it out of the jar with clean hands and make another batch of tea, let it cool and place it back in the jar with the new tea. The tea that was used to form the SCOBY is probably too acidic to drink. Use it for cleaning purposes or just dump it. This new batch is what will become your first batch of kombucha.
Let it sit in the jar for about 7 days, then transfer the mixture to your air tight glass bottles. This is where you can add flavorings. Try with something simple and chop up some fresh strawberries and add it in to your bottles. Leave one plain so you can get a feel for the taste of the natural kombucha. Let these bottles sit for up to a week. You can check on them after 3 days to see if it’s ready. It should be sour but not vinegary; if it tastes like vinegar you let it ferment too long.
To keep your SCOBY alive and thriving, leave it in a little bit of the tea it was fermented in. Then when you are ready to make another batch, just add in a fresh brewing of tea. Your mother SCOBY will eventually begin to form new layers, or “babies” that you can place in new jars and make more batches or give away to friends so they can make their own komucha tea!
Image: Kimi Harris
Have fun testing out new flavors and drinking your health tonic!