How to Brew Kombucha at Home for Pennies

Gosh I love this stuff…

Kombucha is just so dang tasty. I brew 2 gallons every 2 weeks because we drink so much of it. It helps me stay regular (sorry tmi?), boosts my immune system, and it just tastes so good!

For those that live under a rock…

Kombucha has been around for decades; maybe centuries. It is a tangy, slightly sweet, effervescent, fermented tea beverage that is full of probiotics, antioxidants, and enzymes that can help boost digestion and immunity. It is made using sweetened (traditionally) black tea and a scoby: symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

  • No, it’s not made with mushrooms
  • No, it’s not rotten
  • Yes, it does smell and taste like vinegar if you’re not used to eating fermented foods

The first time I tried Kombucha I HATED it. It smelled awful and tasted even worse! But… I was addicted to sugar and disliked anything fermented; I thought it smelled rotten.

Once I changed my diet and started eating more whole foods and less processed sugar and simple carbs, my tastes changed dramatically. I now LOVE Kombucha and many other fermented foods.

So if you try it for the first time and hate it; don’t worry, it’ll grow on you.

It’s not ‘scientifically proven’ to do anything but I believe it helps keep me healthy. I feel so much better when I drink at least 8 ounces of it daily.

It costs pennies to make and they charge upwards of $3 at the store! I’m all about being frugal while still eating healthy, so if I can make it myself, I will!

If you would like to make your own… Stay tuned!

To make your own kombucha…

What you need:

This is a scoby: yes, it looks disgusting
  • 8 cups filtered water
  • 8 tea bags (traditionally black but anything will work)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (plain ol sugar; don’t worry, the yeast eats the sugar)
  • Scoby with 1/2 cup starter culture
  • 1/2 gallon jar (or any glass container big enough)
  • coffee filter/tea towel and something to secure it with; a rubber band will do
  • 4 or 5 16oz bottles or jars
  • *optional* unsweetened juice, fruit chunks, spices, or herbs

To make the tea:

  1. Boil half the water, add the sugar, steep the tea, let sit for an hour or so, and then cool it off with the other half of the water
  2. When cool, pour the tea into your container
  3. With clean hands; place the scoby and the starter culture in the jar
  4. Cover and secure
  5. Leave out of direct sunlight in a decently warm place for a week or two
    • This step is basically to your preferences; I leave mine for up to two weeks because I like the zing
    • Starting at a week you can stick a clean straw in and taste it
Freshly bottled on the left and ready for fermenting on the right!

When it’s finished fermenting…

  1. Prepare your tea as before
  2. With clean hands, pull the scoby out and place in a bowl
    • It will have grown a new layer on the top
    • When it gets too big you can pull layers off; you can throw the extra away, feed them to your dog, or give them to a friend so they can start their own homebrew!
  3. Save 1/2 cup of Kombucha for starter culture for next batch
  4. Pour the Kombucha into bottles/jars
    • I pour through a mesh strainer to catch any floaty bits
  5. Prepare next batch as before
Ready for a second ferment

As for the bottles of booch

  • You can top with a splash of juice
    • We’re really loving spiced apple juice right now
  • You can leave plain
  • You can fill to the top and put in the fridge
  • You can leave 1/2 inch of head space and leave on the counter for several days, up to a week, for a second ferment to create a more soda like fizz
    • Just put the bottles in a pan or something in case of any leaking.
    • Also make sure its not too warm; the warmer it is the faster it ferments and then you risk the bottles exploding
  • You could put fruit chunks, spices, or herbs in and second ferment
  • I juiced a mango and added that to second ferment and had the most amazing, bubbly almost champagne like drink!

Side notes

  • Keep out of direct sunlight
  • Don’t use metal utensils (apparently it can damage the scoby)
  • You may want to get a second 1/2 gallon jar at some point because that stuff is damn refreshing on a hot day and you’ll drink the all your stash before your next batch is done

If you’re interested in starting your own homebrew and want to get your hands on a scoby I may be able to help! Depending on where you are in the world I can ship you one as long as you pay the shipping cost.

Have you tried Kombucha before? Did you like it or were you repulsed?

If you haven’t I’d suggest you try it soon!

Cheers!

Chelsea

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