A couple years ago I was introduced to kombucha, a fermented sweet tea that is rich in probiotics. When I had my first sip, I actually couldn't believe how much I liked it! It had the crisp carbonation of pop, wasn't overly sweet, and was incredibly refreshing.
Because kombucha has gained in popularity over the last few years, you can find it in a variety of delicious flavours at most grocery stores for around five dollars a bottle.
Believe me. I know.
Five bucks for a drink is a little expensive, especially when you like to drink it as much as my fiancé. The high price tag and the fact that Curt liked it even more than I did, is why I decided to take a go at making it myself. I've now been consistently brewing kombucha every two weeks for the past two years, and I love it!
Kombucha is quite simple to make using green or black tea, sugar, and a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). The SCOBY, sometimes referred to as a mother or mushroom, is a live culture that transforms the sweet tea into a healthy probiotic beverage by feeding off of the sugar and caffeine, and populating the liquid with beneficial yeasts and bacteria.
Now, you might be wondering, where on earth do you get a SCOBY?
The neat thing about kombucha is every time you brew a batch, a new SCOBY forms on the surface of the tea during the fermenting process. People who regularly brew (like me) often have an abundance of SCOBY so it's not uncommon to see them offered for free on buy and sell websites. You can also purchase a dehydrated SCOBY online, or do what I did and grow one yourself.
It takes about four weeks to grow a SCOBY, but it's very inexpensive and fairly easy. All you need is a bottle of unflavoured, raw kombucha and some sweet tea. When you combine the sweet tea with the bottled kombucha, the good bacteria and yeasts found in the kombucha thrive on the sugar and caffeine in the tea, and a SCOBY will begin to form. It's pretty neat!
How to Grow a Kombucha SCOBY
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1 tbsp organic cane sugar
- 1 green or black tea bag (I always use organic green tea)
- 3/4 cup unflavoured kombucha, such as GT's Organic Raw Kombucha in Original
- Heat the water to just before a boil and pour it into a glass jar (I used a 500 ml Mason jar).
- Add 1 tbsp of sugar to the hot water and stir to dissolve completely.
- Add the tea bag and let steep for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the tea bag and set sweet tea aside to cool.
- Once cooled, add 3/4 of a cup of unflavoured, raw kombucha to the sweet tea and cover the jar with a piece of paper towel or a coffee filter secured with a rubber band.
- Place the jar in a dark space (a cupboard works great) where it will not be disturbed for approximately four weeks.
- Ensure the sweet tea is completely cooled before adding the kombucha. Kombucha is a living liquid and if it comes into contact with heat, the beneficial bacteria and yeast will die, and a SCOBY will not form.
- Sometimes when you open a bottle of kombucha, there is a "baby" SCOBY floating on the top. Add the "baby" to your jar to help jumpstart your SCOBY growth, although it's not necessary.
As the SCOBY begins to grow, the surface of the liquid will first become cloudy and then gradually develop into a white, rubbery-like disc. Once you have a well formed SCOBY that is thick enough to handle (a millimeter or two thick) you're ready to brew your first batch of kombucha!
I'll give you a few weeks to grow your own SCOBY and then share with you the next steps: brewing and bottling your homemade kombucha. Stay tuned!