How to Brew Your Own Kombucha

By | July 6, 2012 at 8:45 am | 2 comments

I very rarely stick to challenges that have specific time limits for completion. But about five months ago I embarked on a 30-day challenge that would change this pattern. Little did I know, that as an added bonus, it would also change my life.

Okay, I guess this is the implied, if not overtly stated, point of any challenge: to change a specific life pattern. And, usually (hopefully), for the better. But who really expects to 1. Get past the initial excitement/anticipation phase and actually start [insert any challenge here] 2. Reach the end of [insert any challenge here] 3. Continue to weave elements of the [insert any challenge here] into every day life after.

Mostly no one, that’s who.

So you can image my pure and utter shock when I vowed to join thousands of challengers in trading their favorite sugary soda or coffee addiction for kombucha for 30 consecutive days and actually got something out of it, other than guilt.

The essence of the challenge was to give up your soda or coffee and drink kombucha instead for one month. And because I don’t drink sugary beverages and was not ready to  give up coffee yet, I altered the rules of the challenge to suit my needs at the time. What interested me most about kombucha was its medicinal qualities. So I committed to drinking 2-4 oz, three times a day, usually before meals, as a medicinal elixir, rather than refreshing beverage.  After about a week –and already feeling the benefits – which included increased energy, better digestion, and even mood enhancement – I was sold and decided to get my very own SCOBY from the curator of the 30-day Kombucha Challenge, Hanna Krum, over at Kombucha Kamp and make my own.

And so here I am, five months later, still brewing my own kombucha, bottling it, and sharing with friends. What began as an experimental 30-day challenge turned into a new way of living.

So, What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a living health drink made by fermenting tea and sugar with the kombucha culture (also known as SCOBY or Mother). The result can sometimes taste as little vinegary, but most say it tastes something like something between sparkling apple cider and champagne, depending on what kind of tea you use.

Its origins are not 100% know, however it is thought to have originated in China, where it has been consumed for nearly 2,000 years. During the Tsin Dynasty in 221 BC, kombucha was known as “The Tea of Immortality.” This is also where the first record of kombucha consumption comes from.

It has also been used in Russia, Japan and Eastern Europe for many centuries. From Russia it spread to Prussia, Poland, Germany and Denmark but has been said to have died out, temporarily, during World War Two. After the war Dr Rudolph Skelnar created renewed interest in kombucha in Germany when he used it in his practice to treat cancer patients, metabolic disorders, high blood pressure and diabetes.

The kombucha culture looks sort of like a rubbery pinkish-beige pancake. It is often referred to as SCOBY because it is a “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts.” When the culture is placed in sweetened black or green tea, it  turns a bowl full of sweet tea into a bowl full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and healthy organic acids.

While the culture is digesting the sugar, it produces various organic acids like glucuronic acid, gluconic acid, lactic acid, acetic acid, butyric acid, malic acid and usnic acid; vitamins, particularly B vitamins and vitamin C; as well as amino acids, enzymes. Oh, and it has all the benefits of the probiotic microorganism!

It does have a very small alcohol content. But not very much. Usually 1% remains in the brew.

Every new brew you make, the culture forms a new layer of culture on the surface of the liquid. You can thicken these by brewing with them or separate them and save as a spare culture, which can be stored with a little sweet tea in the fridge. This is also a great way to share with friends!

In addition to the immediate effects of drinking kombucha, long-term health benefits are said to include some, if not all, of the following:

Probiotics – healthy bacteria

Alkalize the body – balances internal pH

Detoxify the liver – happy liver = happy mood

Increase metabolism – rev your internal engine

Improve digestion – keep your system moving

Rebuild connective tissue – helps with arthritis, gout, asthma, rheumatism

Cancer prevention

Alleviate constipation

Boost energy – helps with chronic fatigue

Reduce blood pressure

Relieve headaches & migraines

Reduce kidney stones

High in antioxidants – destroy free-radicals that cause cancer

High in polyphenols

Improve eyesight

Heal excema – can be applied topically to soften the skin

Prevent artheriosclerosis

Speed healing of ulcers – kills h.pylori on contact

Help clear up candida & yeast infections

Aid healthy cell regeneration

Reduce gray hair

Lower glucose levels – prevents spiking from eating

What You’ll Need to Start Brewing

  • SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)
  • 1 gallon jar (I used an old pickle jar)
  • Close-knit cloth
  • Rubber band (a hair tie also works, if you have one laying around)
  • Tea (any works, but I prefer black)

How to Brew

  • Place 1-cup of sugar into 1 gallon jar
  • Bring 4 cups of water almost to a boil
  • Add the water to the jar with the sugar and mix

  • Add 8-cups of room temperature water to the mixture in the jar

  • Add 8-cups of room temperature water to the mixture in the jar

  • Cover with cloth and seal with rubber band

  • Store in cool, dark place (I use my walk in closet or hallway cupboard)
  • Let sit/brew for 6-11 days (shorter brew cycle for sweeter, more carbonated ‘booch and longer brew cycle for stronger, more potent ‘booch)

Find Your Starter Culture

  • The best way is if you know someone who also brews and is willing to help get your started
  • You can check on local bantering organizations, like Our Goods, for local brewers with extra SCOBYs on their hands
  • Kombucha Kamp just so happens to be in my area, but she also ships, if you can’t find a local SCOBY

Feel free to post any questions you have in the comment box below and I will do my best to be of assistance. Happy brewing!

2 Comments

  1. samira (4 years ago)

    That is a healthy looking scoby! I tried to make some once and it came out stringy, with holes in it.

  2. Crystal S. (4 years ago)

    I love kombucha. It changed my life (for the better – hehe) too!!! I can’t go a day without drinking it. Your blog is great by the way!

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