Kombucha is a fermented tea drink from Russia that has recently gained popularity in health & wellness circles. It is cheap to make, easy to drink, and the live cultures and bacteria it contains have earned it association with gut and liver health, general detoxing, immune system boosting, and even great skin and increased energy. (You can check out a few other health benefits here.)
“Booch” can be made from black, green, or white tea, and can be further personalized by the many different flavor variations and levels of carbonation that can be achieved. Yes, the recipe calls for sugar, and alternatives such as honey or stevia cannot be used, but take good heart: the bacteria eats away the sugar and by the time your kombucha reaches its drinking stage, the sugar content should only be around 2g per serving.
HOW TO MAKE IT:
Today’s recipe will focus on the FIRST FERMENTATION STAGE, but in order to achieve the most carbonated and robust drink possible that’s flavor is fully customizable, a second ferment would also need to take place. (Check out OUR 2ND FERMENT TUTORIAL HERE.)
What you will need for the first stage:
- 4-5 ORGANIC TEA BAGS. We use this brand, but you can use any type of black, green, or white tea.
- 1 gallon DRINKING WATER.
- 1 cup ORGANIC EVAPORATED CANE JUICE/SUGAR. We use this brand, but any organic unbleached sugar will do as long as it is actually SUGAR! No honey, Stevia, coconut sugar, etc. Sorry guys, this is what the bacteria feeds off of. Don’t worry though, almost all of it will ferment away anyways!
- SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria & Yeast). We have used several brands in the past and even grown our own, but the absolute best results we’ve achieved have come from our Kombucha Kamp SCOBY and the “babies” it has birthed. These particular SCOBYs are cultivated in all organic ingredients and have proven to be super high quality – they get the job done! If you are serious about booch brewing, I strongly recommend investing in one.
- 1/2 cup STARTER LIQUID. You will receive some with your SCOBY when you first purchase it, and all additional times you will just save 1/2-1 cup of your fermented batch to use for the next brew.
- GALLON-SIZED GLASS VAT OR JUG. We used to use this 1-gallon one, but have since switched to brewing 2 gallons at a time and use one similar to this. (Note: To brew 2 gallons at a time you will need to double all of the ingredients listed above.)
- HANKIE, COFFEE FILTER, OR BREATHABLE MATERIAL that can be secured over the opening of your jug with a rubber band or string.
- POT & STIRRING SPOON for tea making and sugar dissolving.
BREW THE TEA. Pour a few cups of your water into a pot and boil. Tie your tea bags together and steep them in the water for several minutes. Remove the tea bags and add a cup of organic sugar, stirring until well dissolved.
MIX & TRANSFER. Pour the remaining water into a gallon jug along with the starter liquid (remove the SCOBY first, if applicable). Add in the hot tea mixture. Stir well. This should bring everything down to room temperature or something like it, but if it is still hot then allow the mixture to cool before continuing. Warning: patience is worth it – if the liquid is too hot it can kill your SCOBY!
LET IT FERMENT. Place the SCOBY on top of the cooled tea. It may sink, and that’s ok! Cover the jug opening with a coffee filter or some type of breathable fabric, securing it with a rubber band or string. (We use a thin cloth napkin and elastic head band.) The opening should be completely covered, but able to breathe so that condensation doesn’t build up. Leave the brew alone in a warm place (ours is kept on a kitchen shelf). After about 7 days we test the batch and see how the flavor is. It generally takes about 8-10 days until we are happy with the flavor, but this time can fluctuate based on room temperatures and the SCOBY used. Our Kombucha Kamp SCOBY takes only about 7 days in the summer, while a different brand we bought at a health food shop took over two weeks in early spring before we could taste a real difference!
BOTTLING & THE SECOND FERMENT. At this point you will have the choice of just refrigerating the liquid (NOT SCOBY) and drinking as is, or you can move on to the strongly recommended second ferment. We always do this second process as it adds carbonation, is where all of the specialty flavors are added, and extra bacteria grows.
The Video Tutorial: