Happy New Year!
Have you ever had Kombucha before? It's fermented sweet tea, and it's full of healthy probiotics! Plus, it's delicious. You can buy it at Health Food stores, but it will run you about $3 for a pint...
Make your own!! I've been brewing my own for almost 8 months and have saved a TON of money! It ends up costing about $2 for a gallon when you make it yourself, which is super cheap for something so healthy and delicious.
First things first, you absolutely cannot make Kombucha without a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). You can either get one from someone you know that already makes Kombucha (and make sure you get a few cups of already brewed unflavored kombucha from them as well), or you can do like I did and order one online. I highly HIGHLY recommend Kombucha Kamp, and they even sell through Amazon. The SCOBY takes about 5-7 days to arrive, and then you are ready to brew! Buy online here (about $25)
1) 1 SCOBY with 2-4 cups of unflavored kombucha (called "the mother" when you buy online)
2) Tea (loose tea, or bags; green or black or mixed. I used loose tea from Kombucha Kamp as well, and it's a mixture of green and black.) You will need 2 tablespoons of loose tea for every gallon you brew, or 8 tea bags per gallon
3) 1 cup of sugar per gallon (I use organic, evaporated cane sugar that I got at Costco. You can use plain on table sugar. Don't worry, the SCOBY will eat up the sugar so this is not a sweet drink and falls within the Paleo guidelines still. But don't use honey, maple syrup or xylitol or anything else. Just regular sugar!)
4) 1 gallon glass jar, plus one old t-shirt and a rubber band
5) Flavorings for your Kombucha (examples: any kind of juice, any pureed fruit. I make some with lemon juice, or pureed strawberries, or pureed blueberries, or juiced ginger, or store-bought mango juice, etc)
Phase 1: Brewing your Kombucha
1) First, add your SCOBY and "the mother" liquid (2-4 cups of unflavored Kombucha) to your glass jar.
2) Heat up a large pan with water, until boiling. You want about 6-8 cups of water in here, preferably filtered.
3) Prepare your tea bags. You will add 8 tea bags per gallon, or 2 tablespoons of loose tea in a tea bag cloth per gallon.
4) Once the water is boiling, turn off the burner but leave the water where it is. Add your tea bags and brew for 10 minutes..
5) Remove your tea bags, and add in 1 cup of sugar (for every gallon you are brewing). Stir.
6) Let the tea sit for 20-30 minutes until it comes to room temperature. Then add it to your gallon jar with your SCOBY.
7) Fill up the jar with water until you've reached the top (so that the volume now totals one galloon).
8) Top with an old shirt and a rubber band, to keep out fruit flies and dust. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! If you don't, fruit flies will lay eggs in your SCOBY and it will be ruined. Trust me, I tried to use cheese cloth and this happened, then I switched to an old t-shirt and it works perfectly!
9) Place on your counter and allow to ferment. You can put it in the pantry if you prefer but it will take a little longer to ferment and finish.
10) Begin checking your Kombucha after one week of fermentation. You want it to not taste sweet anyone and to have a pH between 2.0 and 3.0. You can use pH strips if you have some, so that you know what it's supposed to taste like. Eventually you'll become a pro and you won't need them anymore: you'll just know how it should taste. The longer it ferments, the more sugar will be eaten by the SCOBY and the more bitter it will become. The 2.0 to 3.0 pH is your sweet spot. In the summer in Texas it takes about 7 days for my Kombucha to be ready, and about 2-3 weeks in the winter. Check everyday until it's ready, by sampling a spoonful after you've stirred the gallon.
Phase 2: Flavoring and Bottling
Congratulations, your Kombucha is ready! Now to flavor it and add in some carbonation.
1) Fill up whatever bottles/jars you're going to use. I use mason jars. Fill about 2/3 of the way full with just unflavored Kombucha.
2) Add in your flavorings:
I recommend 1/8 to 1/4 cup of flavoring per 32oz of Kombucha. Add in 1/8 of a cup of your juice or puree, and taste the batch. If it's to your liking, fill up the rest of the jar with Kombucha. Put a lid on, and leave your jars out on the counter for two days.
3) Make sure you leave at least 4 cups of unflavored Kombucha in your gallon jar with the SCOBY. You'll use this to start your next batch.
4) Leave the jars out on your counter for 2 days, to allow the flavors to absorb and some carbonation to occur.
5) Now you're going to want to strain your Kombucha. I use cheese cloth, and place the bowl in the sink in case I spill.
6) Strain your mixture, and then add back to your jar.
7) For best keeping, put a small piece of waxed paper or parchment paper on top of the jar before you put the lid on to help keep the Kombucha from eating up your jar over time.
8) Now put your jarred Kombucha in the fridge and enjoy! I drink 8-16 ounces a day, and have tried a bunch of flavors! I routinely make ginger, watermelon, and peach. Sometimes we also make lemon, peach-mint, and mango. Buy whatever is in season and puree and freeze it, or buy juice, or frozen fruit. Just thaw and puree before you add it.