Finally! It happened. After years of spending anywhere between $2-5 on kombucha at Whole Foods...I found the ovaries (that was for you, Bernice) to make my own. And guess what...other than requiring a ton of patience, it wasn't that crazy. I cannot wait to try a million different kinds via experimenting with fermentation times, temperatures, teas, and maybe even homemade fruit purees to flavor. Possibilities are nearly endless...
Stuff you'll need
4-5 tea bags (black, green, white)
1 cup organic sugar (I used raw sugar)---this is important to actually use sugar. Read below to learn why.
1 Kombucha "starter" - I got this one off Amazon. Worked great!
1 large glass jar - I used a half gallon ball jar, but next time will use this one since it's bigger
Small bottles or jars to finish the product in
Bring 2 quarts of water (preferably filtered) to boiling. Remove from heat and add in 4-5 tea bags and let steep for 4-5minutes. Remove the tea bags and stir in the sugar, and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to your glass jar and add in your starter pack. Make sure you add in all of the liquid in the starter pack too, because it is just as important! Cover the opening with a towel or a few paper towels (folded over a couple of times), and seal with a rubber band. Then, find a moderately warm (75 degrees or maybe a bit warmer), dark place (no direct sunlight)...and let it sit! I know, you'll be just as eager as I was, but prevent yourself from checking it every day. Give it at least a week, preferably two weeks, and check it out. What you should see is a buildup of something that looks relatively white, sort of waxy, that's formed and is floating at the top. Since I had a narrow mouthed jar, it kind of sealed the top. If it's fuzzy, it's moldy. No bueno. If it's not fuzzy, you're good to go. The correct fermentation happened, the yeast did its job, the sugar fed it properly, and you should be set!
Theoretically, it's good to go. However, what I used to get most excited about in my store-bought kombucha was the bubbles! I love anything fizzy, it just makes life that much more enjoyable. So...if you want the #fizz, you must do a second fermentation! How does that work? Go ahead and distribute the mixture among bottles or smaller jars, so when it's done, you're ready to drink them. Keep your "scoby" so you can use it on your next batch! (If you want to store it for a while, you can put it in a container with some of your kombucha and create a "scoby hotel" for it. Feel free to toss it in the fridge) Fill your containers up and seal them so they're as air tight as you can get them. I let them initially ferment where the first fermentation happened, but wasn't getting much fizz when I checked them 4 days later. Then I moved them to a darker, warmer place...and after another 3 days, #fizz happened! So, honestly, I'm not sure if the move helped them, or if they would've done just fine in the first spot...but I've concluded that I'll go with the warmer/darker in the future. The longer you let them ferment, the more fizz you get. So play around with the timing to score your perfect batch!
You're good to go on batch 1! Put them in the fridge and bask in your probiotic success. From what I hear, the second batch is tougher than the first. I'm currently a week into my second batch's first fermentation, and so far so good. On your second batch, just reuse the scoby from your first batch, and start over at step 1!
Sugar - I know, I know. I'm always the first to be like "yo, can I use something other than sugar? I don't even have sugar in the house. Isn't sugar the devil? I can't have that many carbs today!!" BUT...after tons of reading, before a trip to Best World (yes, they even have raw sugar. woot!) solely for sugar, here's what I've learned regarding sweeteners for kombucha use:
- Sugar feeds the yeast! We all know that sugar is a very fast source of energy. Why do you think kids get their sugar high so easily? It is very easily converted into a food/fuel source for the yeast too...and you're relying on that yeast to do it's business so you can have delicious kombucha and not moldy tea! Raw or white sugar is best. Brown sugar has molasses, which will slow the process way down...and you're already waiting a long time, so don't put yourself through even more of it.
- Don't use stevia! (or xylitol)--it's not fermentable, so you'll go nowhere in a hurry
- Honey works too...BUT not raw honey. Raw honey has a ton of bacteria (that's why it's so good for you!), but the honey bacteria tries to fight the bacteria you're trying to grow in your kombucha, so who knows who will win that battle. Let's keep the peace and not create #kombuchawar
Questions?!? Please either comment or shoot me an email! I was nervous to try my first batch...but it was a success, and I'm happy to help spread the love!