Last February I handed over the blog to Kirstin Bernau and she explained the benefits of bone broth and how to make it. If you missed that post, you can catch it here. Today she’s taking over once again and will be teaching us how to make Kombucha!
If you’re into health and wellness at all, you have probably come across Kombucha. It is a fermented sweet tea, chock full of probiotics, great for detoxifying and wonderfully good at aiding your digestion. Kombucha is also tasty; a cold, refreshing, slightly fizzy drink that comes in many fruity flavors as well as the original (which is great as well). I absolutely love it, but due to the price (nearly $4/bottle) I decided it was time to learn to make my own. You can make it for pennies on the dollar compared to buying it pre-made. It’s easy to make and full of great health benefits including:
Probiotics and Naturally Occurring Acids– These both work to heal our whole digestive system, leading to a host of other benefits like clear skin, decreases in mental health issues like depression and anxiety, healthy weight, and improved immunity.
Detoxification– The malic, gluconic, and succinic acid have a powerfully detoxifying effect. Additionally, by healing the gut and re-balancing our bacteria we boost our body’s ability to detox hugely. A healthy gut is the most powerful detox system you can have, even greater than the liver or kidneys or lymph system.
Enzymes which help us digest our food more effectively and actually use the nutrients we eat. You can have the best diet around but if your digestion is impaired (and for most of us it is) you won’t get many of the benefits.
B vitamins– these are important for energy levels, mood, healthy skin, hair and nails.
Kombucha also makes an awesome soda replacement if you’re trying to kick that habit or just want something fun to drink. I’ve even seen recipes for fruity kombucha cocktails! So are you ready to give it a try? Here are my recommendations:
- Buy a bottle at your local store first, so you can see how you like it. I’d suggest trying a few different kinds as there is a range of sweetness and flavors. I love GT’s organic. There’s about 20 different varieties at Whole Foods, and they sell a few kinds at most grocery stores now as well.
- If you enjoy it and are ready to try making it, you need to find a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts). If you have a friend who brews, you can probably get a culture and starter tea for free. Otherwise, I’d recommend culturesforhealth.com or growing your own using a bottle of GT’s from your local grocery store. If you order a SCOBY, follow the directions on the package to get started correctly. If you want to try growing your own, it’s really quite easy but takes more time. Directions at the bottom.
- Find a glass jar for brewing. Plastic, metal and ceramic containers are all problematic, they can leach chemicals or metal into the kombucha and are more inclined to harbor less than friendly bacteria.
Here are the ingredients for a gallon of Kombucha, adjust up or down depending on your jar size, but be sure to keep ratios the same:
- 1 gallon clean, filtered water.
- 2 Tablespoons or 8 tea bags of Black Tea (English Breakfast works well)
- 1 cup organic sugar or “Cane” sugar if you can’t find organic- most other sugar is full of GMOs which can harm the SCOBY
- at least 1/2 cup plain kombucha – you can buy at the store if needed, 1 bottle will be plenty.
1. Make the tea as normal (boil water, add tea, steep 3-5 minutes or whatever your package says.) Then add the sugar, stir until dissolved. Let the tea cool to room temp, but keep it covered so no flies or food get in while it’s cooling.
2. Add the cooled tea to a jar with your SCOBY and kombucha. Once you’re onto your second batch, I aim for a ratio of about 4:1 Sweet Tea: Kombucha. This is probably more kombucha than absolutely necessary but it’s important that the mixture retains enough acidity from the start to protect the SCOBY from any mold growing on it or bacteria growing in the mix that you don’t want. I’ve never had a problem and I’ve brewed more batches than I can count, but it always better to lean on the side of generous with how much kombucha you keep in the jar for the next batch.
3. Cover the jar a paper coffee filter, layers of cheesecloth, or a paper towel, and secure with a rubber band. This way it can ferment and breathe. Leave it somewhere warmish (70-75 degrees ideally) and not in the sunlight or next to other fermenting foods. I use a pantry or linen closet usually. My husband thinks it’s creepy so it’s not welcome on the kitchen counter…
4. Check the jar after about a week to see how it tastes. It may help to have a bottle of store bought kombucha on hand to compare at first but it should taste a little tart and a little sweet. It shouldn’t be like drinking straight vinegar and it shouldn’t taste like sweet tea either. If it’s too sweet- wait a little longer and try it again. If it’s too tart, pour a little out, add in some more sweat tea, and keep a close eye on it. In winter my house is usually around 63-65 degrees- less than optimal- so it can take a month to finish brewing. I just ordered a warmer to help speed things up so we’ll see how that goes! In the summer, our house is between 74-80 and it brews in about 7-10 days.
5. Pour into bottles and refrigerate to store. This slows the fermentation process. If you want to try adding some fruit juice or puree- now’s the time. Just avoid citrus or pineapple. About a 4:1 ratio (Kombucha:fruit) and then let it sit at room temp with airtight lids for a couple days. It will begin to carbonate so be careful but when it’s the way you like it, pour it over ice or store in the fridge. I’ve made ginger + blueberry as well as mango. Both were quite good, but I had to strain out the blueberry/ginger solids.
To make your own SCOBY: Buy a bottle of plain Kombucha. Add it to a quart jar, along with about 2 cups of cooled black tea sweetened with 2 T sugar. Cover as stated above, let it sit for a week or more and you will see a white film growing on top (your SCOBY!) The scoby will thicken and add layers over time. Keep checking the tea and replacing with sweet teas as stated above when it’s ready. I think mine took a few months before I got a good solid SCOBY, so if you want to get going quickly I’d just order one online.
Please leave any questions/comments you may have below and I’d be happy to answer them.
Kirstin Bernau is an Intuitive life coach for people who are looking for more peace, direction and purpose in their lives.
Through her one-on-one coaching, blog and speaking events, she’s here to help you get in touch with your intuition and create the life you dream of — while making it all feel easier and richer than you ever imagined.
When she’s not writing and coaching, you can find her indulging in meditation, long walks with her husband and dog and reading good books in cozy corners with a cup of tea.
Meet Kirstin + get ready to find your way home (to you) at http://www.KirstinBernau.com.