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WHAT IS KOMBUCHA?
Kombucha, also known as mushroom tea, has nothing to do with mushrooms and everything to do with gut healthy probiotic goodness.
Kombucha is, simply, fermented sweet tea. Less simply, during the brewing process, sweet tea ferments into a lactic acid drink filled with probiotics, which improves digestion and your digestive systems microbiome.
You can easily find kombucha at nearly any grocery store these days. However mass produced kombucha beverages are usually heavily sweetened, and are generally not organic. Plus, they are simply expensive! At $3-6 per bottle, it would not be wallet friendly to purchase premade kombucha daily. Fortunately, you can save a TON of money by brewing your own homemade kombucha. It’s a simple process that requires minimal effort and little equipment.
Kombucha is a versatile beverage. Once you get the hang of making your own, there is an endless number of flavors, tea and sugar combinations and you won’t be limited to the expensive variety found at your grocery store.
KOMBUCHA HEALTH BENEFITS
According to an article in Medical News Today and another in Cleveland Clinic, Kombucha has been shown to offer many benefits including:Improved gut health
- Reduced cancer risk
- Reduced infection risk
- Anti Inflammatory properties
- Improved mental health
- Lowered cholesterol
- Weight loss
- Healthier liver
- Diabetes (Type 2) management
Drinking as little as 4 ounces a day may improve your mind and body, plus kombucha tastes good! So, consider swapping your soda or other sweetened drink for one that benefits your body.
DOES KOMBUCHA HAVE CAFFEINE?
The final fermented may have caffeine, depending on what kind of tea you used to make it. Black tea is the most common, and after the fermentation process is complete, about one third of the caffeine remains. This is much less than most other teas, coffee or soda.
DOES KOMBUCHA HAVE ALCOHOL?
Kombucha, being a fermented beverage, does have a trace amount of alcohol. In most cases, the alcohol content is 0.5%, which is not enough to cause any intoxication. For comparison, most beer is the in 3-6% range.
How to Brew Kombucha
Below are the general steps. For specific tea/water/sugar amounts, just scroll down a little further.
- Heat half of the filtered water to a boil. Remove from heat
- Soak your tea bag or strainer in the hot water for 10-20 minutes. Remove tea
- Add sugar and stir until dissolved
- Add the other half of filtered water to the sweetened tea
- Place your scoby and starter tea (or vinegar) in a cleaned brewing vessel
- Once the sweetened tea has cooled to room temperature, carefully pour it into your brewing vessel with the scoby and starter tea.
- Cover vessel with a breathable cloth, and secure with a rubber band or tie
- Place vessel in a warm location out of direct sunlight
|Starter Tea or
|1 Gallon||2 cups||13-14 cups||2 tablespoons loose or
8 tea bags
|1/2 Gallon||1 cup||6-7 cups||1 tablespoon loose or
4 tea bags
|1 Quart||1/2 cup||2-3 cups||1 1/2 teaspoon loose or
2 tea bags
|1 Pint||1/4 cup||1-2 cups||3/4 teaspoon loose
or 1 tea bag
Now is the hard part- the wait! Place your kombucha brew in a warm, dark place away from direct sunlight and drafts.
After about a week, taste your kombucha. The speed at which it ferments will be related to your temperature. Kombucha prefers 70-80 degrees F. Cooler than this and the fermentation process will take longer (up to 30 days), and warmer will speed it up.
The longer you leave your kombucha to ferment, the less sweet and more vinegary it will become.
CONTINUOUS BREW VS BATCH BREW
There are two distinct brewing styles- continuous or batch brewing.
Batch brewing is when you only make what you need. For example, you brew a half gallon of kombucha. When that batch finishes, you bottle the fermented tea, and brew a new half gallon batch. The advantage of this is you have a regular rotation and a set amount of tea to plan for. The disadvantage is you have to wait for the tea to ferment, so if you drink kombucha daily, this may not produce enough tea for you and your family. When you are just starting out, batch brewing is the easiest method.
A continuous brew is when you only use a potion of the fermented tea, and top off what you pour out of your vessel. This is what I do. I have a 3 gallon brewing vessel. When I pour off a half gallon of finished tea, I add a half gallon of unfermented tea. The benefit of continuous brewing is that you don’t need to wait as long for your tea to finish. the disadvantage is you have more tea, so you need to use it more often or you’ll end up with a drink that is too vinegary.
KOMBUCHA SECOND FERMENTATION
If you’re like me, this is where the magic happens! Want a carbonated, flavored beverage? Then you have one more small step- a secondary fermentation!
A secondary fermentation takes place after you have finished tea, outside of your main brewing vessel, and is when you bottle and add the flavorings.
If you like your kombucha the way it is, you don’t need to secondary ferment. You can just bottle and refrigerate your batch right out of the brewing vessel. However the secondary fermentation is an easy and fun way to create any flavor of kombucha you can think of, and most folks enjoy the carbonation.
To read more about flavoring and secondary fermentation, take a look at this post on The Prairie Homestead.
TAKING A BREAK
If you need to take a break from kombucha for a while, it is easy to do so. Just place your scoby in a Scoby Hotel, and it’ll be waiting for you whenever you’re ready to start again.
This post is meant to be just a basic introduction to getting started in brewing kombucha at home. For more information on brewing kombucha, please take a look at at these resources:
- Simple DIY Kombucha eBook by SoulyRested
- Kombucha Flavor Recipes