Have you ever tried kombucha? This little powerhouse drink is packed with probiotics and so good for you – yet if you’ve ever seen them at health food stores you’ll see that they go for about $3 for a single serve bottle. You can easily make your own and add your own flavors for much cheaper.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a traditional Chinese medicine known as the elixir of life that helps to balance the middle Qi (spleen and stomach). Like other fermented foods, Kombucha aids in digestion with beneficial probiotic cultures.
Kombucha starts out as a sweet tea with the SCOBY (acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) or starter culture (buy a starter kombucha culture or home brew set). The SCOBY eats the sugar in the tea (that’s why you have to use organic sugar, molasses or maple syrup – no artificial sweeteners, stevia or xylitol – and surprisingly no honey because of its anti-bacterial properties) and yields a slightly fizzy, fermented drink that’s high in probiotics.
I admit I didn’t like handling the SCOBY the first time – just from an ick factor since it was like a slimy pancake – but I got used to it. After making a batch of Kombucha tea, I ended up with a another SCOBY or baby culture floating on top. So essentially over time, I could have dozens of SCOBYs to use for brewing more Kombucha tea or to share with friends and family. Leftover SCOBYs should be stored in the last batch of Kombucha tea it fermented in with about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of tea in a mason jar. Apparently, plastic is problematic for SCOBYs – glass containers are best. SCOBYs can even be composted in the garden.
Brew too much kombucha? Check out these 8 non-traditional uses for kombucha.
How to Make Homemade Kombucha Tea
1. Make a batch of tea. Boil 4 cups water with 3 tbsp. of loose-leaf black tea in a reusable tea bag. Let the tea cool down for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bag.
3. Let the tea cool down to room temperature. Add SCOBY starter and the tea it was stored in to the 1/2 gallon mason jar. Add the cooled down tea just brewed and fill the mason jar.
4. Cover with a cloth (not cheese cloth – it’s too thin) and put a rubber band around it.
5. Let it store for 5 to 30 days. The more time the Kombucha ferments, the more acidic it tastes. At 10 days, I thought my Kombucha tea tasted almost like apple cider vinegar.
How to Store SCOBYs and Kombucha Tea
1. Once done fermenting, taste your tea by sticking a straw into the liquid and tasting it.
2. You’ll notice a second SCOBY growing on top when you open the jar. It’s perfectly normal for the SCOBY and liquid to be brownish and have grayish particles in it. If you see black spots, that’s mold – you’ll have to throw the whole batch away, including the SCOBY. Remove both SCOBYs and store in a mason jar with some of the existing Kombucha tea and set aside. You can use this for future Kombucha tea brewing.
3. Pour Kombucha tea (filter out particles using a strainer or cheese cloth) into glass jars and bottles. Add fruit to flavor your tea when you first strain your tea. Fresh-cut strawberries and blueberries are delicious (optional). Store Kombucha tea in the refrigerator for 2-3 more days, and then enjoy.
How to Enjoy Kombucha Tea
1. Add your favorite fruit juice to Kombucha tea. I tried orange and apple, and it was delicious.
2. Make popsicles with Kombucha tea and fruit juice.
3. Use Kombucha tea instead of vinegar to make salad dressing.
4. Make Kombucha fruit snacks.
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