How much of a hippie am I? Well, currently I have cloth diapers drying in the sun and I’m making kombucha… so I guess a giant one! I first heard about kombucha a few years ago from one of my favorite food bloggers. A quick google search told me that it was fermented tea that is believed to have healing properties and is loaded with good bacteria and probiotics. I picked some up at the grocery store, and when I smelled it I had a flashback to my childhood and I remembered that my mom used to make this stuff in the 90s, except she called it sun tea! Kombucha is a bit of an acquired taste… it’s kind of vinegary, but it has a bit of a cult following especially with the hipsters. My favorite brands are Synergy and a local company called Big Easy ‘Bucha, but here’s the catch, the store-bought variety is expensive– between 3 and 4 bucks. I decided to start making my own a couple of months ago. Disclaimer, I am not a kombucha expert. I tend to learn how to do things in the kitchen by experimentation, so if you ARE an expert… please tell me if I’m doing something terribly wrong! Ha!
Things you need to make Kombucha:
- A SCOBY: Which stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. This is basically a disk of bacteria and it feels exactly how you think it would… like a firm mass of
snotrubber cement. Grossed out yet? This guy grows a new layer with every ferment, so to obtain one, find someone you know who already makes kombucha and ask for a baby SCOBY, or you can order a dehydrated one from amazon.
- Large fermentation jar: I ordered this one from Amazon and I also use a large ball jar to experiment with different flavors.
- Tea: I’ve heard black tea works best, but I’m experimenting with a batch of green tea right now. I’ll let you know how it turns out!
- Sugar: Making kombucha and sugar scrub are the only two reasons why I still keep sugar in the house! Honey will not work well, so I’ve been told!
- Cheese cloth or a clean kitchen towel: The kombucha needs to be exposed to air to ferment, but you don’t want to attract flies. Cheese cloth secured to the jar with a rubber band does the trick!
- Small glass bottles: I do a second ferment in 20oz glass bottles with a tight lid. I bought these!
- A Funnel: for easy bottling!
- A Strainer: For the floaters 🙂
- Juice: Used to flavor the kombucha. This is also the only time juice is purchased in my house. While kombucha tastes sweet, the yeast feeds on the sugar so the end result is very low in sugar. I look for organic 100% juice!
I measure 6 tablespoons of sugar into my large fermentation jar and 4 tablespoons into the smaller one. I add boiling water and stir to dissolve the sugar and throw in some tea bags. Steep the tea according to the directions in terms of how many bags to use and how much time to leave them in… we’re making sweet tea people, don’t make it complicated. I make a concentrated tea and then fill the rest of the jar up with cold water. Once the tea has cooled, add 2 or 3 cups of starter kombucha, which is just unflavored kombucha from a previous batch. The first time I made it I just used some store-bought kombucha because obviously I didn’t have any from a previous batch and it worked fine. Then, drop in your SCOBY, cover the jar with cheese cloth secured with a rubber band and wait! I let the first ferment hang out for 7 days, but you can go as long as 30. The longer it sits, the less sweet it will be. Once the batch is done fermenting, I remove the SCOBY and put it in a clean bowl. I pour the kombucha into a bowl with a spout for easy pouring and I fill up glass bottles with 20% juice and 80% kombucha. This is where that funnel comes in handy! Be sure to reserve some to use as your starter kombucha for the next batch. Tightly screw on the lids and let the bottles sit for another 3-5 days. I told the owner of Big Easy Bucha that I let my second ferment go for 5 days and he laughed at me and told me I was making beer! The alcohol content is negligible, but it gets super fizzy if you let it go that long and I like that! After the desired length of the second ferment, refrigerate until drinking! I always strain mine straight into the glass (just in case there are floaters)! I made a summer cocktail with my grapefruit flavored kombucha! I love kombucha cocktails because they aren’t too sweet. Since the recipe calls for Ciroc vodka and Kombucha I decided to merge the two and call it a Cirocha– not to be confused with Sriracha! Ha.
- 1 grapefruit
- 1 lime
- 8 oz Kombucha
- 1 shot of Ciroc vodka
- 1 packet of Stevia
- Muddle the stevia with the fruit of two slices of grapefruit. Fill the glass with crush ice and add the Ciroc Vodka and kombucha (mine was grapefruit flavored). Add fresh squeezed lime juice from 1/2 a lime and garnish with a lime slice. Enjoy!
- This would also be great with tequila!