Alex here, with a new drink to share with you: kombucha! Have you heard about this wondrous beverage? Our introduction was through our friend Katy’s blog last year. Upon re-reading the post a few months ago, I was instantly sold. I’d been looking for healthy, homemade, satisfying drink recipes to share, and kombucha seemed perfect. Its flavor is somewhere between sweet tea and hard cider, and it has a bouncy acidity that replaces that craving for soda. Some claim crazy health benefits ranging from improved digestion to alleviating depression. Best of all, it’s easy to make at home and super cheap.
So what is kombucha? It’s a traditional Chinese and Russian drink made by fermenting (yes, fermenting!) sweetened tea. The process is actually quite simple: make tea, add it to a jar with a “scoby“, and let it ferment for about a week. Each week, make a fresh batch and start the cycle over.
The results are fantastic. The scoby, a culture of bacteria and yeast much like a sourdough starter, transforms the sugary tea into something altogether unique and healthy. Admittedly, it’s a bit creepy looking, but before long it becomes a beloved pet. Read more about the process on Katy’s blog.
The trickiest part about the recipe is acquiring a scoby. We received ours from Katy. They double in size nearly every batch, so you can split them and share them with friends (though our waiting list is getting extensive!). I understand that you can buy them online, but I don’t have any experience with it.
Here’s hoping you run into someone who’s a closet home kombucha-brewer, and you can pick up a scoby from them. Cheers!
- 1 gallon of water
- 6 bags of tea (we use plain organic black tea)
- 1 cup of sugar (preferably organic)
- 1 SCOBY
- 1 gallon glass jar (we ate a bunch of pickles to get one)
- paper towel
- rubber band
- litmus paper (optional)
- Bring 1 gallon of water to a full boil.
- Turn the heat off, add 6 bags of tea, and 1 cup of sugar. Stir to combine.
- Let the tea cool to room temperature. Then remove the tea bags, and fill a 1 gallon glass jar.
- Gently slide the SCOBY onto the top of the tea, including the small amount of kombucha from the last batch.
- Cover with the jar with a paper towel and a rubber band.
- Place the jar in a dark, room temperature location for about 9 days (shorter or longer depending on temperature, up to 2 weeks in winter).
- After fermenting, taste the kombucha for doneness. Starting out, we used litmus paper to test -- fermented kombucha should be between 3-4 pH.
- Remove the SCOBY and set it aside in sealable container with about ½ cup of kombucha. (Store the SCOBY in the fridge for about 1 week; if desired, split the SCOBY on a layer and provide it to a friend in a plastic bag with enough kombucha to cover. Then start the process again with your remaining SCOBY!)
- Pour the kombucha through a strainer or cheese cloth into sealed jars. Keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.