Quick intro to kombucha so you understand what we're doing: kombucha is a sweetened and fermented tea drink. It is a very alkalizing drink and has a bunch of possible health benefits (though last I checked none of them have been definitely proven.) So if you like this slightly vinegar-y beverage and want to brew your own at home, you'll see that it's actually a fairly simple process. Just takes a lot of patience. We'll make sweetened tea, let it ferment, add some volume to it, and then add some yummy flavors!
The first step is to start growing a really disgusting looking thing called a "scoby." You didn't think the process offermenting something would be entirely pretty, did you?
What you'll need:
Bring water to a boil, dissolve sugar in it. Remove from heat, add tea bag, and allow to steep until it is completely cooled. Once it is completely cooled, pour it into the large glass jar. Then pour most of the bottle of kombucha into a drinking glass. You want to measure 1 C of the kombucha out to use, but it must be the BOTTOM cup with all those stringy things - those are the key to brewing a new batch. The rest of the kombucha is yours to drink.
[If you're not a fan of the plain flavored one (like me - that's just tooooo vinegary for me!), then pour a little fruit juice into it!]
Pour that last cup of kombucha into the glass jar with the tea mixture. Top the jar with paper towels and secure with the rubber band. Now put it out of the way in the back of a dark cupboard and leave it alone for a week. You will notice a weird white waxy layer grow on the top of your tea. That's what you want - it will start out as a thin film and grow to between 1/4-1/2 of an inch.
Very important note here: you do not want any mold to form in your kombucha. Apparently this can happen and it is incredibly unhealthy to digest. The fermentation process will produce a white waxy layer across the top of the tea, which is what you want, but you do NOT want grey spots of mold. It should smell like vinegar, NOT like mildewy moldy gross-ness. If you think there is mold growing, throw that out and start again!!!
Cover your jar back up with your paper towels and rubber band, and put it away for another week -- at least - it could take longer. Read below in Step Three to figure out how long to wait.
Here's the final step to brew your own kombucha! After your last addition to your brew has been sitting for a week, start sticking a straw into the middle of the mixture and give it a taste. What you're looking for is your desired sweet-to-vinegary ratio. The longer you let it brew, the more sugar leaves and the more vinegary it gets.
Now most of you will probably add fruit juice to this for some flavor, and that will add to the sweetness, so keep that in mind as you're sipping.
This part could take up to another week. Here's what you'll need when it reaches the flavor you want:
When you're ready to bottle it, pour a little bit of fruit juice (about 1/4 Cup in each - but it doesn't have to be exact) in the bottom of glass jars, then top with the kombucha. Fill the jar to the very top, and then cover with a plastic lid. ** you can use all kinds of fruit juice - I've done acai and guava, both of which were great. But anything should work, so pick your favorite juice and give it a try!
Why does it have to be a plastic lid, you ask? I wondered that too. I was very annoyed because I looked for glass jars with plastic lids and did not have an easy time. I already had a bunch of mason jars, so I just used those. The problem is that the vinegar makes the metal lid corrode. It's gross. It turns black and weird and rusty and sticky and even if you think you've wiped that stuff off, it tastes like metal (pouring it into a different glass helps.)
Fortunately, I found an easy solution. Buy plastic lids for mason jars! I bought these on Amazon, threw out my old rusting metal lids to my mason jars, and now I have dishwasher-and-kombucha-safe lids! Just what this girl needs :)
RECIPE BY FLORA FOODIE: