I’m pretty excited to share our favorite drink: kombucha. As Robb Wolf describes it, “Kombucha is a fermented tea that is a recognized probiotic. In simple terms, the production involves making sweet tea, adding a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), and letting the SCOBY consume the sugar to produce a drink full of B vitamins, amino acids, organic acids, enzymes, and probiotics.” The process of making kombucha can be a bit… gross, so it took me years to finally take the plunge. I won’t make something unless it’s pretty simple, and once I did it, I saw that this really is simple to make!
In order to make kombucha, you need SCOBY. You can either get it online from Cultures for Life, you can make one, or you can come get one of mine if you’re in Atlanta. I have about 10 so I’m happy to share. First come first served.
In addition to your SCOBY, you’ll need:
- Glass jars (1/2 gallon jar, 1 gallon jar, and one or two glass jars to store the kombucha once it’s made — see pic below)
- 8 tea bags (green and/or black — I typically use four bags of each.)
- 1 cup organic cane sugar (you cannot substitute coconut palm sugar)
- 1 1/2 cups starter tea (from “SCOBY hotel“), distilled white vinegar, or store-bought unflavored unpasteurized kombucha
- 10 cups of water
- 2 coffee filters
- 2 rubber bands
- 1 cup of fresh orange juice, pomegranate juice, tart cherry juice, etc. or a handful of fresh berries of choice (we love to use strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries —about 5 of each)
I like the tall bottles (far right) best for storage since they help save space in my already overstuffed refrigerator.
Start by bringing six cups of distilled water to a boil. Once it boils, turn the stove off and add a cup of sugar. Stir well until dissolved.
Add eight tea bags and let it seep for 12 minutes.
Here is a list of teas and a post from FoodBabe if you need some guidance on which tea to use for your kombucha:
Then add the additional six cups of cold water and allow it to cool (at least 10 minutes in the refrigerator or 25 on the counter).
Pour your tea into the gallon jar. Then, add 1.5 cups of distilled white vinegar or store-bought unflavored, unpasteurized kombucha, or if you have some, use starter kombucha (from the half gallon jar with your SCOBY from your “SCOBY hotel”). Next, with freshly washed hands, add your SCOBY to the tea. Cover the jar with a coffee filter and rubber band and allow it to sit (somewhere in the house where it can get some sunlight) for approximately two weeks in the winter or about one week in the summer.
During the week or two of fermentation, a new SCOBY will evolve on the top of your tea. Once it’s at least 1/4 inch thick, you’re ready to add the finishing touches. Take the SCOBY out and move it to the half-gallon jar along with about half a cup of the tea from the gallon jar. Cover with a coffee filter and rubber band and store it on your counter. I know, it’s not the prettiest counter-top decoration but it certainly is a conversation starter.
Now, pour the rest of your tea (from the gallon jar) into smaller bottles or glass containers and add your juice. We like the taste of pomegranate juice or the anti-inflammatory properties of tart cherry juice. Everyone’s taste buds are different, but we usually use about one cup of juice, or enough to get the kombucha to approximately 10 percent juice and 90 percent tea. You could also add a handful of fresh berries if you’d like. In my next batch I am going to try using a handful of strawberries and a few slices of lemon. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Anyway, allow it to sit and brew with the lid on for another one to three weeks (the longer it sits, the more fizzy it will be) and you are good to go!
It gets easier and easier each time you make it and honestly, besides the boiling, seeping and cooling, and fermenting time, it’s only about five minutes of actual work. Go for it! Enjoy a fabulous tasting and super-healthy drink!
Landria Voigt, C.H.H.C., is the Nutritional Consultant and Public Speaker at Dr. Taz’s Atlanta Center for Holistic & Integrative Medicine office. She is a graduate of The University of Georgia and the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is author of the the book Super Paleo Snacks as well as the popular family and nutritional blog Stir It Up! where she shares her healthy recipes aimed at pleasing even the most finicky of palates, as well as forward-thinking ideas about nutrition.