Kombucha! (and how to make your own)

I love my Kombucha!  It’s my favorite summertime drink, especially after riding or yoga, and I often mix some with iced cistus tea and sip it through the day, as well.  I started drinking it out of the refrigerated case at the health food store, but at around $4 a bottle, it wasn’t very practical to have on a daily basis.  Yet it is delicious, has so many health benefits, and even I get tired of drinking only tea and water sometimes.  Brewing it at home is amazingly simple and cheap.  I’ve been brewing my own Kombucha since July ’09, and now have a quart a day for just pennies.

Kombucha has all the benefits of fermented foods, is rich in probiotics, B Vitamins, minerals, enzymes, anti-oxidants, polyphenols, and other nutrients. It is highly alkalinizing, anti-inflammatory, and immune boosting.  It is so good for you, and it tastes great.

Note: Kombucha does have a little alcohol: about the same amount as a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. And it does have a little caffeine: about a third that of a cup of tea.

A study from Cornell University concluded:
“Kombucha may be a healthful beverage in view of its anti-microbial activity against a range of pathogenic bacteria. This may promote immunity and general well being.”

If you like Kombucha, making your own quickly pays for itself.  Not only that, my clients who have tried it agree with me: home-brewed tastes even better than the expensive store-bought stuff.  And of course, if you have any questions about brewing, I’ll be glad to help.

You’ll need a glass, ceramic, or wooden brewer, with an open top and a spigot, like this

Next you’ll need a SCOBY (that’s a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) and a little plain Kombucha as starter. If you know anyone who is brewing (like me!) you don’t have to buy them. Put these right in your dispenser. Assuming you have a 2 gallon dispenser, boil a gallon of water for 15 minutes, add about 3 teaspoons of unflavored black tea, boil a few more minutes on low, then add 1.5 cups of sugar. (You can’t use anything but real sugar, but don’t worry, after fermentation, there is almost no sugar left.) Continue to boil for a few minutes, then let cool, or add some bottled spring water to bring the temperature down to warm. Do NOT pour hot water over your SCOBY! When it is warm, strain into the dispenser, and add enough water to fill. Cover immediately with a light cotton cloth or a paper towel, and fasten the cover with a rubber band around the top. You want air to get in, but nothing else (like fruit flies). The cover should not touch the liquid inside.

That’s it! You can sample, or even test with pH strips, after a week. If it’s still pretty sweet, let it brew longer. If it’s right, then bottle it. When you bottle, you can just leave it plain, or you can add flavorings, such as ginger slices, berries, etc. I find that adding berries really helps that second fermentation, and the kombucha tends to be fizzier and tarter with them. You can drink right away, or let the bottles sit up to another week, and then store in the fridge.

During the cooler months, I use a heat pad underneath my brewer. During warm weather, it’s not necessary.

Note: these are pretty basic instructions. You can find lots more information if you look online, but don’t be intimidated. It’s really simple and satisfying to brew your own Kombucha.

8 thoughts on “Kombucha! (and how to make your own)

  1. I love Kombucha. I tried store bought before and couldn’t stand it except for Organic Pastures brand which I can only get shipped from a supplier in California. I order some to drink and use some to ‘charge’ my home brewed Kombucha. I originally grew my own SCOBY (mother) but it recently died (long story) so I decided to order one for about $12.00. I’m brewing my second batch with it right now.

    Thanks, Fran for getting the word out about this wonderful drink. I sure want to try the homemade hot cocoa.


  2. Thanks for introducing me to this wonderful drink! I’m on my second batch of home brewed kombucha and I agree it tastes delcious! Plus it’s kind of fun to watch the SCOBY grow!!


  3. Fran,
    I am interested in this as you indicate that it is alkaline which is what I need. What are the ingredients, etc. I have no idea what SCOBY is! Can you explain more and/or give recipes?


    1. Hi Kathy, SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast! Kombucha is made by brewing sweet tea and adding it to a “starter” which includes the SCOBY and some already-finished Kombucha. The sugar gets “digested” during the fermentation process, and the finished Kombucha has a very low pH which is actually alkalinizing to your body. I would suggest you try a bottle and see if it’s something you’d enjoy drinking regularly. If it is, then go here to get everything you need to get started. Make sure you request the free DVD that comes with my link. If you have any questions after that, I’d be glad to help!


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