» Alchemist: a person who transforms or creates something through a seemingly magical process.
» Kombucha: an effervescent medicinal beverage made from tea, sugar, and bacteria introduced by a starter culture – i.e. a s.c.o.b.y. (Symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)
Brewing kombucha, truly is a magical like process. To be a brewer, you need to be curious, a little bit meticulous, and it helps if you don’t have an aversion to the intimidating idea of a scoby – I promise, they don’t bite. I started brewing kombucha several years ago – my roommate and I grew a scoby from scratch – and ever since, kombucha has been a constant presence in my kitchen.
After some learning curves, and some insightful trial and error, you get into a beautiful rhythm with your brewing. This brewing rhythm ebbs and flows with the change of the season, just as our bodies need different things in the winter as we do in the summer. Kombucha is slower, and less active in the cold winter months, needing some patience and extra time to ferment. While in the summer months, kombucha is bursting with energy and needs a little more attention, and will be ready much quicker. To truly hone in on this seasonal rhythm, flavouring during the second fermentation with local seasonal flavours is quite nice. Spiced apple pie or ginger pear kombucha in fall and winter, lavender lemonade in the spring, and mixed berry in the summer.
However, though the brewing is at least half the fun, the fruit of your labor is a wonderful, effervescent, medicinal elixir. The greatest benefit of drinking kombucha is within the fermentation process – the culture consumes the sugar in the tea, and facilitates good bacteria to thrive and multiply – manifesting as a probiotic beverage that repopulates your gut with healthy bacteria. Along with good bacteria, you’re also creating an antioxidant, and enzyme rich beverage. Along with a healthy plant-based diet, kombucha is an excellent way to promote optimum health and longevity, and prevent imbalances that can manifest in dis – ease.
When it comes to enjoying your kombucha, if you’re not currently an avid consumer, be curious to how it feels in your body – start perhaps with 1/2 c a day, for a few days, and working your way up to your desired intake. Like everything, keep moderation in mind, and do what feels best in your body. When I’m actively brewing kombucha, I often drink 1 – 2 glasses a day. My favorite way to enjoy kombucha is in a wine glass, at the end of the day – this wind down doubles as a beneficial way to populate your gut on an empty stomach before bed.
Questions and Concerns
Brewing kombucha is an intimidating and sometimes daunting craft – when I first started brewing Kombucha I spent a long time reading and researching how to’s, and what happens if’s, and what does this mean’s. If you have any of these questions – please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below or email me for some one-on-one guidance.
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- Large pot - big enough to fit 4 quarts of water
- wooden spoon
- glass canister to brew your kombucha
- tight knit cotton cloth or coffee filter
- rubber band
- 6-8 500ml flip top bottling bottles or a few larger flip top bottles. Flip tops create the bubbliest brews!
- one Scoby
- 4 quarts of filtered water
- 8 organic black tea bags OR 4 organic bl. Tea bags + 4 organic green tea bags or equivalent in loose leaf tea
- 1 cup of organic evaporated cane sugar
- Bring your filtered water to a boil in your large pot. Remove from heat once boiled. Add in the sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the tea bags and allow them to steep for 10-15 minutes before removing them. Now, allow tea to sit until it has reached room temperature. Caution: Do not place your scoby in the tea before it’s been cooled to room temp - hot tea will damage the culture! I typically brew my tea and let it cool overnight on the counter, covered.
- Once tea has reached room temperature, pour into your glass storage canister. Add in ½ cup of plain kombucha, from a store bought bottle or ½ cup from your previous batch (unflavoured though!) - this creates an acidic environment, resilient to bad bacteria. Now, it’s time to add in your scoby! With clean hands, free from metal rings - gently float your scoby on top of your tea. *If the scoby sinks this is okay, as long as during the brewing period another scoby grows on top of your batch. Cover your canister with your cloth or paper coffee filter (I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure nothing can get into your batch - kombucha is fruit fly heaven), and secure with a rubber band.
- Set the tea in a room temperature spot, out of direct sunlight. Allow the tea to sit for 7-14 days - the shorter it sits, the sweeter it will be, the longer, the more tart. You may taste the tea during the brewing period to identify when it’s sweet/tart enough for your palate. To do this, simply dip a straw into the tea, gently bypassing the scoby, cover the tip with your finger to make a suction, remove the straw and taste the tea. Kombucha ferments quicker in the hotter summer months, and slower in cold winter months - keep this in mind as the time line will constantly change season to season - making mid brew taste testing a great tool.
- After the tea tastes just right to you, you’re ready to bottle! It’s easiest to have another 4 quarts of sweetened tea ready before you begin to bottle. With a ceramic plate handy, gently remove the scoby and it’s newly grown baby from your tea with clean hands and sit on top of the plate - pour some tea on the plate to bathe the scobies while they sit. If you would like to make flavored kombucha, add your desired flavours into your bottles now (fruit, fruit juices, herbs, flowers, etc). Using a funnel if necessary, pour the tea into your glass bottles, leaving about an inch from the top, and saving a half cup of plain kombucha in a glass for your next batch. Put the tops back on your bottles and place them in an area much like the area you use to brew your big batch.
- Now, rinse out your canister with light soap and hot water, making sure afterwards to remove ALL soap residues - I like to rinse with boiling hot water afterwards. Thoroughly dry your canister with a clean dry towel. Add in your room temperature sweet tea and the ½ cup reserved kombucha, and then gently float your scoby on top. Re-cover your canister with the cloth or coffee filter and set aside for another 7-14 days as your new batch.
- Back to your bottled kombucha - allow to sit in flip top bottles at room temperature for 1-3 days. Again, less time is required in the hotter summer months in an un-airconditioned state of course. After that, place the bottles in the fridge, and once chilled, enjoy!
Your scoby will grow a baby after every batch! You will soon be overrun with scobies.
Sometimes you can get away with handing off scobies to friends and family - but if not, you’ll have to start up your own scoby hotel! You can do this by filling an additional large mason jar with room temperature sweet tea, and floating all your extra scobies in there - occasionally replenishing the hotel with a cup of fresh sweet tea to nourish your babies.