If you’ve heard about the health benefits of kombucha and have been looking at bottled kombucha tea in the health food stores or supermarkets, you’ve probably been put off by the high price per bottle. The reason it is so expensive is not the actual ingredients, but the fermentation process that results in a healthful drink rich in useful bacteria known as probiotics. The good news is that you can make kombucha yourself for a fraction of the cost of buying it already prepared.
So, how do you get started? Here are some simple instructions to make your own kombucha at home.
Kombucha requires a bacterial starter in the same way that yogurt does if you are going to make it at home. It is important to buy from a high-quality brand, because there have recently been illnesses caused by improperly handled or contaminated starters. The Kombucha Growing Kit and The Kombucha Starter Kit both cost less than $50 online and are organic as well. You might also be able to find a starter at your local health food store.
The starter kits these days are usually a combination of bacteria and yeast. The yeast is necessary for fermentation. Having the yeast already in it takes the guesswork out of the kombucha-making process.
To make 1 quart, you will need:
A large glass jar such as a canning jar
An unbleached coffee filter for the mouth of the jar
A rubber band or canning ring to hold the coffee filter over the mouth of the jar to avoid any contaminants getting in
2 to 3 cups of pure water without chlorine or fluoride (therefore, not tap water)-distilled water will work well
1/4 cup sugar
1½ teaspoon loose tea leaves, green or black
A metal tea ball for placing the leaves in
The starter you purchased
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
A wooden spoon for stirring
Start with water hot enough to steep the tea. Add it to the jar. Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Note that the bacteria and yeast will feed on the sugar, so add the full amount—don’t try to be diet-conscious.
Add the tea ball to the hot water. Steep until desired darkness. The longer the tea sits, the stronger the flavor will be.
Allow the tea to cool to around 68F to 85F. It needs to be warm, but not too hot, in order to start off the fermentation process. Too hot, you will kill off the bacteria and yeast, so beware.
Add the starter according to the package instructions. If you are beginning with a dehydrated starter, follow the instructions for activating it first, then add it to your kombucha recipe. Make sure you have already removed the metal tea ball from the water so it does not come into contact with the starter.
Add the vinegar and stir well.
Cover the mouth of the jar with the filter and secure it with the rubber band or the ball jar ring.
Store it in a cool, dark place ranging in temperature from 68F to 85F for 7 to 10 days. Note that the longer the tea ferments, the less sweet and more vinegar-like it will taste. It will develop a “bloom” that looks like a mushroom. Use this for your next starter.