Kombucha Health Benefits, Buying and Brewing

If you want to learn about the health benefits of kombucha, where to buy it and how to brew your own, today’s post is for you.

I recently polled the Healthy Living How To Facebook Fans asking “Do you Kombucha”? I got responses from enthusiastic home brewers as well as those who had never heard of it before. Those of you in the former, I may be calling on you for help as I enter the ranks as a home brewer myself . My friends in the latter, today’s post is for you, we’ll discuss kombucha health benefits along with a basic introduction to this oh so healthy fermented beverage, where to buy it and how to brew your own.

Kombucha Health Benefits, Buying and Brewing

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is fermented tea. It is widely accepted as a functional food, meaning it imparts health benefits to those who imbibe in it. It is believed that kombucha has been used as a healing tonic for over 2,000 years.

What are the health benefits of kombucha?

Kombucha drinkers report a wide array of health benefits, from increased metabolism and weight loss to relief from constipation and everything in between. While most of these reports are anecdotal, research has confirmed the health benefits of probiotics, something kombucha is loaded with. Probiotics are known to play a vital role in fighting off infections and viruses as well as help with digesting food and liver detoxification. In addition to probiotics, kombucha also contains antioxidants and organic acids. Antioxidants are important as they prevent our cells from oxidation or “rusting” and the organic acids, well they further lend to komucha’s health benefit as a potent detoxifier. The bottom line is this,

Kombucha promotes better health by improving the efficiency of the digestive and detoxification system which in turn boosts the immune system which results in a healthier you!

How much kombucha is safe to drink?

If you are new to drinking kombucha, the general recommendation is a conservative 4 oz. in the morning on an empty stomach. After a week, or as your digestive system adjusts to the proliferation of healthy bacteria (probiotics), you can add a second 4 oz. in the evening. Over time you can increase the amount of kombucha you drink, although based on my research, no further health benefits are gained at more than 16 oz. per day.

Where do you buy kombucha?

The answer to this question is going to vary by state and location, but where I live, kombucha is popping up in more places than just our local co-op and natural food store. Even our conventional grocery stores, with a very limited amount of organic food options, carry a small supply in the cooler area. Consider yourself, warned, it does not come without a hefty price tag; $3-6 for a 16 oz. bottle seems to be the going rate.

How do I brew my own kombucha?

Brewing your own kombucha can be quite easy (so I’m learning), especially with a starter kit that includes all the necessary components.  In all honesty, I am a novice in kombucha brewing, in fact, what I share with you today is my very first attempt at what others have coined both an art and a science experiment. Let’s begin!

Kombucha Brewing Basics

Kombucha Supplies

The Supplies

I decided, since this is my first foray into fermenting tea, to purchase a kit that contained all the necessary supplies with the exception of a glass container for brewing in (I already had one). My kit contained a SCOBY (we’ll get to this in a moment), starter tea, high-quality loose leaf tea, muslin tea bags, cover cloth and rubber bands, pH test strips and brewing gloves. What’s not included, but also necessary, is a gallon of water and a cup sugar.

Step One Boil Water

Step One: Boil Water

From the gallon of water, measure out 4 cups and bring to boil. I told you this was going to be easy. Step one, boil water. Simple. Remove from heat for one minute before pouring over tea.

Step Two Steep Tea

Step Two: Steep Tea

My kit came with loose leaf (black) tea of which I used two heaping tablespoons placed inside the tea bag and steeped for 10 minutes. You can use green or black tea and if using tea already in bags, 6-8 bags is what you’ll use.

Step Three Add Sugar

Step Three: Add Sugar

Sugar! What? It’s okay, breathe (I’m talking to myself), the sugar is food for the SCOBY. When done fermenting, there will be <5 grams of sugar in an 8 oz. glass of unflavored kombucha (the longer it ferments the less sugar). Remove tea bag(s) and sweeten tea with 1 cup of organic sugar. Stir until fully dissolved.

Step Four Transfer Tea

Step Four: Transfer Tea to Glass Brewer

I bought a two-gallon glass container with a plastic spigot a couple of summers ago. It was used once for a party and then it was retired to the basement. It’s a little on the large side, but it’s perfect for Kombucha brewing. A glass container is a must, the spigot is optional. Pour the hot sweet tea into the glass brewer.

Step Five Add Water

Step Five: Add Remaining Water

To the sweet tea, add the remaining water left in the gallon. This will cool down the tea, but it must be at room temperature before adding the SCOBY and starter tea.

Step Six Add Scoby and Starter Tea

Step Six: Add SCOBY and Starter Tea

SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Sometimes it is called the “mother”, and as the tea ferments the SCOBY is going to have “babies”. The SCOBY is what magically turns the tea from sweet tea into kombucha. Each batch of kombucha needs both a SCOBY and some starter tea to get it going. Add both to the room temperature sweet tea.

Step Severn Cover and Wait

Step Seven: Cover and Wait

The last step is to cover the glass jar with a breathable cloth secured by a large rubber band, place in an area that is not drafty and maybe even on the warmer side (I put mine on top of my refrigerator) and then wait. And wait. And wait some more. This has to now be left undisturbed to ferment. About 7-10 days. After this first round of fermentation the tea is done when there is just a hint of sweetness. Too sweet and it needs to ferment a bit longer.

My first batch of kombucha tea has been happily fermenting for 1 day…we will re-visit this topic in a week to discuss the continuous brew method, doing a second fermentation and how to flavor the tea. Be sure to stay-tuned!

Update

My first batch of kombucha is complete and it is a delicious success. Check out this post Kombucha: Home Brew How To to read all about the fermentation process, bottling, flavoring and the continuous brew method!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments

  1. says

    Vanessa, this is an excellent post on getting started. I have been brewing my own for at least five or six years now. I am going to be passing on more scobies soon and have been taking photos for my own post to help get each friend started as I find some people need the visual. Although there is a small difference in our recipe and I choose not to do continuous brew I will be giving them your link and holding off on my own Kombucha post for now. :-)

      • says

        I use one gallon jars without spigots. Four of them are in various stages of brewing on my counter right now and that seems to keep the right supply going for us. I use only four organic black tea bags per 3/4 gallon of water. That leaves enough head room in the jar for a small stack of scobies (2 to 4 generally) and about two cups of already-brewed kombucha, too. Using the four jars means I am brewing every two or three days but it really is only five to ten minutes in total per day. Organic green tea can also be used but it was never a big hit with my guys.

  2. Linda says

    I have been brewing Kombucha for a couple years now. I use 1 gallon olive jars (ask a local Italian restaurant to save them for you). I run the jar through the dishwasher and then scald it with some boiling water to make sure it’s really clean. I boil all my water (filtered water) and pour it in the jar, put in 6 or 7 organic green tea bags (I have used black also and both are good). After the tea has brewed for 5 – 10 mins I take out the bags and add 1 C organic sugar. I use unbleached coffee fliters to cover the jars and big rubber bands to hold them in place. I also use stick-on aquarium thermometers to keep track of the temperature. After the tea is down to 110 or lower I put in the mother (I do 3 – 1 gallon jars at a time usually) and add some already brewed Kombucha (1/2 Cup or more). Cover with the coffee filter and put in a warm place.

    I find it brews best when it’s in a place that is 75 degrees or higher so you may want to scout around for a warm spot. I have one room where it’s warmer than others so I put it by the heat registers there. I usually check it after about a week unless the place is really warm – then check it earlier. If too sweet, let it ferment longer. It can get vinegary tasting, but I kind of like that. Put the mother in a sterile container and strain the Kombucha through a clean flour-sack towel if desired (or cheese cloth). Bottle up. I let it sit on the counter for a few days to refizz as the straining can remove some of the fizz. Then, put in the refrigerator. Enjoy. I would like to know the actual carb content of brewed Kombucha, but I don’t.

    • says

      That’s interesting Linda, while I also boiled all of the water I put the sugar in first to dissolve, then take it off the heat and put the tea bags in. I let them steep until the tea is cool enough to us.

      My kitchen is the only spot I have and the temperature varies a lot during the year so my brewing times vary accordingly. Also, if I’m frying something I will lay a second cloth over the top of all the jars. Don’t remember where I read that should be done.

      To strain easily I have a Kitchenaid funnel with a strainer insert that make it easy to pour from jar to bottle. I’ll suggest the cheesecloth method to my friends getting new scobies next week.

  3. Tiffany says

    I have been brewing our own kombucha for maybe 6 months or so. I received a starter scoby from a friend. I have to say I cannot make this stuff fast enough. I switched from a traditional brew (where you make the kombucha once a week and then transfer it into another container) to a continuous brew. With a continuous brew your mother gets really big and turns the sweet tea into kombucha very quickly (less than 2 days). I have never tried the traditional store bought kombucha but once thing I did read is that it is almost impossible to grow a scoby with the store bought kombucha – so that makes me wonder how good for you itis.

  4. says

    I received my scoby from an employee at my local health food store. Not much luck in getting my children or husband to drink it. Maybe someone would have good ideas on how to get them to drink it. This is new to all of us and they are used to their old bad habits.

    • Tiffany says

      Have you tried a second fermentation and flavor it with fruit juice? After the first week of fermentation put just the kombucha in another jar and then add some fruit juice and let it sit either a few more days or longer. Also, how long are you letting it ferment for? The longer it goes it gets stronger and more vinegar like. I only brew ours for about a week.

  5. Diane says

    I am just starting to drink kombucha from Whole Foods and am already tired of running out and the cost. I can’t afford a 200 kit. is there another option that would give me all I need without things I can provide for myself?

  6. crazywoman/Billie says

    Vanessa, when I click on the buy it here link, it takes me to the site, but there is no option to buy, or even see the kit! Do you have to be a member of Village Green to even see their products? Or is the link no longer valid?

    Actually, I had already purchased a scoby kit (tho mine has to be re-hydrated), and it is in the process of re-hydration. I had been thinking that I got a referral to the company I bought it from from you. Now can’t remember where I got the referral, but I did get it from someone who I trusted. It costs much less than $50, but as I said, I am having to hydrate it, and it takes a month. I also bought water kefir grains to start trying water kefir. I have been drinking that now for several days. Since those were also dehydrated, it is taking a bit to get them going well. But they are now seeming to do better. I would be glad to tell you where I bought both, but don’t want to post unless you approve.

    Billie

Trackbacks

  1. […] I love fermented foods – I make my own sauerkraut and plan to start making kimchi – and it makes me feel kind of off the grid. Recently, I decided that I’d had enough of spending $4 for a bottle of GT’s. It was high time to get a SCOBY and start fermenting my own homemade kombucha. For those new to kombucha brewing, a SCOBY is a magical symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast which gobble up (ferment) the sugar, metabolizing it into the slightly carbonated, tangy drink that’s rich with probiotics and beneficial acids. In reality, it looks like a pale, weird, flat pancake and sort of like a science experiment. Click here to read more about kombucha health benefits. […]

Leave a Reply