Kombucha is a big buzz word these days and I even see a kombucha tap at my co-op. What is it? Can you make it yourself? And, should you be drinking it?
Kombucha is a fermented tea. You can buy it bottled in the store but you can also make it at home (we will get to that). Just like other fermented foods, kombucha is packed with lovely probiotic goodness and can help your digestive system have good flora. With consistent use of probiotics you can also reduce a variety of symptoms that may be due to inflammation or irritation of your digestive tract.
If you get into a kombucha kick you may find that you want to make it yourself. It is not hard and once you get going the variation of flavors is nearly endless. Before you get going with making different flavors you need to obtain a scoby-the colony of bacteria that will grow within your tea. Often people will get these from a friend but if you want to grow your own scoby it is not too hard.
You need three simple ingredients to make a scoby yourself: black/green tea, sugar, and a bottle of kombucha off the shelf (preferrably with a colony chunk already in it. The best kombucha to get for this is an unflavored, unfiltered, and unpasturized bottle. Any of these others may not develop a scoby through this method.
To begin, set your bottle of kombucha (unopened) on the counter to bring it to room temperature (about 3 hours). Brew a cup (8oz) of black/green tea. Add 2 TBSP of sugar to this tea (do not use honey) while the tea is still warm. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature.
When booth the bottle of kombucha and the cup of sweet tea are the same temperature, combine them into the same container. This container needs to be about a gallon size glass jar. Do not put a lid on it. Instead, place a few layers of cheese cloth or a sheet of a muslin cloth on top and secure it with a rubber band. This is so that the kombucha can breathe. Place this mixture into a warm corner that is not exposed to light and will not be moved around.
Let this jar sit for 2-3 weeks. As it sits, a film will form on the top of the liquid. This is the scoby. It protects the liquid underneath it from going bad while it ferments. When the scoby has reached about 1/4 inch thick it is then ready to be used to make kombucha. You will need to also use the remaining tea to make a batch of kombucha so don’t throw anything out.
This last picture here is similar to what your scoby should look like at the end of three weeks. Look forward to our blog in a few weeks on how to make kombucha with your scoby.
Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. The Dancing Herbalist posts on this blog every Thursday. For more of our posts, join us on Patreon. Jillian also presents regular live classes in The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online. For more learning opportunities or to work one-on-one with Jillian with her wellness and herbal consultationsvisit The Dancing Herbalist.com.