I just put 8 gallons of Kombucha to brew on top of my fridge.
We love it!
Kombucha is an effervescent health drink. Kombucha is alive; full of cultures, organic acids, active enzymes, amino acids, and polyphenols. Kombucha is said to stimulate circulation and immunity, balance hormones, improve skin and digestion, cleanse the liver, alleviate arthritis, and even assist in recovery from some cancers.
The Kombucha culture looks like a pancake. It is called a “S.C.O.B.Y.” which stands for; Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts. The culture is solid mass of microorganisms.
The culture is placed in a sweet caffeinated tea and turns a jar full of sweet tea into a jar full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and health-giving organic acids. This drink is relatively low in caffeine and sugar as those components are transformed into the beneficial aspects of this wonder drink.
As the Kombucha culture digests the sugar it produces a range of organic acids like gluconic acid, lactic acid, acetic acid, butyric acid, malic acid and usnic acid. It also contains vitamins, particularly B vitamins and vitamin C; as well as amino acids and enzymes. There are also the wonderful benefits of the probiotic microorganisms themselves.
You might wonder if fermenting a sweet tea with yeasts would produce an alcoholic beverage. It's a good question. The yeasts do produce alcohol but the bacteria in the culture turn the alcohol to organic acids. Only minute quantities of alcohol, typically 1% by volume, remain in the Kombucha Brew.
Reports of adverse reactions may be related to unsanitary fermentation conditions, leaching of compounds from fermentation vessels, water pH that is not ideal for fermentation, or "sickly" Kombucha cultures that cannot acidify the brew. Cleanliness is important during preparation, and in most cases, the acidity of the fermented drink prevents growth of unwanted contaminants. If a culture becomes contaminated, it will most likely be seen as common mold which is often green, blue or black in color. Often, novice brewers will mistake the brownish root filaments on the underside of the culture as a mold contamination.
If mold does grow on the surface of the Kombucha culture it is best to throw out both culture and tea and start again with a fresh Kombucha culture.
How to Brew
To brew Kombucha, you must start with a Mother Culture. This can be done a few different ways. Ask around your community and see if anyone has a local culture. A local culture will be more adapted to your own ecosystem, and therefore the potential immune benefits will be maximized. There are also multiple sources on the internet for Kombucha. Happy Herbalist and Get Kombucha are two that I can personally vouch for. Livin’ Sunshine at LivinSunshine.com is also happy to provide great cultures.
Brewing Kombucha at home is very serious business. Please go out of your way to keep your culture as clean as you can. Wash your glass with very hot water, sterilize it with vinegar, and only handle your culture with very clean or gloved hands.
To Brew One Gallon of Kombucha:
6 Ounces of Caffeinated Tea (Green or Black- not flavored!)
1 Cup of Pure Sugar, Honey, or Agave
3 Quarts Purified Water
One Gallon Glass Jar
A Small Cloth (not cheesecloth) to cover mouth of jar
A Rubber Band to secure the cloth
Kombucha Culture- preferably with ⅓+ Cup Finished Brew
First, brew one quart of strong tea (pure, not flavored). This could be five (or so) tea bags, or ⅓ cup of loose leaf. If you are using green tea, take care not to over-steep. When over-steeped green tea will oxidize and taste very bitter. This bitterness will transfer to your Kombucha. Brew green tea for only 3-5 minutes.
To this strong tea, add 1 cup of pure sugar, honey, or agave. Stir well to dissolve. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then pour into the bottom of your gallon glass jar. Add two quarts of pure water. Now, place the culture in the liquid. Cover and allow to sit in a warm, undisturbed place that is not in direct sunlight. The amount of time the brew needs to ferment varies greatly according to the room’s ambient temperature. If the room is 65° or higher, the fermentation process should take about ten days. If the temperatures are lower than 65°, the process takes longer: from two to three weeks, and sometimes even longer. The longer the brew is allowed to ferment, the more sour, vinegary, and pungent it becomes. Please harvest to your own liking.
I recommend to anyone who brews with honey to thoroughly rinse your mother culture (pancake-like little creature) in between brews. There is more sediment in honey than in sugar or agave. This sediment can accumulate and create an unhealthy situation if not removed periodically.
Harvest your Kombucha by removing the culture with clean or gloved hands. Set the culture aside in a container with about ⅓ cup of the Kombucha liquid. The rest is yours to enjoy!
Now start the process over again.
Place finished Kombucha in the fridge. It is now ready to be flavored.
Some Flavoring Ideas:
Make a delicious tea such as hibiscus, chai, blueberry or mint, and add this to your finished Kombucha.
Add fresh fruit juice. Cranberry, Cherry, Pear, a Green Juice, etc.
Purée fresh ginger in some juice, pour through a sieve, and add to your Brew.
NOTE: It is very important that no flavor is added until the fermentation is complete. Adding flavor can compromise the health of the culture and your own.
If you cannot brew for awhile, your culture can be stored. Seal it in a jar with a lid in the fridge. Feed the culture a bit of sweet tea if you need to store it for more than a month.
In love, In Health,