Submitted Date 03/26/2019

Have you heard of kombucha? Or walked by the isolated section at grocery stores or health food stores with an array of expensive glass bottles filled with interesting flavors from cayenne lemon to blueberry citrus? That’s probably kombucha. And you can make it yourself even if you live in a teeny tiny apartment like me! Though it may seem scary or intimidating, I promise it’s easier than it seems! In fact, if you’ve heard about a sourdough starter, I feel like making your own kombucha is easier than keeping a little sourdough pet alive.

Upon my embarkment of research to make my own booch, I found the process as a scary, very precious, and very scientific. But trust me, it’s not all laboratory coats, goggles, and gloves. It’s fun, and once you get the hang of it you can make so many different flavors.

So, anyway, what is kombucha? It’s the fermentation of sweet tea using something called a “scoby”: a culture of yeast and bacteria: Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. Sounds gross? But it’s so good for you. Booch has tons of probiotics, an awesome way to get them in if you’re vegan. Probiotics help your gut stay happy and balanced! It helps a ton with inflammation and digestion. It’s better than drinking your usual ginger-ale or fizzy drink to help your stomach after a huge meal, and it really does some great wonders for the skin.

One of my main pushes to make me make my own brew other than the health benefits is the price of kombucha in stores. You’ll find bottles 5 dollars a pop. That’s crazy when you can make a large brew at home easily! I have a small fridge, but I can fit a gallon jar in there if I wanted. However, I don’t have a gallon jar right now. I have two one-quart mason jars that I use for my brew. One jar makes me three bottles of kombucha to flavor myself for a second fermentation. I don’t usually drink 16 ounces of kombucha in a sitting, so I like to space em out.

The first thing is making your own scoby, which I’ll cover here and later I’ll cover making your own kombucha.

But BASICALLY, all you need for this first part is a clean, VERY CLEAN, clean jar, tea, sugar, and you need to buy one bottle of kombucha from the store. Use an ‘original’ flavored one or unflavored. I couldn’t find original at Target, but I did at Whole Foods. Also, I use cane sugar. You use a lot of sugar to make kombucha, don’t be afraid of it, and don’t try and replace it with honey or maple syrup (sorry!) it’s important just to use normal sugar. I use organic cane sugar, because that’s my preference, you can use any.

You need to make your own scoby, which you could buy online, but its so easy to make your own. It just takes patience for the next parts. It took me a long while to make my first scoby. More than the usual two weeks. But my second scoby developed very fast. I believe its because I used sweet green tea my first time. I recommend black tea, it’ll work faster, trust me.

To disinfect jars you could ‘bake’ them dry in the oven for a while, but I use do lots of boiling water and vinegars/baking soda rinses and one last cool water rinse and it works well…make sure you don’t crack your jar by changing the temperature too fast. Heat it with hot sink water, then pour the boiling water in it and let it sit for a bit.

I do 1/2 cup of cane sugar for my 1-quart jar and a cup of sweet tea, and however much of the store bought kombucha will fit in my jar, and then you cover the jar with a cloth and rubber band. I used a cloth and sealed it with the outer jar cover (for mason jars, that little metal ring without the seal).

You want to let this sit somewhere warm, like your fridge top. I put mine by the side of my fridge and where I usually brew tea. It usually takes two-three weeks, but it may take a lot longer depending on the climate. I kept my studio heated at 70 throughout the winter months for it to develop.

Scobys are scary, they look scary, they seem scary, don’t touch your jar and just leave it to develop. I’ve never had a problem with mold developing, and just remember if there is mold it will only develop on the top. It will be dry, and it won’t be those white cloudy spots you see on the top of a scoby, that’s yeast production, and it’s a good sign!

Here’s some photos for reference of your scary but amazing lil guy:

I would wait until it’s a good thickness and covered the whole top of the tea. Good thickness is about a centimeter or so. The reason this works when using the store-bought kombucha is because usually in store-bought kombuchas you’ll see this little cloudy piece, which kind of looks like a clump of dust or something. This is a baby scoby which will develop. I thought using a pricier kombucha would be better, but, just grab any un flavored one. I used health ade and realized that the pricier it is, the more that company probably tries to have their bottles not have a baby scoby in it. This may be another reason why mine took a long time to develop.

Just trust in the process and waiting game, and you’ll have a scoby develop eventually.

I used to think I shouldn’t brew my own kombucha because it takes dedication, a continuous process, and I just ‘didn’t have time’. Well actually, a lot of kombucha brewing is just waiting and leaving the jar alone. Emphasis on leaving it alone because you never want to disturb it or open the lid for dust to get in and create mold. Can’t wait to tell you what to do after the scoby!

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  • Tomas Chough 1 year, 4 months ago

    This is very interesting and appealing to me! I've heard of kombucha but never tried it. I live in Buenos Aires right now, so not sure if they sell it at any stores. If not, I might have to try this. Thanks Melanie!

  • Miranda Fotia 1 year, 4 months ago

    I love the trilogy kombucha! I will have to try this! Thanks for sharing!