Known as the “tea of immortality”, kombucha’s health benefits are renown as nothing short of miraculous. A Los Angeles kombucha expert, Kat Gopez, shares her basic recipe and brewing tips to start your own supply at home.
Kombucha is a naturally effervescent beverage known for its wonderful health benefits, as it improves digestion and boosts immunity. It is sweet tea fermented with a culture of bacteria and yeast called the SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts). Kombucha origins trace back to Northern China, Russia, Korea and Japan, though its exact origins are unknown. There are numerous legends surrounding this wonderful elixir – that it came from nature, healed people, and was passed down from generation to generation.
Kombucha has now made its way into our lives. In this modern, fast-paced world, we may find ourselves struggling to keep up even with ourselves. There is a yearning to take charge of our own bodies and what we consume, which may be why we gravitate to the idea of brewing our own kombucha at home. Home-brewing may at first sound like an intimidating process, but with the knowledge of its basics and the conscious act of patience, you will find that it can be as simple as boiling yourself a cup of tea in the morning. With a little bit of waiting, you will reap its rewards.
A few tips to acquire your first kombucha SCOBY: Try your best to source it locally, whether through a friend, local kombucha brewer, or someone who has an abundance of SCOBY online. The fresher, the better. A more experienced brewer is also best. Avoid using a dehydrated SCOBY, as it is more succeptible to getting mold. Never refrigerate your SCOBY, as it weakens the culture. And always make sure the SCOBY has at least 1.5 cups of starter liquid, as it causes your brew to ferment successfully.
Basic 1 Gallon Kombucha Recipe Components:
1 gallon filtered water
1 cup cane sugar
1-2 tbsp loose leaf tea or 4-6 tea bags
What You’ll Need:
1 SCOBY with at least 1.5 cups of starter liquid
1.25 gallon glass container
Measuring cups / measuring spoon
Rubber band or elastic
Distilled white vinegar for sanitizing equipment
1. Sanitize all your materials by coating them with distilled white vinegar.
2. Boil 4 cups of filtered water.
3. Depending on the type of tea, once the desired temperature has been reached, pour the 4 cups in a pitcher and steep the tea. To get the best out of your teas, you may cover for 5 to 15 minutes (depending on the type of tea) as you steep.
4. Remove the tea bags or ball, or strain your tea and pour it into a large pitcher. Add the sugar in and mix. The concentrated tea will be warm enough to make the sugar dissolve well.
5. Once the sugar has dissolved, pour in the rest of the water. By this time, the water temperature will have significantly cooled. Pour the sweet tea into your fermenting vessel, leaving enough space for your starter liquid. Dip a clean finger into the mixture and check the temperature to ensure it is lukewarm (not too hot) before proceeding to the next step.
6. Once it’s cooled down, place your SCOBY into the vessel and pour in your starter liquid. Cover the vessel with a clean, breathable, cotton cloth secured with an elastic.
7. Store your brew in a warm location, ideally 75 – 80 degrees, away from direct sunlight.
8. Let your vessel ferment for 7 days. This is where patience is key. Do not move your vessel. Allowing it to be still for a full week will ensure that your new SCOBY layer will have an opportunity to successfully grow.
9. On the fifth day, start taste-testing your brew. Once you’ve reached the right ratio of tartness and sweetness, it will be ready for bottling.
10. When your kombucha is ready to bottle, set aside 2 cups as a starter for your next batch of brew. Remove the SCOBY with clean, sanitized hands and set aside with the new starter liquid. Cover with fabric. The remaining liquid can now be bottled.
When bottling kombucha, this is where you can get creative with your flavors! Strawberry Basil, perhaps? Or Lemon Lavender? There are many ways you can flavor your brew. Below is my delicious Rosemary Citrus Green Tea Kombucha recipe.
Rosemary Citrus Green Tea Kombucha
1 two inch sprig of fresh Rosemary
50 ml citrus fruit (such as grapefruit)
1. Squeeze the citrus fruit into a liquid measuring cup.
2. Pour the juice into the bottle using a funnel.
3. Fill the rest of the bottle with your fermented kombucha tea. (For this recipe, use kombucha that is fermented with green tea.)
4. Seal the bottle and store at room temperature in a dark area for three to five days.
5. Refrigerate before opening. When opening your bottle of homemade kombucha, as with champagne, never point the top of the bottle toward a person. You can never predict how bubbly and explosive a bottle of this homemade brew can get.
Kombucha is best served in a glass. Enjoy its wonderful tart, probiotic goodness!
Writing and Photos By Kat Gopez