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Whether you’re a die-hard kombucha fan or new to the world’s latest health and wellness craze, 2020 is a great time to start brewing your own kombucha. For the uninitiated home brewer, that might seem like a lot. Kombucha is a fermented drink made from black tea and sugar, and unless you’ve spent quite a bit of time in a chemistry lab (or a distillery), fermenting anything can and should seem overwhelming. Luckily for us all, The Kombucha Shop created this nifty little home brew kit to help walk you through each and every step on the road to homemade kombucha greatness.
Before we dive into how you brew kombucha at home, let’s discuss what exactly kombucha is. Kombucha is black tea with some sugar that has fermented for several weeks. Though made with sugar, it’s actually not a sugary or sweet drink, but rather a tangy and crisp carbonated beverage. What’s more, it contains alcohol. Granted, not a whole lot (0.5% ABV per serving), but hey, we’ll take it, especially considering most people call it a healthy drink.
The process of making kombucha is a slow one and requires something called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), which is essentially a globby looking piece of jelly that sits at the top of your creation and helps the whole thing ferment. While fermenting, the yeast and bacteria from the provided SCOBY eat away most of the sugar, leaving you with a tart (and slightly buzzy) beverage.
Though your starter kit comes with a slew of different items (ranging from instruction manuals to PH gauges and pipettes), the most important ingredients are as follows: a 1-gallon brew jar with plastic lid, an organic kombucha culture, 1 cup of liquid starter, a bag of organic cane sugar and a bag of black and oolong loose leaf tea. The other stuff is certainly important for perfecting your recipe, but the above ingredients are mandatory when making kombucha, which is why we love this kit. This is essentially a just-add-water recipe. Well, water and patience.
Once you receive your kit, it’s time to start brewing. As the process takes a while, we recommend diving in and doing a bit of experimenting on the fly. To begin, you simply heat four cups of water to a boil and then shut off the heat. From there, steep your tea of choice for five to seven minutes and remove. Then, add your sugar and mix until you have some very sweet tea. At this point, you’ll pour your sweet tea into the 1-gallon jar provided, fill with cold water until you hit the ideal temp (which sits anywhere between 68 degrees F and 84 degrees) and then add the entire contents of your kombucha culture. From there, you cover your concoction with the cotton strip, rubberband it shut and leave it somewhere warm with good airflow (but out of direct sunlight) to ferment for about a week.
After the first week, you’ll notice that globby mass has formed at the top (the return of the SCOBY!). This is good! It means the fermentation process has begun. Give it a few more days and then begin to squeeze your pipette into your brew (without bothering the SCOBY) to taste your creation. From there, it’s up to you. We love this kit because though there are straightforward instructions, there’s a lot you can do to customize your brew. If a batch turns out too strong, try steeping for a shorter period or fermenting a little less. Likewise, you can add flavors and juices to make your brew stand out from store-bought brews. Kombucha is truly a blank-canvas style drink, and at $40 for a gallon of your own DIY kombucha, we think it makes a great deal.
Pro tip: when it comes to adding flavor, try passion fruit. A little goes a long way but the tart flavor of the fruit pairs exceptionally well with the naturally tart flavor of kombucha. And if you have any questions, thoughts or concerns, reach out to The Kombucha Shop. Their customer service rocks and they have plenty of helpful guides online which address every kombucha-related blunder you could think of. Happy brewing!