Kombucha is everywhere, but so many people don't know how gross it really is!  I mean have you looked really closely at a SCOBY?  Have you seen the strands of yeast dangling into the tannin-y goodness of your drink? Do you even know that a SCOBY grew on top of that delicious store bought kombucha that you love so much? 

Once you get past the ick factor, you might find that kombucha is a nice addition to your menu of fermented foods and makes a healthier alternative to pop or fizzy drink. (Pop is what we call it in Canada and fizzy drink in New Zealand. Both sound pretty ridiculous when you think about it). Like other fermented foods, kombucha is a source of beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. To make your own, you first need to source a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY). You can buy these online or get a mother from someone already brewing their own booch. With each brew, the existing SCOBY, the mother, produces a new SCOBY, the baby, so kombucha brewers will always have extra to share about. 

Here's what you'll need to get started:

  • Glass jar
  • Cloth cover
  • 1 Litre water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of black tea or 2 tea bags

Here's how to brew your own:

  1. Dissolve 1/4 cup of sugar in 1 litre of boiling water. Turn off heat. 
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of black tea leaves or 2 tea bags. 
  3. Let steep for 15 minutes before removing tea leaves or tea bags. 
  4. When mixture reaches room temperature pour tea and sugar water into a glass jar with the SCOBY and 1/2 cup of kombucha. 
  5. Cover the jar with a cloth to prevent anything from falling inside, but allowing air to circulate. Leave in a warm spot, out of direct sunlight.
  6. Test your kombucha brew starting at 7-10 days. When it starts to taste more acid than sweet (like vinegar rather than sugar), it's ready to drink. 
  7. Pour it into bottles to stop the fermentation process. 

Second Ferment

If you like your kombucha to be extra fizzy or flavoured, you'll need to do a second ferment. 

  1. Pour the kombucha without the scoby into another jar or bottle with flip top lid. 
  2. Optional: Add fruit or other flavourings. My favourites are berries, mangoes, ginger, and lemon. 
  3. Leave a small amount of space at the top. 
  4. Cover tightly and leave to sit for 1-3 days.
  5. Test one bottle. Put the bottles in the fridge when they are to your taste for fizziness and flavour. 

Share your SCOBY babies around or put them in the compost

Fascinating answers to FAQs

  • The opaque, lighter side of the scoby should face up.
  • Use a non-metal utensil to try the kombucha when determining if it's done. Scobys don't like metal. I'm told this is a minor concern for tasting, but more of an issue for commercial kombucha produced in metal or plastic tubs, which can be damaged by the acidic environment. 
  • You can add frozen fruit directly to the second ferment. 
  • A scoby may form on your second ferment. 
  • You can eat a scoby, if you really want to.