In my September Goals, I purposed to write a few posts on this lovely drink called Kombucha. The first post covered the basics of Kombucha and how it helps one to have a healthy immune system. The second post covered other helpful information regarding this beneficial drink. The third post offers some final facts detailing that this drink might be worth a shot. Today, my friend Jo Smith, from Strathdon, Scotland, has offered to list instructions for how to make your own kombucha. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment, and she/I will do our best to answer your questions.

Steps to making Kombucha

1.      Make tea using: 4 pints (2 litres) of boiled water , 1 ½ cups of white sugar, 8 black  and/or green tea bags (or approx 30 grams tea)

2.      Remove tea (or teabags) when the mix has steeped for about five minutes and all the sugar has dissolved.

3.      Cool to room temperature and put into glass or heavy plastic brewing container.

4.      Add 2 or 3 cups  (approx 10% of total brew) of previously prepared Kombucha tea  (as a ‘starter’)

5.      Place the Kombucha ‘pancake’ in the tea mix.  (it may float or sink – no matter).

6.      Cover the container with a clean, dust-free, lightweight cloth and secure it with a rubber band or string.  Or, (a less fiddly method) – put a cross of tape over the container and just drape your cloth over the top.

7.      Place it where it will remain warmish, undisturbed and away from dust or direct sunlight (airing cupboard is perfect).

8.      Let it ferment for about 7 or 8 days.    Do not disturb it.

9.      Remove the original Kombucha and its new baby (which will have completely covered the surface of the tea).

10.  Strain the Kombucha tea through a close-weave cloth and store it in bottles in the refrigerator or in a cool dark cupboard.

Optional (a personal favorite from Joy): Add fresh fruit to the strained Kombucha tea for a delightful additon! (Suggestions: oranges, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, pineapple, etc)

Note: The ‘baby’ Kombucha colony grows and covers the surface of the tea completely. Whilst growing on the surface of the tea the culture thickens considerably. The thickened culture will be composed of two easily separable super-imposed layers (original ‘mother’ and new ‘baby’). The layers can be peeled off one from another and each can be used as independent units for the production of future Kombucha tea.  Sometimes the original culture floats on the surface, sometimes it sinks to the bottom of the liquid. Both are OK.  Even if the ‘mother’ culture sinks to the bottom the new ‘baby’ culture will start to grow and cover the surface.   Ugly brown dangly bits are cells from the culture and can be strained or washed off (in cold water or kombucha tea) but it is not necessary to do this. Sometimes air bubbles make holes in the forming ‘baby’.   Other times it may have brown edges.  Cultures vary depending on the tea used.    They can be white, grey, tan, brown – or even pink!    NB: Close contact with tobacco smoke (which is alkaline) could cause mould on your culture.  Insufficient ‘starter’ tea can also sometimes cause this.  If you find mould (nasty greenish furry stuff) at any time, throw the colony and culture away, and start a brand new brew with a clean ‘baby’. Some have suggested that it is also beneficial to avoid contact with metal (a metal pan, spoon, and even jewelry) whilst brewing the hot tea as this sometimes can lead to mould. If you are concerned, try to read more about Kombucha and remember a good rule of thumb: There is a lot of stuff online about kombucha, and some folk can become quite obsessive about everything from types of water, types of tea, brewing times, sanitation etc.  If you find a mix you like, just use basic common sense and everyday kitchen hygiene. The whole process very quickly settles into a routine and becomes second nature.

Usual brewing times (dependent on temperature):

** 4 – 6 Days – Too sweet, not all sugar converted.                 ** 7 – 9 Days – Tastes like sparkling apple cider.

** 10 + Days – Vinegar taste becoming prominent.

Purists use clear glass containers for the whole process, but it is also quite acceptable to use a stainless steel kettle to boil the water and food grade plastic containers to ferment and store the tea. Metal is considered toxic to Kombucha so never let metal touch the actual Kombucha colony or the Kombucha tea. Use plastic tops for your storage bottles.

DOSE: If you are not feeling well it is recommended that your starting amount be taken in two separate doses of about an ounce in the morning and afternoon.   Otherwise, begin by drinking about ½ wineglass (3 ounces) daily on an empty stomach.  If it bothers your stomach, you can drink it after eating. The different constituents of the tea will work on the body differently depending whether or not there is food present.  After about a week you can increase to 5 ounces then, after a further week, you can include another glass later in the day if you want to. As your body gets used to it, you could increase this to three glasses every day. If, at any time in the first few weeks, you feel that the detoxifying effects are bothering you, cut back on the amount for a while.  Some people find they stick to the single small morning glass for years, others keep increasing their intake to over two pints per day.  You will soon be able to judge the amount that works best for yourself. If you do not particularly like the taste, you can add it to fruit juice.   Drink lots of plain water to allow the toxins to flush from your system.

Possible initial side effects.  Because kombucha rids the body of toxins you may find that, when you first start drinking the tea, your bowels become looser and smellier.  You may also (for the same reason) find yourself suddenly prone to a few spots or headaches. These symptoms all wear off as your body cleanses itself and becomes accustomed to the kombucha.  If the symptoms are severe or worrying, you may be taking too much kombucha too soon, so just cut back on your amount. Alternatively (the most common problem…), you are not drinking enough water, so increase your intake. Many people avoid drinking their kombucha in the evening because the mild ‘energy rush’ can make it difficult to sleep.

So – drink and enjoy.  You will soon start to notice a difference in your general well-being!

Other helpful websites (most links taken froman article on Kombucha at passionatehomemaking.com):

How to make your own Scoby or Mushroom:

How to grow Kombucha

To buy your own mushroom:
Organic Kombucha
Check out your local craigslist, or freecycle!

For further reading:

Kombucha for Children

Kombucha Tea FAQs – a great resource for all your questions! Refer to this first!
Kombucha Cultures
Conscious Choice
Kombucha America
Happy Herbalist

Well, I hope this Kombucha series was helpful to you! Looking forward to hearing how your first batch turns out!

Thanks for reading!

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