Folks: after years of wanting to brew my own kombucha, I’m finally doing it. I’ve been brewing my own kombucha successfully for a couple of months, and it has become my favourite beverage. I drink it every day.
Also? It’s easy! I can’t believe I was ever intimidated by this!
And I never even had to buy a SCOBY! Want to find out how you can make your own kombucha without the costly investment of buying a SCOBY? In this post, I’ll tell you how to grow your own SCOBY. Next, I’ll share how to start brewing your first batch of kombucha. For the first step, all you need to begin is a bottle of ready-made kombucha and a whole lotta patience. Read on . . .
My Journey To Kombucha-Land
I’ve been interested in kombucha for years. A fizzy, tangy-sweet probiotic drink that’s good for you? Sign me up!
I started getting into Traditional Foods back in 2010 when I was trying to learn how to conceive naturally. I started soaking grains and consuming saturated fats and fermenting vegetables. But the one thing that continually stumped me was beverages.
Basically all conventional beverages are problematic — conventional pasteurized milk; pasteurized fruit juice; chlorinated/fluoridated tap water; and obviously, worst of all, SODA (or as we call it around here, POP). None of these drinks are anything like what our ancestors drank. I personally don’t care for coffee or tea. Wine and beer aren’t completely horrible, but you don’t want to make them staples of your diet, especially when you’re pregnant.
What is a gal to drink?
I eventually was able to source some raw milk, but otherwise we began to drink mostly filtered water in our house. I got used to it, but I often craved something a little more exciting.
Everyone in the Traditional Foods world seemed to be brewing and drinking kombucha. Everything I heard about it sounded great — healthful, tasty, and slightly effervescent like pop. It sounded like the perfect solution.
The trouble is, before I could start making my own kombucha, I needed a SCOBY (an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast — the thing that turns sweetened tea into kombucha. It’s sometimes called a “mother” or “kombucha mushroom”). You can get SCOBYs from other people who brew kombucha, but I didn’t personally know a single person who was into traditional foods (I only knew people online). You can also buy SCOBYs online, but they’re expensive (and shipping in Canada is terribly expensive), and I was hesitant to make the investment without having ever tasted the stuff. I didn’t know where I could buy it ready-made. What if it was gross? And what if I messed it up?
So kombucha remained a thing of my dreams.
Then, while my family was in the U.S. for the weekend, I found bottled kombucha available at the local Whole Foods store. Hallelujah! It was love at first sip. I had to have more of it. And I pretty much went ballistic when I discovered kombucha is super-high in B-vitamins — something I’m constantly trying to get more of, in an attempt to balance my hormones.
But at $3.50 a bottle and only available on the other side of the border, I wasn’t likely to be purchasing it in large quantities. (Note: I have since discovered a couple of Canadian suppliers, but it’s still expensive and hard to get your hands on).
Anyway, in a moment of serendipity, I posted a photo of my store-bought kombucha on Instagram, saying that I wished I had a SCOBY so I could brew my own. And to my great joy, LilyGirl explained that I could, in fact, brew my own kombucha with that very bottle! Woohoo!
I bought another bottle of kombucha, took it home, and got to work.
Growing Your Own SCOBY
To be clear: you do need a SCOBY to brew kombucha. But you can easily grow your own from a bottle of pre-made kombucha!
(Note: I had read from a number of sources that since 2010, it no longer worked to grow your own SCOBY from store-bought kombucha. I wonder if that’s only the case if you try to grow your own SCOBY using the popular method of mixing kombucha with sweetened tea. Regardless, I’ve been brewing my own kombucha with my own homegrown SCOBY since August 2013 with great success. And in fact, the method I used is even simpler than any of the tutorials I’d read before.)
To begin, you’ll need a bottle of unflavoured store-bought kombucha. It needs to be unpasteurized/raw. I personally used GT’s Synergy Original.
Here’s what you do:
- Pour the bottle of kombucha into a clean mason jar. A quart jar is a good size.
- Cover the jar with some cheesecloth or a coffee filter (or any cloth, really) and secure it tightly with an elastic or a canning ring. (This is just to keep bugs and junk out of your brew, while allowing it to breathe. It’s a living organism, after all!)
- Let it sit on your counter for a couple weeks until a white film begins to form on the top. Don’t jostle it or it will sink and you will have to start all over again (I learned this the hard way). The film will continue to grow thicker as it sits on your counter. Once it’s about a quarter-inch thick, you’re good to go. In August, it took me about 3 weeks to get it this thick. Now in November, with the cooler temperatures, it takes closer to a month.
And that’s it! You have your own SCOBY! Time to start brewing!
In my next post, I’ll explain how to brew your very first batch of kombucha.
- a large glass jar or bowl — at least a half-gallon (2-liter) size
- black tea (Ceylon, English Breakfast, or Darjeeling — even cheap Lipton will work for now)
- white sugar
Any questions? Have you tried this? How successful were you?