Who knew that a scary looking bacteria could make us so happy?

As part of our wedding gift, our friends that live in Bali brought us a Kombucha Scoby when they came to NY in September. We were excited to finally be able to make our own and appreciated the efforts they made to smuggle a live bacteria across 2 continents. But were also ahem - a little intimidated by the looks of it. 

It took us a while to figure out how to make it work, what fruit to use, how to make it bubbly and what are the best flavors, but now it seems like the scoby is in good hands and we're enjoying the daily kombucha love. Who knew that a scary looking bacteria could make us so happy?

What is Kombucha? the short answer is that it is a fermented tea.  The long one? It's a probiotic drink that contains enzymes, antioxidants and amino-acids. It has been associated with many health benefits. Promotes healthy gut bacteria that support our digestion and immune system. Detoxes our liver and improves our pancreatic function. It can help us get rid of yeast which is beneficial especially if you suffer from candida. And it has been associated with increased energy levels and improved mood. Sounds good huh?

It's easy to buy kombucha in NY now but it can get expensive if you're looking to make it part of your diet. If you love kombucha and want to save money then start making your own! Here are some easy steps you can follow to get started.  

You'll need:

  • One gallon of water 
  • 6 Black tea bags
  • 1 cup of white processed sugar
  • A scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria & yeast)
  • Fruit to taste

For the first fermentation:

  • Add the tea bags to 1 gallon of boiling water. Let it steep for about 5 minutes. 
  • Add the cup of sugar
  • Wait until it cools to room temperature
  • Transfer the tea to a glass jar and add the scoby
  • Cover the container with a kitchen towel to allow for the aerobic fermentation to take place and store away from the light
  • Allow the tea to ferment for about 3 weeks (the scoby likes the warmth so the time needed will change depending on the season, it will ferment very quickly in the summer and more slowly in the winter)

Important: When touching the scoby make sure you're hands are clean and never touch it with metal. Keep in mind the scoby has no protection for UV rays so should always be away from the light. 

You'll know the kombucha is ready when you can't taste the sugar but note it shouldn't taste like vinegar either. If you let it ferment for too long you'll need to start the process again: add more water/tea/sugar and wait.

Once the first fermentation is ready you can take the scoby out and store the kombucha in the fridge. It will keep for weeks but I recommend drinking it soon to avoid new bacteria from growing. 

If you want the kombucha to be bubbly or to taste like fruit you'll need to do a Second Fermentation:

  • Add 3/4 of kombucha to an air tight glass jar 
  • Add the fruit juice and leave a bit of room for air and to avoid overflow
  • Wait 2-4 days (again the time will change depending on the season) until the kombucha is bubbly and has been infused with the fruit
  • Transfer to the fridge and drink over ice!

Some of my favorite fruit combinations so far have been:

  • Pineapple, ginger, raspberry
  • Raspberry, blueberry, lemon
  • Pineapple, pear, apple, raspberry, blackberry
  • Pear, ginger, blueberry, lemon

Tips:

  • The sweeter the fruit, the more bubbles you'll get 
  • If possible use a juicer to avoid the pulp
  • For fruits that are difficult to juice like berries I recommend adding them whole to the kombucha instead of blending them

Share in the comments if you have a favorite kombucha flavor or a different recipe - I'd love to experiment more. 

Cheers, drink up!