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How to Make Kombucha or Ask a Hippie!

About a year and a half ago, I got a really bad sore throat and had to take two rounds of antibiotics. The medication took care of the illness but it also killed off everything in my gut -that happy little place of macrobiotics that take care of a lot of the work of digesting the food that I eat. Trying to curb the new stomach aches and inability to eat anything beyond simple broth, I looked to add some probiotics to my diet with some fermented foods. I hated all the sugar in the yogurts, I’m not a fan of taking in pills, and a girl can only eat so much kimchi and sauerkraut! So, I turned to kombucha. A bottle at the store wasn’t cheap and I knew drinking a some kombucha every day would become a habit, so I decided to make some of my own.

I spent time on Pinterest, reddit, random health blogs, and then asked some friends who made their own kombucha. It was far easier and cheaper than I could have imagined. Quickly got started, and have been going strong making a continuous brew ever since.

Last week a friend on Facebook asked about how to start his own Kombucha, so I threw in my two cents. He asks me for some more details on what I did, so I figured I would write it up here and share it with you all too!

How to Make a Continuous Brew Kombucha

Video tutorial for a batch linked here or at the bottom!

1. Gather your supplies:

 

2. Find your starter

Here is where a hippie can come in. When starting your own batch, you have 3 options:

  • Buy a kombucha kit (Expensive!)
  • Use a commercially produced bottle of Kombucha (Time consuming!)
  • Ask a Hippie to give you a mother or scoby to start (Social!)

Kombucha is living food. (That’s why it is good for the gut, with all those probiotics in the fermented brew.) So a mother or starter is needed, just like with sourdough bread. You can grow this mother from “seed” or grow it from someone else’s mother. A kit with come with a scoby, and anyone who makes their own kombucha would be happy to give you a mother to start (I got mine from a friend, who got theirs from a friend, and so on). But if you don’t know anyone who brews their own kombucha, you can grow one up your self from a bottle of Kombucha purchased from your neighborhood market.

Growing a Scoby from “Seed”

Take a bottle of your favorite kombucha that you purchased from the refrigerated section of your local market. It’s important that it is refrigerated, because it will have a live mother in it. If it shelf stable, and therefore at room temperature, in the grocery it is not likely to have a living mother. Boil 1 liter of water with 1 cup of sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved and the water has come to a boil, remove it from the heat and add 3 black tea bags to it, allowing them to steep. Once the solution is cooled to room temperature (no hotter), remove the tea bags and add the bottled commercial kombucha to the solution. Pour the entire contents into the clean drink dispenser and cover the top with a scrap of fabric, securing with a rubber band.

Over about a week’s time, a scoby will form. This will looks like an opaque gelatin disk floating at the top of the liquid.You may also see the formation some darker stringy elements of the scoby. This is totally normal and you are doing just fine.

Now that you have grown your own Scoby you are ready to start your continuous brew!

3. Be Patient

It takes a week of fermentation to be able to draw off a bottles worth, and then another week for pressure to build within the bottle so it is nice and bubbly. 2 weeks can be a while to wait for that first taste, but after that initial start up time, you will always have Kombucha at the ready.

Continuous Brew Kombucha

With a continuous brew, your goal is to keep the main body brewing, while drawing off enough kombucha for you to drink for a week or two. For me this equals a 1 L bottle of kombucha, so I will give you instructions for that scale, but you can increase or decrease the volume according to you thirst.

4. Start Brewing

Start by making a double batch by boiling 2 liters of water in a pot with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of sugar. When the sugar is dissolved and water has come to a boil, remove it from the heat and add 6 black tea bags to it, allowing them to steep. Once the solution is cooled to room temperature (no hotter), remove the tea bags and add it and your scoby to the clean drink dispenser. Then cover the top with a scrap of fabric, securing with a rubber band. (The Kombucha has a sweet vinegar smell that can attract fruit flys, and not one wants that test in their brew). The solution should fill the drink dispenser between 1/2 and 2/3. You do not want or need it at the top of the container.

Note: If you made up your one scoby from “seed” you will want to draw off the majority of the solution before adding in your new double batch, so that you do not over fill the container.

 

5. Be a Little More Patient

After 1 week, use the bottom spigot to fill up one of the pop top bottles with kombucha. Secure the lid and set aside.

Now make an other batch of tea for the continuous brew: Boiling 1 liters of water in a pot with 1/2 cup of sugar. When the sugar is dissolved and water has come to a boil, remove it from the heat and add 3 black tea bags to it, allowing them to steep. Once the solution is cooled to room temperature (no hotter), remove the tea bags and add it your continue brew. Cover the top with the fabric once again, securing with a rubber band.

6. Drink up!

After the kombucha as sat in the sealed bottle for a week, the fermentation has continued and bubbles have formed, and it is ready to drink!

Time to repeat the process of step 5, filling up your second bottle, and making a new batch for the continuous brew.

I keep the two pop top bottles in weekly rotation, simply placing one behind the other on the counter top and pouring out of the front one. A friend likes his kombucha cold, so he places the current one he is pouring out of in the fridge.

I like to drink 2-4 oz of kombucha a day in a tall glass of sparkling water. Other take a shot in the morning to have their daily dose. I’ve also used it as a flavor element in cooking (say in place of apple cider vinegar) or in a hot toddy.

The scoby can get quite thick and start to take over the drink dispenser. You can always split up some of the layers and give some away to a friend or simply toss the extra bulk out.

One last thing on Flavor

There are many different ways of flavoring Kombucha but when you are making a continious brew, you want to be light handed in the selection of your tea. You can add mint, or berry teas to a batch, but the flavor can become very strong or go completely flat when added to the continuous brew. Your best bet to change up the flavor is to add it to the bottle, after you have drawn it off the continuous brew. Add a chunk of ginger, some pomegranate juice, or a few lovely spices.

Just make it your way and enjoy! Cheers!

 

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