While many grocery stores now carry some version of kombucha, as with most store-bought fermented foods, the actual quality and freshness can be iffy at best. They can also contain added sugars and preservatives which aren’t so good for your health either.
Luckily, you can make this “health elixir” at home yourself quite easily! And at a fraction of the price of the store-bought stuff. Below is a simple recipe from The Nutrition Watchdog to try. Once you get the hang of it, feel free to modify it to your taste. Some people prefer green tea to black, and the two can be used interchangeably.
The culture (called a “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast” – or SCOBY for short) can be used again and again once started. If the SCOBY grows too large, you can add part of it to your compost pile, expand your production, or pass it on to a friend!
Basic Kombucha Recipe
4-6 black tea bags
1 cup organic granulated cane sugar
1-2 liters filtered or spring water (don’t use tap water as it often contains chlorine and other chemicals which will kill or prevent the growth of the beneficial bacteria and yeasts)
Large glass container with wide mouth
SCOBY (you can use a starter from someone else who makes kombucha or obtain a starter from a health food store or online)
Clean dish cloth and rubber band
Be sure your kitchen and utensils are all very clean. Just to be sure, you may want to rinse them under very hot water, then allow to air dry before using.
Bring water to boil in a large pot. Once boiling, remove from heat and add teabags and sugar and let it steep, stirring occasionally with a clean spoon to dissolve sugar.
Remove and discard tea bags after about a half hour or so. Let mixture cool to room temp—do not pour boiling hot tea over SCOBY or you may kill the live bacteria and yeasts.
When cool, add to jar with an equal amount of filtered water. Add SCOBY and cover with clean cloth and rubber band to secure it. Do not add a lid as the fermentation will build up and could explode!
Allow the tea to sit for 7-14 days. Less time produces a tea with more sugar and caffeine. More time creates a more sour, fizzy brew, but it will be full of antioxidants, enzymes, and probiotics. Much depends on the temperature and storage of the tea.