One taste of the sparkling, fruity, super elixir and I was hooked. It was fizzy and refreshing like champagne, but loaded with good bacteria, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B 12, which my then vegan body was starving for. It gave me a burst of energy (not the jittery caffeine kind) and mental clarity, and helped me digest my food and cleanse my body.
For years, I went to great lengths to get my hands on the stuff, often spending my last $4 on a 16-ounce bottle, like a drug addict in need of a boost (only I was a dying person in need of life-giving nutrients). I started saving up to get a case discount at Whole Foods, but it was breaking my little bank account. I had to ration myself. I couldn’t afford a bottle a day, so I’d drink four or five a week, just enough to keep me going.
When I became a stay-at-home mom, I was broker than ever, but supporting another life through breastfeeding made me crave kombucha more than ever. So I decided it was time to make my own.
To me, doing anything in the kitchen beyond frying an egg seemed overwhelming. But luckily my partner is extremely competent in the kitchen and took charge of figuring it out. He got the recipe down and taught me to repeat it week after week, and we’ve never gone thirsty since.
We now get 24 pint-sized bottles of more delicious, more potent kombucha using all organic ingredients and fresh fruit for the same price as three pint-sized, less potent, store-bought kombuchas.
1. Obtain a SCOBY – Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast – or “mother” culture. You can buy one online or get one from a friend. Or try Craigslist. You can no longer make your own from store-bought kombucha, thanks to the FDA who forced Synergy to reformulate their tea in 2010 to be less “alcoholic” and less effective.
2. Get a big glass beverage dispenser with a spout. We got a 3-gallon dispenser online, and then found a cheaper 5-gallon one at TJ Maxx.
3. Get a big stockpot for brewing the tea. We have 3-gallon and 5-gallon-sized stock pots too.
4. Get a bunch of big mason jars or brewing bottles. I recommend half-gallon-sized, wide-mouth, mason jars with plastic lids,
because they are easier to fill and clean. If you want to get fancy with a few real brewing bottles, you can. They are more airtight and get the kombucha bubbly faster, but I think they are a pain in the neck to fill and clean, and not worth it.
5. Get a big bag of loose leaf tea, green or black. I buy Organic Yerba Mate at Whole Foods or online:
6. Get a box of large tea bags. I get these large Rishi Tea Bags from Whole Foods or online:
7. Get the biggest bag of organic cane sugar you can find. Here’s a 4-pound bag:
8. Bring 3 gallons of water to a boil in the stock pot. Reduce heat. Steep 2 bags full of tea. Stir in 3 cups of sugar (a cup per gallon).
9. Let it cool to room temperature, pour it in the big glass container, let the mother float on top, cover container with a thin, clean dish towel or cheese cloth and a rubber band.
10. Wait 5-7 days.
11. Pour the kombucha into the mason jars or other airtight bottles, leaving a few cups of it in the big brewing dispenser to keep the scoby alive and serve as starter liquid for the next batch.
Pour a few tablespoons of fruit juice or a handful of frozen berries in each of the jars to flavor the kombucha. Close the lids tight and let them sit on the counter for another day or two. This is the second round of fermentation. When they get fizzy, put them in the fridge, before they explode.