Whoa, it’s hot out! During this month of May, we’ve talked a good bit about the importance of staying, and how to stay hydrated. One thing you may not know about the now ubiquitous drink, kombucha, is that it’s actually more hydrating than water. Back in the day, farmers who worked in the fields in the hot summertime, would bring out bladders of a fermented milk beverage because they knew that sipping off that would help their bodies maintain key levels of hydration better than water (also back then, they didn’t know how to make dirty water potable). So now that the mercury’s rising above the mid-90’s mark, when you want something bubbly without reaching for a carbohydrate-laden soda or beer – opt for kombucha!  Do keep an eye on the total sugar in those bottles of commercially available kombucha; it can get a little high. Look for something with 8 grams or fewer of sugar per serving. Your best bet, though, is to brew it at home! Cheap, easy, safe, and delicious, homemade kombucha is a great way to quench your thirst and feed your microbiome (which just happens to be next month’s theme!)
Here’s what you need to make your own kombucha:
  • 1 gallon jar (glass is non-reactive and won’t hurt your brew)
  • 1 SCOBY [Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast]
  • 1 cup of organic white sugar
  • 8 organic black, green, or white tea bags or 3 tablespoons loose tea
  • 3 and 1/2 quarts of filtered water
  • cheesecloth or a clean towel and a rubber band
Your SCOBY wants to live at room temperature in a enough finished kombucha to keep it mostly covered, or with a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. You’re going to make sweet tea, then feed it to your SCOBY, which will turn it into delightfully probiotic kombucha.
The tea needs to be cool enough not to murder the SCOBY, so this is how I brew it in order to save cool-down time:
  • First, fill a gallon jug with filtered water, completely, then I pour off cups to get the right amount of water.
  • Then, pour 4 cups of the water into a pot and bring it to a boil, while the rest of the water hangs out in the jug in the freezer.
  • Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat, add the tea and the sugar, and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  • Then let the tea steep for 15 minutes.
  • Remove tea/tea bags from the brew, and dump it into a non-reactive bowl that’s big enough for the full 3 and 1/2 quarts of water. (Stainless steel is also non-reactive, but no other type of metal, please)
  • Pour the water that’s been (literally) chillin’ in the freezer into the bowl with the hot tea.  You’ll still have to wait entirely too long for it to cool to 78 degrees or lower. You could even put the whole thing back in the freezer for 15 minutes or so but a more patient person might just cover it with a clean towel and let it sit on the counter all day (clearly, the impatient are welcome here.)
  • Once the tea has cooled to 78 degrees or lower, add the SCOBY and all the tea to your gallon jug.
  • Cover the jug with a few layers of cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel, and rubber band it on.
  • Wait. It takes 21 days for the kombucha to reach an acceptable level of probiotics. You can give it couple weeks at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, then pour it into bottles and cap them for another week. The bottling part is where people like to add fun flavors.
Here’s a helpful site with more information than you ever knew you needed about making kombucha.
Here’s the low-down on switching to continual brewing, which is astonishingly easy and means you never have to wait for a yummy glass of kombucha.
Cheers to your healthy hydration!