Similar to making sourdough or whipped coffee, brewing kombucha at home is a culinary trend that's really taken off lately. And just like other fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, miso), kombucha is the product of a biological transformation aided by bacteria and yeast. The nice thing about creating a fermented drink is that it will build on itself slowly over time—and there is plenty of opportunity to experiment with different flavors.
For those in search of a satisfying, slow-burn project that will only get better with time, here's everything you need to know about making delicious kombucha at home.
In terms of what you'll need to brew, it doesn't take much. Kombucha ferments best in a very clean glass jar ($23, amazon.com), and you'll need a breathable cloth—ideally unbleached muslin ($12, amazon.com)—and a big rubber band. The idea is that the cloth is thick enough to keep out pests (i.e. fruit flies), while maintaining breathability. Lastly, it's a good idea to invest in some reliable pH strips ($6, amazon.com) so that you can measure your kombucha's acidity, which you'll want to hover around pH 4.
Ingredients and Process
To make kombucha, you need the following ingredients: black tea, sugar, vinegar, and a SCOBY (short for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).
- 8 black tea bags
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 1-2 cups of vinegar
- about 12-14 cups of water
In essence, kombucha is just fermented tea. So in order to make that fermentation process occur, you brew your tea bags in water, and then mix the tea and sugar together with vinegar. Then let the mixture come to room temperature in a large, clean glass jar.
You'll then place your SCOBY ($25, amazon.com) on top of the tea in the jar, cover it tightly with breathable cloth using a rubber band, and let the brew sit in a cool, dry place out of sunlight. After a a week, you'll begin to get the fizzy, sometimes slightly funky beverage we call kombucha. Feel free to test the brew's pH after about a week. You can let your kombucha ferment anywhere between one week and one month, but take note that the longer it sits, the less sweet and more vinegary it will become.
When the culture process is complete, you can remove the SCOBY, bottle your brew ($30, amazon.com), and enjoy the kombucha as is. Feel free to add flavoring like berries, spices, juices—whatever tickles your fancy, really. Happy fermenting!