Usually, when we’re coming up with recipes for The Rumbly Tummy we like to choose vegan and gluten-free recipes that anyone and everyone will like, such as kimchi, banana peel sandwiches and dog treats. But today we’re just going to come out and say it; this recipe might not be for everybody. And that’s not because it’s not easy to make, delicious or good for you, it’s just that kombucha is not yet one of those drinks that has made it into every household in America. So, we’ll offer this suggestion in the form of a dare: we triple dog dare you to try this recipe.
The first time we had kombucha we didn’t like it; too fizzy, too sour, made our bellies gurgle. But then we kept trying it because it kept popping up in our line of sight while we toured and we grew to love this drink for exactly the same reasons it was off-putting at first. So when my brother sent me a SCOBY early on in quarantine I jumped at the chance to have something to do and for the last 9 months (has it really been that long?) I have been brewing kombucha.
First things first; you gotta get a SCOBY. A SCOBY is a “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast” which means that it’s alive and much like any old Southern mother, has sweet tea with every meal. There are ways to make your own SCOBY, but it might be easier to get one from a friend or buy one online. There may even be a SCOBY rescue program I’m not aware of. But once you get a SCOBY the rest of the process is pretty easy. Seriously, it’s a lot easier than keeping a houseplant alive.
Kombucha is an ancient, fermented drink derived from tea and sugar, and like any fermentation process will take a little while to make. What happens is the yeast, or in our case the SCOBY, goes in and eats the sugars and turns it into alcohol. Kombucha (unless you do a second ferment with the intention of making it alcoholic) usually has less than .5% alcohol, which is very little so it doesn’t have to be labeled as alcohol, but if you are avoiding alcohol for health reasons or religious purposes, be aware that there are trace amount present. But step right up! The health benefits are incredible! Kombucha is great for your digestion, ridding your body of toxins, and is an energy booster. It’s purportedly good for your immune system and may keep down blood pressure, fight off heart disease, different cancers and is guaranteed to fill you life with love and purpose. That last part may be an exaggeration, but can you prove me wrong?
-SCOBY, plus 2 cups kombucha from a previous batch.
-1 cup raw organic sugar (must be actual raw sugar and not beet sugar which is what low-end white sugar often is, which will kill your SCOBY.)
-8 teabags organic tea (black or green, not herbal)
-1 gallon of water (often there are unwanted chemicals in tap water, so it’s best to use filtered water)
-Gallon mason jar, cheese cloth, rubber band (if making a 32oz batch, cut recipe in half.)
-Bottles. Swing-top glass bottles, mason jars, or even plastic soda bottles work just fine. Make sure they are clean and sanitized in hot water.
(A note: while “organic” is often just a health/sustainability suggestion in recipes, with Kombucha, since you are dealing with a living organism, it can prove to be crucial to the actual fermentation process. Using non-organic tea or sugar may be the reason your kombucha isn’t turning out the way you want it to.)
Instructions: 1. Boil your sweet tea and let cool.
2. Once cool, remove teabags and add SCOBY plus 2 cups kombucha to a gallon mason jar.
3. Cover with cheese cloth and secure with rubber band
4. Let sit for 10-14 days, checking daily to make sure no mold has grown on top (very unlikely, but it happens due to a lack of acidity/vinegar in your liquid). As you taste the batch, it will go from being very sweet, to being this beautiful tart, crisp flavor, reminiscent of cider or even apple cider vinegar (and actually if you let it continue to ferment, vinegar is exactly what you’ll get.)
5. Remove SCOBY and 2 cups kombucha and save until next time. Bottle remaining liquid, adding flavoring if you’d like.