kombucha basics

In today’s episode, Wendy discusses kombucha 101! She includes an overview of Kombucha, how to make it yourself at home (and why you should), how to flavor it, more ways to use it, and the health benefits that are possible from including kombucha in your everyday life.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is an ancient fermented tonic made from sweetened tea.

Once cultured, this effervescent beverage contains a host of beneficial bacteria, yeasts, and acids imparted to it by its mother culture, often referred to as a SCOBY.

Kombucha has a long history of consumption in Asia and Europe but in recent years it has gone somewhat mainstream.

Many consume kombucha now for the many health and probiotic benefits it is touted for.

Others simply enjoy the tangy, fizzy flavor of this fermented beverage.

So, what transforms plain, sweet tea into an effervescent, probiotic drink?

The process of making kombucha all begins with a SCOBY. If you’re not familiar with what a SCOBY is, Wendy explains.

How is Kombucha Made?

Making kombucha is a simple process using very few ingredients, but there is a complex biological process happening to create that delicious beverage.

We won’t dive too deeply into details, but understanding some basic principles will help take the mystery out of what is a very simple process.

Kombucha is made through a symbiotic relationship.

The SCOBY itself is a symbiotic culture, as mentioned above, in which bacteria and yeasts co-exist in harmony.

Because SCOBY is a living entity, it needs food and a proper environment to thrive.

A kombucha SCOBY’s food source is sweetened black tea. When you place a SCOBY into the prepared tea, it begins to consume the sugars and form another SCOBY, often referred to as a baby.

The other symbiotic relationship therefore exists between the SCOBY and the sweet tea.

The SCOBY needs the tea to survive and kombucha cannot be made without the SCOBY. This process can take as little as a week, if it is warmer, and up to a month in cooler temperatures.

The by-products of this process are organic acids, a multiplication of the bacteria and yeasts within the sweetened tea, carbon dioxide (which is how kombucha becomes carbonated), a trace of alcohol, and B vitamins.

Why Brew Kombucha at Home?

Brewing kombucha at home has many advantages.

For one, homebrewing practices are not regulated.

This is particularly important for a raw, fermented beverage such as kombucha.

The kombucha brewing process does not simply stop once the kombucha is removed from the original SCOBY.

It continues to produce the bacteria, yeasts, acids, and trace amounts of alcohol even after refrigeration.

When you brew at home, you can brew with traditional practices with no worry over regulations of the ever-changing final product.

Homebrewing also presents the advantage of controlling the ingredients - choose the sugar and tea you prefer based on your preference for quality and cost. Likewise, you can control the final sugar content by choosing to brew longer for a lower sugar beverage.

Homebrewing is more economical. While commercial kombucha can run anywhere from three to five dollars for a pint, homebrewed kombucha costs less than $.50 per bottle, on average.

Homebrewing kombucha is not simply a means of creating delicious fermented beverages, for some it is a hobby.

Like other DIY projects, it allows for creativity in flavoring the kombucha for a second fermentation.

More than that, it allows you to dabble in the art of fermentation.

With every batch of kombucha you can pass that culture on to a friend or family member or teach your own children the practice of fermentation.

Tune in to continue learning about kombucha!