By Guest Blogger: Living Pretty, Naturally
The “Champagne of Life” (also known as Kombucha) is a probiotic-rich fermented tea that has been around for centuries. This easy to brew beauty elixir is something the wellness community around the world has be doing for years – and many companies are making buckets of cash marketing their fruity versions of this health elixir. Well wouldn’t you know it, it’s actually extremely cheap, easy – and dare I say fun – to brew your own at home.
Drink up for your Beauty!
Why is kombucha good for beauty? Well the answer may not come as a surprise: it is an antioxidant and it’s packed with B vitamins. Big “B” for beauty! With that property comes many anti-aging benefits, and the Alkaline pH of the kombucha is great for keeping your skin balanced. If you look closely in the beauty aisle, you will start seeing companies actually putting kombucha into their skincare and hair products too.
So let’s get to what this post is about – a step-by-step guide to help you brew your own kombucha.
What You’ll Need to Brew
This directions list is to brew a full batch (1 gallon or about 4 litres). For the purpose of this demonstration, I brewed a 1/2 batch – 1.5 litres. I have made notes about different measurements for different batch sizes throughout the post.
- 3.5 litres of filtered water
- A “scoby” (kombucha mother) plus 1 cup of reserve liquid – you can brew your own, get one from a friend, or buy one from a reputable source online
- Large pot to brew your tea
- Large wide-mouth sterilized glass jar
- 1 cup of organic Sugar
- 7 organic black tea bags
- Breathable cloth (cheesecloth, muslin)
- Rubber band
How to Brew
Brewing kombucha takes approximately 2 weeks. But before you get started, you’ll need to have a scoby.
Step 1: Acquire or grow a scoby
I grew my own scoby, but there are lots of ways to get your hands on one – from a friend, from a kombucha brewing shop and online. If you choose to brew your own, you need most of the same tools as above plus a bottle of store-bought raw kombucha, and 2 extra weeks (the amount of time it takes to grow a scoby).
If you want to know how to grow a scoby, check out the end of this post!
Step 2: Sterilize a large-mouth glass jar
I sterilized mine with boiling water and white vinegar mixed together. I swirled it around and let sit for a few minutes before rinsing out the jar until you could no longer smell the vinegar.
Step 3: Brew Your Tea
For brewing tea, you’ll need your organic black tea bags and organic sugar.
Depending on the size of your jar, depends on how much tea you brew. In this case, I used a smaller jar for demonstration and brewed 1.25 liters of tea (my jar is 1.5 liters).
It is best if you use a gallon jar – so you can brew more tea at once – in this case you would use ~3 litres of filtered water to brew your tea.
Steep the teabags in hot water in a large pot for about 5 minutes (or until the tea is dark). Because I brewed a smaller batch, I used 4 tea bags, if you’re brewing 3 or more litres, brew with 6 or 7 tea bags.
Step 4: Add your Sugar
Now you will add your sugar – if you are brewing a full gallon (3-4 liters) you will need to add 1 cup of organic sugar. Since I did a half batch (1.5 litres), I used 1/2 a cup of sugar.
Now you might be wondering – sugar?! But I thought that was bad for my skin! You’re right. But what the sugar does is actually “feed” the scoby. By the time the kombucha is done brewing, the sugar content is very low. The scoby grows by eating the sugar in the brew!
Step 5: Stir in Sugar & Cool
Then, stir in your sugar until it is all dissolved. I prefer to use wood utensils when I brew my kombucha, but it’s not an issue if you use something else. Then, set aside your tea until it cools completely. Using hot tea can kill your scoby culture 🙁 so be kind and patient.
Step 5: Transfer Tea to Sterilized Jar
Now you want to transfer your tea into a sterilized, wide-mouth jar. Make sure you leave enough room for your scoby & it’s “reserve” liquid!
Step 6: Add the Scoby & Reserve Liquid
Wash your hands well, and then take out the scoby from it original jar. Add in your scoby and about 1 cup of reserve liquid for a full batch (or 1/2 a cup of reserve liquid for half batch) into your new jar of freshly brewed tea & sugar.
You’ll notice my scoby has a funny brown spot on him – that’s ok, and does not mean he is an unhealthy scoby. What you’ll want to watch out for is *mould* – if you see mould, compost your scoby and start again.
Add the reserve liquid
Step 7: Cover with a Breathable Cloth & Secure
Now to keep you kombucha safe – from flies, mould and other not so nice things – cover it with a breathable cloth such as muslin, or cheesecloth. This also allows the scoby to get the air it needs to grow.
Step 8: Brew for 2 Weeks
Store your kombucha-to-be in a dry and warm location. I left mine in the kitchen where it was warm. It does let off a bit of a vinegary-smell, so if you have another warm room to place it in, that is also a good option. If it doesn’t bother you, it’s kind of fun to watch the new scoby grow and your “mother” get bigger!
Step 9: Remove & Store Scoby
Now your scoby babies will be 2 – with each new brew comes a new scoby! For each scoby, you will want to reserve ~1 cup of this brew. This is good for both storing the scoby, and so you can create your next batch. It also allows you to give a scoby to a friend, so they can start their own brew!
If you won’t be brewing your next batch right away (I’m taking a break as I’m ordering bigger jars), store them in a glass container with a lid in the fridge. This storage method will slow the growth of the scoby, but will not kill it. You may need to let some air into the storage jar a few times a week, depending on how long you store it for, as the air pressure from the fermentation could pop off the lid. The best thing to do is immediately start your next brew, so if you can, do!
Step 10: Collect the Tools for Bottling Your Brew
You’ll need the following things to bottle:
- Glass jugs with tight-fitting lids
- Container for your next brew, or storage container for your scobys and reserve liquid
Step 11: Bottle Your Brew
Simply pour the brew (after you’ve removed the scobys) into the jar you wish to use as a bottle. Make sure your bottle has a tight-fitting lid, to keep the kombucha healthy and fizzy!
Step 12: Set Aside for 24 Hours
After you set aside your bottle for 24 hours at room temperature, place it upright in the refrigerator!
And there you have it, beauties. Kombucha brewed and ready for drinking! I hope you enjoy!
*How to Grow a Scoby
For those lovelies that would like to brew their own scoby, it is similar to the entire kombucha growing process. Simply:
- Bring 1 litre of water to a boil
- Brew 4 organic tea bags
- Add in 1/3 cup of organic sugar
- Cool & transfer to a sterilized glass wide-mouth jar
- Add in 2 cups of store-bought raw, organic kombucha
- Cover with breathable cloth & use a rubber band to secure
- Wait two weeks and watch that little scoby grow!
After two weeks, you are ready to start brewing a fresh batch of kombucha with your scoby!
Step-by-Step Photos by Kate Murphy / Living Pretty, Naturally