This brew-your-own kombucha recipe is brimming with health benefits.
Sueson Vess is a professional chef and food coach. She is author of Special Eats.
Homemade kombucha is made from sweetened tea (pure green tea or black tea) that’s been fermented with a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), also known as a “mother” because of its ability to reproduce. The result is a tangy, probiotic-rich beverage that’s good for you and your digestion. It can be flavored with ginger, hibiscus, rose hips, lavender, fruit juice or any spices you love.
MAKES 3 CUPS.
This recipe uses a 1-quart wide-mouth mason jar but it can be easily doubled using 1 SCOBY and a 1/2-gallon mason jar. Ready-made plain kombucha is used to help fermentation; purchase it as a beverage at supermarkets and natural food stores. Kombucha is best when served cold.
Each cup contains 65 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 2mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 16g sugars, 0g protein, 12Est GL.
MAKES 3 1/3 CUPS.
High in antioxidants, cherry and elderberry help strengthen the immune system. For flavor variety, try substituting your favorite unsweetened fruit juice for the cherry juice in this recipe.
Each cup contains 45 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 15mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 5g sugars, 1g protein, 2Est GL.
With each batch of kombucha, a second SCOBY will grow. Refrigerate extra SCOBY in a covered mason jar with a little plain kombucha until used. Here are simple rules for successfully fermenting kombucha.
Kombucha Making Equipment: You need a wide-mouth quart mason jar, 1 SCOBY, a paper coffee filter, a rubber band or string and a plastic strainer. All equipment should be clean.
Best Place to Keep It: Put kombucha out of direct sunlight in a spot with good air circulation that’s about 70°F to 85°F. Warmer, kombucha ferments faster. Cooler, it ferments more slowly.
Let Kombucha Breathe: Kombucha needs air, so don’t cover the container with plastic, metal or glass. Instead, cover it with a clean paper coffee filter, a cloth or a paper towel secured with a large rubber band or string.
Keep It Separate: Don’t make or store other ferments next to kombucha. If you’re making yogurt, sauerkraut or kimchi, do it in a different part of your kitchen or house.
Avoid Metal: Do not use metal of any kind when making kombucha. Wash your hands and remove your rings before handling the SCOBY.
Why Strain? Kombucha contains floating yeast particles. These are harmless but some people may find them unappetizing. If that’s you, strain your kombucha with a plastic strainer (not metal).
Chill Out: Kombucha tastes best when it’s cold. Keep it refrigerated until served.
For additional information about the science, nutrition and good taste of kombucha and other fermented foods, check out these classic books.
The Art of Fermentation
by Sandor Katz & Michael Pollan
Fermented Foods, for Health
by Deirdre Rawling, PhD, ND
The Nourished Kitchen
by Jennifer McGruther
by Sandor Katz & Sally Fallon
- 1/4 cup organic sugar
- 3 cups purified water (water from a faucet filter that removes chlorine is sufficient)
- 2 tea bags (pure, unflavored green and/or black tea)
- 1/2 cup plain kombucha
- 1 SCOBY (see Shopping List)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened, tart cherry juice, preferably organic
- 2 tablespoons elderberry extract or concentrate (not syrup)
1Place sugar into a clean 1-quart wide-mouth mason jar.
2Place water in a medium pot and bring it to a boil. Ladle enough hot water into the jar to dissolve the sugar. Stir mixture until sugar is completely dissolved.
3Add additional hot water to reach the 3-cup mark. Add tea bags and let tea steep 10 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags.
4Let sugar-tea mixture cool to room temperature. Then add plain kombucha and SCOBY. Cover the jar with a paper coffee filter secured with a rubber band.
5Let kombucha ferment 7 to 10 days out of direct sunlight. After 5 days, remove a small amount using a plastic straw and taste it for desired level of fermentation. The tea should taste less sweet than it did originally and it may be slightly effervescent.
6When kombucha is ready to your liking, remove the SCOBY and place SCOBY in another clean glass container. Cover it with a little kombucha and refrigerate it to use for your next batch.
7If desired, strain remaining kombucha into a separate clean mason jar. Cover with a regular mason jar lid and refrigerate kombucha until you drink it. Flavor it to your liking or enjoy it plain.
8Combine basic kombucha, cherry juice and elderberry extract.
9Refrigerate and drink chilled.