What I Love – My Kombucha Recipe – Prairie du Sac, WI Photographer

Today I would like to share with you my kombucha recipe. This is not really a photography related topic, but one very close to my heart, as I used to teach workshops how to make this special drink. And of course I will include some images as well 🙂 We’ve been drinking kombucha regularly for several years now. I think this is one of the things that helps us stay healthy during the colder months.  It is also one of the best thirst quenchers during hot summers. Kombucha is a lacto-fermented drink made of tea, sugar and special culture called “scoby”. Because of the natural fermentation, it is full of health benefits, probiotics, vitamins, enzymes and more. It is also very easy to make at home at a fraction of the cost of store bought bottle. If you’ve never tried it I encourage you to buy a bottle, and who knows, you might like it so much that you will want to learn how to make your own. This recipe below will help you with that. Besides, with the holiday season just around the corner, home brewed kombucha in a nice bottle makes a great gift as well as a conversation starter 🙂 Aren’t these pretty?

This is what you will need to make kombucha:

  • Large stainless steel pot (at least a gallon or larger). Stainless steel, enamel or glass work well. Aluminum or teflon coated pots are NOT good.
  • 12 cups of filtered water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 5 teaspoons of loose tea or 6 tea bags. Plain black or green tea is good. Sometimes I like to experiment with flavored teas but you have to make sure that they don’t contain any oils or artificial flavoring as these are not good for the scoby.
  • Scoby and about a cup of previously brewed kombucha as a starter. This might be the most challenging ingredient to obtain… You can get in touch with me as I always have some extra ones or search Craig’s List. You may also grow your own scoby from scratch by using two bottles of plain store bought kombucha. If you choose this method just use less water for your first batch. In kombucha circles your first scoby is called “the mother” and the new ones it produces are “babies” 🙂
  • a glass gallon jar
  • piece of old t-shirt and a rubber band
  • plastic straw
  • several glass bottles with plastic caps (not metal!) or ceramic flip tops. I use old lemonade or grolsch beer bottles. You can also buy EZ-cap type bottles at a store with beer brewing supplies.

How to make kombucha:

  1. Wash the pot and add 12 cups of filtered or spring water and bring to a boil. You’ll need only 8 glasses if you are going to grow your own scoby.
  2. When it boils, add 1 cup of sugar, stir it well to dissolve and boil 5 more minutes.
  3. Turn off the gas, add tea to water, cover and let cool down to room temperature. I usually do this step in the evening and let it cool overnight.
  4. Pour your sweet tea from the pot into a clean glass jar, add your scoby (the mother) and some starter kombucha. If you don’t have a scoby then pour two bottles of PLAIN (not flavored) store bought kombucha. Never add a scoby to hot sweet tea – it will kill it.
  5. Cover the jar with cotton cloth and secure with a rubber band.
  6. Put the jar in a place where nothing will disturb it and leave it alone for about 5-7 days. You may look and admire how your new baby scoby is growing on the surface, but don’t stir or shake the jar.
  7. After 5 days you should see a new scoby on the top and you may start testing your kombucha to check if it is done. Just slide a straw by the side of the scoby and sample. It will have a vinegar smell and semi-sweet taste, like apple cider. It may take from 5 days to two weeks to brew kombucha. It depends on the room temperature, how thick was the scoby and how much starter you used. Always wait long enough so that the baby scoby is at least 1/8in thick. This is how it should look, see the lighter layer on top? This is a new baby 🙂

When the kombucha tastes good to you, carefully remove the scoby (mother and baby) put it in a glass container and pour a cup or more of kombucha over to protect it and cover. Now you can make a new batch with it, give the baby to a friend or put in a fridge until you are ready to make more (we usually have two or three gallons brewing at the same time). You can separate the scobies or keep them together. As you can see here,  it turned out I had 4 layers of them. More would be too many, it was time to get rid of the bottom ones.

You may now drink the kombucha straight from the jar but it tastes MUCH better if you first bottle it. Pour kombucha to the brim into glass bottles. You may add some flavoring now: pieces of fresh, frozen or dried fruit, ginger, lemon juice or our favorite – mint sprigs. Cap the bottles and leave at room temperature for 2 to 5 days. This will make kombucha deliciously fizzy. Keep an eye on the bottles though because if you leave them too long they may explode and you’ll have a nice kombucha pattern on you ceiling… This happened once when we added too much fresh apple juice 🙂 I hope you’ll find these instructions easy enough to experiment in your kitchen and brew your own kombucha at home or at least buy one bottle in a store and try it if you’ve never had it before. Happy brewing!

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8 Responses to “What I Love – My Kombucha Recipe – Prairie du Sac, WI Photographer”
  1. Kristy Litscher says:

    Beautiful, Ania! Do you know if kombucha is available in stores in this area?

  2. Ania says:

    Thanks Kristy! I’m not sure if you can buy kombucha somewhere in town… Grainary in Baraboo should have it and for sure Willy Street Coop, Whole Foods and Woodman’s in Madison. You can always stop by and I can give you some to try, we always have it handy 🙂

  3. Nick Gauger says:

    We are still brewing kombucha with the descendents of the SCOBY that Emily got from one of your classes about 5 years ago. I’m sure she’s already told you that, but thanks! It’s been fun for us and also a nice addition to our diets.

  4. Ania says:

    Thanks for sharing that Nick! Can you imagine how many generations of SCOBYs you raised over the last 5 years? Must be in hundreds 🙂

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