Kombucha, step by step.

My favorite beverage!!!

From Wikipedia: "Kombucha is an effervescent tea-based beverage that is often drunk for its health benefits or medicinal purpose."

1 1/2 gallons of Kombucha ready to be strained. 
Our whole family LOVES kombucha! It costs me 90 cents to make a half gallon (64 oz), compared with a 16oz bottle for $4 at the store. I feel like I've somewhat mastered the process and wanted to share. Some of the benefits of Kombucha include:

*Probiotics – healthy bacteria
*Alkalize the body – balances internal pH
*Detoxify the liver – happy liver = happy mood
*Increase metabolism – rev your internal engine
*Improve digestion – keep your system moving
*Rebuild connective tissue – helps with arthritis, gout, asthma, rheumatism
*Cancer prevention
*Alleviate constipation
*Boost energy – helps with chronic fatigue
*Reduce blood pressure
*Relieve headaches & migraines
*Reduce kidney stones
*High in antioxidants – destroy free-radicals that cause cancer
*High in polyphenols
*Improve eyesight
*Heal excema – can be applied topically to soften the skin
*Prevent artheriosclerosis
*Speed healing of ulcers – kills h.pylori on contact
*Help clear up candida & yeast infections
*Aid healthy cell regeneration
*Reduce gray hair
*Lower glucose levels – prevents spiking from eating

For more in depth reading on Kombucha, I recommend this article, What is Kombucha? It is very informative. I have a friend that I peer pressured into trying my Kombucha and now her and her husband are hooked! Last time I talked to her, she had lost 12lbs in 12 days since starting Kombucha. Below are my step by step pic instructions on how to make it. 

Most important rule: NO metal can touch the SCOBY. It will kill it.

Organic black tea bags from Vitacost
$4 for 100 bags.

View from the top...
For 1/2 gallon jars, you'll need 1 cup starter tea, 1/2 c. sugar and 3-4 black tea bags. I used to buy organic turbinado, now I buy cheap, cane sugar. Works the same in my opinion. Half gallon jars are available at Walmart, Target, Atwoods.

Add your 4 black tea bags to some filtered, boiling water. It really doesn't matter how much, just leave enough room to add ice cubes to cool it off. 
Remove SCOBY from jar w/ a plastic or wooden spoon. 
Put it in a bowl... 

Pour 1 cup of freshly strained starter tea (this is what you just removed the SCOBY from and that has been fermenting for  5-7 days) into a clean 1/2 gallon jar. You have to have starter tea to make kombucha otherwise it would mold. 

Add 1/2 cup of sugar to the 1 cup of starter tea and stir until dissolved. The culture eats the sugar, so there is very little left in the tea after fermentation.

Remove your tea bags from the hot water after 5 minutes and add enough ice cubes to cool it down to room temperature. If you add hot water to the starter tea or the SCOBY, it will kill the live cultures. 

Pour room temp. tea into jar that contains your starter tea and sugar and stir. 
Add filtered water to fill up jar. Leave about 2 inches from the top. 
With clean hands or a spoon, place your scoby in the new sugar water. 
Almost done! Kinda... 
Place a clean washcloth over the top and place a tight rubber band around it. 
Place in a cabinet (don't forget about it!) or on top of your fridge out of direct sunlight. Leave for 5-7 days or until a new culture has formed at the top of the jar. Mine usually forms within 4 days.The bigger the SCOBY, the quicker it ferments.

Next step a few days later... 2nd fermentation and flavoring.
Kombucha is pretty tasty and carbonated right off the bat, but fermenting for another 24 hours with some juice, makes it extra yummy.

Supplies needed:
- Grolsch style bottles (available at Ross and Tuesday Morning here in OKC.) I bought mine for $1.50/bottle.
- Funnel
- Juice concentrate
Thaw out juice and place in a jar to be used over the next week or so. I have tried lots of different juice flavors and with the grolsch style bottles, pineapple is BY FAR my favorite flavor. It carbonates better and the taste is amazing. *Edited 1/2015: If you're using the half gallon jars for the second ferment, I recommend adding 2 cups of bottled 100% Juicy Juice grape juice. That's what we've been using now for the past couple years and the kids love it.
After removing the SCOBY, pour the fermented tea into the bottle...

Add 3 tablespoons juice concentrate...

Seal and let sit for 24 hours on counter.  
If you don't have any of the fancy bottles, jars sealed with a lid will work too. They just won't be as carbonated.
Chill before opening... Enjoy!! (Do NOT shake!)

If you want to try Kombucha out before getting a scoby,
 I highly recommend the GT Synergy brand available at Akins, Sunflower Mkt, and Buy 4 Less.

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