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Try it Now: Brew Your Own Kombucha

Brew your own Kombucha.

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Kombucha is the newest, hottest health beverage. This effervescent, fermented tea packs a lot of health benefits. The best part is, you can actually brew it yourself.

When trying to make kombucha for the first time, it may be a good idea to buy a starter kit. Kombucha BrooklynOregon Kombucha and Laurel Farms all make great options and some also offer classes. These kits all include a SCOBY (which stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast), often called a “mother” or “kombucha mushroom.” It’s actually not a mushroom, but a self-replicating bacteria culture. When you finish a batch of kombucha, the “mother” has a “baby” that you can either use to start a second batch (perhaps with a different flavor) or give away to friend.

Before you start your first batch, there are a few basic things you need to keep in mind. “Be sure you live in a hygienic environment,” says Rick Miller from Kombucha Brooklyn. “If your house has a mold problem, for example, or if you smoke, it can ruin your kombucha.” Washing your hands thoroughly is important, but don’t use antibacterial soap as it can damage the live cultures. Sterilize the jars with boiling water before you start, and be sure to use only clear, unleaded glass jars, as the kombucha will cause toxins to leach from colored glass, ceramic vessels or metal containers.

What you need

4 organic tea bags (green, white or black tend to work best, but experiment with different kinds)

1 cup organic cane sugar

1 SCOBY

1/2 cup of kombucha starter (kombucha from a previous batch, or raw, store-bought kombucha)

Clean cotton tea towel

1-gallon unleaded glass jar

3 quarts distilled water

Glass measuring cup (metal measuring cups cause toxins to leach into your batch)

Wooden spoon

Paper towels

Unleaded glass bottles for storing your finished kombucha

Step-by-Step

1. Boil the water and pour into the glass jar, add tea bags and let steep for 20 minutes.

2. Remove the tea bags, pour in the sugar and mix until dissolved.

3. Allow to cool to room temperature (this can take a couple of hours).

4. Add the kombucha starter and SCOBY into the jar.

6. Cover the jar with a cotton tea towel (it’s important that it’s clean) and seal tightly with a rubber band.

7. Place your kombucha jar in a dark, warm environment (between 70-86ºF is ideal) for one to two weeks.

8. When your kombucha starts smelling like vinegar, you can test the pH-level (pH 3 is ideal). Pull a sample by sticking a straw into the mix, covering the end with your finger and placing the liquid that comes out into another vessel. This ensures that your mix does not get contaminated. If it’s too sweet, the cultures probably need more time to consume the sugar.

9. If your kombucha tastes good, gently move the mother and baby cultures (with clean hands) to another jar and cover them with a bit of kombucha to keep them safe.

10. Pour your kombucha into smaller bottles and allow to ferment at room temperature for another 2-5 days — this will make them fizzy.