Kombucha. The mother of the booming, ready-to-drink, grab-and-go beverage category. Supposed health properties, soda alternative, or the means to a subtle buzz, this drink ranges from $2.99 - $3.99 a bottle... but it doesn't have to. With time and a little curiosity, you can DIY from home at $0.15 per 16 oz serving.
Gone are the days of DIY… that’s ancient acronym for Do-It-Yourself. Something many of us do less of these days.
It seems the trends here to stay are organic, non-GMO, and grab-and-go. We’re too busy for anything. Or, are we just too fancy?
The hipster is an example of trends here to stay. It’s the look you’re aiming for when picking out your next pair of prescription-free frames. It may also be the excuse for your laziness, which has led to your new beard and (if you’re trying to take yourself seriously), handle-bar mustache.
There are actually two kinds of hipsters in this world:
(1) Type 1 is the original. The OG.
(2) Type 2 is the wanna-be. The poser.
The defining characteristic? DIY. The OG hipster does it themselves.
Listen, it’s okay if you’re the wanna-be, poser. Embrace it. It’s a compliment, and the ultimate sign of respect to the original hipster. How do you know which you are?
Excuse my tangential, comical thinking – I’m getting to kombucha. The beverage of all beverages, and signature differentiator between OG hipsters and wanna-bes (me). Whether your budget doesn't permit your fancy beverage habits, or you maintain a curious, learner-mindset, this article will give you the quick and easy methods to brew your own.
The question is, will you make the time? Are you a type 1 or type 2 hipster? No matter, actually – just because you can DIY, doesn’t mean you can’t treat yo'self (at least time-to-time). You'll need 4 ingredients (including water), and a few tools/materials far from out-of-the-ordinary.
Do it yo'self.
- Glass jar, 1 gal+ size
- 1 Flour sack towel
- 1 Rubber band
- [several] Glass bottles and fitted caps (reused kombucha bottles work great)
- Tea: black or green
* Note: Read the ingredient label and ensure only black or green teas are present (no added extracts, flavors, oils, etc.)
- Sugar: pure cane white
* This is an important ingredient; honey and other sweetener alternatives generally don’t work as well. In fermentation, sugar is converted to carbon dioxide and alcohol, meaning the sugar content of your finished brew will not equate to your input.
- SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast)
* This is when you’ll want to know an OG hipster. A SCOBY Meet-Up group not near you? Shoot me an email because I have plenty of babies that need good homes!
Note: This can all go wrong with a little contamination (dust, a fruit fly, bad handling practices). Wash your hands. Sterilize your contact tools with a hot water rinse (following a proper washing). Fruit flies may come - use a flour sack towel, and forget the cliche cheesecloth (fruit flies can fit into the tiny, woven spaces). Never consume once contaminated - the tea, nor reuse the SCOBY (you'll know - there will be black, pink, or grey mold... mold of practically every color). Post-contamination means a fresh restart from the very beginning.
Time: 2 weeks (14 days)
* When held at room temperature.
Cost per serving: $0.15 per 16 ounce bottle (mind you, this is a 2 week waiting time)
Shelf-life (this is good for): 1-2 weeks, with refrigeration
* This short shelf-life is taste-oriented. Due to the pH (and provided no product contamination) and alcohol content (albeit low), it can be safely consumed long after this time. However, as the fermentation cycle continues, a vinegar-like taste will become more apparent.
Tell me more, you say.
SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast.
Essentially, you have a mat of bacteria and yeast. It’s flat, thick, yellow-beige in color, and takes the perimeter shape of its container (in a round jar, it’s a flat circle). The “Mother” SCOBY produces SCOBY babies, which appear as thin disks below the Mother SCOBY’s surface. SCOBY babies (alongside their residue tea) serve as the starter culture in kombucha-brewing.
A SCOBY can be derived from a bottle of GT’s Original Kombucha.
To create your own SCOBY:
1. Simply purchase 2 bottles of GT’s Original Kombucha (no other flavorings, additives).
2. Pour contents into a sterilized glass container.
3. Cover glass container with a flour sack towel, secure with a rubber band.
4. Let sit in a dark, dry place, preferably at room temperature or warmer.
5. Do not disturb. A Mother SCOBY will be ready in 1-2 weeks’ time.
Tell me how to make it already.
1. Brew tea concentrate: 1 quart hot water, 6 bags black or green tea, steep 5 minutes.
2. While hot, stir in 1 Cup white sugar (into tea concentrate) until in solution.
3. Transfer to glass jar. Add 3 quarts cold water. Tea should now be cool or at most, room temperature.
4. Add SCOBY (starter culture).
5. Place breathable material (flour sack towel) over container’s top, secure with rubber band.
6. Store in dark, dry place for 2 weeks. Room temperature and warmer ideal. Do not disturb.
7. After 2 weeks, transfer fermented product into individual glass containers. Seal. Let sit 2-3 days at room temperature.
*During this time, bacteria and yeast will produce gas (natural carbonation). Sealing the bottles allows gas to accrue and provide kombucha’s signature effervescence.
8. Following the 2-3 day holding period, place sealed bottles in refrigerator.
9. Enjoy within 1-2 weeks’ time of refrigeration.
For flavoring: A favorite of mine in ginger. To add ginger, simply wash, cut, and blend fresh ginger (plus small amount of water to get it going). Add roughly 1 Tbsp of freshly-pureed ginger per 16 ounce bottle, then pour in finished, fermented tea to bottle's fill line (leaving a 1" head space between fluid and top of cap).