Reprinted with permission of Rachel Baker of the Spokesman Review.
If you’re on a budget but hooked on kombucha, brewing it at home is an incredibly affordable alternative to paying $4 to $6 a bottle for it.
As with all home fermentation, you must work in a sanitary environment, follow measurements and know the signs of healthy versus unhealthy bacterial growth to ensure your end product is safe to consume. Even then, any home fermentation carries a small risk of foodborne illness, so proceed at your own discretion.
Unless you know someone with an established SCOBY, you’ll have to start your own. SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (commonly referred to as a “mother” or “mushroom”).
One of the easiest ways for beginners to do this is to buy a bottle of raw, unpasteurized and unflavored kombucha from the store and grow a SCOBY from the already present bacteria.
Boil 2 cups of water (filtered is best) and use it to steep 4 grams (or about two teabags) of black tea for about 15 minutes to make a starter liquid. Add one-half cup of granulated sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Pour in the full bottle of kombucha.
Cover with a seal that is not airtight, such as terry cloth or thin plastic wrap. Place in a warm area out of direct sunlight. Ideal brewing temperature is 80 to 90 degrees. If needed, you can place it on a heating mat or use a heating wrap around the container.