I feel a little late to the kombucha party, but recently a friend posted that she had “extra scoby” and I jumped at the chance to make my own kombucha.

For starters, kombucha is simply black or green tea that has bacteria and sugar added in and is left to ferment. The tea is brewed just like any other tea- hot water and a few tea bags. It is left to cool or ice can be added to it to cool. Kombucha, like other fermented foods (sauerkraut, sour dough bread, kimchee, miso) has several health benefits.

SCOBY (pronounced skoh bee), stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Scoby is used to make kombucha as well as other fermented foods such as sour dough bread. I’ll admit, a scoby is a bit odd looking- kind of like a slippery, large mushroom. You can obtain scoby from a friend or buy it commercially on amazon. Here is a review of the best ones for purchase: http://kombuchahome.com/best-kombucha-starter-kit-sources/

The most important reason to include fermented foods in your diet is gut health. Approximately 60% of your immune system resides in your bowels. While that may sound gross, it’s important to keep the bacteria in your gut thriving to help prevent disease. Fermented foods introduce probiotics (healthy bacteria) into your gut. The bacteria has been found to improve digestion, absorption of nutrients and may even help with weight loss and immunity. Eating a diet high in fiber from a variety of plant foods (fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes) also helps keep gut bacteria thriving.

You can buy commercial kombucha just about anywhere, though it will cost you. The cheapest ones I’ve seen will run you $2.79 per 20 oz. bottle. If you make your own, it will cost about .25 per quart!

To make kombucha, brew at least a quart of tea using a few tea bags. Allow the tea to cool. Add ¼ cup of white or other sugar to the tea. Sugar is needed to feed bacteria, so no use of Stevia, Splenda or other sugar subs allowed here. Add your scoby and let the tea sit at room temperature with a breathable cloth over it that’s “clamped down” using a rubber band. You’ll need 1/4 cup of sugar per quart of tea. If you brew a gallon, use 1 cup of sugar.

After 4-7 days, the tea will begin to ferment and become carbonated. It will take on a tangy taste. You can add flavors to the tea such as ginger, basil, lemon or other herbs and spices. You may notice a small film or disc of bacteria (scoby, also called “the mother”) develop on the top of the tea. This can be removed and another batch of tea started. The tea should be allowed to ferment up to 30 days. The longer it ferments, the tangier and less sweet it will become.

My friend had multiple batches of kombucha brewing on her kitchen counter. Once the tea is to your liking, store it in the frig and consume a little bit daily. The scoby that’s used from the first batch can be cut and shared with others. The scoby created from the new batch can start another batch or also be paid forward.

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