Fermenting happiness: How to make homemade kombucha

Kombucha is the product of fermented tea. Its origin is unknown, but it speculated to have been created in Japan in 415 AD. (Katelin Woods | Collegian Media Group)

While kombucha is nothing new, it hasn’t been commercially available for a very long time. Nowadays, its popularity has spread to the extent it can be found at any grocery store or health market.

But what is this drink composed of? Is is truly an aid to health, or yet another fad to hit the shelves?

According to mayoclinic.org, kombucha is a “fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast.” This probiotic portion of the drink is referred to as a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, or SCOBY.

Kombucha is made by adding the colony to sugar and tea and allowing the mix to ferment. There is not enough evidence yet to back its health benefits, but the Journal of Medicinal Food published research about the physiological health effects of kombucha. They concluded that kombucha tea detoxes the body, protects it from free-radical damage, energizes and promotes immunity.

Kombucha is believed to assist in bloating and boosting serotonin levels. It does so by removing toxins from your gut, which can affect your mood. It is also marketed as a natural energy drink.

To save your wallet from market kombucha, you can make it at your home for the fraction of the cost. It is simple to make, and gives you more opportunity to experiment with flavors.

You will need a one gallon glass jar, a 32 ounce mason jar, a piece of cloth such as a bandana, a rubber band, 6 tea bags of either black, green or oolong tea and one cup of white sugar. Do not replace white sugar with brown sugar, agave or honey. You will also need a SCOBY.

First, you must make your SCOBY. You will need to get an unflavored kombucha. Their packaging will often be labeled as “original.” Then, fill the mason jar halfway with the kombucha and cover it with a cloth. You can use strips of an old T-shirt or a bandana to cover it. Do not use a mason jar lid, because this will cut off the air to the living organisms and kill them.

Then, press on the open lid of the canning jar onto your mason jar. You can also use rubber bands for this.

Finally, you must place this in a dark place, such as a pantry, for 16 days. Do not disturb it, and it will become thick and ready for the next step.

In a large pot, heat five cups of water, just hot enough that sugar will dissolve in the water. Turn off the heat and mix in the cup of sugar. Place the tea bags in the liquid and let it steep for about 15 minutes, while simultaneously letting the liquid cool to room temperature. The longer it steeps, the stronger the drink will be.

Remove the tea bags, add one and a half cups of distilled white vinegar to the mixture and put the liquid mixture into the glass gallon container. Leave a few inches at the top for the SCOBY. Place your SCOBY into the mixture and cover the glass jar with the piece of cloth and use the rubber band to hold it in place.

Let this sit undisturbed out of direct sunlight at room temperature for seven to 30 days, depending on how strong you want it. When the wait is over, pour off the top of the batch without removing the SCOBY and enjoy!