Ecosalon Recipes: DIY Kombucha from a Seasoned Expert


A few of you DIYer’s out there have been clamoring for a kombucha recipe, but I’m merely a connoisseur and haven’t been making this living tea myself. As it happens, I live in an eclectic little community, and wouldn’t you know my neighbor Dillon has been making the stuff for years. She swears it’s easy and low maintenance. I present to you her time-tested method.

What you need:

-1 gallon sized, wide-mouth glass jar.
-3 quarts water purified, filtered or distilled.
-1 ½ cups sugar (white, brown or raw). Don’t use honey because it has living organisms and you don’t want it to interfere with the culture you’re trying to grow.
-3 teaspoons or teabags of caffeinated tea (black, green or white).
-1 kombucha culture, heretofore known as a pad, because that’s what it looks like. (check craigslist; the pad multiplies and people are always giving extras away).
- 1 square foot of cheesecloth (to cover the mouth of the jar) and a large rubber band.

What you do:
- Make sure your glass jar is very clean. You will be growing a living culture in it and you don’t want other bacteria interfering.
- Boil the water in a pan. Take it off the heat, steep the tea (10-20 minutes) and dissolve the sugar. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
- Pour the sweet tea into the jar and place the kombucha pad on top.
- Cover the jar with cheesecloth held by a rubber band. Do not use thick cloth or a lid – the culture needs to breath!
- Leave jar in a cool, dry place for 5-7 days. Watch for a few fizz bubbles. Keep your fingers out of it – you don’t want to introduce other bacteria.
- Strain out your kombucha and put it in the fridge. Cloudy strings of culture are natural and safe to drink, but you’ll probably want to strain them out.
- Leave the pad in the jar with enough kombucha to cover it. Start a new batch within a few days or your pad will die!

What’s happening?

- The kombucha pad is eating and metabolizing the sugar, so your finished product will not actually contain much sugar.
- The longer you leave the jar, the more vinegary it will become. 5-day kombucha will be sweeter, but not as strong, as 9-day kombucha.
- After about 2 weeks, the pad will run out of sugar and starve, so don’t wait too long!
- Your kombucha pad is alive. After a batch or two, you’ll notice it has multiplied. You can peel the pads apart and start two batches, or give one to a friend! (Use a Ziploc bag with some kombucha liquid in it to keep the pad alive).

Dillon’s expert tips:

- If you leave the baby connected to the mother pad, your next batch will brew quicker.
- The kombucha will brew more quickly in warm temperature, and  more slowly when its cool.
- You can add fruit or ginger juice after its finished to give your brew different flavors.
- Dillion’s favorite brewing tea is Celestial Seasonings Morning Thunder (sorry, it’s not organic!)

For the burgeoning entrepreneur, there is a growing demand for local, homemade kombucha. This is a great cottage industry and you could be at the forefront. Kombucha lovers like me will appreciate it!

Have fun and let me know how it goes. 

Image: naama