Kombucha Demystified: Brewing and Brands

kombucha brewing

Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented probiotic drink that has gained an incredible following over the past couple years. Why has it become so popular, you say? Maybe because of the numerous health benefits and the unique tangy, slightly sweet taste. Check out this article to understand the evidence-based health benefits of kombucha. Now that we’re on the same page about the benefits of kombucha, which one should you buy? I’ll tell you some of my favorite brands in a bit, but first let’s discuss my favorite kombucha brew, my own homemade booch!

booch /bo͞oCH/ noun slang for kombucha; what the cool kids say

Why I Brew My Own Kombucha

kombucha brewing

Kombucha is one of my favorite drinks. I first discovered kombucha in my senior year of college. My roommate used to buy GTs chia kombucha, and after trying a few myself, I was hooked. I loved the sour tangy flavor and the slight fizz. I started buying at least one a week. Empty bottles started stacking up and my bank account started going down. My partner, noticing how much I was spending each week on kombucha, decided to buy me a SCOBY (more on this later) in order to start brewing from home. I’ve been brewing consistently ever since (I even brewed when I lived in Namibia)! At first it can be scary to start fermenting your own products at home, but once you dive in, you realize just how easy it is to make your own unique kombucha that perfectly suits your own tastes. Now, instead of spending $4+ a week, I spend less than $1 for a full gallon of kombucha. Start up costs are also minimal, so what are you waiting for?

Brewing at Home: What You’ll Need

kombucha brewing

Okay, now that you’ve accepted the idea of brewing at home, what do you need to get started?

  1. Glass beverage dispenser. I prefer a 2+ gallon jar with a spigot.
  2. Clean t-shirt rag with large rubber band (big enough to fit over the lid of your jar – see image above)
  3. Filtered water
  4. Tea. I use loose leaf Rooibos, but any non-herbal tea will work.
  5. Sugar. White granulated will do (but make sure it’s vegan!)
  6. Starter. Use white vinegar for the first batch and save 2 cups of your brewed kombucha for every gallon of subsequent batches
  7. SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)

To make things even easier to start out, here are links to buy five out of the seven things mentioned above. You should already have a spare t-shirt and water!

PRO TIP: save your bottles from all of the kombucha that you used to buy and use them to bottle your new home brew.

Starting Your First Batch: How it Works

kombucha brewing

Now you have all of your supplies, but what’s that weird, slimy, mushroom thing? Dealing with the SCOBY is where people tend to freak out. Don’t freak out! Your SCOBY will be your new favorite pet. It is alive after all!  Firstly, what is it? A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. A SCOBY works by eating sugar and converting it to alcohol and carbon dioxide. So, in order to make kombucha, you first need to start with a sweet tea. When you introduce the SCOBY to sweet tea, over time, the SCOBY will eat the sugar and leave you with a tangy, slightly fizzy, kombucha! It really is that simple. For full instructions on how to brew your own kombucha from start to finish, read this comprehensive guide from Kombucha Kamp. Kombucha Kamp is a wonderful resource for anyone brewing kombucha at home, so I won’t reinvent the wheel. Here’s a quick infographic to help you remember the correct ratio for home brewing.

how to brew kombucha, kombucha brewing ratio

Still Not Into the Idea of Brewing Kombucha at Home?

I have a feeling you’ll fall in love with fermenting at home, but if not, don’t worry. There are some delicious store bought kombuchas on the market now, and here are some of my favorites.

GT’s Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha Brew Dr. Kombucha Health-Ade Kombucha

And there you have it! Although I prefer to brew at home, I often indulge in store bought kombucha if it is from a local brand. One of my favorite local brands is Urban Farm Fermentory based out of Portland, Maine. Is there a local kombucha company near you? Are you ready to try out home-brewing? Let us know in the comments. We love to talk about kombucha tips, tricks, and flavor combinations!

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