Recipe: Kombucha Made Easy

By Sara Burrows

One taste of the sparkling, fruity, super elixir and I was hooked. It was fizzy and refreshing like champagne, but loaded with probiotics, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, especially B vitamins, which my then vegan body was starving for. It gave me a burst of energy (not the jittery caffeine kind) and helped me digest my food and cleanse my body.

For years, I went to great lengths to get my hands on the stuff, often spending my last $4 on a 16-ounce bottle, like a drug addict in need of a boost (only I was a dying person in need of life-giving nutrients). When my sister got a job at Whole Foods, I’d save up to buy a whole case of Synergy Kombucha, so I could get a double discount – one for her being an employee and one for buying a case – but still, it was breaking my little bank. I had to ration myself. I couldn’t afford a bottle each day, so I’d drink four or five a week, just enough to keep me going.

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And then, I became a stay-at-home mom. I was broker than ever, but supporting another life through breastfeeding made me crave kombucha more than ever. So I decided it was time to make my own.

To me, doing anything in the kitchen beyond frying an egg seemed overwhelming. But luckily Brad is extremely competent in the kitchen and took charge of figuring it out. He got the recipe down and taught me to repeat it week after week, and we’ve never gone thirsty since.

We now get 24 pint-sized bottles of more delicious, more potent kombucha using all organic ingredients and fresh fruit for the same price as three pint-sized, less potent, store-bought kombucha.

I recently attempted to write out the simplest kombucha-making instructions I could for my best friend, so I thought I might as well sharethem here too, for anyone who’s interested:

1. Obtain a SCOBY – Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast – or “mother” culture. You can buy one online or get one from a friend. Or try Craigslist to find a cheaper SCOBY in a neighborhood near you. You can no longer make your own from store-bought kombucha, thanks to the FDA who forced Synergy to reformulate their tea in 2010 to be less “alcoholic” and less effective.

2. Get a big glass container with a spout. Ours is 3 gallons.
3. Get a big 3-gallon stockpot for brewing the tea.

4. Get a bunch of small, airtight glass bottles or mason jars. You’ll need about 24 if they are 16-Ounces.
5. Get a bag of loose leaf tea, green or black. I buy Yerba Mate at Whole Foods.

6. Get a box of large tea bags. They sell these at Whole Foods too.

7. Get the biggest bag of organic cane sugar you can find.

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8. Heat 3 gallons of water in the stock pot, steep 3 bags full of tea in it, stir in 3 cups of sugar (maybe a little more sugar to make it ferment faster).

9. Let it cool to room temperature, pour it in the big glass container, let the mother float on top, cover container with paper towels or a cheese cloth and a rubber band.

10. Wait 5-7 days.
11. Pour the kombucha into the airtight bottles or mason jars, pour a little fruit juice (we use fresh-squeezed strawberry juice) in each of the bottles with the tea, close the lids and let them sit on the counter 1 or 2 more days, for the second round of fermentation. When they get fizzy, put them in the fridge, before they explode.

12. Repeat. After a few weeks, you’ll have several layers of SCOBYs. A new baby culture will grow on top of the mother culture every week or so. When the babies get big enough, you can peel them apart and give them to your friends, so they can make their own kombucha too : )

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Brad Jordan hosts a podcast called Food Riot Radio. He and his co-host Sara Burrows work to expose how a collusion between government, big agriculture, big pharma and big food has determined what ends up on our plates and offer ideas for how to fight back.

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