What's with the living, fermented tea tea you ask? Kombucha is a sweet sweet bev that contains colonies of live bacteria and yeast. These bacteria have similar properties to Kefir and often amass in a floating cellulose network. The potential benefits of Kombucha are often equated to those of yogurt: good bacteria that is thought to aid digestion.

The drink also contains antioxidants which are presumed to fight free radicals in the body. Regardless, you get hooked by the unique flavor and delightful effervescence, not to mention the best part: you can easily brew Kombucha at home!

Round Up The Goods

You will need one square yard of cheesecloth, a rubber band, 1 tablespoon loose leaf black or green tea, 2 cups white distilled vinegar, 1/2 cup white sugar, a wooden spoon, a wide mouthed glass jar which will hold 2 liters, a 2 liter airtight glass bottle with swing stopper, 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger and one apple. Before starting, recognize the need to keep materials and containers sterile - working in a dirty environment can lead to contaminated Kombucha. Be sure to disinfect your counters and rinse your jars with boiling water. 

Start With The SCOBY

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To begin a batch of Kombucha, you'll need to have a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, known as a SCOBY. You can purchase starter cultures from many websites such as Cultures for Health, or you can make your own. I undertook the ordeal of making my own. Isn't she a beauty? 

Brew Your Brew

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The next step is simple: you're just brewing tea the normal way. Bring 2 liters of water to a boil, pour it over your tablespoon of loose-leaf tea and let it steep for about 5-7 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of sugar, and stir with a wooden spoon until it's dissolved. Now for the tricky part: you must wait until the tea cools to room temperature. Once this has occurred (it will take a few hours), add 2 cups of white distilled vinegar and add in your majestic SCOBY. 

And Wait For It

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Pour the above mixture into a wide mouthed jar, and cover it with your cheesecloth. Fold the cheesecloth in half a couple of times so it has layers to it. Place a rubber band over the cheesecloth to fix it over the mouth of the jar. Store your covered jar somewhere dark and fairly temperature regulated (I keep mine in the back of a cabinet). Let the tea ferment for at least 20 days. You can play around with your fermenting time; the longer it ferments, the less sweet it will taste so it is based upon your personal preference. 

Add Some Flavor

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Once your tea is done fermenting, you have two options: you can drink it or give it fizz and flavor like the tea you can buy at the supermarket. For this, you will need an airtight bottle with a stopper along with some form of fruit or juice to add flavor. I chose to use fresh slices of ginger and apple.

Simply pour your fermented tea into the new bottle and add your flavor. Close the stopper and return the tea to your dark storage space. Allow it to ferment for 3-7 days so the flavors can permeate and the active bacteria and yeast can break down the sugary substances.

As this happens, air bubbles are released and trapped by the stopper, thus creating a carbonation effect. It is a good idea to check you Kombucha periodically during this step to test the flavor as well as release some of the gas trapped in the bottle.  Be sure to store your SCOBY so that it can be re-used for another batch!

Once your flavor and carbonation level is satisfactory, store your Kombucha in its airtight bottle in the fridge to stop the fermentation process. You can store your Kombucha this way for several weeks. Enjoy!

Darya Molibog