My first taste of Kombucha was at Trader Joe’s! I paid $4.50 for 16 ounces and was quite pleased with the pleasant tasting, fizzy slightly tart ginger drink that gave me a quick pick me up. I went back to buy it on days when I was detoxing or mini fasting and loved the energy it gave me. So, when a fellow nutritionist who I was working with told me she brewed it at home, I was interested! Soon courtesy of my friend, I was taking home a little SCOBY and started my first batch of booch! I was excited because making it at home would be more controlled, stronger as my friend promised and perfectly affordable! Now that I have successfully brewed about 5 batches, I can safely say I am a veteran kombucha brewer and can give tips to anyone who wants to brew some too. The word brew sounds almost spooky, but then this drink is kind of magic with all the vitamins, minerals, raw enzymes and probiotic health it’s brimming with! A healthy brew with a touch of fizz!
What is Kombucha?
It’s basically sweetened tea which I would never drink if it was just that! I hate iced tea! But the sweetened tea gets transformed into this fizzy golden liquid courtesy of the scoby! The scoby is a mushroom culture that works its magic on the brew by eating up all the sugar and tannins in the tea and imparting a host of very beneficial healthy bacteria and probiotics! That healthy stuff heals your gut and makes it clean turning your gut into a veritable powerhouse. The scoby needs sugar and tannins to work its magic! This is one of the reasons you cannot use decaffinated tea or artificial sweeteners to brew kombucha. You may get a tad alarmed at having to use all that sugar to make the booch, but thanks to the scoby you are ending up with a very low sugared beverage. The longer it ferments, the less sugar it has!
I am not going to tell you about the numerous benefits of kombucha which you can read here, but I am going to tell you the benefits I have seen in the 6 weeks I have been on it! It cut my hunger while giving me energy. Seriously I was not hungry, I had to remind myself to eat. Was very handy during Lent when I like to skip a meal or two during weekdays. I lost weight at quite an alarming rate, like 5lbs in 2 weeks, which for a small person like me is a lot. It was not intentional, but that’s what happened. I have increased my calorie intake since with healthy foods since weight loss was not my goal and I like some healthy weight on my body. I guess it filled my gut with healthy probiotics and a clean gut leads to better absorption of nutrients and weight loss. I have suffered from occasional bouts of yeast infection, which disappeared without a trace. That sure feels good! My joints also, felt really strong as I could exercise better, be more flexible etc but that could also be attributed to my Bone broth which I started, last week. However, I feel, it is the combined health benefits of the booch and broth and I was feeling the strength in my joints even before I started bone broth. Ever since I have been on a “one- a-day “at least of kombucha, I have not had any digestive problems or upset stomachs which I was prone to earlier. The energy is probably the most exciting benefit I received. Like all women, I live a pretty active life: working mom, from scratch cook, exercise buff and any extra energy helps. Well, while this may look like a paid advertisement, I assure you it’s not. It’s my experience with booch. As with any healthy habit that I recommend to clients and friends, I try it on myself first and kombucha is a win!
How to get started!
- You need a glass jar that can hold at least a gallon of water. I got mine at a thrift store for 6 bucks and ended up changing it for another after 3 batches because the one I picked up had a spigot and that can create room for fungus etc.
- Tea bags or loose tea
- Filtered water
- One scoby; you can get it here
- A thin cheese cloth or paper towel to cover the booch and a tie or large rubber band to secure it with. It needs to breathe
- Glass bottles to store the bootch. I bought these on amazon and they keep my booch fizzy but you can just use glass jars or mason jars too
The problems I have encountered were with the spigot in the glass jar. While it was convenient to fill bottles, I was getting a little fungus and it was hard to clean so I got a glass jar without a tap and felt my scoby was a lot healthier! You can also add 1 tsp of vinegar on top of the scoby, once you put it in as extra insurance to prevent fungus. If you do get fungus, just throw it out and start again with a fresh scoby. Your scoby grows thicker and stronger and will separate after a while showing its ready to start a batch on its own and you can give it away, make another batch or store it in case you need it. As long as it’s covered in tea it will thrive.
Heat in the winter maybe a problem since scoby needs warm temperatures to thrive. I solved this by getting a kombucha hugger which keeps the brew at an even temperature. If you don’t have a hugger, its fine. It just takes longer to become booch. My first batch took 2 weeks but after I started using the hugger it took a week. Just like all of us, kombucha does better with a hugger :)! You taste it and when it reaches the tart level you want, you will know and you can harvest.
This was my favorite part. I was quite basic and tried 4 kinds of flavorings which I have outlined below.
- Ginger Lemon: I juiced fresh ginger and added some fresh lemon! Ended up with what tasted like nonalcoholic ginger beer!
- Mango Peach juice : I buy this 100 % mango peach juice which serves as a nice flavoring for booch
- Large mason jars are the best! They can be filled with all sorts of things and I added kiwi to one and mixed berries to another and ended up with delish tasting fizzy, natural fruity booch
Lastly, treat your kombucha with care! It’s a pet that will reap benefits if given a little TLC. I have a picture of my bootch so you can see how I treat it. I was keeping it on the main level till my husband and kids said the smell was too strong, so I moved it downstairs to the guest bedroom suite which is rarely occupied. I hooked up the hugger, covered it with a cozy blanket to maintain the heat and go and check on it every once in a while. I talk to it too, ( crazy me) and occasionally give it peck on top and say a prayer that it may become a healthy booch brimming with goodness! It’s my new baby and I treat it with care.
PS: Wrote this post 2 days back but I was waiting for the auspicious hour of the ‘Eve Before Thursday’ to publish and now It’s 5 minutes to Thursday! Just one of my crazy superstitions :)!