I remember the first time I tried kombucha. I was a cashier at a popular natural foods grocery chain the summer before my senior year in college. I was learning about organics, compostable plastic, and the various uses for psyllium husk. The cashier next to me, with his luscious waist-length hair, was always drinking a bottle of green kombucha and I was just plain curious. At first smell, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with its vinegary aroma. But, after hearing about the health benefits of this magical fermented tea, I went for it. And I felt amazing! Fast forward 3 years to my years of living in small cottage in the country, and I started tinkering with making kombucha on my own and adding various flavors. Turns out, it’s not too difficult and a most invigorating experience.
There are many online resources for learning how to make kombucha (I recommend this blog post or this amazing book) so, for this post, I’ll go over some basics but leave you to do more research if you need it.
This batch of ‘buch has a base of rooibos tea and coconut sugar, which is a bit of a departure from the traditional method of black tea and plain white sugar, but still accomplishes the purpose of fermenting the tea. I got my starter tea and scoby from a friend who regularly brews kombucha at home (the liquid version of friendship bread). If you can’t get a scoby from a friend, you can order one, start your own with store bought kombucha, or find one in a local natural food store.
- 14 cups water
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 2 tbsp rooibos tea
- 2 cups starter tea
- 1 scoby
- fresh watermelon juice (I used 1 2/3 cups)
Boil your water, remove from heat and add sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add tea and allow to steep until water is brought to room temperature (I find this usually takes 1-2 hours). Strain the tea and pour the liquid into a very clean (I can’t emphasize this enough. Seriously, you don’t want kombucha mold) 1-gallon glass jar. Add the starter tea before placing the scoby on top with clean hands. Cover your jar with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band and place in an area out of direct sunlight, preferably not too cold and drafty. Let it ferment.
Then…you wait. You’ll see the new scoby begin to form at the top of the mixture. The hardest part of the whole process is waiting the 7-15 days for the tea to ferment and form the healthy new scoby at the top. This particular batch took the full 15 days (I think my kitchen runs cold and fermentation prefers warmer temperatures), but I started tasting for the perfect balance of sweet and tart beginning on day 10. Now, you can bottle.
But before you bottle, you’ll need to prepare new pot of sugar-tea mixture for your next batch. Put your fresh new scoby on a clean plate, and set aside 2 cups of your fermented tea for the next bath. Bottle it up in bottles with tight seals, but be sure to leave some space for the watermelon juice.
To make your watermelon juice, scoop out the flesh of a your melon and place in a blender. Once blended, strain out all the seeds and solid bits.
Pour watermelon juice into kombucha, to taste. I added about 1/4 c. of juice per bottle for a lighter, crisper flavor. Store the bottles at room temperature to allow for carbonation and fizzy goodness. When effervescence is at its best, you can place the bottles in the fridge. The colder temperature will stop the fermentation process.
Be sure to put your scoby into your new batch and brew for another 1-2 weeks. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!