Did you know you can make fermented kombucha tea at home for pennies? I discovered this years ago after getting hooked on this fabulous, fizzy, probiotic beverage. I still remember the first bottle of kombucha I tasted.
Hubby and I were vacationing at our favorite hot springs resort. That summer, the heat was shimmering in the upper 90’s. One day we visited the on-site health food store on a mission to quench our thirst. We were looking for something new and bubbly to do the trick.
Needless to say, that first icy-cold bottle of kombucha lightly sweetened with Asian pear and spices made a lasting impression. Not only was it remarkably refreshing, but it seemed to have an energizing effect as well. As a result, hubby and I shared a bottle every day for the remainder of our vacation.
Now you might be wondering why we chose to split a bottle. Why didn’t we each have our own? Well, we had a vacation budget to stick to. Even though that exquisite kombucha tasted worth every penny, it wasn’t cheap. Furthermore, the problem of cost didn’t end with our vacation.
Once we returned home, I still craved that marvelous kombucha. When I read about the health benefits of live probiotics, I wanted it even more. So, I set out looking for an economical way to make it at home. Initially, the process was baffling. However, it didn’t take long to resolve the mysteries of brewing kombucha. Since then, we have had a continuous supply for years. I am eager to pass on this opportunity to you.
But here’s the clincher. Guess what I discovered? Not only can you reduce the cost of kombucha by making it yourself, but you can also make it for less than 50 cents a bottle. When I crunched the numbers, calculating the cost of organic loose leaf tea and organic raw sugar, I was flabbergasted. I did the math over several times because I couldn’t believe it. Astoundingly, I can make a 16-ounce bottle of plain homemade kombucha on average for 15 cents.
From there, I always add organic fruit for enhanced flavor and natural carbonation. That’s because ample bubbles increase kombucha’s refreshing quality ten-fold. Luckily, I usually have access to affordable farmers' market fruit, or better yet free, wild fruit. However, even when I choose the most costly fruit for carbonation, the highest expense is 89 cents for a 16-ounce bottle. What a saving from buying kombucha at the grocery store. Locally we have to pay upwards of 7 dollars a bottle. Are you tempted by this price difference?
Let me mention another benefit besides savings when you use raw kombucha tea to make your own fruit-flavored, naturally fizzy kombucha. Our visitors remark how much they prefer the taste over store-bought. When you add fruit and bottle your own kombucha for a second fermentation, you determine just how tart, sweet or nuanced with herbs or spices your brew is. Finally, you are assured of natural versus artificial carbonation. So grab your gallon jar, some organic tea, raw sugar, scoby, and go for it. Believe me, it’s a good kind of obsession.
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Make Kombucha Tea For Pennies
- 1 medium saucepan
- 1 gallon jar
- 1 medium strainer
- 6 inch piece breathable cotton piece
- 1 rubber band
- 1 gallon filtered or bottled spring water
- ¾- 1 cup raw sugar
- ¼ cup loose-leaf black tea or half green and black tea
- 1 ½ cups starter liquid from growing scoby, or raw unflavored kombucha
- 1 live scoby (gallon brew) or 2 scobies (half-gallon brew)
Make Kombucha Tea
- Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add sugar and tea. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let steep 1 hour until lukewarm.
If Brewing in a One Gallon Jar
- Strain the tea leaves from the brewed tea. Pour tea into one gallon jar and top with water to about ¾ full. Test the temperature. It should be lukewarm or cooler. If it is not, stir in a few ice cubes to cool mixture.
- Pour 1 ½ cups of starter liquid from growing a scoby into the jar. Or, use store-bought unflavored kombucha. Make sure it is raw and not pasteurized. Finish topping off the jar with water. Leave enough room to float your scoby on top. Gently add scoby.
If Brewing in Two Half Gallon Jars
- Strain the tea leaves from the brewed tea. Pour all the tea into one of the half gallon jars and top to ¾ full with water. Test the temperature and add a couple ice cubes if needed. It should be lukewarm or cooler.
- Pour 1 ½ cups of starter liquid from growing a scoby into the jar. Or, use store-bought, unflavored kombucha. Make sure it is raw and not pasteurized. Finish topping off your first jar with water.
- Pour half of the mixture into the second half gallon jar. Top both jars with water. Leave enough room to float a scoby at top of each jar. Gently float scobies on top.
- Cover the jar(s) of kombucha with breathable cotton cloth and secure with rubber band.
- Place kombucha in a dark cupboard. Check in 7 days for balanced flavor, not too sweet or too tart. Slide a straw into jar and cap top end with finger to draw out a sample. Continue checking daily if needed, up to 2 weeks in cold climates.
- Your healthful plain kombucha is ready to drink! Or better yet, add fruit for a secondary fermentation. Your double-fermented kombucha will taste fantastic and be full of lively carbonation.
- It is best to start with organic black tea or half black and green tea until you have experience making kombucha. After that, you can experiment with different types of tea in your kombucha as long as they don't have artificial flavorings.
- You can also adjust sugar once you have experience, but I recommend starting with at 1 cup for best results.
- Make sure your tea is lukewarm or cooler before adding starter liquid. Too hot and it can kill the beneficial bacteria that make kombucha.
- Only have one scoby but need two? You can cut scobies in half with clean kitchen scissors and they will regrow. Over time they will grow to fit the opening of whatever jar you are using. This is really good because it will "seal" the top of the jar and create more carbonation to jump-start a secondary fermentation.