I am so excited to share this new project with you. We have started making our own continuous brew kombucha!
A few years ago we were making kombucha in mason jars and caring for a SCOBY culture, but we gave it up after a few months. I can’t remember why, but it just wasn’t the right time.
You may remember that I gave up drinking alcohol last July (as part of my anxiety toolkit). Well, since then, I have been stocking my fridge with delicious store bought kombucha.
My body loved that I replaced alcohol with probiotic goodness, but I am pretty sure we were spending more on Kombucha than I ever did on wine.
I also made a resolution to reduce household plastic waste in January. The kombucha bottles I was buying were recyclable glass, but the plastic lids couldn’t be recycled. I no longer wanted to be responsible for 100 plastic lids ending up in the landfill every year.
It seemed like the perfect time to start brewing our own kombucha. Some benefits of making your own booch are:
- it is zero waste
- you control the ingredients
- it is inexpensive to make
Consider that a bottle of booch costs around $5 (Canadian dollars). This means I was spending upwards of $500 a year on this new habit. Making kombucha at home will cost you less than $75 a year for the same amount (check out a cost breakdown of diy ferments on cultures for health).
This doesn’t include the cost of a kit, but you can DIY a kombucha kit for less than $25.
Health Benefits of Kombucha
Kombucha contains a large number of healthy bacteria called probiotics. I’m sure most of you have heard about the importance of these little bugs.
Probiotics contribute to gut health and, since a happy gut equals a thriving immune system, drinking kombucha every day is a fantastic way to heal your gut and boost immunity.
To learn more about how kombucha is good for your gut, your heart, and your brain, check out these 8 reasons to drink kombucha every day (as if I need convincing!).
The fermentation process makes kombucha slightly alcoholic, but don’t worry – it is equivalent to eating an overripe banana. It is also very slightly caffeinated.
It is often carbonated and makes a great replacement for soda (or pop). The sugar content varies, but it is fairly low calorie, somewhere around 60 calories per 250 ml.
Note that when kombucha is pasteurized, it loses most of its probiotic benefits, so be sure to read labels if you are buying it.
What you need to make kombucha
The materials and ingredients you need to start brewing a batch of kombucha are:
- 4 L or larger wide mouth vessel – ceramic, glass, or plastic – no metal)
- 4L water
- 4-6 tea bags – black or green (you can use loose tea in a cheesecloth)
- 1 cup sugar – white or cane
- White cotton or linen cloth
- 4-10 L stainless steel pot
- Spoon (glass, wooden, or stainless steel)
- SCOBY or Kombucha culture
- Bottles (if doing second ferment)
My kit came from Sproutmaster and included a 2 gallon ceramic crock with a plastic spigot, a linen cloth to cover, instructions, a recipe book, and a SCOBY culture. It is simple and beautiful, but not essential. Here is another kombucha starter kit option.
Or, for less than $25, you could ask a friend who makes kombucha or a local fermenting group for some of their SCOBY (it is always growing) and buy one of these glass beverage dispensers.
I also love swing top bottles like these ones for the second ferment (which is how you add the flavours and the bubbles).
How to Brew your Booch
It may seem intimidating, but step by step instructions make it really quite simple. The three most important things to remember when making kombucha are
- Get your ingredients right
- Temperature is important
- Keep your SCOBY healthy
Cultures for Health is a great resource for learning about the fermentation process. You can find detailed instructions as well as a video that explains exactly how to make kombucha here.
The basic steps are:
- Boil water in your stainless steel pot
- Add tea and steep
- Stir in sugar to dissolve
- Once cool to touch, pour into vessel
- Add SCOBY (never add SCOBY to boiling water)
- Cover with cloth and secure in place
- Place vessel where it won’t be disturbed
- Ensure the proper climate – temperature must be 23 to 28 C
- Note the date
Five days later, you can test your tea. It should be slightly sweet and a bit vinegary – and loaded with probiotic goodness!
For a second ferment, separate the SCOBY and some leftover tea to start your next batch (repeat process above), and pour the rest of the fermented brew into bottles that seal.
How to Flavour your Kombucha
This is the fun part – deciding on your flavour combinations.
We are inspired by the herbs and medicinal plants we grow as well as seasonal fruit. We are also fond of using lemon and ginger for a kick. We will be sure to share our most popular experiments with you.
My favourite combination so far is rosemary lemon kombucha. It is delicious over ice and mixed with a bit of soda water – a perfect non-alcoholic summer drink.
We still have Nova Scotia strawberries, peaches, raspberries, and blackberries in our freezer – so the possibilities are endless. And strawberry season is coming soon!
Above clockwise from top right: anise hyssop; strawberries; mint; second ferment with lemon ginger and blueberry lemon.
Nova Scotia Kombucha
If you aren’t into making your own kombucha, there are plenty of wonderful local options.
Cove Kombucha is a company whose product is in alignment with their values. Their kombucha is certified organic, made with ethically sourced non-gmo ingredients, and brewed for a month for optimal probiotics. They also donate some of their profits to 1% for the Planet.
The flavours they offer now are Orange Ginger, Blueberry Pomegranate, Mango Tumeric, and Raspberry Lemonade.
Goodmore Kombucha in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia brew their kombucha with a variety of teas with an emphasis on their subtle flavour differences- black, green, white, and oolong.
Solas Kombucha is brewed on an orchard near New Ross, Nova Scotia and features Annapolis valley fruit, including blueberries, strawberries, apples, and peaches. If you are in Halifax, you can refill your growler at the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market.
My local general store carries Solas kombucha, which I really appreciate.
Solas is working on some other non-alcoholic beverages. I will keep an eye out for those!
These are the more established companies that I am aware of, but I have also purchased kombucha from a variety of herbalists on the South Shore, such as hummingbird herbals in Mill Village.
Have you jumped on the kombucha wagon? Do you prefer to make it yourself or buy it? Are you in need of SCOBY? Maybe someone in our community can hook you up! Let us know. 🙂