Kombucha is a beverage that has taken the world by storm. It is not only a tasty drink but is also considered to be an unconventional, natural remedy against numerous health-related issues. Because of its health and beneficial properties, kombucha has been titled as antidiabetic, anticarcinogenic, antihypertensive and as incredibly effective when it comes to boosting metabolism and the immune system. Kombucha is a so-called functional beverage that is fermented, sweetened black or green tea.
Even though it has been used in ancient China for hundreds of years, kombucha has become famous in the modern world as of recently. It has been commercialized on the basis of traditional recipes, so nowadays millions of people are using this drink to do something good for themselves and their mental and physical health. However, instead of buying bottled kombucha, rumor has it that you can make this amazing beverage at home. Homemade kombucha has been recognized as even healthier than the store-bought one. So, if you’re looking for the recipe, you’re at the right place. In the following paragraphs, we will take a look at this unique drink as well as the ways you can make green tea kombucha in the comfort of your home.
What is Kombucha?
History and Origin
Kombucha, also known as ‘tea of immortality’ in China is a legendary beverage believed to offer great health benefits to those who drink it. For thousands of years, the recipe for this drink has been a secret and only shared amongst the members of the inner court of the Chinese emperors and dynasties. Kombucha is also referred to as the ‘sea mushroom’ or ‘sea treasure’ in China and is known to be a family secret passed from one generation to the other. Each family seems to have its own recipes and rules of how kombucha is and should be made.
On the other hand, kombucha is also believed to have its origin in Russia and Eastern Europe, as there are records showing people homebrew this beverage in the 18th and 19th centuries. Kombucha as a drink has reached the Western world in the 1960s. It, however, became famous in the US only in the 1980s and 1990s, where it was known as the ‘magic mushroom’ drink.
Composition and Properties
You might notice a pattern here; kombucha is often referred to as the mushroom drink. However, it is not; it is a fermented drink made from sugared tea and the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, also known as SCOBY. The living bacteria in the drink are said to be probiotic and the so-called tea fungus, which is one of the reasons this drink is referred to as the ‘mushroom tea’. The bacterial component of kombucha comprises several types of bacteria that ferment alcohols produced by the yeast and other acids. Other than this, kombucha also contains enzymes, polyphenols, amino and organic acids, B-vitamins and vitamin C. There is also a small percentage of alcohol found in this drink, which is usually less than 0.5%, but the longer the fermentation of the drink, the higher the percentage.
Health Benefits of Kombucha
There are claims, originating even from ancient China, that kombucha is incredibly healthy. As mentioned before, kombucha has been titled as having effective anti-cancer and anti-diabetic activity. However, before we get into the health benefits of this drink, it is important to mention that there are all simply claims, as no human trials and research have been conducted to prove these benefits and effects.
Nevertheless, kombucha is treated by people as an unconventional, incredibly effective remedy. People are using kombucha to treat diseases like anorexia, cancer, diabetes, digestion problems, arthritis, AIDS, etc. There are also claims that kombucha may be helpful when it comes to treating infections, inflammation, managing mental health, improving liver health, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and type 2 diabetes. Because the beverage is rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, and probiotics, it is considered very helpful in boosting the immune system and the overall metabolism. Unfortunately, official studies are yet to prove these claims, so if you’re drinking kombucha for these reasons, make sure to consult a medical professional prior to consumption. Otherwise, you might simply cause adverse and negative side effects.
The Homemade Green Tea Kombucha Recipe
When it comes to making kombucha at home, it is important to know that there are two methods to do so. The first method is known as the batch brewing method and the continuous brew method;
- Batch Brew Method – involves the brew of sweet tea with the addition of the kombucha starter liquid. The fermentation lasts up to two weeks, during which SCOBY and the sweet liquid transform into sweet tea kombucha.
- Continuous Brew Method – this method requires less maintenance and means that you will have a continuous supply of kombucha. The fermentation process is ongoing as SCOBY, bacteria, and yeast are allowed to develop without any disturbances, as well as mold formation.
Because the batch brew method is lasting a shorter amount of time and yields a lot of products, we will use it for the following recipe. On the other hand, the continuous brewing method is a method of ancients, it is safe and allows you to dictate the flavors and adjust everything according to personal preferences. Moreover, even though traditional kombucha is made from usually black tea, for this recipe we will use green tea instead. Green tea kombucha is incredibly healthy, filled with antioxidants and polyphenols from the tea. Green tea also tends to brew faster, yielding lighter color, softer taste and wonderful fruity and sweet flavor and aroma.
Ingredients and utensils
1.SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast)
As mentioned before, SCOBY is a collection of bacteria and yeast which exist in a symbiotic relationship. SCOBY has a rather unusual appearance, often described as the top of a mushroom or a slimy pancake. When it comes to obtaining this ingredient, it is important to buy from a safe and reputable source. You can check with local kombucha homebrewers or you can buy from established online stores. Make sure you buy from a licensed commercial food-processing seller, like Cultures for Health for example.
In case you want to grow your own SCOBY, you can do it by purchasing raw kombucha, mixing it with sugar, green tea and leaving to ferment over a period of one week. The fermentation should take place in a jar which is covered in cloth and closed tightly, hidden away from any source of heat or daylight. After a week, baby SCOBY will start to form, and after a month it will reach the thickness required to make kombucha. You will want the SCOBY to be at least a 6-inch diameter culture, or 5oz by weight.
2. Starter Liquid
Starter liquid or starter tea is the liquid of the previously brewed kombucha. The best amount for you to use would be ½ cup per quart or 2 cups per gallon. If this is your first time making kombucha, and you don’t have the liquid from the previous batch, here are two ways you can supply; you can use unflavored raw kombucha which you can buy at a local, natural food store. The second option would be to use distilled white vinegar. Vinegar is a great substitute for the starter liquid as it provides all the acidity needed to brew kombucha. However, because vinegar is harsher, it can affect that final flavor of the kombucha tea. Nevertheless, if you want to go with starter liquid, you can buy it online, usually together with SCOBY.
3. Purified Water
For the purpose of fermentation and culture, it is important you use purified water. Purified water is essential as it is a carrier for minerals important for culture, as well as because it provides moisture and protects the ingredients from the development of bacteria and mold. If you’re using tap water for this recipe, you should be aware that it could be too ‘hard’ or too ‘soft’ for fermentation. Bottled water may contain fluoride, so the best way to deal with this is to buy distilled water, or to use a water filter. For one gallon of kombucha, you will use approximately 16 cups of water.
This is the part where we introduce the wonderful green tea. Green tea is not the usual choice of kombucha, but it surely is a good one. We recommend you use loose-leaf green tea, especially jasmine green tea for the best flavor and aroma. The loose-leaf option is the best because you won’t have to deal with tea bags and other waste. Moreover, loose-leaf tea provides numerous health benefits and it lowers the risk of having pesticides in your kombucha. You can use loose-leaf green tea directly, but be aware that it will release caffeine. If you want to make decaffeinated kombucha, simply steep the tea in hot water for up to 40 seconds, and then use the same leaves for kombucha. For one gallon of kombucha, you will need between 4 to 6 tablespoons of tea which you will later place in a tea infuser or a strainer.
For kombucha, the usual recommendation is plain white sugar. It is best for the fermentation process and for the SCOBY. It is easily available and provides a brew with the most consistent pH levels. However, plain white sugar might contain pesticides and GMOs, so make sure to check the sugar for these unwanted matters. You could also resource to using brown sugar, organic evaporated cane crystals, and molasses. It may be harder for SCOBY to digest these sugars, but nevertheless, it is possible to brew kombucha with consistent pH levels. Avoid using honey, agave and corn syrup. These could create sour-tasting brew or even a drink that is unsafe for consumption. For one gallon of green tea kombucha, you will need 1 cup of sugar.
6. Kettle for the Tea
You may use a tea kettle, a pot or a saucepan; basically, anything where you can heat the water to steep and infuse the green tea. Electric kettles are also super easy and very efficient to use, but feel free to resource to pots, pans, and kettles you personally own. No need to make an additional purchase for specific tea-brewing pots/kettles.
7. Brewing Container
The kombucha brewing container might be the most important of the whole kombucha-making process. The best container for you to use is definitely the one made from glass. Unlike other materials, glass doesn’t react to the acidity of the brew, doesn’t contain chemicals that might release during the brew nor does it damage easily. It is easy to obtain, usually cheap and easy to store. What we don’t recommend you use are plastic, metal or ceramic containers. These usually contain chemicals and might inhibit the kombucha fermentation process. Make sure to use a regular-size or larger container that comes with a lid. At a minimum, the container should be able to hold at list 16 cups of liquid
8. Cloth Cover and Rubber Band
Because kombucha needs oxygen for fermentation, your cover system needs to be simple and effective. That is why we recommend you use cloth cover, where the cloth needs to be tightly woven and multi-layered. You can use dish towels or even tight-weave cheesecloth and paper coffee filters. Make sure to secure the cloth with a rubber band and avoid using tight lids.
Green Tea Kombucha Recipe(Step by step guide)
- As a first step, make sure to boil 16 cups of purified/distilled water (which would make one gallon of kombucha). To the water, add sugar and stir until it dissolves completely.
- To the boiling water add 4 to 6 tablespoons of your favorite, loose-leaf green tea and let it steep up to 5 minutes. If you’re using tea bags, you can let them steep up to 10 minutes. If you want stronger tea, you can leave it to infuse for longer than 10 minutes, but if you’re using high-quality loose-leaf tea we don’t recommend this step. The tea might end up bitter, with hints of astringency, which can alter the flavor profile of your kombucha.
- After the brewing is done, make sure to strain every single leaf of the tea. You can allow the tea to steep in tea infusers to avoid this step. If you’re using tea bags, simply remove them.
- At this point, you will pour the tea mixture into the kombucha brewing container. Fill the container about ¾ with purified/distilled water and make sure to leave a few inches of free space at the top of the container. This will allow the culture to access oxygen and to grow.
- Now, make sure to add the starter liquid (or vinegar) as well as the SCOBY into the cooled-down tea mixture. You can also add the so-called kombucha concentrate which you can buy at a local store or online; however, this step is completely optional and won’t affect the final product.
- Make sure to cover the brewing container tightly with the cloth, however, allow the mixture to breathe. The best way to do this is to use a cloth, towel or paper filter, and a thick rubber band to keep everything in place. The rubber band will also keep flies, insects, and dust away from your green tea kombucha. Make sure not to cover the mixture with a lid until the fermentation process is complete and the drink is safe for consumption.
- At this point, simply choose a place to store the gallon. Choose a place that is relatively warm, but not directly exposed to any source of heat. Also, keep it away from any source of daylight. Moreover, do not check on the mixture or disturb it. Allow it to sit for a week, up to 10 days and then taste to see whether the flavor suits your preferences.
Other Tips for Making Green Tea Kombucha
- When first making kombucha, make sure to let the sweet green tea mixture to completely cool down before adding the starter liquid and the SCOBY. If the mixture is warm or hot, the bacteria and yeast will immediately lose their effects. Yeast is especially sensitive to heat, so be careful about this step.
- Make sure that the utensils, pots/kettles, gallons and brewing containers are all clean. This will prevent contamination of the mixture, and the development of mold. You can clean the utensil in hot water for the best results.
- When filling the gallon with the brewing mixture, make sure to not fill it all the way to the top. The mixture needs space to breathe and to grow. The best way to know when to stop pouring in the mixture is when you rich the narrow part of the container.
- Make sure to look out for mold development. Even though it is very unlikely, improper ingredient ratio, contamination, other fermentation in the same area (cross-fermentation), etc., can all cause the development of mold. If you spot any type of white, orange or black spots or formations, make sure to get rid of the mixture and simply start the process all over again. Don’t try cleaning the mixture and using it, as it can be extremely harmful.
- Make sure not to disturb the mixture for at least 7 to 10 days. After this period, you can check the kombucha for taste and flavoring. You can add fruit, fruit juice, herbs or other ingredients you prefer having in your drink.
- You can enjoy your homemade green tea kombucha with ice, mixed with juice or soda, or mixed with alcohol. If you go for the juice/soda mixture, make sure the ratio is half/half.
And there you have it; your homemade green tea kombucha will be ready in no time. All you have to do is get all the ingredients right, have all your utensils clean and simply have lots of patience. We know that it can be really hard and tempting to wait for the kombucha to ferment, however, the wait is surely worth it. And, if you don’t get things right the first brew, don’t lose hope. Sometimes it can take practice when it comes to homemade kombucha. All you can do is simply enjoy the process, and later on, the fruits of your hard labor. Happy brewing!