Just as emperors, samurai warriors, kings and healers have done for thousands of years, you too can brew your own tea for digestive health, general well-being, and longevity. Kombucha has been brewed and drank across the world from China to Russia, Japan to North America and throughout Europe since as long ago as 212 BC, when it originated during the Chinese Tsin dynasty.
Those who have used this simple-to-brew beverage have been astonished at the incredible health benefits derived from it and the improved mental faculties cultivated by enjoying this tea of the ages.
To brew your own Kombucha longevity brew all you need is the following:
- One S.C.O.B.Y (symbiotic culture of bacteria & yeast) – the Kombucha mushroom
- Black, green or herbal tea (6-8 tea bags per brew)
- Sugar/Sweetener (1.5-2 cups per brew)
- 1 Gallon size (or larger) mason jar (wide mouth)
- Cloth for covering top
- Elastic band (securing the top)
- Pot for boiling water
- Long handled (non-metal) spoon for stirring
- Empty bottles with lids to fill upon completion of the brew
To begin the process:
1. Gather all of the above ingredients and have your
Kombucha mushroom sitting ready (dormant) in the refrigerator until the tea is prepared.
2. Measure enough water to fill your brew jar and bring that water to a near boil. Remove from heat and add tea bags to steep for 5-10 minutes.
I prefer to use black tea (my favorite is aged Puer) because the mushroom seems to work with the black tea best. You may use lighter teas, such as green or herbal, but the finished product will reflect the lighter choice in flavor. I would not recommend teas that include intense spices such as clove or cinnamon, as the mushroom does not seem to blend well with them. If you choose a red tea, such as hibiscus or other berry choice, realize that the S.C.O.B.Y. will become stained from that tea. And though it will still perform, it may live a shorter life.
3. After the tea has steeped, remove the tea bags and add sugar or other sweetener (I love to use turbinado sugar) to the amount of about one-and–a-half-cups to two cups per gallon. You may choose honey or agave nectar, though the choice of sweetener may affect the Kombucha’s brew time. Do not use coconut sugar – this will kill the S.C.O.B.Y.!
4. Stir the sweetener into the hot tea and allow to cool. You may also add ice or cold water to the mix to speed up the cooling time. Since you have brewed a strong tea to begin with, adding extra water is fine and will not overly dilute the tea (usually – unless you made a huge batch to begin with).
5. Once the tea is cooled, pour the tea into your giant gallon + sized jar along with your Kombucha mushroom. Do not add the tea if it is still hot as hot liquid will kill the S.C.O.B.Y.!
6. Cover the glass jar with your tea in it for 5-7 days. Store out of direct sunlight. I usually choose a t-shirt or mesh-like material to place over the top and secure it with a rubber band. The main idea is that the S.C.O.B.Y. can still breathe, but no other bacteria or dust can get in.
During the 5-7 days the mushroom is digesting the tea through its body. It will completely transform the tea contents to the magical longevity tea you are waiting to drink! All the caffeine from black tea is removed, the sugar is removed, and in its place you have an enzymatic delight which will alkalize your system and cleanse your organs fantastically.
7. I recommend checking the tea around day five to see how it tastes. Use a non-metal spoon to do so. If the tea is still overly sweet, it needs another day or so. If you let it go too long, the tea will taste more like vinegar, and in that case, there is no going back. Starting over is your only option at that point: though the tea is still drinkable, it doesn't taste very good – more like apple cider vinegar.
8. When the brew is at its peak (usually day 5 or 6) it is time to strain it out into drinking bottles. Choose sterilized bottles with lids that tighten. Fill the bottles as close to full as possible or you will not be able to acquire the kombucha fizz that so many love about this amazing longevity drink. To get the fizz, set your filled bottles with lids on, out on the counter (out of direct sunlight) for 2-3 days, then move to the refrigerator.
9. If you are not ready to immediately re-brew, remember to store your unused kombucha mushroom in the refrigerator where she can go dormant until you are ready for more. You may also choose to leave a small bit of the brew in with your S.C.O.B.Y. for a few days on the counter, where she can still “drink” until you are ready.
Note: Kombucha mushrooms quickly multiply or “make babies.” That's right, during your week of brewing, another mushroom will begin to form on the top of your other mushroom (the 'Mother'). Don't be alarmed! This is normal and natural and one of the most fantastic parts of brewing. You can, once you have a new baby, start another jar and brew even more Kombucha longevity drink, or give a S.C.O.B.Y. to a friend.
10. Once your brew is chilled, enjoy!
Remember: Brewing Kombucha is simple, but it is also a delicate process not to be taken lightly. In order to keep your brew clean and sanitary - and avoid growing molds and other weird, unwanted bacteria on your S.C.O.B.Y. -, always use clean, sanitized utensils and jars. Never touch metal to your S.C.O.B.Y.. Always keep your brew covered securely with a clean cloth and a rubber band (or other tight seal method).
Also, don't be alarmed by the appearance of your Kombucha mushroom – it does look weird, sometimes “scary” even (as some friends or family may declare). This is normal. This is natural. Over time you will grow to love her – she is “the Mother” of your longevity brew and it is an amazing sight to behold her process of multiplication and transformation. It is pure alchemy.
If you have any questions about brewing your own longevity tea, check out the myriad of YouTube videos available, or contact me via stasiabliss [at] gmail [dot] com. I have been brewing for years. Watch for follow up articles on how to up-level your Kombucha.