In the world of fermented food and drinks, this one is quite possibly at the top of the list…
Slightly sweet, slightly sour, and a little bit fizzy, we’re in love with KOMBUCHA — the traditional ferment that’s easy enough for a beginner ferment-er and nourishing enough that fermenting veterans keep a batch brewing at all times, too!
At Traditional Cooking School, we get questions about Kombucha regularly…
- How to make it?
- How to flavor it?
- Which sweetener is best?
- Can I make it with honey?
- What do I do if my Kombucha is too sour?
- And sooooo many more!
So, with all your questions and curiosities and tips, we know one thing’s for sure…
You’re as crazy about Kombucha as we are!
Therefore, we’ve put together this invaluable resource: The ULTIMATE Kombucha Guide!
You’ve got Kombucha questions; The ULTIMATE Kombucha Guide has answers!
So… let’s start at the very beginning. Whether you’re new to Kombucha-brewing or you’re an old hat, it never hurts to go back to the basics…
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a widely known and loved probiotic beverage. You’ve probably seen bottles of Kombucha at your local health food store or even the supermarket. (And boy, are they pricey!)
The origin of Kombucha is a good guess at best. Some sources say it hails from Russia; others claim ancient China as its birthplace. In fact, in China, it was known as the “Immortal Health Elixir”. No matter where it’s from, it’s one of the best ferments for beginners!
Made with tea, water, a whole sweetener, finished Kombucha, and a Kombucha SCOBY (the mother culture; a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts), it’s both sweet and sour. Through the miracle of fermentation, sweet tea becomes a beverage that’s loaded with…
- B vitamins
- beneficial acids, like acetic acid and glucaronic acid
It’s also naturally fizzy, thanks to the carbon dioxide that the bacteria and yeasts let off as they “eat” the sweetener. Because these little guys need food in order to turn sweet tea into Kombucha, the sweetener is absolutely necessary.
But, don’t worry… Kombucha has very little (if any) sugar left once it’s finished brewing. And, the longer you let it ferment, the more sour (less sugar) it becomes.
What Are The Benefits Of Kombucha?
Kombucha tastes delicious, yet it is also a traditional superfood with benefits like…
- improving digestion
- repopulating the gut with healthy bacteria and yeasts
- strengthening the immune system
- reducing oxidative stress on cells
- improving liver detox
- improving mental health, thanks to its concentration of B vitamins and gut-healing abilities
- satisfying cravings for carbonated beverages
First, what tea(s) to use?
You can use all of one type of tea (such as black or white tea) or mix and match 2 or more teas to create custom blends.
If you’ve never made Kombucha before, it’s wise to start with plain, organic black tea. As your brew and SCOBY get stronger, you can begin mixing it up.
Here are some lovely teas to try:
- Green tea
- Oolong tea
- Jasmine tea
- White tea
- Yerba Mate tea
- Rooibos tea
You may use decaffeinated tea if you prefer, although, like the sweetener, most of the caffeine is consumed during fermentation.
Second, which sweetener is best?
Organic raw cane sugar or evaporated cane juice has been the preferred sweetener for generations of home kombucha brewers. It’s affordable and easily sourced.
However, if you’re very sensitive to sugar, following the Paleo or AIP lifestyle, or healing your gut through the GAPS Diet, then you should make your Kombucha with raw honey as we do. (More on this below.)
Third, you’ll need a Kombucha SCOBY and some unflavored, finished Kombucha as a starter.
It’s wonderful (and the least expensive option) if you can get a SCOBY and starter Kombucha from a friend.
If you can’t, we recommend the SCOBYs from Cultures For Health and Get Kombucha. The Cultures For Health SCOBYs are dehydrated and require re-hydrating. The Get Kombucha SCOBYs are packaged with the starter liquid, require no re-hydrating, and can be used right away.
If you can’t obtain starter from a friend or Get Kombucha, use plain, store-bought Kombucha.