Despite the recent buzz, the fermented drink known as kombucha actually dates back roughly 2,000 years to China. And with touted health benefits including increased energy, improved digestion, sharper mental clarity and even weight loss, it’s no wonder it’s making a comeback.
So what exactly is kombucha? Kombucha is essentially the result of black or green tea, a mushroom-like colony of bacteria called a “scoby” and sugar fermenting. The result is a fizzy, slightly sweet carbonated vinegar drink full of probiotics, vitamins and healthy enzymes. The downside is that these all-natural sips aren’t cheap. But if you’re willing to master the logistics, making kombucha at home can be a fun, healthy hobby to take on. Fair warning: The process can take some time, so be ready for an adventure!
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How to Make Homemade Kombucha
To start, brew three and half quarts of black tea (about eight tea bags) and one cup of sugar. Then, add your scoby (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). The scoby starts the fermentation process. You’ll want to handle the scoby with care and make sure to sterilize your hands with vinegar after touching it.
Next, add your fresh brew to a batch of store-bought, unpasteurized kombucha. Then, divide the mixture into jars and cover the mouths with a piece of cheesecloth (or any clean, breathable cloth) and secure it with a rubber band. Let the kombucha ferment at room temperature (around 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) for 7 to 12 days.
Once the process is complete, remove the scoby and store it in a sterilized container. Then pour the kombucha into a sealable bottle and add any of your favorite flavorings. Need some ideas? Check out the kombucha recipes below to jazz up your drink. (They’ll store for about 3 to 5 days.)
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8 Refreshing Kombucha Recipes You’ll Love
1. Simple Kombucha
Think of this as your homemade kombucha starter pack. This recipe calls out all the basic utensils, ingredients and step-by-step instructions on how to get your kombucha skills perfected. Photo and recipe: Faith / The Conscientious Eater
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2. Blueberry Ginger Kombucha
Of the kombucha recipes on this list, this one stands out for its antioxidant one-two punch. Thanks to blueberries, you’ll also get a dose of powerful phytonutrients, while ginger aids in digestion. Cook the blueberries and ginger in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil so it turns into a syrup that you’ll mix with your freshly brewed buch. Photo and recipe: Jordan Junco / Fit, Happy, Free
3. Blackberry Mango Kombucha
Reach for this sweet drink to keep you hydrated and refreshed in between meals. Instead of turning the fruits into a syrup, adding chunks of blackberries and mangos to the kombucha will infuse it with their nourishing flavors. Photo and recipe: Nick Abell / Serving Realness
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4. Pineapple Cayenne Kombucha
Channel more tropical vibes with this deliciously juicy and fiery beverage. The cayenne pepper balances the sweetness of the pineapple with a spicy kick. Plus, you’ll get added health benefits: Pineapple is rich in vitamin C, while cayenne has metabolism-boosting, anti-inflammatory properties. Enjoy it as a base for a healthy cocktail with a paper umbrella on top! Photo and recipe: Alana / The Wild Gut
5. Lemonade Kombucha
Lemonade is the official drink of summer. Up the sunshine in your glass with this kombucha version featuring freshly squeezed lemons and coconut sugar. Photo and recipe: Lee Hersh / Fit Foodie Finds
6. Lemon Verbena Kombucha
This recipe calls for green tea instead of the traditional black tea used in most kombucha recipes. Green tea offers a lighter, subtler flavor than black and boasts powerful polyphenols. Garnish your drink with lemon verbena leaves and an herb like rosemary or thyme for a crisp, cooling finish. Photo and recipe: Danielle Ramirez / Fermented Food Lab
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7. Raspberry Lime Kombucha
This classic flavor combo will give your bottle of kombucha the right amount of sweetness and zest. When it comes to the perfect food pairing, fish tacos, anyone? Photo and recipe: Michele Rosen / Paleo Running Mama
8. Grapefruit Rosemary Kombucha
You’ll fall in love with this unexpected mix of sweet, sour and herby flavors. If you don’t like grapefruit, you can also use blood oranges for a lush ruby color. Photo and recipe : Julia Mueller / Oh My Veggies