Ahhhh kombucha, the probiotic elixir adored by health nuts everywhere! Store bought kombucha can be upwards of $5 a bottle, not bad for a splurge, but if you are a kombucha connoisseur, your daily habit could start to break the bank. Which means, you may be interested in brewing your own at home! The process is not for the faint of heart, but if you are up for a bit of chemistry and have about 14 days to wait this Chai Pear Kombucha recipe just may peak your interest and inspire you to give your own home brew ‘booch a try!
What is kombucha anyways and where does it come from?
Kombucha has been around for nearly 2,000 years getting its start in China. It wasn’t until the ’90’s that it gained popularity here in the United States, though. These days you can find kombucha in most grocery stores and restaurants. We’ve even spotted bottles in gas station coolers, needless to say, kombucha is a fan favorite and is most certainly here to stay!
Kombucha starts out as a sugary tea, you can use ANY basic tea for making Kombucha, but just know that your choice of tea will determine the base flavor of your brew. A quick Google search will tell you that Black tea is the most popular choice for a batch of kombucha, however, Green tea or a blend of teas works just as well. For this particular batch we went with chai tea which is a spiced black tea.
It all starts with a scoby!
Once the sugary tea is made it is then fermented with the help of a scoby, which is short for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” I’m going to be REAL honest and say that a scoby is about one of the most unappetizing things I’ve ever come across in the kitchen. It’s rubbery and slimy and rather unpleasant to look at. But, a scoby is vital to the kombucha making process because it is the place where the bacteria and yeast that transform sweet tea into tangy, fizzy kombucha lives. I know, it doesn’t sound that appetizing, but a scoby is actually very close cousins to the “mother” used to make vinegar, and for some reason that fact makes me feel way more comfortable about the whole scoby situation.
Unfortunately, you can’t just walk into your local grocery store and grab a scoby from the shelf like you could a bottle of kombucha, but you can easily grow one yourself, buy a fresh one complete with its own “mother juice” from a reputable online retailer, or if you are lucky enough to have a ‘booch brewing friend like I have, they can actually share some of their scoby with you to get your home brewing process started.
While I am not usually a fan of excess kitchen gadgets and gear, this is one of those times when you actually will need to invest in a few key pieces of equipment to get started.
Don’t worry though, these items will more than pay for themselves after your second batch of home brew!
Now you have your kombucha gear, and a scoby let’s make some ‘booch!
- It starts with sugary water || Bring one gallon of distilled water to a boil and add 1 cup of refined white sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves, remove from the heat.
- Brew the tea || Add 16 regular sized tea bags or 4 family sized tea bags to the sugary water and allow the tea to brew while the liquid cools completely. IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT use metal utensils, measuring cups, or funnels after this point of the kombucha making process. The metal could potentially cause a reaction with the live enzymes and kill your scoby!
- Scoby time!! || Transfer the completely cooled sugary tea to a one-gallon sized glass jar with a cloth cover and with clean hands, gently slide the scoby and some of the “mother juice” it comes with into the jar with the tea. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band.
- Fermentation #1 || Now we wait, 7-10 days should just about do it. There are a few rules to follow during the fermentation process, nothing too intimidating. You want to keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t be moved around. If you find that your kitchen is too cold, you may need to use a fermentation heat pad under the jar to ensure that your kombucha is the optimal temperature. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, checking the kombucha and scoby from time to time. After seven days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and taste testing. When it reaches your desired level of that trademark sweet/tart kombucha flavor combo that is pleasant to you, the first fermentation is done. The longer you allow the kombucha to ferment the more vinegary it will taste, so if you want a bold in your face brew, definitely plan for a longer fermentation period. Before proceeding any further, you will need to prepare and cool another pot of strong sugary tea for your next batch of kombucha, by repeating steps 1-4 above, thus keeping the home brew process going!
- Basic ‘booch elevated || At this point you could choose to bottle the kombucha as-is and continue with the second fermentation process or you could take your base recipe to the next level by adding in juice, herbs, or fresh fruit. I personally like layers of flavor and while this Chai Kombucha has a deeply rich taste on its own from the spices in the tea, I just couldn’t resist adding the flavor of Stemilt D’anjou pears to it too! I keep my easy roasted pear sauce on hand at all times in our kitchen during the fall, I use it for everything from marinades to cocktails, so naturally I wanted to brew kombucha with it too!! Each of the 16-ounce glass bottles will need to be filled 1/4 of the way with the easy roasted pear sauce first. If you find that the sauce is too thick to easily funnel into the bottles you can thin it with a bit of water. Fill the bottles the remainder of the way with the prepared chai kombucha, leaving at least 1-2 inches at the top for head space so the bubbles have room to work their magic.
- Fermentation #2 || Don’t worry, the second fermentation process is nowhere near as long as the first. It only takes storing the bottles of ‘booch in a cool, dark place for about 3-4 days. Once bubbles begin to form again you are ready to chill and enjoy. At this point transfer all of the bottles of Chai Pear Kombucha in the fridge. The pear sauce will not be mixed in completely, simply use a wooden chopstick or a long plastic straw to stir the pear sauce into the kombucha completely before serving.
While the process to make kombucha looks intimidating and is definitely a bit lengthy, it is actually a lot of fun and super simple, once you get the hang of it!
Serving Size: 8 ounces
Calories Per Serving: 213
% DAILY VALUE
5% Total Fat 3.5g
7% Cholesterol 21.4mg
1% Sodium 12.3mg
8% Total Carbohydrate 23.4g
7% Protein 3.7g
0% Vitamin A 0.6µg
4% Vitamin C 2.6mg