Kombucha Tea
Makes Me Happy

Dateline: 5 September 2015

Photo Link
(click for kombucha overview)

I think Kombucha tea is the liquid equivalent of banjo music... it just makes me happy.

For those who don't already know, Kombucha tea is a fermented, vinegar-like drink. Kombucha is laden with live, active, probiotic cultures. Kombucha has been around for centuries. Kombucha is purported to be a drink that promotes "general health and well being," which is another way of saying, "it makes you feel good," which is another way of saying, "it makes you happy."  Think banjo music.

I have known about kombucha for many years. Somebody in my way-past (whom I can not recall) made it. But I avoided it. The slimy mother culture and sediment turned me off. This memory goes back before Marlene and I started making our own apple cider vinegar.

Then, a few months ago, my youngest son, James, bought himself a bottle of GT's Cosmic Cranberry kombucha...

He took one sip. It wasn't what he expected. So he brought it home and gave it to Dad. A bottle of GT's kombucha costs nearly four bucks, and I wasn't about to let it go to waste. I took a sip, and it was good. Fizzy vinegar. That's what it tasted like. With some cranberry flavor.

Marlene liked it too. I did some research. We ended up buying some bottles of GT's kombucha for ourselves. We have been drinking the stuff all summer. Actually, we don't drink it. We sip it, a little at a time, to stretch out a bottle. GT's is an expensive habit. But, like I said, it makes me happy.

There is a subtle but very real boost of energy and stamina that comes when I drink kombucha.

Those who get hooked on the happiness of store-bought kombucha eventually make their own. It is a WHOLE LOT cheaper to make your own. And that's where Marlene and I are now. She has made a one-gallon batch, and another is fermenting in the pantry now.

As simple as it is, there is a learning curve to making your own kombucha. Marlene's first batch was, in my estimation, excellent. It is all gone. I drank most of it myself. Though it lacked the fizz of JT's, that didn't matter to me. There are ways to get natural fizz into the drink. We will learn.

But JT's kombucha is almost too fizzy. I have hunch that all that fizz is not natural.

Well, whatever the case, I just want to make the point here that kombucha is an awesome, down-to-earth drink. 

I'm willing to bet that many readers of this blog are kombucha drinkers. If you are, please leave a comment below with your kombucha opinions and experiences. And if you have not yet tried kombucha, I recommend you start with a bottle of JT's Gingerade Kombucha. It's the best.


Anonymous said...

Herrick ~
I've heard of Kombucha, seems like it keeps popping up more frequently, but have never tried it and don't fully know what it is. But I'm definitely interested! Is Marlene willing to share her recipe and a bit of instruction on how to make the homemade version? I'd also be interested in reading how you do your own apple cider vinegar. I learn so much from your postings, and I greatly appreciate the time you take to do it and your willingness to share your knowledge and experiences with your readers.
~ Kim

magnoliasntea said...

It is a happy drink with lots of health benefits. Kombucha in moderation, sipping as you say, has revitalized my knee joints. My husband and I sip only 4 ozs. each evening usually only in fall and winter, and it helps both of us in different ways. It's a stress reliever, too.
My method: Brew the kombucha tea (green) for 7 days, remove scoby and 1 cup tea to start your next batch. Add 1 cup organic grape juice to remaining brew kombucha, bottle and let set on countertop for 3 days to develop fizz. Refrigerate, don't forget that or the cap may blow off unexpectedly. We tried other flavors, but grape is our favorite. We use Knudsen brand Organic Concord Grape, but homemade would be even better.
Save all your store bought kombucha bottles to be reused in making your own kombucha. I had bottles from other projects so I didn't need them. However, I discovered some bottles from World market that I really like, actually love them. To bottle cheaply in larger portions go to World Market (online or store) and buy their French Lemonade. It comes in lovely reusable bottles w/ swing-top stoppers, and costs only $3.99 ea. and is sometimes on sale half-price. That is way cheaper than buying empty bottles and they last.
Links that help get us started:
Happy fermenting.

magnoliasntea said...

I forgot to leave the link for the swing-top bottles in case anyone is interested:

chipmunk said...

I love kombucha and started treating myself once a week to the store bought stuff like you. Started making it myself this summer so I could have it whenever I want it. I get a little fizz in it after getting it in bottles by letting it set out for a couple days before putting it in the frig. Learned to pour it through a small sieve into a cup before drinking it because there's often a small SCOBY (I guess from the second fermentation) in the bottles. It's like getting a jellyfish in your mouth when you accidentally drink it. Doesn't taste bad, it's just kinda weird.

CLL said...

We are kombicha lovers here. I have two gallons brewing now. I've thought about springing for a crock to do continuous brew but those are pricey so I'm just making do with my gallon jars for now. The health benefits are amazing...probiotics, liver detox, and as you said, more energy. We try to have some every day along with kefir (enjoying a kefir smoothie as I type) and lacto-fermented veggies.

Hill House Homestead said...

All do it yourself'ers make their own Kombucha after they fall in love with it! I have 2 gallons brewing now, make it for extended family too. I am fairly new to it, started this summer, and I too would like to get more fizz in mine. I have read that leaving it tightly capped on the counter a few days will do the trick but hasn't worked for me yet. It can explode so I 'burp' it after capping now and then when leaving it at room temp. I look forward to reading more about this newest diy adventure.

Anonymous said...

I've been making my own "booch" for a couple of years now! Someone gave me a scoby and that was all it took. I found a nice crock on line that has a spigot at the bottom, making it easier to draw off and bottle it. I steep mine a bit longer, 10 days usually, but that's because I enjoy the VINEGAR taste. Once bottled, I add dehydrated fruit (my favorite is peaches) and a few thin slices of fresh ginger. I let it do a second ferment in the bottles for 4 days before refrigerating. I "Burp" the bottles daily to prevent too much pressure from building up. I've read that the less air you have in the bottle, the more fizz you will get. The bottles I used were also purchased on line and are dark brown glass with a rubber top and metal pressure seal latches. Good Stuff!!

Anonymous said...

We've been making Kombucha for years. Right now there are 6 gallon jars lined up on my pantry shelf in various stages of ferment. With a family of 7 and frequent guests, we really go through it. Love it! Love it!

I have an ad on Elmira, NY and Twin Tiers Craig's list right now for FREE Kombucha SCOBY's to anyone willing to come and get it. I would be willing to send one in the mail for the cost of postage.....


ps the chickens love to eat the extra SCOBY's that don't find homes...

Didi said...

A few years back, I discovered kombucha and it cured my craving for Mello Yello. Then I gradually had some problems and gave up. Later on, I learned that my problems were caused by putting the brewing container on a warming pad. Apparently, it doesn't like the electro magnetic field. Any way, through shear laziness, I have not restarted the practice and now I am craving the sodas again. Thanks for this post, I think I'll try again.

Maggie C said...

Been brewing on and off for about 12 years. I find that I crave it and drink it regularly for some time, and then I stop drinking for a while until I want it again. I have friends who refer to it as "happy juice"!

Anonymous said...

We've been brewing kombucha since June. We are up to 5 gallons a week now. After the second ferment, one of the latest batches tasted like store bought. Nice and fizzy. So maybe the store bought fizz is legit. :) We have done blueberry juice, pureed mango, peach nectar, to name a few. I'm wondering if the thickness of the scoby makes a difference with taste. Our scobies are now about an inch thick and the kombucha is more full flavored. Only use white sugar. I made the mistake of using sucanat and it turned out very yeasty and I ended up pouring it down the drain. I would like to try a batch made with honey. Cultures for Health is a wealth of information for not only kombucha but for other ferments as well.

jeff w said...

Been brewing kombucha for years and love adding the fruit of the season to it. Raspberries, blackberries, and citrus in the season. I given bunches of scoby to co-workers. I rarely drink soft drinks and you don't have to wait 7 days to drink it.

I love your blog. You are a gifted writer but more importantly, you write from the soul and your message helps remind me of the things that are truly important. Thanks for your blog.

Anonymous said...

Adding an Amen to Jeff's comment


Unknown said...

I tried my first time of brewing 'bucha, and it was too vinegary, so no one would drink it. I finally decided to let it go, and put the SCOBY in my garden. But I had two quarts of 'bucha, and didn't want to just pour it out. I saw something online about adding a sliced organic peach and doing a second ferment, so I thought "why not?" This turned out to taste AMAZING, and all of my family members were amazed. The second ferment decreased the vinegar taste, the peach flavor was very pleasing, and it did add a little "fizz." Sadly, I then had NO SCOBY to make more! So I obtained a new one, and now have a half gallon going again on my countertop. I've never had success with kefir, but have done some lacto-fermented veggies and kimchee. Gut health is a huge focus on my life right now, as I developed some food sensitivities and need to re-establish and maintain a healthy intestinal micro-biome. This is a very pleasant beverage that I enjoy sipping each afternoon or evening, about 6-8 oz. per day. I love that I can make it myself very cheaply. My daughter also makes it at her home, and she tells me there is a way to put your SCOBY into a holding pattern if you need to stop making it for awhile, so I am looking into that, too.

Jedburgh said...

Haha! My wife and I found Kombucha (via GTs, too) and have been drinking it all summer, too! I love the chia ones and wife likes the low cal ones better. We're like going to start brewing our own as well, but have 'too much hay on the ground' right now. Great read, Herrick!

Herrick Kimball said...

What great comments! Thank you, everyone for your contributions here. The sharing of information from others, when it happens like this, is something I really enjoy about this blog.

Click the photo link at the top of the page for a pretty good introduction to the subject. I have discussed vinegar-making in the following blog posts...

Here's How I Make Apple Cider Vinegar

My Cider Vinegar Experiemnt: The Remarkable Final Report

Unknown said...

Love Kombucha! I've been brewing for about a year now. It is so forgiving and easy to fit into any schedule. We started with water kefir but that was an every other day task, ugh. The scoby is easy to hold over for months if you like until you want to make another batch.

Purchased a 2 gallon crock with spigot at the 2nd hand store for $5. People expect the crocks to have lids for lemonade but the kombucha crocks don't come with lids and it looks exactly like the ones online. Just put a large rubber band around the rim to help hold on a fabric cap.

We like it straight with no extra flavors. About a bottle a day disappears around here. We use the Grolsch flip top bottles. To purchase empty bottles online was more than purchasing the beer filled bottles at the local liquor store so we struggled through drinking that German beer to save a few dollars!

Those little scoby/yeast bits can be a surprise so I put a fine mesh strainer inside a funnel, open the spigot and have a full bottle in no time.

If new to kombucha give your taste buds to adjust to a more sour taste. Do a 3 day brew and next time 4 days, etc. until you reach 7 days which is the minimum suggested. If you choose to go more days it is all the better.

Be sure to use some black tea to keep the scoby strong. I have used some natural sugars and liked the flavor it seemed to have a brown sugar taste. Great stuff and good for you, experiment and have fun.

Kendra said...

My husband and I have been making it on and off for a few years. We got a strain called Jun Kombucha from an old neighbor. Jun Kombucha differs from regular Kombucha in that it takes green tea and honey instead of black tea and sugar. Similar flavor, maybe a little more mild. We like it because we can brew it in such a way as to keep the honey raw. So there's some added benefit. Also as we have our own honeybees, honey is free and sugar is not.