It’s Sunday morning, and you wake up with a queasy stomach, dry mouth and a pounding headache. You reach for a bubbly, effervescent, sweetly sour drink that just so happens to contain a trace amount of the stuff that got you here in the first place; this naturally carbonated hangover cure is kombucha!
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is tea, usually black or green, that has been mixed with sugar, water, and the ever-important SCOBY, then left to sit out for over a week. It is then combined with herbs or flavorings, rebottled and then it is finally ready to drink! That boring green tea has magically turned into this naturally carbonated, (good) bacteria-rich, delicious drink for us to enjoy! Sounds a little strange, right? So what the heck is a SCOBY!? Kombucha is left to sit out and ferment, which is the process of your food converting carbs into alcohol. This process creates a ton of good belly boosting bacteria, which is great for digestion. And as for the SCOBY, it’s the most important piece to your kombucha making puzzle. A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria or yeast. This weird, slimy, mushroom-looking thing is your essential in creating this fermented drink. It’s what gives this drink all of its amazing health benefits!
Kombucha To Crush Your Hangover
So, now that you know all about this tasty drink, here’s why it just might be your new favorite hangover cure! Let’s look at a couple of things:
Let’s be real; alcohol contains toxins. When alcohol is consumed, these toxins enter your body and make you feel not so great the morning after. Kombucha is naturally high in glucaric acid which is beneficial to your liver and aids in the detoxification process. Drinking a glass of the bubbly the next day can help your body’s detox process move along and get those nasty toxins flushed out quicker.
We all know that alcohol dehydrates you. When we’re dehydrated, we lose electrolytes. Electrolytes help to control our fluid balances within our body, and kombucha just so happens to be packed with electrolytes.
The morning after a night of drinking and you often wake up with a nasty stomach ache. Alcohol depletes the levels of B vitamins found in our body, and this can cause nausea. Most store-bought kombucha is packed with a B complex, helping with your upset belly. Not only that, a recent study has shown that because kombucha is so high in antioxidants, it can help protect the gastric tissue in our stomach and reduce the feeling of pain. Grab a bottle made with ginger or peppermint to really help quell your nausea!
Headaches are usually another no fun symptom of a hangover. Kombucha can help crush a headache because of the relationship between our intestines and headache management. Research has found that improving our gut health can play a key role in managing headaches. Keeping our stomachs happy with gut boosting good probiotics from the kombucha can help kick your headache to the curb!
Kombucha is chock full of vitamins, like vitamin C, which is essential in the repair of all body tissues. So, sipping on some ‘booch for an added dose of vitamin C can help repair and restore the damage the alcohol did to our tissue the night before.
Sometimes a hangover can make us nervous, stressed or even anxious. Kombucha has been shown to having calming effects on the body, so sip away for a sense of relaxation.
Let’s all not forget that when fermenting kombucha, it naturally produces alcohol. And although it’s a very small amount, you know how the saying goes, “Bite the dog that bit you”!
Anybody can learn how to make kombucha at home. Follow this easy step-by-step kombucha tea recipe designed for anyone who wants to brew up to a gallon in their first batch.
The gist of it is: make sweet tea, add the kombucha culture, wait.
Homemade kombucha is the best kombucha!
Brewing Homemade Kombucha Supply List:
To make kombucha tea you will need a few specific supplies:
-Black Tea -SCOBY -Large one-gallon size glass jar or ceramic container -Cheesecloth -Flip-top fermentation bottles -Kombucha starter kit(optional)
Black tea is by far the best option when it comes to brewing your own kombucha. Not only is it sure to provide a delicious base flavor for your kombucha tea, but it ferments easily and will keep your SCOBY very happy!
SCOBY & Starter Tea:
The SCOBY, short for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast” does all the work when it comes to making your delicious kombucha! While kombucha starts out as nothing but a sugary tea, the SCOBY feeds on the sugars, fermenting the tea and creating a deliciously fizzy, probiotic-filled beverage for you to enjoy!
If you don’t already have the starter tea or a SCOBY, you can order one from Amazon (see my recommended products below). The culture will play a significant role in the flavor of your finished kombucha so you may want to experiment with cultures from various sources and see what you like the best.
The starter tea can be either 1 cup of liquid from a previous batch of kombucha for each gallon of sweetened tea or store-bought bottled kombucha (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored).
Large glass or ceramic container:
You can’t have kombucha if you don’t have a jar! You’ll need a large, food-safe glass or ceramic container to keep your kombucha in during the fermentation process. It is best if it is able to contain least one gallon of liquid, has a spigot, and a wide mouth. Just add in your black tea and other ingredients, then sit back, relax, and let the SCOBY do all of the work for you!
Cover for the Crock:
In order to ferment properly, the kombucha needs a breathable covering; A few layers of a piece of cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels will do the trick.
Flip-top fermentation bottles:
These bottles are great for storing all of the incredibly delicious kombucha that you’ve brewed! Their tight-seal tops are absolutely perfect for keeping your beverage fresh and flavorful until you’re ready to enjoy it!
Kombucha starter kit:
Kombucha starter kits are a great way to begin brewing your very own kombucha from home, especially if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the process! No need to stress- there are many kombucha starter kits available that have most everything you need to get started immediately, without any hassle! Most are incredibly affordable, so they’re a great option even if you think you have everything you need but are still feeling a bit uncertain!
Shop Amazon for the following recommended kombucha brewing supplies:
How to Make Raw Kombucha:
To start the kombucha recipe you will need a starter kombucha, a SCOBY, plain black tea or green tea, sugar and a pot to boil water in; as well as a one-gallon or larger container to ferment in with a cloth and rubber band to cover it.
Begin by brewing a gallon of sweet tea. I use 1 cup of sugar for one-gallon (16 cups ) of tea and eight tea bags or 2 tablespoons of loose-leaf black tea (or green tea).
Once your tea is brewed, remove the tea bags and let it cool to room temperature. When it is thoroughly cooled, add the SCOBY and starter tea. It’s essential to ensure the liquid is completely cooled when you add the SCOBY. You don’t want to accidentally cook the SCOBY and kill it.
The SCOBY may sink or float but it doesn’t matter, it will begin fermenting the tea regardless.
Cover the jar with a piece of cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels and secure with a rubber band.
Ferment for 7 to 10 days: Store the jar in a cupboard or pantry, out of direct sunlight at room temperature.
You will notice that the SCOBY tends to move around during this period. It is normal to find it at the top, bottom, or even sideways during fermentation.
Within a few days, a new layer of SCOBY will start forming on the surface of the kombucha. It might attach to the old SCOBY, or be separate. These are all normal and signs of healthy fermentation.
Next is the hard part: waiting.
Taste and Bottle
It should take roughly a week to 10 days to finish fermenting, but this, like pretty much every other aspect of brewing kombucha, is up to your personal preference. The longer you allow the tea to ferment, the more acidic and less sweet the final product will be.
Conversely, shorter fermentations leave more sugar unconverted and are less acidic. You want to find a happy medium. Test your kombucha every few days to see how it tastes and decide when you’re satisfied with it.
If you are following a keto diet, then check out my post on how to make kombucha keto-friendly. I share some great tips on how you can still enjoy kombucha while on a keto diet.
Avoid metal utensils when testing the kombucha, since metal can react with fermenting kombucha and create off-flavors among other problems. Use a clean glass utensil to check the taste.
The kombucha is ready when it loses its sweetness, has a tangy taste, and fizzes as you pour it.
Once your kombucha is finished fermenting, it is time to bottle it and store it in the refrigerator.
You can use a siphon or pour through a funnel, but make sure to leave around a cup of kombucha in the jar to use to get your next batch started.
Use glass bottles only; I recommend swing-top glass bottles specifically made for carbonated drinks, available on Amazon.
Avoid using plastic bottles because they can easily be damaged, and scratches in the plastic can harbor foreign bacteria. Plastic, even food-grade may contain undesirable chemicals that can be harmful to the kombucha SCOBY.
One thing to consider when bottling is that while the kombucha remains at room temperature, fermentation will still be occurring even if no culture is visible in the bottle.
Because of the pressure, if glass bottles are kept at room temperature long enough, they can explode!
You can avoid that danger by putting them in the fridge after a few days to dramatically slow fermentation, it won’t stop completely, and will resume once it warms up to room temperature again.
Kombucha Recipe Notes & Tips
Metal will react badly with kombucha so do not use it. Use plastic or glass utensils and a plastic funnel.
Sanitize your bottle with hot water or white vinegar. I ran mine through the dishwasher with no soap, just hot water.
Before you remove your SCOBY, it is best to sanitize your hands with white vinegar. Do NOT use soap because it can kill your SCOBY.
Kombucha is a fizzy, sweet, fermented tea that tastes similar to sparkling apple cider, but slightly sourer. Many describe the taste of kombucha as being somewhat “vinegary”. There are many different types of kombucha, and depending on what flavors you decide to add into your batch, it can take on more of a spicy, floral, or fruity flavor! With so many flavor options for this versatile beverage, you are certain to brew a kombucha tea that will have you craving more!
How much alcohol is in kombucha?
While kombucha does contain alcohol, commercial kombucha contains such a small amount (less than .05%) that it is considered to be a “non-alcoholic” drink. However, homebrews can often contain up to 3% alcohol. There are several factors in the fermentation process that influence the alcohol content of your kombucha brew. Fermenting your brew twice or using yeast which ferments at a higher temperature can cause higher alcohol content in your kombucha tea! Make sure to always follow the brewing instructions so you know exactly what you’re getting!
What are the side effects of kombucha?
While kombucha has many benefits, including the ability to settle an uneasy tummy, it can cause unpleasant side effects if your batch becomes contaminated! Some of these side effects include nausea, vomiting, head and neck pain, yeast infections, allergic reactions, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin). Due to the risk of contamination, kombucha is not recommended for those who have compromised immune systems. However, if you are a healthy adult, follow brewing instructions, and exercise caution, the risk of brewing a contaminated batch is incredibly low!
What are the health benefits of kombucha?
Kombucha offers many incredible health benefits. This fermented tea is rich in probiotics, a are healthy bacteria which is naturally found in the gut. Consuming probiotics may help to improve overall gut health and is even thought to assist in treating diarrhea and even IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Additionally, studies have shown that kombucha may assist in preventing or managing cancer, heart disease, infections, liver health, and Type 2 diabetes. This miracle beverage is even believed to assist with weight loss and to support good mental health!
Can you use no-calorie sugars such as Stevia and Splenda in kombucha?
Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners such as stevia and Splenda do not ferment well, so it is not a good idea to use them during the initial fermentation process. You can, however, add them during secondary fermentation, but remember- this will increase the alcohol content of your brew. If you are wanting to add a little extra sweetness to your kombucha, and prefer to use a no-calorie sugar, you can always add them in at the time of bottling!
Can you use decaffeinated tea to make kombucha?
The SCOBY, or “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast” that you will need in order to brew your very own kombucha at home requires caffeine in order to produce the kombucha; However, because of this, the caffeine level in the tea will decrease as your kombucha goes through the fermentation process. If you want to end up with a caffeine-free brew, it is recommended that you use two bags of caffeinated tea and six bags of caffeinated tea per gallon of water used to create your kombucha.
What kind of brewing vessel should I use to make kombucha? Plastic, metal, or glass?
Choosing the correct brewing vessel for your kombucha is a very important task! While there are many types of kombucha brewing vessels available, many find that the most ideal by far is a food-safe transparent glass container, preferably with a wide-mouth and a spigot, that is at least one gallon large. Traditionally, ceramic vessels were used to brew kombucha; While this method has become less popular in modern times, if you’re looking to get old school with your kombucha brewing, you can’t go wrong with a large ceramic container! No matter what, never get a container that is not “food safe”, and be sure to stay far away from containers that are made from non-stainless steel, brass, aluminum, rubber, crystal, or are homemade pottery pieces!
Should I rinse my SCOBY’s to remove yeast between batches?
If you’re new to brewing kombucha, you might be wondering if it is a good idea to rinse off your SCOBY between batches- the answer is no! When you rinse your SCOBY, you are rinsing off the microorganisms which assist in the kombucha-brewing process. Rinsing your SCOBY can actually be harmful to your brew! It is always best to transfer your SCOBY directly from one batch of kombucha to the next.
How do I store my bottles of kombucha?
Once the fermentation process is complete, you must keep your kombucha stored in the refrigerator at all times, even if you have not opened the bottle yet! Keeping your kombucha outside of the fridge can cause it to take on a foul taste and may also make you sick. This is not ideal for a beverage that is supposed to improve your health, so make sure to keep it nice and cold after bottling!
If you have decided to ferment your kombucha to get it a fizzier mouth feel, then cap bottles and store them in a warm, dark place for 2-3 days. I stored mine in the pantry.
After 2-3 days, remove your kombucha from the pantry and place it in the refrigerator. If your kombucha developed a baby SCOBY in the bottle, remove and toss and then drink.
You mustn’t leave your kombucha in the pantry past the three days. It is imperative to move it to the refrigerator to stop the fermentation process completely.
Can I reduce the amount of sugar in the finished kombucha tea?
If you’re wanting to reduce the amount of sugar in your finished kombucha tea, the best way to go about that is to dilute it in some sparkling water or juice! While juice will add its own sugars into the mix, it might just do the trick if you find you’ve over-sweetened your brew! Otherwise, go with sparkling water to cut down on the sugar. While some people will ferment their kombucha a second time in order to reduce the sugar content, this can increase the alcohol content of your beverage!
Why does my kombucha taste like vinegar?
The organic acids during the fermentation process cause kombucha to take on a vinegar-like taste. However, if the kombucha you’ve brewed comes out tasting overpoweringly like vinegar, chances are you’ve accidentally let it over-ferment! As the tea ferments, it will produce more and more organic acids; The best way to find your “sweet spot” in the future is to taste a bit of your kombucha daily.
Luckily, there is plenty that can be done with over-fermented kombucha besides throwing it out; Try blending the bitter batch in with a new batch or even use it to make salad dressing!
Why does my kombucha taste like alcohol?
If your kombucha ends up tasting like alcohol, it is probably because it contains a higher alcohol content than kombucha ideally should.
It is likely that the yeast became dominant and overpowered the bacteria. For your next batch, reserve the starter liquid from the top of the vessel only and avoid any stirring up of the yeast sediment from the bottom of the jar.
However, yeast can also congregate at the top of your brew, they look like brown strands or clumps (or a brain!) So, just avoid those pieces all together.
Warmer temperatures can also potentially cause yeast to become more dominant and reducing bacteria’s ability to acidify resulting in a kombucha tea that tastes much stronger and like alcohol than previous batches.
Kombucha Recipe 1 Gallon
Servings: 16 cups
Kombucha is a delicious and healthy drink produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria.
1-gallon water - make sure to use non-chlorinated water as chlorine will kill the SCOBY.
1 cup sugar (regular granulated sugar works best)
8 bags or 2 tablespoons loose leaf plain black tea or green tea
1 SCOBY per fermentation jar
2 cups starter tea, either from previous brew or store-bought bottled kombucha (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored)
Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
Once the sugar water has boiled for a few minutes, remove it from the heat and add the tea.
Wait for the tea to cool to room temperature, then remove the tea bags and put your tea in the fermentation jar or container.
Add the starter tea and SCOBY.
Cover the top of the container with cheesecloth or a paper towel and secure it with a rubber band.
Store the container in a warm and dry place out of direct sunlight for 7 -10 days, or to taste.
Most batches will take between 7 to 10 days to ferment.
The longer you allow your kombucha to ferment, the more acidic and “vinegary” and less sweet it will taste, since the sugar is being eaten by the culture as part of the fermentation process.
After seven days, you can start sampling your brew every few days to see how it’s doing.
When you’re satisfied with the taste you can drink it immediately, bottle and refrigerate it, or complete a second (1-2 day) ferment. This will result in a bubblier, carbonated drink.
Remember to save the SCOBY and enough liquid to use as starter tea for the next batch.
It’s up to you if you want to flavor it or leave it plain. If you choose to leave your kombucha unflavored, you can pour the liquid into a pitcher, this will make it easier to pour the kombucha into bottles for storing the kombucha.
Use sealable jars (I use flip-cap bottles), seal them up, and refrigerate.
Kombucha can be stored sealed in a refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Total Prep time is about 25 minutes. However, it takes anywhere between 7- 10 days to ferment, depending on your taste preference, it could take even longer.
Kombucha is a living probiotic tea packed with beneficial bacteria that help detoxify the body and energize the mind. Kombucha aids the body in healing and restoring gut health and integrity. Fans often tout it for having a fuzzy effervescent quality like a natural soda. The fuzziness is a result of the fermentation process.
“Death begins in the colon” ~ Dr. Bernard Jensen
The intestine is sometimes referred to as the second immune system because of its content and potential for harmful bacteria growth. It has such an active role in our health and immunity. The beneficial bacteria in kombucha help keep harmful bacteria in check resulting in a clean digestive system and well-functioning intestinal track.
Similar to apple cider vinegar, it’s an excellent digestive tonic, which is produced by a similar process. Taken around mealtime, it helps assist stomach acid with breaking down proteins and digest in other foods and prevents bloating, heartburn, and indigestion.
Some people notice a cleansing effect with kombucha that it aids constipation with its gentle laxative action.
It’s not a magic elixir
People who drink kombucha regularly claim that after one week of drinking it daily they notice an improvement in immune system function and energy levels.
However, if you continue to eat foods that are toxic and poisonous to your bodies such as junk foods and highly processed food then just adding the kombucha tea alone will probably not be enough to experience the benefits.
The best way to heal your body is to remove as much of the toxic things that go into our bodies and are around bodies, and then nourish it and feed it with all it needs to give it every opportunity to rebuild itself.
I’ll step down off my soapbox now.
The tea portion of the kombucha, whether it’s from black tea or green tea contains l-theanine, a compound which naturally counteracts the tea’s caffeine content with a calming effect.
Both green and black tea come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The difference is in the process; Black tea is roasted and aged longer than green tea. Tea (especially green) is also high in antioxidants and is often used in natural weight-loss formulas.
The caffeine in Kombucha tea is much lower than what’s found in coffee and does have some beneficial effects, which include a temporary boost in energy, alertness, and mental acuity.
There are so many unique and different health benefits that can come about from drinking kombucha regularly.
More Health Benefits of Kombucha
Kombucha tea contains a range of B Vitamins: B1, B2, B6, and B12 which provide the body with energy and helps process fats and proteins, which are vital for your nervous system.
Kombucha contains antioxidants that help fight molecules in the body that can damage cells. It has one of the few agents that can cope with the pollutive products of the petroleum industry, including plastics, herbicides, pesticides, and resins.
A study done in 2011, found that the antioxidant-rich kombucha reduces toxins in the liver, suggesting that kombucha may play an important role in promoting liver health and reducing liver inflammation.
However, these studies were conducted on rats, and more research is needed to say with certainty how kombucha can support liver health in humans.
It helps with the structure of cartilage, collagen and the fluid that lubricates the joints. Collagen reduces wrinkles and helps with arthritis.
It helps the body to make Glutathione, which is made up of 3 amino acids and is produced naturally in the liver. It is vital for cellular metabolism. It protects our bodies against oxidative stress caused by free radicals and is also required for the immune system to function correctly and is a potent detoxifier.
SCOBY’s and kombucha tea can be used to treat stings, bites, infections on the skin and rash, irritation, eczema and external fungi (e.g., ring work, nail fungi).
Kombucha and SCOBYs can be added to bathwater as the bacteria and goodness absorb straight into the skin. It’s beneficial for sick children, or just a relaxing, nourishing time in the bath. You can even use it as a probiotic gargle for sore throats and infections.
Afterward consider dumping the bathwater in the garden, instead of letting all that beneficial bacteria go down the drain.
SCOBY is useful in garden compost. The bacteria and minerals nourish the soil, and the goodness absorbs into your plants and vegetables.
How Kombucha can help around the house:
Like vinegar, kombucha has acetic acid in it, but in smaller amounts. Because of this, kombucha can be used as a surface cleaner (just pour some into a spray bottle) or even as a hand sanitizer by adding a little to your liquid hand soap.
How Kombucha can help you with cosmetics:
The SCOBY can be pulverized in a food processor and kept refrigerated to use as face mask applied directly to the skin allowed to leave for 10 mins or longer until dried and absorbed into the skin and thoroughly washed off.
How Kombucha can benefit your pet:
The SCOBY can be fed to animals. It will assist them with a variety of ailments such as arthritis, gut issues, cancer, skin issues, ear issues, and more.
How Kombucha kills fleas and ticks:
Kombucha will help eliminate fleas and ticks on your pets. However, a stronger batch of kombucha will be needed for this application. To make a stronger brew, merely let your kombucha ferment for two extra weeks. This will create an extra strength brew, similar to a tincture.
Next, apply your stronger brewed batch of flea and tick spray to the affected areas on your dog, cat, or livestock to decrease the irritation and discourage those pesky little buggers. For severe cases, you can also use it as a bath! It will also help them retain a shiny coat.
How Kombucha gets rid of your pet worms:
Kombucha is a natural way of getting rid of worms in dogs and cats. Dogs and cats get infected with roundworms by ingesting worm eggs found in soil or stool. Start by giving your pet a dried SCOBY as a chew toy. As you know cats can be very finicky if they refuse the new chew toy try mixing it with their food or in their drinking water.
More about the benefits of Kombucha tea:
May Balances hormones
Can help Lose weight
Improves Skin and hair
May help ease the symptoms of anxiety, eczema, food allergies if ingested and applied topically.
Behavioral issues, ADHD, Dyslexia, autism
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Kombucha is chock-full of trillions and billions of good bacteria that can strengthen the wall of the gut.
Vitamin C potent detoxifier and immune booster and enhancer of vitality.
Antibiotic qualities which help deactivate viruses.
Encourages the intercellular production of energy.
After researching the benefits of kombucha tea for several months and consuming it myself, I have found quite an array of claims and lists of benefits the tea can offer up. But let it be known I have not researched all of these claims individually and I am not suggesting the use of kombucha tea over anything your doctor has recommended.
If you are looking for help resolving any of these ailments or conditions it is always best to consult a doctor.