Hard to find, but easy to make, kombucha is a great way to maintain your health, kick a cold, and if you’re into the whole probiotics kick, will keep your gut filled with productive, “good” bacteria that your body needs. A recent study reported on by the New York Times shows that probiotics can actually soothe a colicy baby.
But one thing about the booch is that it’s expensive!
When I was first introduced to kombucha, I was intrigued by the concept (a fermented tea) but scared off by the cost–$4.50 for a 16 ounce bottle. I finally gave into my desires and found the stuff to be liquid gold. But being the starving artist I am, the cost was very prohibitive. That is, until now.
A week back I was at my friend’s house for a jam session, and over tea in his kitchen I saw his pretzel-container filled to the brim with a healthy “mother” and the good stuff. He offered to give me some of the “mother,” cut a piece off and put in some of the tea for me to bring home to start my own Kombucha farm. He gave me the simple steps, and I mean simple, to save myself hundreds of dollars a year on kombucha. This method costs literally pennies for gallons of the stuff!
1.Get a bottle of RAW kombucha. Don’t drink it. You can find this at whole foods. Look for a bottle that is particularly cloudy. This is going to be your mother seed for the kombucha culture that will soon grow into a BIG, jelly fish looking thing.
(If you are at Whole Foods on 2nd Ave in Manhattan, go to the beer store and pick up a spigot for $2.99 that you can put on your pretzel container. This will allow you to pull kombucha directly from your container without having to open the jar and put in a filthy ladle. This step is not required, but it makes it awesome. Overachievers apply)
2.Find yourself a big pretzel or pickle container. The kind you see at a deli on the counter. I found mine in someone’s recycling bag out on garbage night in about 2 seconds. Or just buy a big thing o’ pretzels and enjoy them!
3. Once the pretzel container is cleaned out, you’re ready for the next step. Fill it half way with cold, filtered water.
4. Boil about 4 cups of water and steep 6-12 bags of your favorite tea in the water. Let it steep for about ten minutes and pull the tea bags out.
5. Add 1-2 cups of sugar. I used sugar in the raw and it came out really well. Stir evenly so it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom. Let it have a rolling boil for two minutes or so.
6. Add your tea mix to the cleaned out pretzel jar. Fill it to the top with water. Since there was already cold water in it, it should take the boiling water down to about 70 degrees.
7. Add your bottle o’ kombucha. Hopefully you just got plain, raw kombucha.
8. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and a rubber band. Don’t cover it with the plastic cap you got with the pretzel container, or it will explode due to pressure created by the fermentation process.
9. Wait anywhere from 5-20 days to consume and repeat, taking out the kombucha mother and putting it into a sterile mug while you pour in the boiling water. Don’t worry too much about sterility (But try your best!) because these are very hearty cultures that will eat anything that comes in their way!
10. Share with family and friends! Every time a cycle is completed ( about 30 days) your mother will split off and you can give the offspring culture to a friend.
All in all, you will find yourself feeling more healthy, wealthy and wise using this recipe. Mix in apple juice or your own homemade juice for a super healthy drink that will propel you through the day!
Using this method, you’ll be able to make about one and a half gallons a month of the stuff for the cost of a single bottle, some tea, and some sugar.
Here’s my baby.