By Lisa Elaine Held
The first time I saw a SCOBY, I swore I’d never touch one.
If you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, which in reality means a colony of bacteria and yeast form a slimy disc that looks like a jellyfish, complete with strange wispy tentacles hanging down.
It’s a bizarre organism you wouldn’t think belongs in a kitchen, but it’s actually pretty amazing. Basically, a SCOBY is what transforms regular old black tea into the bubbly, probiotic drink you know as kombucha. It’s delicious and good for your gut (and is a great substitute if you’re trying to kick a soda habit, by the way).
And while I don’t remember exactly how I went from being grossed out by SCOBYs to feeling a little attached to mine (it’s not as cute as my dog, but it’s way easier to take care of), I can tell you this: making kombucha at home is seriously simple.
Basically, if you’re drinking it, you might as well be making it. Here’s why.
3 Reasons to Make Your Own Kombucha
1. It is so much easier than you think
Fermenting anything on your own sounds daunting. I can tell you from experience—it’s not. First you’ve got to get someone you know to give you a slice of their SCOBY, buy one, or grow your own (I don’t recommend the last option if you’re going for easy). After that, it’s basically a matter of brewing tea and then letting the whole thing sit for a week. I used this detailed tutorial the first time I did it and by the second time around, I pretty much had the process memorized. You’ll have to do some brewing and pouring about once a week, but it doesn’t take more than 30 minutes total. If it’s not perfect the first time, don’t fret. I found I got better at it each time the process repeated as I noticed tiny things I could tweak, and by the third batch it was really working well.
2. It can save you a lot of money
If you’re buying kombucha at the grocery store, you’ll spend at least three dollars—and often more like five—on a single-serving bottle. If you make it at home, you just need water, a few tea bags, and a little bit of sugar (to feed the bacteria) to make about a gallon. You don’t even need the fancy equipment most tutorials recommend. For instance, a glass jug is the best—and most aesthetically pleasing—option for fermentation. But when I was starting out I didn’t want to buy one until I knew I was invested in the process. So I used an old plastic protein powder tub. It worked perfectly. I also had a ton of mason jars at home already, so I used those instead of the bottles most tutorials recommend for the carbonation step. That also worked fine. (Just make sure whatever you’re using for the carbonation step is air-tight.)
3. It’s good for your health
There are now many amazing brands that are brewing high-quality, delicious kombucha that’s great for your gut. As the market grows, though, there are also brands that take shortcuts (like adding probiotics in at the end instead of brewing real kombucha) or that add lots of unnecessary sugar for flavor. If you make it yourself, you know exactly what you’re getting. And real fermented foods are associated with a healthy gut, which is in turn associated with a stronger immune system, mental health benefits, and reducing chronic inflammation. 30 minutes a week, then, feels like a pretty small investment.
(All Photos: Shutterstock)