Kombucha: Refreshing Summer Drink

Thanks to my sweet SIL Autumn Edmonds for sharing this wonderful post on Kombucha for us! I just recently completed my first batch of the drink and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a wonderfully refreshing drink for summer especially! Pleasantly fizzy and sweet! Fermenting for seven days works great for us. As Autumn mentions at the end there has been some debate over the safety of consuming this product as a pregnant or nursing mother. Her cousin, a nurse, assured us that drinking this beverage in moderation during pregnancy or nursing is perfectly safe. We have mushrooms to share for any of our local friends, just send me an e-mail.

Want to be groove with the hippies, save money and offer a helping hand to your liver? Tired of your drink’s main ingredient being high fructose corn syrup? Now you have a healthy and hip alternative, equipped with a great name. Let me introduce you to Kombucha.

Wonderfully fizzy and slightly sweet tasting, Kombucha is a great way to improve your health. The Kombucha culture, often referred to as a “mushroom”, is a probiotic colony of friendly yeast and bacteria. It acts on sugar and tea to produce acetic, lactic and glucuronic acid. Kombucha is great for detoxification, boosting metabolism and assisting digestion. It is rich with antioxidants and amino acids, namely L-threonine (supports healthy protein balance). Kombacha is loaded with enzymes and healthy bacteria thought to enhance the digestive process. It has been used to prevent post-meal heartburn, acid reflux and has even been used as a cure for cancer.

Kombucha is very simple and inexpensive. It costs about 50 cents a gallon to make, compared with about $3 for a 16 ounce Kombucha drink at your local health food store. I make mine with black mango tea from Trader Joes. Try to stay away from non-organic teas, they contain fluoride.

Here are the instructions:

Ingredients:
3 quarts filtered water
1 cup white sugar (don’t worry, the sugar is to feed the “mushroom” but is necessary!)
4 bags of organic black tea
1/2 cup Kombucha from a previous culture or use 1/2 cup apple cidar vinegar if starting with a new mushroom
1 Kombucha mushroom

Directions:
1. Bring water to a boil.
2. Add sugar. Dissolve.
3. Remove from heat. Add the tea bags. Let tea steep until the mixture is completely cooled.
4. Remove tea bags. Pour tea mixture into a gallon sized glass jar. Add Kombucha saved from previous batch.
5. Place the Kombucha mushroom on the top of the liquid inside the jar.
6. Cover with a cloth (cloth napkin for example) and put in a warm, dark place for 7-10 days. Inside a kitchen cabinet works great.

My kombucha covered with cloth napkin in gallon jar in my kitchen cupboard

7. Remove the mushroom. Kombucha mushrooms reproduce with each batch. Gently tear the new mushroom from the mother mushroom. Use the mother for the next batch and either pass on the new mushroom to a friend or dump it down the disposal.
8. Transfer liquid to covered glass containers. Reserve 1/2 cup of the Kombucha for your next batch.
9. Begin your next batch right away or store the mushroom in the 1/2 cup liquid in your fridge.

*Note: Do not wash Kombucha containers in the dishwasher.

Sound good already? Here are a few quotes further describing the wonders of Kombucha.

Sally Fallon describes the Kombucha process well in one of my favorite cookbooks, “Nurishing Traditions.” “The kombucha ‘mushroom’ acts on sugar and tea to produce not only acetic and lactic acid but also small amounts of a potent detoxifying substance, glucuronic acid. Normally this organic acid is produced by the liver in sufficient quantities to neutralize toxins in the body…However, when liver function becomes overloaded, and when the body must deal with a superabundance of toxins form the inviroment-certainly the case with most of us today-additional glucuronic acid taken in the form of kombucha is said to be a powerful aid to the body’s natural cleansing process, a boost to the immune system and a proven prophylactic against cancer and other degenerative diseases.”

Jennifer Adler from the Conscious Choice website writes;
“Some of those miracle health claims include: detoxification, boosting metabolism, assisting digestion and even curing cancer. Advocates believe that Kombucha works by assisting the liver’s ability to detoxify the body. This hypothesis is due to early observations of increased glucuronic acid conjugates in the urine after Kombucha consumption, a signifier of increased detoxification by the liver. However, more recent analysis of Kombucha offers other explanations for its potential health benefits. First, Kombucha’s high levels of organic acids help maintain proper acid/alkaline balance in the body by promoting tissue and blood alkalinity. The fermented brew is also rich in antioxidants and amino acids, namely L-threonine, which supports healthy protein balance. In addition to its potential properties as a liver-booster, Kombucha is loaded with enzymes and healthy bacteria thought to enhance the digestive process. Kombuchanados swear by the drink as a preventative for post-meal heartburn and acid reflux. Some rely on the fizzy bite of Kombucha as an energy boost to battle the dreaded mid-afternoon slump (the tea’s copious quantities of B-vitamins make it a great caffeine-free alternative).”


So instead of picking up an expensive and sugar ladened soft drink from your local grocery store, buy a kombucha mushroom and create your own delightful, healthy and refreshing Kombucha drink.

To buy your own mushroom:
Organic Kombucha
Check out your local craigslist!

For further reading:

Kombucha for Children

Kombucha Tea FAQs – a great resource for all your questions! Refer to this first!
Kombucha Cultures
Conscious Choice
Kombucha America
Happy Herbalist

** Word of Caution **
Some individuals may have an alergic reaction to Kombucha. Also, some say Kombucha is not advisable for pregnant or nursing mothers due to it’s detoxing effect.

If you are concerned with caffeine with pregnancy or nursing, try this decaffeinating tip I learned:

Basically you pre-steep the tea.  Heat up a cup of hot water and set it off to the side.  Before putting the tea bag/ball in the water to make kombucha, first let the tea steep in the cup of hot water for 45 seconds to 1 minute.  Supposedly the caffeine is released into the water during that first minute.  After that put the tea bag/ball in the water to make kombucha.  It’s essentially a do-it-yourself decaf of the tea.

It’s Kitchen Tip Tuesdays!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

54 Responses to Kombucha: Refreshing Summer Drink

  1. nicklepickle September 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    help! i know im not suppost to use metal in brewing Kombucha but i wasnt thinking and used a metal fork in the process…should i throw out the batch? i cant figure out what to do??

    • Lindsay September 5, 2011 at 6:56 am #

      I wouldn’t fret about it, nor would I throw out the batch. Just keep it in mind for next time.

  2. Aubri June 18, 2011 at 5:48 am #

    DO NOT put kombucha starter down the drain if you have a septic system! :) It will form a big ol’ scoby on the top of your tank that blocks the septic guys from cleaning out the system.

    I’m sure it’s also not great to put down municipal water lines either, just because it could probably cause the sewage guys trouble at some point too. (not sure if sewage sits around long enough to ferment and grow more baby mushrooms–but I’m sure it could!)

    I have heard it’s GREAT to put in compost though!!

  3. buy water filters April 29, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    If you need water filters for you refrigerator, I would highly recommend you to use FiltersFast. I buy my filters at their online store. I like to things most: their prices and their speed of order delivery.

  4. TeeJay April 13, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    I am currently brewing my first gallon batch of Kombucha. I’ve looked around but haven’t found a solid answer on how to store the “mother” when I finish brewing. Being as I’m doing a gallon and the only one drinking it, I won’t be making a new batch right away. So can someone advise me on how to store it so it doesn’t go bad?

    Thanks! :)

    • Lindsay April 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

      You can simply remove the scoby and place it in a small jar with 1/2 cup kombucha to preserve it. This should keep for at least a few weeks to a month, if not more, until you are ready to make the next batch.

  5. Joy Price April 12, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    I only have a half-gallon sized glass jar- can I still make kombucha with this jar? Would I cut the ingredients down to a half recipe?

  6. Jackie August 20, 2010 at 11:10 am #

    Thank you SO much for posting this recipe!!! I recently discovered Kombucha as I was in Whole Foods (a rare trip, indeed) and looking for something a little out of the ordinary. Voila! So yummy! I can’t wait to brew my own!

  7. Michelle Mohr July 17, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    Hello,

    I was hoping that you still had kombucha “mushrooms” available. If you do is it possible that I might be able to purchase one from you? I am having a difficult time fine one to purchase. Thank you for all of your helpful information.

    Sincerely,
    Michelle

  8. Sharon April 10, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

    Lindsay,
    Are you still making and drinking Kombucha? If so, is it possible to get a “baby” from you? We've been buying Kombucha lately and have become addicted! Time to start making our own! :-) I live in Vancouver and can send you my email address. Or, I'm even happy to personally pick it up from you.
    Thanks!
    Sharon

    • Lindsay April 12, 2010 at 5:59 am #

      No, I am not currently making it…but am planning to start again soon. I would recommend purchasing one from Cultures for Health.com. They are in Portland and you would get it the next business day.

  9. Michelle Miles January 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Hi Lindsay, haven’t had a chance to read your post much lately and have so missed it! Looking forward to catching up. A quick question about your Kombucha… is it fizzy? My rarely seems to be carbonated. I bought a grosch style bottle, but it didn’t seem to help. I’m thinking of adding some ACV to “give it a boost,” as I’ve read that can help. Any thoughts or suggestions would be delightful!

    Thanks so much and God bless,
    Michelle

    • Lindsay January 25, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

      Not really. Sometimes if I let it sit too long it would get somewhat fizzy, but then it was always more vinegary to the taste. I would look into water kefir if you want something more fizzy.

  10. Jenny January 7, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    Where did you find your glass soda bottles as seen in the picture above?

    • Lindsay January 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

      Unfortunately, I do not know as this was a guest post. I would recommend searching glass cork bottles on google. I am sure you can find something similar.

  11. Tania November 19, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    Do you have any information on whether kombucha is safe for children, including preschoolers? Thanks!

    • Lindsay November 23, 2009 at 1:27 pm #

      Yes, check out the links above in the article – “Kombucha for children”. It gives approximate daily dosage for children.

  12. Dawn June 22, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    I remember reading in Nourishing Traditions that it is important to use organic tea because conventionally grown tea is high in fluoride. I did a bit of research (check it out on PubMed) and found that all tea contains fluoride – the plant naturally seems to accumulate it from the soil in which it is grown. Green tea actually has more and the less expensive teas tend to have more as well. Even Rooibus has it. There are plenty of reasons to choose quality organic teas but fluoride isn’t one of them. Just a little tidbit FYI.

    I’m really enjoying your blog! Great info and encouragement!

  13. Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home March 16, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    Here’s a link showing how to grow your own “mother” or “SCOBY”.

    http://www.foodrenegade.com/how-to-grow-a-kombucha-scoby/

  14. ansel February 19, 2009 at 12:17 pm #

    FYI, kombucha is often called a mushroom, when it actually is a symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria.

  15. Mary November 11, 2008 at 12:22 pm #

    I know this is a late post, but I just found this site. I make Kombucha all the time and I use organic green tea bags and agave syrup for the the sweetener. Wardeh, at suchtreasures.com has instructions. She has used agave, honey and molasses as sweeteners. I use the same recipe as yours except 6 green tea bags and 1 cup of agave. I like this because you get the added benefit of the green tea. Hope this is helpful. :-)

  16. Jeanelle August 16, 2008 at 12:09 am #

    I have a question about using organic tea in making Kombucha. I read that using organic tea can cause mold. Have you experienced this? I would much rather use organic tea. I am excited to try making Kombucha after meeting a neighbor at our local health food market who has mushrooms to share. Praise God for providing a more affordable way to get Kombucha. I was buying it at the store once a week when I shopped. Ouch! Also, I didn’t realize I was only supposed to drink 4 ounces at a time three times a day. I drank half the bottle then the other half another day and I am still nursing and expecting this February. Was this okay?

    • Lindsay August 18, 2008 at 5:09 pm #

      Jeanelle,

      I have never heard of organic tea causing mold, nor have I had heard of any one else experiencing this. The recommended quantity to consume of kombucha is difficult to really nail down. I have found different sources recommending different amounts. I would just recommend using it in moderation. We drink about 8 ounces a day. The website linked above does recommend taking a week break every few weeks, so it doesn’t appear to be recommended to drink it consistently. I am sure you are okay in moderation. But again, I am no expert.

  17. genevieve August 9, 2008 at 9:08 pm #

    Hi. I recently made kombucha and was a bit apprehensive about using refined sugar even though I know the mushroom consumes it. After letting it ferment for seven days, I tried it and it seemed too sweet for a “sugarless” drink which lead me to wonder and then research if there is any of the refined sugar left in the drink. What I found is that the longer you let if ferment, the less sugar content, which, of course, makes sense as the mushroom will continue to feed off of the sugar. The sugar that is not eaten yet by the mushroom IS refined and consumed by you. I also found that regardless of how long it ferments, the mushroom will never consume all of the sugar. Therefore, I highly recommend using the quality of sugar you would use in anything else you would prepare.

    Because I know that you all care as deeply as I do about the health of your family, I felt it inclined to share this small enlightenment with you.

    For source of this information visit http://www.happyherbalist.com/analysis_of_kombucha.htm

  18. Margaret July 16, 2008 at 8:24 pm #

    I enjoy your blog and have learned so much from you!

    I tagged you for a meme, if you care to play along!

  19. Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home July 16, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    You know, this drink really is surprisingly good and refreshing! When my MIL first gave me some to try, I was very skeptical and didn’t really care for the first glass I drank. But soon I grew accustomed to the taste, and now I think it is actually wonderful. I love the fizziness and the tartness, and it’s nice with a couple drops of stevia added, too. Good post! Reminds me that I need to make another batch!

  20. Susan July 16, 2008 at 9:53 am #

    Yea for Kombucha! Thanks for posting about it. I have been brewing several batches a week since spring. Our kids love it and nothing is more thirst quenching after a hot day of yard/garden work than a chilled glass full.You didn’t mention flavoring yours so I will share what I do. After brewing I strain mine into quart glass jars and add ginger (either fresh or crystalized) and whatever frozen fruit I have on hand. My family loves rasberry (about 4 frozen berries/jar) and it makes a lovely pink color. Today’s my kombucha day and I will be bottling 4 gallons worth. My girlfriend has been using frozen peaches and ginger so I am trying that. I leave my quart jars on the counter a day or two and then refridgerate. My daughter’s wedding is Aug. 8th and I will be serving chilled fruit flavored kombucha along with lemonade!

  21. Elaine July 15, 2008 at 7:12 pm #

    Hi Lindsay,
    How appropriate you should do a post on Kombucha as I just made my second batch ever today and started a third. My friend’s 15 year old daughter taught me how to make it! I’m enjoying it and my boys even like it. I’m thrilled to have a healthy alternative to pop and fruit juices! In a Google search on Kombucha one day I came across this site… http://www.laurelfarms.com Apparently a lady, Betsy Pryor, owns this Kombucha mushroom farm, which is approved by the FDA and ships them worldwide – not cheap though! She has a book out called Kombucha Phenomenon, The Miracle Tea. It’s about making Kombucha safely. Some of her instructions are a little different from NT but it looks interesting. Check it out if you like. I’d be interested in your opinion!

  22. lisadeb1989 July 15, 2008 at 7:01 pm #

    let’s hear it for organic health. I’ve been on 9 meds for a decade and am SICK of them. heard of Acai? My doctor has, her husbands been drinking it for years. I however have the over flowing medicine chest. well I’m knocking those out one by one. my blood work results from the blend i drink have been phenomenal.
    Google acai, it’s all there. A NATURAL superfood. anyone else drawn a line in the sand and decided you are worth organic health? we’ve started a garden and are loving it. love to hear from you [email protected]

    http://naturallypotent.wordpress.com/

  23. Annette July 15, 2008 at 6:19 pm #

    I’ve always wanted to try this, but the words “mushroom,” “fermenting,” “mother” and “baby” sort of make my stomach turn. Maybe I should just buy a premade drink to try!

  24. Lorrie July 15, 2008 at 4:40 pm #

    I have tried the kombucha from the health food stores and I really liked it. I tried not to drink too much since I was nursing at the time and I was not sure if I should be drinking it. I have thought about trying to make it myself, but I have been afraid to. I guess I have no excuse now. Every recipe I have tried from this site has been really good. Today I sent home a batch of tortillas with the mother of the little boy I watch. I hope she likes them.

  25. lylah ledner July 15, 2008 at 2:52 pm #

    Lindsay…you got my whistle whett…just thinking about that great drink. a few years back i’d made it regularly…and for whatever reason stopped…but, when i get back from spain….i’ll get going again. thanks for the post! lylah

  26. Kate July 15, 2008 at 2:05 pm #

    Sounds good…but I’m allergic to mushrooms!!

    • Beth C July 15, 2008 at 2:35 pm #

      It’s a common misconception that kombucha mushrooms are really mushrooms. I think they kind of look like a huge mushroom top, so maybe that’s where they got their name. Actually, a kombucha mushroom is a “scoby” or a Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast. There is no fungus in it (if you make it properly!) :) So, you might give it a try.

  27. Beth C July 15, 2008 at 1:48 pm #

    I love kombucha, and I’ve been itching to make another batch. But I haven’t made it lately out of respect for my husband. He thinks it stinks while it sits on the counter and is fermenting. It’s just a strong yeasty smell, but he doesn’t like it at all. Do you (or does anyone) have a good idea for how to keep the “stink” contained while it’s fermenting without killing the scoby?

    • Lindsay July 15, 2008 at 2:37 pm #

      My only suggestion would be to store it in the cupboard. No stinky smells here! I keep it in the cupboard above our refrigerator and it works fine.

  28. Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet July 15, 2008 at 11:38 am #

    I miss this drink…. I can’t drink it right now with some dietary restrictions. It is very refreshing. Thankfully, I have found some other cold drinks, like the Thai iced tea recipe I posted today, but am still experimenting with fermented drinks to come up with a non-dairy, no cane sugar recipe. :-) Thanks Autumn, for sharing about this wonderful drink!

  29. autumn sager July 15, 2008 at 11:28 am #

    hey lindsay, what do you know about flouride? adam and i were talking about, with azlyn but it is already in the water and good for teeth. little ones cant have flour. tooth paste till 2,

    • Lindsay July 15, 2008 at 4:58 pm #

      I try to avoid fluoride as much as possible. Do a little research on the web, there is a lot of info out there. Thankfully it is not in our water or else the filtering system we use filters it out…I can’t quite remember. I make my own toothpaste because fluoride free is hard to find and really expensive. I usually just use water and the toothbrush for Karis as she is too young to avoid swallowing. If I use a little homemade then it is fine because it is all safe ingredients.

  30. Sunny July 15, 2008 at 10:51 am #

    Hi Lindsay,

    When searching for more info on the kombucha mushroom, I came across a website that says you can start your own scoby. If memory serves, all it takes is a bottle of kombucha from the store. Let it sit in a covered jar just like you would if making your own. It takes longer than seven days, but eventually, you will have a scoby!

    Blessings,
    Sunny

  31. Jenny July 15, 2008 at 10:07 am #

    I just bought a continuous brew Kombucha jar through our co-op here in Louisville! It was expensive ($50) but worth it because the stuff we buy at whole foods is so expensive! There is a continuous brew recipe on our co-op website, http://www.wholelifeco-op.com if anyone is interested!
    Jenny

  32. Michele @ Frugal Granola July 15, 2008 at 8:08 am #

    Thank you so much for this wonderful information! :) A friend recently offered me a “baby” kombucha, but I had to decline, until I could do some more research- I didn’t want to kill it! :) Calvin & I were just saying we wanted to find out more about kombucha.

    How long does it “keep?”
    Blessings,
    Michele

    • Lindsay July 15, 2008 at 10:27 am #

      The mushroom will keep indefinitely for the most part as long as it is stored in the frig with 1/2 cup of starter.. I am not sure how long the actual beverage keeps, but we drank one gallon in a weeks time while just drinking about 8 oz each per day, with Karis drinking about 1 oz and it was wonderful. Check out the FAQ link I provided above for more on this topic.

  33. Pamela July 15, 2008 at 7:47 am #

    Hi Lindsay, So glad you had such a great time camping…minus the late nights!! Say, are your brothers Dan and Sam twins? Our oldest boys are Daniel and Samuel and they are twins!! Just thought I’d ask. Have a restful week, with lots of smiles and many naps.
    Blessings, Pamela

    • Lindsay July 15, 2008 at 10:11 am #

      No, my brothers are not twins. Two years apart, but yes we all look alot alike. I do have twin brother & sister who are the youngest, Brandon & Brooke (10 yrs). Trying to take it easy for sure!

  34. Donielle @ Raising Peanuts July 15, 2008 at 6:40 am #

    The woman I get my raw milk from makes this and recently told me about it, so I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at this, thanks for the how-to!
    Now if I can try and bum the starter and mushroom off her…. :-)

  35. Jessica July 15, 2008 at 4:54 am #

    Must you use WHITE sugar? Could you sub. Demerara Sugar? I have some Bragg’s ACV and would love to try it – only, I have no white sugar.

    Love your site, and thank you for sharing recipes and such great details.

    • Lindsay July 15, 2008 at 10:16 am #

      Yes, you must use white sugar (although you can use organic white sugar if desired)…it is necessary for the growth of the mushroom and is absorbed completely into the mushroom. This is the one exception I make and that Nourishing Traditions talks about as well.

  36. Donna July 15, 2008 at 1:33 am #

    Do you know how to ‘start’ it without the mushroom? Local healthfood store said you could make your own and he described it very similar to how you are doing it with the mushroom and if I understood correctly, it would make its own?!?! Do you know?

    Thanks for posting on this….I’ve been wanting to do this!

    • Lindsay July 15, 2008 at 10:13 am #

      As I mentioned above, the mushroom will reproduce itself with each batch you make, and thus making further mushrooms, but you have to have a kombucha mushroom to get you started. That is what he was referring to that it reproduces itself. Check out your local craigslist. I found several sources on there for free or really cheap.

      • Donna July 15, 2008 at 11:36 am #

        Lindsay, thanks so much for replying.
        This fellow I talked to said you could start it without a mushroom and that it would grow one if you used raw apple cider vinegar…..ever heard of that?

        • Lindsay July 15, 2008 at 2:35 pm #

          I am sorry Donna, but I have not heard of what you are referring to. I am only on my second batch myself so prety new to the kombucha world.

        • Kristen July 16, 2008 at 10:29 am #

          There is a Youtube.com video that shows how to make it from bottled Kumbucha (raw, plain, unpasteurized) without a mother. Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fi4TZ6aTUg4

          I might have to try this if I can find a bottle at my health food store. I have not had luck finding any cultures on craigslist.