Teach a Man to Brew

black tea with a SCOBY yeast visibleDoes it seem like everyone’s talking about Kombucha? The flavored fizzy tea in glass bottles. What’s the big deal about some carbonated tea? Oh, excuse me, fermented tea. Or, if you prefer, cultured tea.

I’m just now getting around to talking about this and may never have if it hadn’t been for my sister. She’s like a little scientist in her kitchen always tweaking and testing and trying all these interesting things.

On one visit, she had these gallon jars on her counter. Okay, not so weird. But she had something growing in them. Something weird and jelly-fish like. She tells me how this medicinal tea is actually filled with good bacteria and symbiotic yeasts, and so good for you and how it can help repair health and it tastes so amazing.

I let her go on but I had stopped listening at good for you.  I have drunk some pretty horrible tasting stuff based on the “good for you” premise. And while I had (gratefully) been healed of some hellish maladies, I remained unconvinced that it was the concoction but more likely that my body made speedy recoveries so it wouldn’t have to drink the mix again.

Until I saw those jars on my sister’s counter, making my own booch never crossed my mind. Recalling my late father’s wine-making venture, I imagined all the gear it would take. But outside of some quart Ball jars, she didn’t have a bunch of gear. Two jars, and 2 coffee filters (or clean dish towels to cover the jars).

I had tried it half a dozen times. You know you’re having lunch in a natural food store and they don’t serve any of the top five sodas. It wasn’t at the top of my list of beverages because it’s pricey: $2.89 to $3.49 a bottle. And if that’s your dilemma, I’ve got great news.

high teaWhat does it take to get set up to make your own Booch?
1 glass gallon jar
5 plain black or green tea bags,
3.75 quarts of unchlorinated water
1 cup of sugar.
And a SCOBY.

To find out cost comparison of brewing your own vs buying, read on.

If you already like Booch, and you just want to dip your toe in the process without investing a ton of money into it, you can get basic ingredients at the grocery store. If you like it, you can always upgrade your ingredients. If you don’t really like it, after all, you can always have a high tea with cucumber sandwiches to unload the tea you bought.

Box of unflavored tea: $1.50-$2.49 depending on quality. 20 bags
5 tea bags =.62c
1. Cup of Domino sugar. About .35-.50c
(If you don’t have this on hand a 5# bag is about 3.50$ and holds about 10 cups.)
Water (filtered from a store .35-1.00
SCOBY= free to $15$ The gift that keeps on giving. Ideally, buy once.
Coffee filter .01c (to let air in, keep flies out)

Your initial outlay will be a whopping  $17 if you have to buy a SCOBY. You could spend that on a couple of name brand bottles of Kombucha. But for $17 you’re going to find out something. Sure, you could have paid for five perfectly brewed bottles of cultured tea. But stick with me here.

Let’s just go with using the rest of that box of tea, and the sugar already paid for. And if jason-leung-603402-unsplashyou decided, to finish out using the tea you brewed three more batches of tea. Even if you paid high end for filtered water, you will spend $3. And do you know what?
You will have leveled up to an even 20$. But in the end, you would have made 24/20oz bottles of home-brewed kombucha and had 6 cups of sugar left.
For $20, you could have bought 6 perfectly brewed bottles and you’d have 6 empty bottles (if you saved them, that is.)

$20 = 6/20 oz bottles of store brand

$20 =24/20 oz bottles of home brand

Or for the same money, you could have the equivalent to 24 bottles of booch. The
18 bottles of booch you got but didn’t have to pay for you saved 59.22. It comes out to about 3c an ounce. This is a heck of a deal, right?

berry-close-up-cooking-141815Even if you upgrade your sugar, and spend $3.00 on 100 bags of tea, and $17 on organic 10# bag of sugar, you’ll end up making home-brewed kombucha for under a penny an ounce (.0083c) To put this in perspective, You’d be paying 16 cents for a bottle. (Or making a fairly decent income if you sell it…)

$20 = 20 batches of 6/20 oz bottles of home brand.

But that’s just the plain jane version.
You could spring for a few fruits and roots and play with flavored second ferments (which isn’t as complicated as you think.) If you have a juicer, you can add juices instead of fruit pieces which can be off-putting to some people. Mix in a slice of minced ginger, add a heaping teaspoon of orange juice concentrate, three raisins and recap your 20oz bottle. Keep out of direct sunlight, at 75-85 degrees and after 3- 5 days, you’ll have a flavored booch you can be proud of, that rivals anything they sell in the store.francois-pistorius-527693-unsplash

You’re basically paying yourself to make kombucha at astronomical savings. If you don’t have a SCOBY and want to make your own tea, check out how to grow your own SCOBY here. Follow the brewing recipe here. One obvious cost I don’t mention is containers. Most people I know buy them wholesale or reuse bottles from their days of drinking store- bought kombucha. You can use recycled glass jars, but be aware that they’re not all created to with-stand the internal pressure that builds up from the fermenting process. Be on the lookout for flip-top glass bottles or google wholesale manufacturers for best pricing.

Are you a kombucha brewer? What are your favorite flavors? We’d love to hear from you.


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