Aside from getting kombucha for literally pennies when you make it at home, controlling the flavor and having full confidence in the purity and freshness are the next best benefits.
There are several ways to change the flavor of your kombucha, which can be done as part of the initial process, and also after the initial brewing is complete.
Kombucha starts with water, so use the best quality water you have. Fresh spring or well water is probably best, followed by lightly filtered tap water. You will find FAQs on some of the top kombucha sites that say you should use highly filtered, or even distilled water, and other sites that say the opposite: never to use distilled, and that high filtration removes too many minerals and will harm your scoby over time.
Although we use distilled water for bone broth and other cooking projects, we’ve almost always used lightly filtered tap water for kombucha. Since chlorine is added to tap water to kill bacteria you should boil tap water for 20 minutes to remove the chlorine, or just let it sit out overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate.
We’ve had scoby’s last over 5 years, and only die because we forgot to feed them, so I’m comfortable using filtered tap water. Several months ago we moved to a different house and I let my scoby pass on into the next life. A friend we know through our local co-op gave me a little starter scoby and that one has now grown to normal size that I can use for regular production.
When selecting tea there are many options, but most of them have you use at least 25% black tea as the base. Black tea is the most reliable tea to create a healthy environment for your scoby and traditional kombucha is made with all black tea. Our kombucha is made from organic black tea, or a combination of black and green tea, usually 50/50.
Kombucha normally ferments from 7 to 30 days. The longer it ferments, the more sugar the scoby will eat and the more vinegary it will taste. I am on a ketogenic diet and avoid as much added sugar as possible. This means our kombucha is usually pushed until the scoby is starving for sugar, then we start a fresh batch. Since my kombucha is so sour I normally drink it over ice or mixed with water.
Another flavoring option is to take your finished kombucha and pour it into another container with some crushed fruit and allow it to continue to ferment with the fruit sugar. Before you do this pour the finished kombucha into another container, like a small mason jar, leaving the scoby for your next ‘pure’ kombucha batch.
Some Fruit Options:
- Orange juice (use 1/4 cup of juice to 4 cups of kombucha)
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Some Herbal Options: (try with or without fruit)
- Rose petals
You can google recipes with specific amounts – there are probably hundreds. In fact I could do a website with nothing but recipes for every variation of kombucha imaginable.
But here’s what I recommend instead: start with a small amount of herbs and fruit and experiment. Hopefully you did not start making kombucha just to do it once, but have entered into a lifetime practice of making healthier choices with your food. Since that’s probably the case, just start trying things. If you keep your scoby safe with ‘pure’ kombucha brewing and only used a finished batch to experiment then you really don’t have much to lose. I do half gallon and gallon ferments, then do my second (flavored) batches in little jars, so I can try all kinds of experiments every couple of weeks.
We are all individuals with individual tastes, but most of us grew up getting just a few options of things that were made for mass production. So try some crazy combinations and see what happens. If you come up with a particularly delicious variation post it in the comments below — I’d love to try it.
What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this recipe!