Before you make your own kombucha, here are a few reasons why you might not want to:
- Paul Stamets: "The danger of misuse should be a prevailing concern for us all"
- CDC: Unexplained severe illness possibly associated with consumption of kombucha tea
- Journal of Intensive Care Medicine: A case of kombucha tea toxicity
Why do I drink it? Because it's fun to make and the flavor is almost addictive. The benefits outweigh the risks, at least for me. Here's how I make it. (Click on photos for enlargement.):
1. Get some live kombucha. I foolishly paid $25 to an online store that sells the culture in little vials (as seen above). As I later found out, you can buy a bottle of kombucha for a few dollars at grocery store and use that as your starter.
If you have a friend who makes it, ask them for a "mother" (the floppy, blobby, disc that floats on top of a batch of kombucha) and a cup of the kombucha tea.
2. Collect the ingredients: sugar, vinegar (or a half cup of the kombucha tea from your last batch), tea bags (any kind). I used green tea for my first batch, but I'm now using decaf black tea.
3. Add 4-8 tea bags into a little less than one gallon of water. I used filtered water and a ceramic crock. I've heard you shouldn't use metal containers to make kombucha. Let it steep for a while. You can use hot water to steep the tea, but let it cool down before you add any culture (to prevent killing it).
4. Stir in 1 or 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar. The sugar is the fuel for the kombucha microbes. I have been using one cup of sugar, but in the batch I started yesterday I used one and one-half cups because I want it to be stronger and more vinegary. I have heard that the more sour it is, the more resistant it is to bacterial infection. (How do you like my hand carved spoon?)
5. Stir in 1/2 cup of kombucha from your last batch, or 1/4 cup of vinegar and a vial of expensive kombucha culture you foolishly purchased over the Internet.
6. Cover crock with cloth for a week. If a "mushroom" (not a real mushroom) has grown on the surface, that means it worked! Save the mushroom and use it to cover your next batch. In a week, the mushroom will have another mushroom attached to it that you can peel off and use, discard, or give away.
7. Transfer the tangy, fizzy beverage into a bottle and refrigerate. Some websites say not to store kombucha in plastic but I like this one gallon bottle.
If you have any tips to share about kombucha, please put them in the comments.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects