In a world where seltzer rules and superfoods dominate, the mighty fermented tea drink known as kombucha has grown to be a low-key king.
A recent survey by Grand View Research valued the kombucha market at $2.64 billion in 2021, with an expected annual growth rate of 15.6 percent. GT’s Synergy, Health Ade and other kombucha brands have gone from niche health-food favorites to supermarket mainstays as customers find broader flavor options in both alcohol-tinged hard and soft-drink varieties.
Still, wouldn’t it be great if you could just brew your own at home?
You might think that a tall order, but the new Kombucha Making Kit from FarmSteady and its sister company Brooklyn Brew Shop makes brewing your own ‘booch easy, fun and instantly addictive—and we know, because we’ve been using it for the last two months.
“A lot of people think it’s an intimidating process at first, when in reality, it’s as easy as brewing tea and waiting a bit for it to ferment,” say FarmSteady's co-founders Erica Shea and Stephen Valand.
In our first-hand experience, that’s exactly right.
FarmSteady’s Kombucha Making Kit ships to your home with everything you need to get started. The adorable box contains a half-gallon, dishwasher-safe glass jar for brewing; as well as a half-cup of raw cane sugar and four green tea packets; a healthy living SCOBY swimming in a package of kombucha starting fluid; and a fabric cover and rubber band to seal your jar while the kombucha ferments.
If you’re totally new to kombucha, you might wonder “what the heck is a SCOBY?”
SCOBY is an acronym that stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast,” and it’s the living culture that turns your tea and sugar into a fermented beverage. It looks like a yellow disc, kind of spongy in consistency.
Because of your SCOBY, kombucha is classified as a probiotic which delivers beneficial boosts to your gut health, reducing inflammation, strengthening your immune system and aiding digestion.
“A lot of people hear about a SCOBY and are either freaked out (it is pretty strange looking) or think they have to be super precious with it,” the co-founders say, “but kombucha making is actually a pretty forgiving process.”
Once your kit arrives, all you’ve got to do is boil one quart (four cups) of water, then remove it from heat and pour in your sugar. Stir the mixture until the sugar melts, then add your tea packets and let them steep until your water reaches room temperature.
From there, you just add your tea and sugar mixture to the provided half-gallon jar, fill it to just below the brim with filtered water, then add your provided SCOBY and starter liquid, and secure the fabric square to the top of the jar with the rubber band.
Once you’re all set, just place your jar in a dark, cool environment (we use a kitchen cabinet) and leave it there for about 10 days to ferment. After 10 or so days, all you have to do is scoop out your SCOBY, keep about a cup of liquid to house your SCOBY and start your next batch, and enjoy!
The beautiful thing about home-brewed kombucha is that it continues indefinitely. Each day our kombucha is ready, we pour the brew into a bottle and get started on the next batch. That means every 10 to 12 days or so, we’ve got a fresh half-gallon of kombucha to enjoy with friends and family.
The SCOBY also reproduces, and after about two months of home brewing, we’re ready to expand our ‘booch kit into two or three jars, which means even more fun experimenting with flavors.
With this kit, you literally have everything you need to make DIY kombucha for life!
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The kit comes with green tea, but you can actually brew your ‘booch with any flavored tea you like. We started with the green tea provided, then tried floral hibiscus, spicy chai, and are now on a lemon-ginger blend. Each brew has been delicious in its own right, and we always add some home-made seltzer water to give it a nice fizz.
“We’ve experimented with all kinds of teas for our batches of kombucha including black, green, white, oolong, herbal teas and even tea-less recipes,” the co-founders say. “Whichever you choose, the tea will provide the base for your kombucha.”
The flavor options don’t just stop with types of tea, either. Once your kombucha is brewed, you can further flavor and spice up your beverage by adding fruit (fresh, frozen, dried or even concentrate), herbs and spices, or flavored sugars.
“We love how you can tailor your batches of kombucha to your favorite tastes and flavors,” Shea and Valand add. “We often make three different flavors per batch of kombucha, leaving us room for some fun experimentation.”
The co-founders shared a few of their favorite flavor profiles with us.
For ginger kombucha, add freshly peeled and sliced ginger to your bottled brew (after you’ve removed your SCOBY and cup of liquid), and perhaps some lemons or blueberries for added depth.
Shea and Valand also enjoy mango pineapple kombucha by pureeing a ¼ cup of mango and pineapple; or a root beer kombucha by adding sassafras bark, sarsaparilla, ginger and licorice.
You can add fresh or frozen berries with lemon juice, grated ginger and a bit of honey to create a bright and tart mix of raspberry, lemon and ginger; or a “peach pie” kombucha by adding peach puree with a dash of vanilla extract and a dash of maple syrup.
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“We’re super excited to announce the upcoming release of our newest book, The FarmSteady Guide to Kombucha, coming this May,” the founders say. “Featuring dozens of recipes for kombuchas infused with aromatic herbs and spices, dried flowers and fresh fruit, The FarmSteady Guide to Kombucha makes brewing even the most inventive of kombuchas easy and approachable.”
Once you’ve experienced how easy these Kombucha Making Kits render the whole brewing process, you might be tempted to try another of FarmSteady’s offerings.
The company actually started with beer brewing kits in 2009, and today, FarmSteady and Brooklyn Brew Shop offer hard cider kits, sparkling wine boxes, mozzarella and classic dill pickle packs, and more.
“We’re on a mission to help the kitchen curious create incredible things in their own home,” Shea and Valand say. “We also have DIY kits for creating everything from homemade pretzels, bagels, and doughnuts to starting batches of fermented hot sauce, kraut, and more.”
Photography by: Courtesy of Brooklyn Brew Shop