Life

The Pros and Cons Of Brewing Your Own Kombucha

Kombucha has many health benefits and will make you able to lift cars and read minds.

Just kidding.  But it does have wonderful health benefits.  It promotes gut health, bowel regularity and tastes oh- so good. Kombucha also provides an acceptable low- alcohol alternative to beer.  So when all your friends sit around drinking beers, you can drink kombucha and not feel too left out.

I love drinking kombucha and trying all the fun flavors, but my habit started getting costly.  After spending $15-20 a week on kombucha, I decided to try brewing it myself.  You can check out what I learned here.

I’m at the end of month 4 of my experiment.

PROS

  • Cost.  Brewing your own booch costs much less than buying.  You can brew more by volume, and you have more control over your individual tastes.  To start, you need glass jars and a SCOBY.  I bought jars from Target for $10 each and made my own SCOBY from a $2.99 bottle.  After that, you only pay for tea and sugar.  I get the $1.99 green tea and mint tea from Trader Joe’s.  One bag of sugar lasts about six months.  So overall, you save a lot of money.
  • You can make caffeine- free kombucha.  Many companies make kombucha with green and black teas, which contain caffeine.  If you make your own, you can use herbal teas.  I like mint and red berry.
  • You get to learn how to do something cool, like brew kombucha.

CONS

  • Food safety.  Commercial kombucha has to pass food safety laws.  I found mold growing on my SCOBY once and that scared me off for a while.  You don’t have the FDA running inspections on your kitchen.  To be safe, you have to sterilize materials before each batch and make sure you’re growing in a clean room.  You can easily sterilize equipment by running your jars and spoons through a really good dishwasher.  Still, it’s hard to control your environment the way you can in a factory.  You assume some health risks whenever preparing your own food.
  • Shelf life.  You can add flavors and stuff during the second fermentation, but if you add fresh ingredients, you must consume your kombucha during the shelf life of those ingredients.  For example, if you add fresh orange juice, you should consume the kombucha within 7-10 days.  Bottles you buy in the store last a couple of months.
  • Work.  Obviously, it takes more work to make something than it does to buy it.  The time commitment is not huge: an hour when you start your batch, fifteen minutes when you set up the second fermentation and five minutes for bottling.  You must check your jars to make sure everything is running smoothly.  Still, you’re assuming responsibility for living probiotics, so it takes some effort.
  • Your kombucha may taste gross.  For my first batch, I spent a good while marveling at my delicate little bubbles and enjoying the light, refreshing flavor.  The second batch turned to straight vinegar.  You  learn your likes and dislikes; for example, I know I dislike black tea kombucha.  It’s definitely a project.

Bottom Line:  If you have the time and the energy, brewing your own kombucha can be a very rewarding experience.  The busy, impatient or cautious should stick to store- bought.

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