If you’re getting thirsty on Whole30 and are looking for a tasty refreshing drink (let’s face it, seltzer water only gets you so far), look no further than Whole30 kombucha!
That’s right – kombucha is a tasty, healthy, all-natural drink that is also Whole30 compliant!
What Exactly Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a tangy, slightly-sour drink made from fermented sweetened tea. It tastes somewhat vinegary and every so slightly sweet. While Komchua is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, it’s been a beloved libation for centuries!
Kombucha is created when live bacteria eats sugar from sweetend tea and transforms the sugar into an acidic, carbonated drink.
Wait, if Kombucha Has Sugar, How is it Whole30 Compliant?
Good question! Kombucha is compliant with Whole30 so long as there isn’t any sugar added to the kombucha after the fermentation process. Some brands of kombucha in stores may add sugar to give an even sweeter taste.
However, if you’re making it DIY style, you’re absolutely in the clear, since the sugar you add initially to ferment the kombucha is not retained through fermentation.
Whole30 Compliant Kombucha Brands
Whole30 compliant kombucha can’t have any sugar added after the fermentation process. Some brands don’t add more sugar, while others do, so be careful! GT tends to have at least some flavors with no added sugar, so they’re a good place to start.
How is Kombucha Made?
Komchua is created through fermentation by way of a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Yeast and Bacteria). They look like mutated pancakes, but SCOBYs are actually living bacteria that eat and process the sugar in the sweetened tea to create the acidic kombucha drink.
SCOBYs are required for making kombucha. Since scobys are live bacterias, they cannot just be picked up at the local grocery store and can be a bit trick to get your hands on.
You can acquire a SCOBY by:
- Borrowing from an existing SCOBY. Scobys have a baby every batch or so, (or you can carefully cut a piece off of an existing scoby) so if you have a friend who already brews kombucha, they’ll likely be able to give you a spare scoby to start with.
- Order a SCOBY online. You can order a SCOBY online through Amazon or other trusted websites.
- Grow Your Own SCOBY. This can be a bit tricky, but it is possible to grow your own SCOBY. You just need to start with a bottle of already made Kombucha that can be picked up at a Whole Foods or other health store.
Whole30 Kombucha Recipe
Getting your paws on a SCOBY is the toughest part. After that, brewing the actual kombucha is very easy (much easier than brewing beer or similar beverages).
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 gallon-sized glass container (or get fancy and grab one with a spout)
- 1 gallon of brewed black tea
- 1/2 cup of existing kombucha
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 SCOBY (such as this one available online)
- coffee filter
- rubber band
- Bottles for storing finished kombucha (we recommend this set)
- Optional: funnel and strainer for storing and kombucha and removing particles.
Note: Want to make it easy? Sets like this kombucha kit from Amazon give you everything you need to get started.
Kombucha Brewing Instructions:
Step 1. Get your tea base ready. Brew a batch of black tea, using 8-10 tea bags per gallon of water. You’ll want to use a large pot of water, bring it to a boil, and then remove from heat and add the tea bags.
Step 2. Add sugar. Add your sugar to the hot tea and stir, letting it dissolve.
Step 3. Allow tea to reach room temperature. Let your tea steep until the water has cooled to room temperature. Make sure your tea is absolutely at room temperature, because if the tea is too hot, it could kill your poor little SCOBY. Once the water has cooled, you can remove the tea bags.
Step 4. Transfer to glass jar & add some existing kombucha tea. Once your tea is at room temp, pour the pot of tea into the glass jar with an inch or so of room at the top. Next, add either 1/2 cup of liquid from your last kombucha batch, or, if you’re starting fresh, pour 1/2 cup from a store-bough bottle of kombucha (but make sure it’s Whole30 kombucha that’s compliant, like this brand with less than 2g of sugar or GT’s Kombucha). This addition of existing kombucha makes your liquid acidic, preventing bad bacteria from growing.
Step 5. Add the SCOBY. Wash your hands and gently place your SCOBY on the top of the gallon jar with the tea. Let your SCOBY do its thing.
Step 6. Cover up. Cover your jar with the coffee filter or a cloth with a rubber band to keep it tight. This will allow your kombucha to breathe while protecting it from bugs and other nasties.
Step 7. Ferment 7-10 days. Keep your kombucha jar at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.
Note: If you see your scoby floating around, don’t worry, he’s just having a good time. A whitish layer of SCOBY will also start forming at the top of your kombucha after a few days. You may also see floating bits around your SOCBY and bubbles around it. Don’t worry, this is all just classic fermentation happening.
Step 8. Taste Test! After 7 days, you can begin testing the kombucha by using a straw to sample (gently slide your straw under the SCOBY). When it has the balance of sweetness and tartness that you like, it’s time to bottle it!
Step 9. Remove your SCOBY. Gently remove your scoby with clean hands and place it on a dish.
Step 10. Bottle the kombucha. First, remove 1/2 cup of your new kombucha to use when you create your next batch (remember how we had to include existing kombucha into our first batch? Keep saving some from your previous batch to use with ongoing new batches). Next, pour your fermented kombucha into bottles (you can strain or not – whatever you prefer) and seal. Leave a 1/2 inch or so of room at the top.
Step 11. Let it carbonate. Store your bottled kombucha out of direct sunlight at room temperature for another 1-3 days. This process allows your kombucha to carbonate.
Step 12. Refrigerate. Once you put your kombucha bottles in the fridge, they stop fermenting and carbonating. Now they’re all set to drink and enjoy! They can be stored for up to a month.
Step 13. Rinse and repeat! Clean your 1 gallon glass kombucha jar and get going with your next batch of kombucha!
Congratulations, you’ve made a tasty batch of kombucha – bottoms up!
Note: in the video above, kombucha is being brewed with black loose-leaf tea leaves (rather than bags). This is another option!
Health Benefits of Kombucha
In addition to tasting great, kombucha is also packed with super-awesome probiotics and contains high levels of antioxidants and b vitamins. Kombucha is said to provide numerous health benefits, including:
- detoxifies the liver
- improves pancreas function
- more energy
- better digestion
- improves mood (it’s even said to help with anxiety and depression)
Wow, kombucha to the rescue! While there’s no guarantee you’ll see results this promising, many proclaim the praises of komucha around the world.
Does Kombucha Contain Alcohol?
Yes, Kombucha does contain a tiny bit of alcohol, which happens as a result of the fermentation process. It’s a pretty minuscule amount – we’re talking usually less than 1%. Still, it’s important to be aware of just in case you have a sensitivity to alcohol.
Experimenting Further With Kombucha
Once you’ve got your basic kombucha brewing skills down pat, you can begin to experiment with different techniques and ingredients!
- Kombucha Sweet Soda. You can brew up a sweeter, more carbonated kombucha through the use of your first batch. First, grab another 1 gallon glass jar and add 1 qt of juice (any juice except citrus or pineapple) into the jar. Next, add kombucha! Just make sure to always leave you SCOBY in the original jar with 1/2 cup of your first batch. Then you can simply repeat your original process to create more class kombucha!
- Add Fruit for More Flavors! You can add pureed fruit for awesome kombucha flavor combos! Try pulverizing ginger and mango, or berries, for some really cool tastes. Stupid Easy Paleo has a few fun and cool recipe for you to try out.
Do you have any other tips for brewing tasty Whole30 kombucha? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Last update on 2019-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API