Kombucha Cost Hacking – Brew Your Own

As I mentioned in my Ode to Kombucha, Kombucha is essential to my functioning at this point and it is not cheap. In an attempt to cut down the cost, I realized that brewing your own appeared to be significantly cheaper. I was a little scared of the work involved in the process, but it is actually extremely easy and very worth it. This posts breaks down the process of brewing, as well as how the cost stacks up against buying it at the store.

Making the Buch

Kombucha Scoby
Putting the Scoby into the brew jar. No Jellyfish were harmed in this process.

The brewing process is two parts – Brewing & Bottling. Josh has brewed a lot of wine/mead/beer so he was familiar with the process of brewing which was helpful. However there is 0 experience required to do this.

We got all of the supplies from The Kombucha Shop Brewing Kit. I’m sure you could get the same exact supplies for less or upcycle similar materials like the brew jar. However, I will say that I did like having the kit with the clear instructions and all of the supplies at hand for doing it the first time.

If you are going to do this you’ll want to follow “official instructions” but here’s the basics:

Part 1 – Brewing:

  • Boil water, steep tea in it, dump some sugar in it. You put the tea mixture into the brew jar, then put some cold water in, stir.
  • Next you put the “scoby” in the mix. A scoby is essentially a bacteria blobs that ferments the tea to make the Kombucha.
  • The site of a scoby is…. pretty repulsive looking at first, but then you get over it. After placing the scoby in kombucha, then test the PH level and put the brew jug in a place to sit for awhile. 
  • Keeping the temperature above 68 is important, otherwise it will take longer. The kit came with a handy temperature gauge to fix to the jar to read the temp
  • Wait for 7-9 Days and then get to Part 2
Kombucha Scoby
Meet my Scoby… he doesn’t have a name yet

 

Part 2 – Bottling:

20190423_164954.jpg
We Used Bottles We Already Had for the Bottling
  • Take the Brew Jar and Funnel the Kombucha into Bottles
  • You may choose to put some fruit juice into the bottles prior to putting in the Kombucha, in order to add flavor
  • The bottling step is important because this is where the beverage carbonates.  Its important to tightly bottle it so that it carbonates appropriately.
  • Wait another 2-4 days
  • Test the carbonation along the way, sometimes it can take longer. When it reaches appropriate fizziness, drink and enjoy! Putting it in the refrigerator will also stop the carbonation process

How it Came Out

20190423_171638
Finished Kombucha Product

Amazing. As I write this I am riding the high of our first fresh batch of Mango Kombucha. It was pretty sweet which I like. It tasted as good or better as any commercial Kombucha that I’ve had.

When we get more advanced perhaps will look into measuring/controlling the sugar content per serving.

We tried a couple of different things in the bottles in terms of flavoring. We immediately started up another batch in the canister. There are definitely a couple of steps along the way where you can mess up, but luckily ours came out good this time around. Is it a messy process? Not really. Transferring the hot tea water into the brew jug and bottling the mixture through the funnel are the two spots where, as an accident prone person, I felt susceptible.

Is it worth the time?

Yes. It really doesn’t take much time at all, and I found it to be very worth it. It’s a very satisfying process to make something, have to wait awhile, then have a delightful finished product in the end. I’m not one to spend a lot of time cooking or preparing anything and I found this to be time well spent. The brewing process takes like 15 minutes, and the bottling less than 10 minutes.

How the Cost Worked Out

  • One batch = ~12 cups worth of Kombucha.
  • An average bottle of store bought Kombucha = ~ 2 Cups (16 Ounces)
  • One batch of 12 Cups/2 Cups per bottle  = 6 Bottles of Kombucha
  • Cost of Supplies (The Kombucha Shop Brewing Kit) = $45
  • 1st Batch Average Cost Per Bottle = $45/6 Bottles = $7.50. The good news is that you don’t need to buy anything else to buy a second batch.
  • 2nd Batch – Brings the Average Cost per Bottle Down to Less than $4.00
    • The only ingredient you need to re-plenish for the second batch is the tea. Which will cost roughly $0.50, maybe even less.
    • Add $1.00 to the original start up cost of $45 = $46
    • You will yield 6 more bottles from the second batch, for a total of 12
    • Average Cost Per Bottle = $45.50/12 Bottles = $3.79
  • 3rd Batch – Brings Average Per Bottle Cost Down to $2.61
    • Adding $0.50 again for the tea, and 6 more bottles, so $46/18 = $2.55
  • An average store bought Kombucha is around $4.00, so you start saving money after the second batch you make. You will eventually encounter some small charges in addition to the tea as you have to replenish some of your supplies. You will have to replace the scoby, but those do not cost much and the scoby can last for some time. You also may need to squire some bottles for the bottling, but again that’s negligible.

Other Benefits of Brewing your Own:

  • Portion Control – when you have a whole batch of Kombucha you can have just a quick sip, you don’t have to finish an entire 16 oz bottle in one sitting.
  • Cut Down on Waste –  When you buy a bunch of bottles at the store, you have the schlepp the bottles, and then eventually you have to throw them all out. This cuts down on the bottle usage.
  • Control the flavor – you can experiment and have fun
  • Always have some on stock at home

Cons to the Process:

  • The waiting period. It just takes awhile for it to brew, but luckily there’s nothing you really need to do in that waiting period other than keep an eye on it and check in occasionally.
  • Eventually I’m sure there will be a batch that gets messed up, but well worth the risks in my period.

Bottom Line

Brewing Kombucha is a fun and enjoyable process that cuts down the costs of buying this delightful beverage. I intend to continue working on this craft!

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