I love anytime there is a new take on classic kombucha, so when I recently heard about goji kombucha, I knew I had to write an article on it.
Goji kombucha is kombucha made with goji berries, which have many antioxidant and medical properties that add to the probiotic health benefits of kombucha. Goji kombucha is hard to find in stores, but can be made relatively easily at home.
Before we get into how you can make goji kombucha, we need to talk about the risks and benefits of goji berries, and why you should even bother to put them in your kombucha.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a probiotic drink made from fermented tea that has become quite popular in recent years due to its great taste and many health benefits such as improved digestion and gut health, detoxification, and immune system strengthening.
What is Goji Kombucha?
Goji berries are a small, red, Asian fruit that have a ton of antioxidants and medical properties. They have a sweet but slightly sour taste and bright red color.
Goji berries are usually sold powdered or dried, but you may be able to find them fresh at your local supermarket.
Goji kombucha is exactly what it sounds like, kombucha that has been flavored and infused with goji berries, usually during the part of the brewing process known as 2nd fermentation.
Health Benefits of Goji Kombucha
When you drink goji kombucha, you get all the probiotic and antioxidant benefits of classic kombucha, such as: improved digestive function, lower risk of diarrhea, improved mental health, weight loss, and boosted immune system.
You also get all the health benefits of goji berries, such as:
Goji berries are loaded with fiber, iron, and vitamins A and C. Iron is really important for healthy blood and vitamins A and C are antioxidants. Research has found that upping your intake of antioxidants may reduce inflammation and protect against diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Improved Immune Function
One study had people drink goji berry juice every day for a month and found that it increased their levels of immune cells and improved their feelings of wellbeing.
Improved Eye Health
According to Healthline.com, “Promising research suggests that goji berries may enhance eye health and protect against disorders like macular degeneration, a progressive eye condition that can lead to vision loss.”
Health Risks of Goji Kombucha
Goji berries are generally considered very healthy, but just like anything, they do pose some risks, especially for certain groups.
Pregnant and Breast Feeding Women
According to WebMD “Not enough is known about the safety of using goji during pregnancy and breast-feeding. There is some concern that goji fruit might cause the uterus to contract. But this has not been reported in humans. Until more is known, stay on the safe side and avoid use”
For some people, goji berries can trigger an allergic reaction, especially in anyone who is already allergic to other fruits, tobacco, peaches, tomatoes, and nuts.
Goji berries may interact with certain drugs such as blood thinners and medications for diabetes and high blood pressure.
If you’re pregnant, breast feeding, allergic to some fruits, or have diabetes or high blood pressure, I would recommend checking with you doctor before eating goji berries or drinking goji kombucha.
Where to get Goji Kombucha
Hopefully that last section didn’t scare you off. Like most food, goji berries are safe for almost everyone, there's just a few specific groups of people who should be cautious around them.
So now you may be wondering, where you can get goji kombucha. Well, there are 2 main ways: either buy it from a store or make it yourself.
From the Store
Unfortunately, goji kombucha is actually super difficult to find in stores.
Most supermarkets won’t have it in their kombucha selection, and theres almost no chance you'll find it at a gas station. So if you are looking for a store that sells goji booch, a health focused store like Whole Foods is probably your best bet.
A few brands that sell goji kombucha to look out for are:
High Country Orchard’s Goji Berry Kombucha
Organic Wild Tonic’s Raspberry Goji Rose Kombucha
Bombucha’s Matcha Goji Kombucha
Reed’s Goji Ginger Kombucha
Make it Yourself
If you want to drink goji kombucha, and you want to drink it anytime soon, you're probably gonna have to make it. If you’ve never made kombucha before, don't worry. It’s super easy to do and I’ll walk you through the entire process.
If you have made kombucha before, you can probably skip this section since all you have to do to make your kombucha goji is flavor it with goji berries or goji powder during 2nd fermentation. Although it could be worth it to stay around since there will be a few useful tips.
Before I get into the recipe it’s important for those who have never made kombucha before to get an understanding of the overall process by which kombucha is made.
Goji Kombucha Recipe (1 Gallon)
1 Cup of Sugar 1 Cup of Starter Tea
Step 1: Brew Sweet Tea
The very first thing you need to do to make kombucha is brew a few cups of tea. Once the tea has brewed add sugar to it to make the sweet tea base.
If you’re making a gallon of kombucha, you're going to use 8 tea bags or 2 tablespoons of loose leaf tea, and 1 cup of sugar.
If you want to make 2 gallons of kombucha, just multiply the amount of sugar and tea above by two.
If you’re using an irregularly shaped container, or don’t want to brew your kombucha to the gallon, you can use the numbers below.
To make 1 cup of kombucha you need:
0.0625 Cups of Sugar
0.5 Tea Bags or 0.375 Teaspoons of Loose Leaf Tea
0.125 Cups of Starter Tea
Just multiply these numbers by the # of cups of kombucha you want to make and you'll have the right amount of each ingredient.
Although a cup of sugar per gallon of kombucha seems like a lot, remember that this sugar is food for our SCOBY. In the end, most of it will be eaten and converted into acids and gases, and the finished kombucha will only have 2-6g of sugar per 8 ounces.
Step 2: Add SCOBY and Starter Tea
Next we are going to add the sweet tea to our brewing vessel, and fill up whatever space remains with water. You can use cold water to help the tea cool down faster.
Once the sweet tea has cooled down to room temperature, add in the SCOBY and starter tea.
Starter tea is just unflavored kombucha from a previous brew that will help create an acidic environment in the tea early to prevent mold growth.
If you bought a SCOBY online it will come packaged in starter tea. If you've brewed before and didn't save any starter tea from a previous batch you can use a store bought bottle of unflavored kombucha or a splash of distilled white vinegar to give the brew its initial acidity.
It’s important to wait until the sweet tea has cooled down to room temp to add the SCOBY because liquid that’s too hot or too cold can shock the bacteria culture.
Step 3: 1st Fermentation
After the sweet tea, SCOBY, starter tea, and water have all been combined in the brewing vessel, cover the top of the container with cloth or an old tea shirt and secure it with a rubber band. This will keep fruit flies and other bugs out.
Do not seal the jar with a lid or anything airtight, since we need oxygenated air to be able to flow in and out of the container to keep the SCOBY alive and functioning.
Wait 7-10 days for the SCOBY to ferment the sugar and nutrients in the tea into alcohol and healthy acids. Remember that the longer the brew ferments, the more sugar will be eaten and the more bitter it will taste. Taste test the brew every day with the goal of reaching that perfect spot between sweet and sour. Once it has reached a bitter enough taste for your liking, the first fermentation is complete.
4. 2nd Fermentation
Now it's time to add the goji and carbonate the kombucha.
1st, set aside 2 cups of booch to be starter tea for your next batch
Now we're going to fill up our brewing bottles 1/4 of the way with goji. Cut up fresh goji berries will create the most carbonation and flavor, but if you can’t find any you can also use dried goji berries. Another great option is a scoop of goji powder.
Once your brewing bottles have the goji berries/powder inside of them, use a funnel to transfer the kombucha from your gallon jar and fill up each bottle.
The bottles with kombucha and goji will now sit at room temperature for 4-6 days and the bacteria culture in the booch will use the sugar in the goji berries to develop carbonation and flavor.
During this time you can make some more sweet tea and start a new brew of kombucha if you want. Then ideally, by the time you’re done drinking the brew your making right now, the next batch will be just finishing
Step 5 Refrigerate and Drink Up
After the 4-6 days have passed, refrigerate the unopened bottles of goji kombucha. The cold air in the refrigerator will slow down the fermentation process and calm the carbonation, decreasing the likelihood of an explosion when you open them.
After the bottles have been chilled, it's time to drink up!
If when you open the bottles there isn't enough carbonation, you can place them back at room temperature for a few days and they’ll resume the fermentation process and develop more carbonation.
It will take you a few brews to adjust the length of 1st fermentation and amount of goji to the levels you like, but once you figure it out, you’ll be pumping out gallons of goji kombucha that taste exactly how you want!
7. Drink Up!
Congrats! The hard work and waiting is all done and you can finally enjoy your home brewed goji kombucha! They say food tastes better when you make it yourself and kombucha is no exception.
Goji kombucha provides the nutritional and immune benefits of goji berries on top of the probiotic and antioxidant benefits already in kombucha. Although it is hard to find in stores, making goji kombucha at home is a pretty easy process for anyone, even people who have never home brewed kombucha before, to do.
If you want to learn more about kombucha, how it relates to your health, and even how to brew it yourself, check out the rest of my website!