Kambucha is a drink created by a living organism (Skoby) that ferments sweetened tea. It originated in North East China, and spread to the rest of the world in the early 1900s. The benefit of making it at home (like many products) is A) Quality control B) The ability to try a variety of teas for different effects and C) It is not subjected to mass production and long shelf-lifes.
I’ve found green tea, black tea, white tea, yerba mate and rooibos work best for flavor & effervescence. In order to make your own, bring 1 gallon of water to boil, steep 6-8 bags of tea until desired concentration is achieved, add a cup of sugar, and allow mixture to get to room temperature before adding your Skobe (along with a cup of the previous kambucha tea – called ‘mother’). Cover the mixture with a closed weave cloth (or paper napkin), to prevent contamination & still allow for gas exchange (or ‘breathing’). Note: To date, the only way I know of to get a skobe is from a friend that already has one – every new batch yields an extra layer or ‘baby’ skobe that can then be used (or shared) for it’s own batch.
The longer you leave the Skoby in, the greater percentage of sugar is fermented, creating a more pontent, effervescent and acidic kambucha. Lesser time yields a milder, sweeter taste. My favorite consumption time is at approximately 3 weeks, depending on the climate (hotter ferments faster). These pictures were taken of a batch (1-week in):