First time I had Kombucha was at a local vegan friendly restaurant and did not like it. But after a few more sips I started to enjoy the fizzy fermented tea. Then I started to really like and drank too much of it one day….opps no one told me you should limit the amount of Kombucha you drink in a day because of the amount of probiotics in it. Lesson learned! But let’s back track a second…..what is Kombucha. Well Kombucha starts out as a sugary tea, which is then fermented with the help of a scoby. “SCOBY” is actually an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” The scoby bacteria and yeast eat most of the sugar in the tea, transforming the tea into a refreshingly fizzy, slightly sour fermented (but mostly non-alcoholic) beverage that is relatively low in calories and sugar. At $4+ a bottle, I wanted to learn how to make it for myself. Thank goodness my friend Laura had the lowdown and got lessons from a Kombucha master. Here is Laura and her kombucha “brewbaby” all wrapped up and ready to ferment.
While Laura’s processed was very complex, involving triple rinse of all utensils used, banishing any medals from touching the process at all, and pretty much sterilizing everything except reproductive organs, it did work! She even had a very elaborate system of maintaining the recipe…a very trusty post it note!
Well on with the program all ready: I would also like to apologize to Laura ahead of time, if I have slaughtered her recipe in any way. I may have added my own twist on things through the process….ok ok I may have also just forgotten all of your instructions too 🙂
2 gallons water filtered
3 cup white sugar
10 bags black tea
1 scoby per fermentation jar
1 bottle of your favorite store-bought kombucha, unflavored is best…this can also be from your last batch of homemade kombucha!
2-gallon glass pot
cheese cloth and elastic band to tie it to the pot
Glass pot/bowl for brewing the tea
smaller glass vessels with plastic lids in order to jar your servings
DON’T LET METAL TOUCH ANYTHING DURING THIS PROCESS
1.Make tea. In about a quart of the water, brew the tea. Yes it will be strong, but you aren’t drinking this. Make sure to brew in a glass pot with a plastic stirring utensil. Add sugar, stir to dissolve and let tea cool to room temp.
2. Add to pot and add starter tea: Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags, pour into 2 gallon pot. Add the starter tea. (The starter tea makes the liquid acidic, which prevents unfriendly bacteria from taking up residence in the first few days of fermentation.)
3. Add water, cover and set: Fill the 2 gallon container the rest of the way with filtered water and gently slide the scoby into the jar with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth with a rubber band.
4. Ferment for 7 to 14 Days: Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 14 days, checking the kombucha and the scoby periodically.
It’s not uncommon for the scoby to float at the top, bottom, or even sideways. A new cream-colored layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. This is the baby coming from the mother scoby! The baby normally latches onto the mother, but it’s ok if they separate. You may also see brown stringy bits floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles collecting around the scoby. This is all normal and signs of healthy fermentation.
After seven days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.
5. Remove the Scoby: Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch of kombucha, as outlined above. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. As you do, check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick.
6. Bottle the Finished Kombucha: Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch. Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if desired) into bottles, along with any juice, herbs, or fruit you may want to use as flavoring. If you are using metal rings on the mason jar, I put a piece of plastic wrap around the top to seperate the metal from tea. Leave about a half-inch of head room in each bottle. ***try mango ginger, apple cinnamon, lemon sage****
7. Carbonate and Refrigerate the Finished Kombucha: Store the bottled kombucha at room-temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Until you get a feel for how quickly your kombucha carbonates, it’s helpful to keep it in plastic bottles; the kombucha is carbonated when the bottles feel rock solid. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.
8. Make a Fresh Batch of Kombucha: Clean the jar being used for kombucha fermentation. Combine the starter tea from your last batch of kombucha with the fresh batch of sugary tea, and pour it into the fermentation jar. Slide the scoby on top, cover, and ferment for 7 to 14 days.