I first got hooked on Kombucha in college. I used to buy it daily to drink during classes or after soccer practice. I quickly found out thats it’s pricey. My sister-in-law’s mom actually brewed her own Kombucha at home and recommended I try doing that instead. I jumped on the opportunity and she gifted my my little Kombucha Starter Kit. I had my very first SCOBY! The rest is history. I’ve been making it on and off ever since from that same Mother SCOBY. I’ll explain exactly how to brew your own Booch below!
SCOBY= Symbiotic Culture Of Yeast and Bacteria.
• A glass brewing vessel
I like using an oversized one-gallon mason jar. You can purchase one of these online for a reasonable price. Wide mouthed jars are ideal. This will give you a nice big SCOBY and it is easier to get your hands in and out of it.
• A quality dish cloth
Make sure this cloth is breathable. However, do not use cheesecloth because typically this material will have larger holes and you want to prevent any bugs, dust, or eggs from fruit flies falling into your liquid gold and infecting it! o I also prefer using a big piece of cloth so it covers the whole vessel and creates a dark environment. Kombucha thrives in darkness.
• Rubber bands
Make sure when covering your brew with the cloth, you have a tight rubber band securing it to the jar. This not only gets the cloth in place, but also prevents bugs from getting into the kombucha.
• +/- Thermometer
A basic kitchen thermometer is recommended, because each tea requires specific steeping temperatures. This step is just for checking temp of water to brew tea.
To strain the Kombucha Tea after first fermentation.
You can use black, green or oolong teas. It is important that whatever tea you choose is not flavored. Plain tea!
• Purified h20
The quality of water that you use for brewing your kombucha is very important. You don’t want to use any water with chlorine or fluoride added to it (usually your tap water..). If you want, you could always just leave a pot of your tap water on the counter for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate. o Do not boil your tap water, this will cause oxygen to dissolve which will lead to a flat tasting water… Which will give you not-so-yummy tea.o Or you can just buy purified water.
• Evaporated cane sugar
Sugar is very important. It is the food for your SCOBY. Avoid processed sugar and stick with organic sugar.
• SCOBY and starter liquid
You can actually order Kombucha starting kits online. Or, find a friend who has a SCOBY hotel.
• Glass Bottles or mason jars
I prefer using the flip-top bottles. These keep pressure from carbonation inside the bottle and give you a nice bubbly kombucha. Mason jars work too. Just make sure you screw the top on nice and tight.
Before you get brewing, be sure all the equipment you are using is sparkling clean. Bad bacteria can easily get involved in your brewing process and can mess up an entire batch.. Not fun. Make sure you give everything a good rinse so no soap residues are present.
Clean hands are essential as well. Make sure you are washing your hands ritually during your brewing process.
1. Get a stainless steel pot on the stove and heat 4 cups of water (1 quart) (212 degrees for black tea, 170 degrees for green tea, 185 degrees for oolong tea)
2. Steep 6-8 bags of tea or 6-8 teaspoons of loose-leaf tea for 4-5 minutes.
3. Remove tea bags with a spoon or strain out loose leaf tea with a colander.
4. Add 1 cup sugar and stir until sugar has completely dissolved.
5. Add 8 cups (2 quarts) of room temp/cool water and stir.
6. Add 1-2 cups of starter tea (from a previous batch)
7. Pour this tea mixture into your brewing vessel.
8. With clean hands, lay your SCOBY on the surface of the tea. The SCOBY will usually float on top. However, it may sink to the bottom. No worries if this happens. If the tea is about to overflow, you can always take a cup or two out.
9. Cover the opening of the jar with the cotton cloth and place a rubber band over it to secure cloth.
10. Place your jar in a warm dark spot (72-78 degrees) and let your kombucha sit and relax for 14-21 days. I like having my kombucha on top of my fridge. You could also put it in a dark cabinet. Make sure the spot you pick has no sunlight. The less time you give your kombucha, the sweeter it will be. The longer you let it sit, the more vinegar-like tasting it will be. I like my kombucha closer to 21 days.
You can taste your kombucha to see if you like the flavor by slipping a straw down just below the SCOBY. If it’s too sweet, let the batch sit longer. If it is to your liking, it is now time to move on to the next step.
Make sure your SCOBY and/or batch does not get too cold. The good bacteria and yeast in the SCOBY can go dormant and then bad bacteria can come along and ruin all your hard work..
While your batch of kombucha was sitting, the “Mother SCOBY” magically had a “baby SCOBY.” Weird... Sometimes, they will fuse together. If that happens, you can just keep them together or you can rip them apart with your hands. You can either throw away your baby or you can give it to a friend and keep this kombucha train rolling. If you have a garden or chickens, give your baby SCOBY to them. They will love it, I promise.
1. With clean hands, remove your slimmy SCOBYs out of the jar and place them on a glass or porcelain plate bathed in some of the batch. I also like to rinse off my SCOBY with some cool water to get some of the yucky yeasty strands off. You don’t have to do this though.
2. Be sure to keep 1-2 cups of the kombucha to restart you next brew. You can go right into making your next batch of tea or you can store it in the fridge for up to 10 days.
3. Pour the kombucha into a pitcher or mixing bowl so you can begin filling your bottle/mason jars. I like to strain my kombucha into a mixing bowl to get rid of the stringy yeast strands.
4. Get your bottles/mason jars out and fill them up with your beautiful creation, leaving about 1 in or airspace at the top. If you like flat kombucha, you can put your bottles directly into the fridge. If you like bubbly kombucha (like me!) you can proceed with the secondary fermentation process.
Secondary Fermentation & Flavoring (optional)
During the secondary fermentation process, you can also flavor the kombucha to your liking. This is my favorite part! You can experiment and make your kombucha your own. I have a juicer, so I will get fruit from the grocery store or farmers market and juice it up. You can also just buy a juice from the store or use whole fruit/ingredients.
Elderberries grown on the ranch. I juiced these and added lavender and the final product was YUM!!!
1. Get your bottles/mason jars out and pour about a ½ inch of juice or a handful of fruit into the glass.
2. Top it off with your kombucha that you previously strained out.
3. Let these sit in a warm dark place just as the kombucha did before for about 5 days. The longer you let it sit, the bubblier and more tart it will be. Don’t let it sit too long because you may have a kombucha explosion and then a zillion ants will come and invade your house.. (personal experience..) Stick to 5-7 days max.
4. After the 5ish days are up, chill your kombucha in the fridge and drink up the goodness.
Like I said before, this is your creation so have fun with it and make it your own. Not all kombucha is created equal! Your kombucha can taste different each time you brew and this is completely fine. Enjoy it and let me know if you have any questions at all.