About 5 years ago, I started brewing my own kombucha. I was pulling weeds and cleaning out garden beds at work one day and my colleague described how he brews a batch every couple of weeks and had some extra SCOBY to give away. I thought about it and decided to give the hobby a try. I soon became hooked on experimenting with the brewing process! It took some time to get a rhythm down (the directions can sound confusing and complicated) but after a while I got the hang of it. Now I am one of those people who gives my extra SCOBY and tea away and loves to teach others how to brew their own booch!
Why brew your own kombucha?
- You can create your own flavor combinations
- It’s significantly cheaper than buying it (the most expensive thing is the equipment which doesn’t have to be much)
- You make friends when you give it away (both the SCOBY and the finished tea!)
- The science of the process is extremely fascinating
- It’s fun!
How to Brew Kombucha – 1 gallon
1st Fermentation – the brewing of tea
equipment: sanitized gallon jar, mesh cloth or tea towel, rubber band, black tea, white sugar, filtered water
ingredients: 8 black tea bags, 1 cup white sugar, 1 SCOBY, 2 cups of starter tea (or a bottle of storebought kombucha), 4 cups hot water, 8-10 cups cold water
- 1. Get a SCOBY from a friend! Or reuse one that you have from a previous batch.
- is my SCOBY healthy? click here to learn more.
- 2. Brew 8 black tea bags in 4 cups of hot water for 10-minutes. Remove tea bags and let tea cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, add some ice. You can also make this tea up to 3 days in advance and store it in the fridge.
- 3. To a clean(!) glass gallon jar, add 1 cup of sugar and 1 bottle of kombucha (or 2 cups from the previous batch). Swirl it around a bit (the sugar doesn’t have to dissolve) and then add the SCOBY. Fill the jar halfway with cold water (tap or filtered is ok), add the brewed black tea and finish filling the jar with water, stopping 2 inches from the top.
- 4. Cover with a tea towel or mesh cloth and rubber band to secure
- 5. On a piece of tape, write the day the tea was brewed and stick it to the jar
- 6. After 5-7 days, taste the tea every day until it reaches the flavor that you like. Depending on the temperature of the room, it could take 7 days to 3 weeks to reach the flavor that you like. If it’s been 10 days and the flavor is still not very punchy, add 3 TBS sugar to feed the SCOBY and taste again after 3 days.
2nd Fermentation – the bottling of carbonation
equipment: mesh strainer/cheesecloth/coffee filter, bottles and sealed lids, funnel
ingredients: fun flavors!
- clean your bottles and lids thoroughly with soap and hot water. soak and then rinse with vinegar water
- remove the SCOBY from the gallon jar and set aside on a clean plate/bowl
- pour out 2 cups of brewed kombucha tea and also set aside
- strain the rest of the tea with a fine mesh strainer (or if you are very patient, a coffee filter – but I find that filtering it too much takes away the punchyness)
- fill the bottles with the flavor(s) of your choice:
- FRUIT: frozen fruits are best – blueberries, cherries, pineapple, strawberries or raspberries are my favorite. (Fresh fruit tends to be covered in bad bacteria and can potentially cause the tea to mold.) drop a few pieces of frozen fruit in each bottle before filling with kombucha.
- FRUIT JUICE: fresh fruit juice works best – not pasteurized, store-bought juice because it tends to make the tea stale. fill each bottle with a couple tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon, lime or orange juice before filling with kombucha.
- FLAVOR: freshly grated ginger, a dash of vanilla extract, chopped jalapeno, shredded coconut … the options are endless!
- then, with a funnel, fill the bottle with the strained kombucha, stopping 1 inch from the top. seal the bottle and mark with a piece of tape the date it was brewed and the date it was bottled.
- let the bottle sit a room temperature for 3-7 days (if it’s 60-70F in the room it will take ~5 days; if it’s 70F+ it will take about 3 days). this is the second fermentation where the carbonation is trapped in the tea! if you don’t want too much carbonation, stick the bottles straight in the fridge.
- after a few days, put the bottle in the fridge – this slows down the fermentation and cools the tea
- I recommend drinking the bottled tea within 2 weeks of bottling as that will be the peak flavor and carbonation
Want to learn more about kombucha brewing? (e.g. how to identify if you are brewing safely) visit this website: cultures for health.