Zangy, zappy, probiotic fizziness. (I think I might of made up a few of those adjectives.) Those words pop into my mind when I think about home-brewed kombucha. It’s really the best.
What you need:
1 gallon non-chlorinated water
1 ¼ c. sugar
3 caffeinated black tea bags (I use Luzianne family pack)
Clean gallon jar or bowl
Dish towel and big rubber band
1. Boil the water for several minutes at a good strong rolling boil. (I use filtered water, as long as it is non-chlorinated. I’ll also set the timer for 10 minutes just so I don’t forget about it.)
2. Stir in the sugar, and let the tea bags steep until the water gets cool, about 3 hours.
3. Transfer the tea to either a gallon sized glass bowl, or jar.
4. Gently scoop out your scoby with very clean hands. *Always handle the scoby with clean hands!* Place in the gallon jar. (Read about growing your own scoby here!)
5. Pour in the rest of the starter liquid from the scoby jar. The stringy brown things floating around are all good. Don’t let em scare you.
6. Cover the glass bowl or jar with a towel and secure with a rubber band.
7. Let it sit for 10 days to 2 weeks. You’ll notice little bubbles around the sides and the top and that’s good! It will also start to smell like kombucha.
Side note: If you’ve been watching your kombucha, or peeking at it everyday like I do, you’ll notice there will be something growing on the top…there’s another SCOBY!! Every time you brew kombucha, a new baby scoby is born. They will be very similar in size, although if my original scoby happens to be very thick, I’ve noticed that the baby will be a little thinner. So now you have two! Give it away to a friend, or save it in a jar for another batch! That way kombucha will be brewing all over the kitchen continuously.
Give it a taste, and if it’s strong enough, it’s done.
8. Take the scoby(s) off the top, or if it’s floating in the middle or at the bottom, just scoop it out. I’ve had the scoby sink, float, and all in between. Put it in a clean jar.
9. Pour enough kombucha back in the scoby’s jar to cover it. It will keep in the fridge for about forever.
This is a recipe for a very simple plain kombucha. (I hesitate to call it plain, because there’s nothing boring about home-brewed ‘bucha.)
There are other recipes out there for different flavors. The possibilities are endless, just do a quick Pinterest search. Once you have brewed a batch, you can let it sit for a while longer with fruit infused, or herbs, or whatever sounds good to you. Ginger, strawberry, blueberry…whatever your heart’s desire. (But always infuse AFTER the initial brewing process. This is called the second ferment.)
A few things to remember:
-Like any fermented– sourdough, kefir–yeasty things—warm environment is good. If your house is really cold, it might not like that. Keep the gallon container next to the oven where it’s warmer. Assuming you crank up the oven three times a day like me.
-If you have any other ferments bubbling away on your counter, just be sure to keep them separated, because they can contaminate each other. For example, I have a sourdough starter and kombucha on opposite sides of my countertop, just in case.
-I’ve had kombucha mold before because I had a jar of flowers next to it. (Ella and Elizabeth if you’re reading this, thank you that discovery! 😉)
-If you see anything questionable such as mold or black spots, throw it out. Like I said, I’ve had mold before and you don’t want to be drinking that. When in doubt, throw it out!
-Be very clean with your brewing process. Clean jars and hands are a must!
-Don’t substitute honey or stevia for the sugar thinking you’re choosing the low glycemic approach. The fermentation process requires the sugar. It just eats it up and transforms into a whole new, healthier creature. Although, I have just recently read about converting a sugar scoby into a maple syrup scoby. This was interesting, but I haven’t experimented with it myself.
-If the final product doesn’t smell right or something is just off…probably best to just toss it. I don’t want anyone reading this to get sick because I didn’t warn them! So be careful and use your good sense.
Kombucha making can be addicting.
Once you start fermenting things, it’s hard to stop. (I love covering all the k’s: kimchi, kefir, kraut, kvass, kombucha…..)
If you didn’t catch part one about growing your own starter scoby, read it here. Making your own scoby for home brewed kombucha is very satisfying…one more thing I don’t have to buy from the store. Give my process a try, let me know if I can improve anything! I tried to make it as simple as possible. Feedback is always appreciated.