How To Make Kombucha
Kombucha. You’ve heard the homestead folks and natural-living folks raving about it. You tried it. You love it, but you don’t love the price tag and you want to make kombucha at home. I’m right there with you! With bottles of commercial kombucha coming in at four or more dollars each, we’d have to tweak the grocery budget a bit to keep the big Daddykirbs family supplied with this fun, fizzy beverage.
Making your own kombucha not only keeps more money in your wallet, but it also ensures a more nutrient-dense tonic for your family.
What is Kombucha?
To understand the process of making kombucha, you need to understand what kombucha is. For those new to this phenomenon, kombucha is sweetened black tea that has been fermented with a S.C.O.B.Y.
More strange words, I know, but stay with me and we will get through this together.
S.C.O.B.Y. is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. In many places you’ll see it simply called Scoby as if it’s a word.
This incredible, LIVING colony of microbes feasts on the molecules and sugar in the sweetened tea to make a carbonated, slightly tangy, slightly sweet, fermented drink.
S.C.O.B.Y.s can be gifted from a friend, purchased online, or, as I mentioned toward the end of my tutorial, grown in your own kitchen.
Now that we are acquainted, let’s get into making kombucha!
Make Kombucha (First Fermentation)
To make 2 separate gallon jars (Daddykirbs Family Sized batch)
2 quarts of water
6-8 family sized tea bags, black tea (some people successfully use green tea but we prefer black) Make sure it’s pure Black Tea, not “blended ice-tea”. Here’s a link to some good organic Black Tea.
2 cups sugar
1 SCOBY per gallon of tea
1 cup kombucha starter per gallon
Additional cold, filtered water
Bring 2 quarts of water up to a rapid boil, then shut the heat off. Drop your tea bags in and allow to steep for 5-6 minutes.
While the tea is still warm, add your sugar and stir until it’s dissolved.
Allow sweetened tea to cool to room temperature. If tea is too hot, you could kill the SCOBY. Be kind to the SCOBY.
Once tea has cooled, pour it into a gallon-sized pitcher. Fill the pitcher the rest of the way with cold, filtered water. Pour half of the diluted tea into another gallon-sized pitcher. Fill both pitchers all the way to the top with more cold, filtered water.
Into your gallon-sized fermenting jars, pour your sweetened tea until it fills about 2/3 of the jar.
With CLEAN hands, pick up your SCOBYs and put them on top of the tea and then add one cup of your kombucha starter tea into each jar. Pour a little more of the sweetened black tea to cover your SCOBYs.
Cover the jars with clean dish cloths and secure with a rubberband. Set aside for 4-8 days, or until your kombucha has reached the fermentation that you like.
This concludes the First Fermentation.
Make Kombucha (Second Fermentation)
After your kombucha has brewed for several days (between four and eight), you will want to taste it to see if it’s ready for the second fermentation. You are looking for a tangy flavor that isn’t too sweet. If it’s still pretty sweet, you want to let it ferment a little longer. If it’s too vinegary, then don’t go any farther into the process with it. You are looking for flavor that’s somewhere in between… that “Sweet Spot”!. Once you have reached that point, it’s time to go for round two.
Note: Making kombucha, though simple in procedure, depends some on your preferred tastes, and finding that “sweet spot”, as I call it, does include some trial and error. Give yourself grace if your ferment sits too long and the brew is too vinegary for you to drink. If that happens, don’t fret and don’t throw it out! Vinegary kombucha can be used for many things including a hair rinse, or even as the “vinegar” in a homemade vinegar and oil salad dressing.
Start by removing the SCOBYs from the fermentation jars with CLEAN hands and placing them into a sterile container. Reserve a few cups of kombucha by pouring it over the SCOBYs. Cover the container and set aside for a new first fermentation batch.
Next, pour your brew into a clean pitcher thru a mesh strainer.
If you want to flavor your kombucha with an all-natural, no-preservatives-added fruit juice, or with fruit, this is when you will do that.
The containers that you want to use can be any glass container that you can put a cap on. We re-use bottles from store bought tea. You can also purchase these cool flip top bottles!
To flavor our kombucha, we have found that a quarter cup of juice per pint-sized bottle is perfect.
Once you have dispensed your flavoring of choice into each container, you will then need to fill your bottles the rest of the way with your kombucha.
Tightly secure the lid.
Now you’re ready to store your bottles to allow them to ferment and carbonate. Choose a location in your home that is dark. You want to allow it to ferment until you have reached your desired carbonation, but I do not recommend that you let it go any longer than four days. With activity happening within the containers, CO2 builds up and can cause the bottles to burst if the pressure is not relieved. You can stop this process by putting the containers into the refrigerator until they are consumed.
To see this whole process in action, check out my tutorial on YouTube.