Kombucha

  • PrepTime: 60 Mins
  • CookTime: 0 Mins
  • TotalTime: 60 Mins

Ingredient

  1. For Starter Tea:
  2. 3 quarts filtered or distilled water
  3. 2 tablespoons loose-leaf tea (or 8 tea bags)
  4. 1 cup white granulated sugar
  5. For Kombucha Brewing:
  6. 1 scoby
  7. 2 cups kombucha mother tea

Instruction

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. If you don't have a pot large enough for 3 quarts, bring 1 quart to a boil and steep the tea, then add the remaining cold water to the brewing jar.Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the sugar until it is completely dissolved.
  3. Add the tea and let it steep until the water has cooled completely if you want a strong tea. Remove the tea after 20 minutes if you prefer a softer tea flavor. Cooling may take a few hours.Loose-leaf tea can be left loose in the water while steeping; strain it out when done. You can use a tea ball as well. To minimize metal utensils, consider using a paper loose-leaf tea bag or cheesecloth bundle to hold the tea instead. Tie a string on the bag or bundle to make removal easy.
  4. Gather the cooled sweet tea, the scoby, and the mother (or starter) tea that housed it.
  5. In a 1-gallon jar, combine the sweet tea with 2 cups of mother tea. Gently slip the scoby into the jar, preferably with the darkest side facing down (don't worry if one side is not darker).
  6. Cover the jar with tightly-woven cloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band or string. Place the fermenting kombucha in a warm place out of direct sunlight (preferably dark) for 7 to 14 days, or up to 1 month.
  7. The ideal temperature range for brewing kombucha is between 70 F and 80 F. The average home's room temperature is cooler and will require a longer fermentation period unless you add heat.To maintain a steady warm temperature, use a heat mat, either placed underneath the jar or one designed to wrap around the jar (secured with rubber bands). A digital thermostat can be programmed to automatically turn the heat mat off when a certain temperature is reached. You can also monitor the temperature with a strip thermometer that sticks directly onto the glass (this may not be reusable if removed, so place it wisely).
  8. As the kombucha brews, the scoby will move and grow—a process that's quite cool to observe. It's not unusual for it to float, sink, or stand on its side, though it typically settles into one position. After a few days, a thin, white or cream-colored layer that appears foamy will form on top. This is a new "baby" scoby. It typically remains attached to the "mother," though it's fine if they separate.You'll also notice bubbles around the new scoby, sediment forming on the bottom of the jar, and brown strings floating inside the kombucha. The kombucha should begin smelling like sweet vinegar, which will get stronger and more like tart apple cider over time.
  9. After 7 days, begin checking the taste of the kombucha to see how it's progressing. An easy way to do it is to slip a straw into the kombucha, then place your finger on top of the straw to draw up a little liquid. Drop it on your tongue to taste. Alternatively, dip a sanitized plastic or wood spoon into the kombucha. With either, be careful that you don't disturb the young scoby too much.The kombucha is ready when it has a sweet and tart taste, though the flavor balance and intensity are a personal preference. It should be at least a little fizzy, too.
  10. When the kombucha is to your liking, wash your hands and carefully remove the scoby. Filter the kombucha through cheesecloth—a rubber band will keep the cloth in place. This step is not entirely necessary as some people don't mind kombucha's floaty bits.
  11. Use a funnel to pour the filtered kombucha into bottles. Reserve about 2 cups of kombucha, placing it and the scoby back into the large brewing jar. Start a new batch immediately by adding fresh sweet tea. The scoby can also rest in the mother tea for a couple of days if you're not ready to start brewing right away.The recipe will yield enough kombucha to fill five or six 16-ounce bottles with a good amount of headspace. Don't overfill the bottles because it will continue to carbonate and ferment.
  12. Store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of the direct sun for one to 10 days; this is called secondary fermentation. It will get fizzier and sweeter as it continues to carbonate and ferment. You may notice some strings or a new mother form; these can be removed before drinking.This is also the time to add flavor. Fresh or frozen berries and ginger strips are popular for kombucha infusions. Lemon and other fruit juices can be added (1 to 2 ounces per pint of kombucha, or to taste). You can also play with flavor combinations, such as blueberry-ginger-lemon.Once the kombucha is to your liking, refrigeration will slow fermentation. Strain out any fruits and unwanted kombucha growth, rebottle, and keep the bottles in the refrigerator. The flavor will develop over time, and it's best to drink it within 3 to 4 months, after which it will become too sour.

Note

  1. Black tea is the best option for the most flavorful kombucha and it's a good choice for beginners because it's easy to ferment. Green, white, and oolong teas are also good options, especially after you get used to the brewing process. Avoid tea blends, such as Earl Grey, as these include oils that will inhibit fermentation.
  2. You can brew kombucha in two 1-quart jars, though you will need two scobys.
  3. To reduce the chance of fruit flies and other small insects invading your kombucha, use a cloth with a tight weave or a few layers of paper towels. Coffee filters, a clean bandana, or lint-free kitchen towel work, too. Cheesecloth is not ideal because the insects can get through the layers.
  4. You can use a pH strip to test the kombucha's doneness. The ideal range is between 2.7 and 3.2 pH.
  5. Signs that something has gone wrong include a rotten, cheesy, or any unpleasant aroma. Discard the kombucha and start a fresh batch of tea with the scoby; if subsequent batches get worse, discard the scoby. Black, blue, green, or orange spots on the scoby may indicate mold, and it's best to get a new scoby and try again.
  6. When storing kombucha for more than one month, "burp" it every few weeks to prevent an explosion. Open it to release pressure, then reseal and return it to the refrigerator.
  7. Want to take a break from brewing? Store the jarred scoby and mother tea in the refrigerator. Depending on how long it's been "sleeping," it may take a few batches for it to make really good kombucha again.