1 gallon of water
1 cup of cane sugar
2-3 tbsp of loose tea OR 6-8 tea bags
1 kombucha SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast)
2 cups fermented kombucha tea from your previous batch or starter kit
STEP 1 : BREW YOUR 'BOOCH
Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Allow the tea to steep until it cools to room temperature. Remove tea bags or strain the loose tea. Pour into a 1 gallon fermentation vessel (glass or ceramic). Add your SCOBY and about 2 cups of fermented kombucha tea.
Cover with butter muslin cloth (a type of cheese cloth that has a fine weave) or a coffee filter and secure it in place with a rubber band. This keeps away fruit flies and dust while allowing airflow. Place in a warm spot, out of direct sunlight where it won't be disturbed. Let your kombucha ferment for approximately 7-21 days, taking note that warmer temperatures will speed up fermentation times.
A new SCOBY will form on top: first as a spotty, oily-looking sheen, then gradually getting denser. After 7 days, begin tasting the kombucha. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the initial fermentation is complete! Now you're ready to add flavorings (if you choose) and bottle your brew.
STEP 2 : ADD FLAVOR (optional)
If you'd like to flavor your kombucha, use a ladle and strainer to transfer kombucha into a new vessel (another gallon jar or several smaller jars with a tight-fitting lid). Be sure to reserve 2 cups of kombucha and your SCOBY to start your next batch.
Add FRESH or DRIED FRUIT (fresh small fruits : whole or mashed; large fruits : sliced, cubed or mashed) to your jar of kombucha and cover with a cloth or loose lid. Infuse at room temperature for a 1-2 days, then strain and bottle.
Alternatively, add FRESH FRUIT JUICE, like we suggest in our pomegranate kombucha recipe. Blend and bottle straight away.
HERBS AND SPICES have medicinal benefits and are rich in minerals and trace elements. Experiment with adding herbs and spices to your brew, like our ginger and turmeric kombucha recipe. Add herbs and spices to kombucha, and cover with a cloth or loose lid. Infuse at room temperature for 1-2 days, then strain and bottle.
STEP 3 : BOTTLE
During the initial fermentation period with the SCOBY, the bacteria & yeast feed on cane sugar, creating a myriad of healthful acids in addition to a lot of carbon dioxide. When the kombucha is transferred into a sealed bottle, the fermentation continues, feeding on remaining sugars, creating even more carbon dioxide. This builds up in the sealed bottles, creating carbonation!
Bottling should be done with care and attention as too much carbonation will result in a geyser-like eruption or worst case, exploding bottles. Be sure to use bottles that seal and are designed to handle pressure by purchasing bottles from a brew supply store (or up-cycle old beer & kombucha bottles). The frequency with which you brew, the temperature & the amount of accessible sugar all factor into the result of your kombucha’s carbonation. Sweeter brews will carbonate faster, sour brews will take longer. As you continue to brew, your results will be more predictable.
To carbonate your kombucha, transfer your fermented brew into bottles using a funnel and a strainer. Leave about an inch of head space from the top of each bottle. Let the sealed bottles continue to ferment in a warm place, out of direct sunlight for anywhere from 1-14 days, checking for carbonation (the “tssssss” sound) daily. Once carbonated, transfer to the refrigerator and enjoy within 6 months. Cold temperatures slow down, but do not stop fermentation. Always open bottles slowly over a sink.
STEP 4 : REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT
Following the instructions above, start your next batch using the reserved kombucha and SCOBY.
MAINTAINING AND TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR SCOBY
After each brew a new SCOBY will form. Often the new SCOBY combines with the original. Intermittently “prune” your mass of SCOBYs so that it is no more than a 1/2” thick. Save a layer and pass the others on to friends, store in a SCOBY Hotel or add it to your garden or city’s compost.
Remember that a healthy SCOBY may float, sink or hover in the middle of your brew. You may see brown strings in the container, dark spots on the SCOBY or a dark sediment collecting in the container. All of these are normal!
But if you see black, white or green mold spots ON TOP of the SCOBY, this is a sign of an unhealthy culture. While a SCOBY may look a bit alien, remember that mold is fuzzy and easy to identify as mold. Mold doesn't happen often, but if it does, discard your SCOBY and any kombucha you brewed with it. Start a new batch with a different SCOBY.