Kombucha Guide- Brew Your Own Fizzy Goodness

kombucha pic

Kombucha,
Thank you for giving my family and I thorough thirst-quenching enjoyment. We are all healthier to have found you. You’re sweet yet tangy, delicious yet healthy. Quite the over-achiever. Ever rich in probiotic cultures, beneficial vitamins and active enzymes, you help counteract inflammation (the root cause of disease), while bringing a healthy balance back to our metabolism and organs. Your efforts are duly noted.
Love,

A Crunchy Kombucha Devotee.

Have you ever been so in love that you wanted to shout it from the rooftops (or blog it from your laptop)?! I put together the ins and outs, so you too can become a kitchen brewmaster and fall in love with your own homemade KOMBUCHA (come-BOO-cha).

As a newbie, the instructions might seem intricate but it’s really easy (Kom)breezy.

Ingredients & Supplies Needed (1 Gallon Batch):

  • Scoby (yeast patty comprised of symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and 1-2 cups of starter liquid–they will be packaged together  (where to get it)
  • 8 tbsp loose tea in strainer or 8 tea bags- black or green tea (not herbal).
    • Organic tea contains less pesticides and fluoride and is best.
  • 1 gallon water- spring, distilled, or reverse osmosis filtered water works great.
    • Tap water should not be used, it contains chlorine and other chemicals that can damage the scoby and reduce the healthful impact.
  • 1 cup of a sweetener- organic cane sugar or brown sugar work, some have used honey or coconut sugar
    • Non-caloric sweetener will not work.
    • Your culture will feed on the sugar and you’ll be left with a healthy beverage.
  • Glass container-where the fermentation occurs. A 1 gallon glass ball jar works fantastic.
    • You don’t want to brew in metal and ideally not plastic either.
  • A closed weave cloth like an old tee shirt or towel to cover brew.
  • Rubber band large enough to fit a wide mouth jar.

Steps

  • Sanitize glass jar well with boiling water and vinegar.  Do not use soap, it could affect pH or leave remnants in your brew.
  • Boil water in big pot- use slightly less than a gallon of water so you have room in container for scoby and starter liquid.
  • Add to the boiling water the tea.
  • Let tea steep for approximately 10 minutes–depending on the type of tea and strength you want.
  • Add in sugar, stir until completely dissolved.
  • Wait until tea mixture cools to room temperature. Do anything that takes a while: play solitaire, clean out fridge, take a snooze… And wait some more. Again, allow sweet tea mixture to cool down completely to room temperature before adding to your glass jar.
    • *Insanely important step, hot water will kill or damage the scoby!
  • Pour sweet tea mixture into large container.
  • Add in starter liquid.
  • Wash hands in vinegar, then gently place scoby on top of mixture with flat, smooth side up and stringy side down.
  • Cover the jar with cloth and secure it with a rubber band. Fruit flies  l<3ve the ‘bucha too, so band it down.
  • Now set it– leave it on the counter, but not in direct sunlight. There it will ferment. Transforming your sweet tea into a balanced sour and sweet elixir.The amount of time this takes depends on the thickness of the scoby and the temperature of the room. 7-10 days is normal turn around time.
  • Don’t forget it- Sample ‘bucha with a sterile ladle – double dipping is always a no no. Keep testing until it has a desirable-to-your-tongue-tang.
  • Bottle it up and put in fridge to halt the fermentation process.
  • If you prefer a bubblier brew or to flavor your ‘bucha (think of all the magical combinations), then do a second ferment. Make sure to harvest while it is still slightly on sweeter side of how you like it. Use a kitchen funnel to pour your Kombucha into bottles.

After the 7-10 days…

  • To add fizz- add a tablespoon of sugar to bottle of almost filled to the brim glass jar. Let it sit out on counter -not fridge. Check after a couple days to ensure bubblyiness.
  • To add flavor- add in 1 ounce of fruit juice, fresh fruit, or dried/freeze dried fruit. Fill rest of 16 ounce bottle with ‘bucha. Close cap and let the magic happen on a warm place like the counter.
    • Grapefruit, oranges, berries, grape juice and pineapple all work well.
    • The fructose from the fruit, will add some fizz to your ‘bucha!
  • Once your secondary ferment is ready, store in the fridge, this will slow down the fermentation process
    • It is a good sign to see the new scoby pieces in your bottle.

With every Kombucha brew you produce a new layer of scoby: a mother and a baby scoby. You can leave the “baby” in the brew to thicken your scoby and make the fermentation happen quicker. The “baby” can also be placed inside a glass jar in the fridge covered in kombucha.  Perfect for sharing with friends who are interested in starting their own brew.

FYI-

-A continuous brew is a great method. This refers to brewing in a large beverage dispenser. Your finished kombucha batch pours out the spicket. This leaves the scoby with some starter  liquid which more sweet tea mixture is added to the top of dispenser to keep the Kombucha abrewing.

-Kombucha mothers are sturdy and are not typically prone to contamination or mold when handled in a sterile way.

-Your culture may float, sink to the bottom, turn sideways – this is normal.

-The thicker the scoby, the quicker the fermentation. 7-10 days is normal turn around time. Add a few more days to that if you do a secondary fermentation in a jar for more fizziness or for flavoring. If you have a thin or smaller piece of scoby to start, ferment less sweet tea mixture 1/2-2/3 full.

-To increase or decrease the amount of kombucha you make maintain the basic ratio of 1 cup of sugar, 8 bags of tea, and 2 cups starter tea per gallon batch. One scoby will ferment any size batch, though larger batches may take longer with small scoby.

-If brew starts to smell moldy, rotten, or just rank, this is a sign something may be off. Keep an eye on it. If smell worsens but there are no signs of mold on the scoby, discard the liquid and begin again with fresh tea mixture. If you do see signs of mold, discard both the scoby and the liquid and begin again with all new ingredients.

-A scoby has a long life cycle. But after awhile the scoby becomes black, that is a sign that it is ready to toss. If it develops green or black mold, it has become infected. In both of these cases, throw away the scoby and begin again.

-The scoby does not like metal so make sure to never store it in a container with metal and take off jewelry when handling.

-I drank loads while pregnant and breast feeding. But consult your care provider to ensure its suitable for you while you’re gestating or nursing.

Drink up! Hop on the Kombucha train to crunchy-town and be well. 

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