There are LOTS of blog posts about kombucha out there, but I thought I’d share too, since I currently have an obsession with it! Just a week or so ago, I finished brewing my first batch. Prior to that I bought it and drank it for about a month. It’s expensive to buy — but not to brew!
Kombucha is super easy to brew, too. First you need to obtain a SCOBY, or “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.” You can buy them at Cultures For Health or Fermented Treasures and probably lots of other places, too. You can also grow your own (I did, and it really is that easy! Mine is still sitting in its jar. It floated to the bottom after it was about 1/2″ thick, and now I think a second one is starting to grow. They grow FAST). The reason I didn’t use the one I grew is because just before it was ready, a really nice person on the Kefir Making Yahoo Group sent me a couple of them. I gave one to a friend and used the other to brew my kombucha. If you have friends who brew kombucha, just wait a week or two and they’ll have one to give you. In fact, they’ll be GLAD to give it to you. We’ll get to that, though.
Here is what you will need to brew kombucha:
*1 gallon-sized glass jar
*1 piece of cheesecloth (I used birdseye cotton) that covers the top of the jar
*15 cups or so black tea (boil a gallon of water, and add 8 regular tea bags or 1/2 c. loose black tea)
*1 cup sugar (organic, to avoid GMOs)
*1 kombucha SCOBY with at least 1/2 c. brewed kombucha (that’s important and any SCOBY you get should be in some kombucha)
So, first. Boil the water and steep the tea for 3 – 5 minutes. Then stir in the sugar. Once that’s done, let the tea sit until it is cooled. Most say room temperature. Mine was a little warmer than that because it was getting late and I was impatient, but the jar felt warm to me — not hot. 100 degrees is probably okay; 180 is not. Use your judgement here.
When the tea is cool, add the mother to the top of the jar, pouring the brewed kombucha in with it. Place the cloth over the top of the jar and put the rubberband on to keep it in place. You want oxygen to be able to get to the tea, but not bugs. Set the jar somewhere warm and dark (like a pantry, the top of your fridge; it only needs to be room temperature and out of sunlight) for about two weeks.
I checked mine everyday after about 6 days. At first it smelled sweet to me, so I knew it wasn’t done. Finally, on the 11th day, it smelled vinegar-ish. That was when I bottled it. I don’t have any pictures of the process up to this point, but I do have some after….
I saved most of my G.T. Dave’s kombucha bottles, and I used these. Here’s a picture of them all in the dishwasher (there are 26):
I gathered all my bottling supplies then:
I’m using the double fermentation method, so when I bottled these, I added about 1 oz. of grape juice to each bottle, then filled the rest of the way with kombucha, about 15 oz. This is about the same proportions as G.T. Dave’s uses too: 95% kombucha and 5% juice.
Once bottled, I let the bottles sit out for two more days. This is how it develops its nice carbonation. After two days, they went into the fridge. I don’t have a picture of that. This made 7 16-oz. bottles, with enough plain kombucha left over to cover the mother(s!!), which will brew the next batch.
Speaking of mother(s) (another name for the SCOBY), I discovered something cool when I took the cloth off the top:
I warned you these things grow fast. I was told that a “baby” would grow each time I brewed kombucha and that it might or might not separate from the mother. So, I was under the impression that it would be kind of small. Maybe a smaller diameter or only like 1/4″ thick or less. But no. It was full grown second mother! The one on the right is the “baby.”
For me this is great. So far. It takes 2 weeks to brew a batch and I plan to drink 16 oz. per day. Do the math: it makes 7 16-oz. bottles, which will last only ONE week. So assuming I’m constantly brewing only one gallon I will still have a week to go without any kombucha! NO!! So I need to either brew two gallons at once or start one gallon each week so I always have fresh kombucha available. I might even eventually brew more if I decide I want to drink more per day or if I can get the rest of my family to drink it too. So I do need more “mothers” now. But in a few weeks I’ll have way too many. And then…I don’t know. Want to buy one?
Do you brew kombucha? Have you made other fermented beverages? What are your favorite? If not, what is holding you back?