As Kombucha continues to gain popularity, more and more folks are interested in brewing at home. If you ask people who have previously heard of or tried the drink, you will hear all sorts of opinions:
“I’m apprehensive about it.”
“There is no way that I’m touching live bacteria!”
The fact is, we live in a world literally covered by bacteria. Some are good, some are bad, and some are just indifferent. And then there are those that live and thrive in a floating community, bound by yeast, fed by sugar and tea. Those just happen to be beneficial. The kind that produce byproducts that bind to toxins in the liver and kidneys that are then carried out of the body. The benefits of detoxification are endless, but we’ll save that for another day. For now, my goal is to show you how simple it is to brew at home, and to hopefully appease any worries. So let’s get right to it, starting with…
What you’ll need
S.c.o.b.y. and starter liquid – Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast (the mother of Kombucha) and about a cup to a pint full of the brew liquid.
Sugar – 1 cup per gallon of water. That is the standard ratio. Any kind of cane sugar works. Of course you will want to opt for the least processed, grown without the use of pesticides; organic if possible. Raw and brown sugar also work great, and the molasses will enhance the flavor of the brew.
Tea – 6 tea bags or 2 Tablespoons loose leaf per gallon of water. Any type of green or black tea will work. Again, some form of organic loose leaf tea will render the cleanest Kombucha.
A glass beverage dispenser – 1.5 gal size is plenty for a weekly brew. Giant pickle jars also work!
How To Brew
If you can brew tea, you can brew Kombucha. It’s that simple. There are just a couple things you need to pay extra close attention to:
Always handle Kombucha with clean hands, utensils and containers, and
Never temperature shock the Scoby (in other words, always allow the tea to cool to room temperature before pouring it into the container with the Scoby).
With those in mind, here are the steps…
- Bring a quart of filtered water to a boil, remove from heat, add the tea, and let steep for 5 to 15 minutes depending on how strong you like it.
- Strain the tea leaves (or tea bags), and add the sugar. Stir until fully dissolved.
- Allow the sweet tea mix to cool to room temp. You can speed the process by adding ice or cool water.
- Once the sweet tea is cool to the touch, add it to the beverage dispenser.
- Pour the starter liquid and scoby into the beverage dispenser.
- Add filtered water to desired quantity, up to 1.5 gallons for example.
- Cover the beverage container with a cotton cloth and a rubber band along the rim. This is important because the fermentation process is aerobic, which means it needs oxygen. The cloth will allow it to breathe while keeping contamination out.
- Place the container on a quiet spot away from sunlight. Cover it with a dark towel if necessary to keep sunlight out. Taste the brew after a week, and again every other day or so until it reaches that familiar semi-sweet, semi-tart flavor.
- Check up on it every few days, taste the drink and see notice how it progresses from sweet to tart. Talk to it, send it love and positive thoughts because it is a living, breathing organism that is there to help you. What you put into it, you will receive back in abundance.
- Once it reaches the desired flavor, drink up and enjoy the newfound benefits! You can drink straight from the beverage dispenser, but always leave a cup or a pint for the next brew.
The time it takes for the fermentation process to mature will depend on the amount of sugar you add, the size of the brew, and the size of the Scoby. One to 3 weeks is normal for the first brew. The scoby will grow larger and thicker with every batch.
If you are relatively new to Kombucha, I recommend starting by drinking a cup first thing in the morning.
Some important notes..
The only real concern with brewing is the presence of mold. As with any food, there is a chance it will mold if left untouched for weeks, especially if the top part of the scoby dries out. However, this is rare and is usually due to unclean handling or neglect. So care for your Kombucha as you would a pet… (except you only have to feed it once a week or so)
If you need to travel or want to take a break from brewing, no worries, you can store it in the fridge. Place the Scoby in a glass jar with about a pint of the liquid. Wash out the beverage dispenser with baking soda and store it. When you are ready to brew again, make sure the Scoby is back to room temp before the next brew.
That’s about it! That pretty much covers all the basics. Kombucha brewing is a continuous learning experience. It’s simple, yet you will learn and get better at it every time you brew. I’m still learning new and interesting things, even after three years of brewing!
And lastly, please feel free to leave a comment or a question and I’ll be happy to answer.