Making Kombucha: Photo Tutorial


In our last post we discussed the history and benefits of a traditional fermented tea drink: kombucha. Today, we're giving a photo tutorial of how to make kombucha in your own home. This probiotic drink is relatively simple to make. It requires a small bit of preparation on your part, but then you can sit back and let it do its fermentation thang for anywhere between 7-14 days. In the end, you'll have a deliciously scrumptious, very healthy, bubbly drink!
With any fermented and raw product, it is important to begin with clean utensils, containers, and hands. Make sure that everything is in fact clean, and wash your hands prior to beginning the kombucha-making process. 
Kombucha
*The following measurements are for brewing 2 gallons of kombucha. The amounts can easily be halved if you would like to brew 1 gallon (except you don't need to cut the SCOBY in half!).
Ingredients
1 SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) - see info at bottom of post
1 cup already prepared kombucha
2 gallons filtered water
16 organic black tea bags, or 4 quart-sized tea bags
2 cups organic evaporated cane sugar (this gets eaten during fermentation)
1 tea towel or other cover with tie/rubberband
Equipment
Ladle
Wooden spoon
Large stockpot
Tea kettle (optional)
Large bowl
Flip-top glass bottles, cleaned commercial kombucha bottles, or other tightly sealing bottles (mason jars will not work)
Funnel(s)
Instructions
1. Boil about 1/2 gallon of the water in a tea kettle. We use a tea kettle because it seems to be faster than boiling it in the pot. If you don’t have a tea kettle, boil the water in the stockpot.
2. When the water reaches boiling point, turn off the heat and pour the water over the tea bags that are sitting in the stockpot. Let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Then strain the tea bags and dispose of them.




3. Add the 2 cups of sugar, and stir, using the wooden spoon, until all the sugar is dissolved.

4. Pour this sugar/tea combo into the 2 gallon glass container. Then add the remaining 1 1/2 gallons of filtered water.
5. Leave the water to cool. You do NOT want to put the SCOBY into hot water as this will kill it. When the water has reached room temperature, then add the SCOBY.


6. Cover the glass container with a tea towel, so that it can breathe. Secure it with a tie or rubberband. Place your brew in an out-of-the-way place that will get plenty of air exchange (you don’t want to place it in a closet). 

7. Allow it to sit for 5-16 days (average 7-9). Periodically, smell or taste a bit of the kombucha. If it is sweet, you need to allow it to ferment longer. The kombucha is ready when it is a bit vinegary. People have their own preferences, but the healthiest kombucha will be the one that is much more vinegary than sugary. We generally ferment ours for two weeks.
Note: Fermentation times will vary with the season. Fermentation speeds up in warmer weather, and slows down in cooler weather. You will need to ferment longer in the winter, and shorter in the summer. Remember, you can always taste a bit of the kombucha to see where it’s at in the process.
8. When the kombucha is done, remove the SCOBY from the brew and place it in a large bowl with 1 cup of the finished kombucha. 

9. Bottle the kombucha by ladling the finished brew into the flip-top bottles. We also use funnels to help transfer the fermented tea.

10. Allow the filled and sealed bottles to remain out on the counter for another 2-3 days. This develops further carbonation, and is an optional step. After the 2-3 days, place kombucha in the refrigerator and enjoy.

Repeat steps 1-5 and begin brewing again!
As I noted in my last post, kombucha is a science experiment. If you follow the above instructions, you’ll pretty much be set; however, the finished product is influenced by temperature and the amount of air it gets. When we first started brewing we were told that our first few batches would be drinkable, but not perfect. However, our first brews turned out delicious! If you’re not satisfied with your first brew, don’t worry, you’ll learn how you like it as you go along. The best thing to remember is that kombucha is very forgiving. It's not an exact science, and doesn't need to be!
So you’re probably thinking: Awesome! Now where can I find myself a SCOBY? The best place to get a SCOBY, in my opinion, is from someone who is already brewing. This way, you can begin brewing immediately. You can also order a dehydrated SCOBY from Cultures for Health, a very reputable company when it comes to fermentation products. Keep in mind if you do this, that you will have to rehydrate the SCOBY, which could take anywhere from 10-28 days.

Lastly, you may have noticed that stores sell flavored kombucha in additional to the original. In order to flavor your fermented tea at home, all you need to do is add 1/4 cup of juice per quart of kombucha during bottling. Allow this to sit out on your counter for the designated 2-3 days, and it's ready for drinking! Have fun with this. Experiment to your heart's content, and then come back and share with us how your kombucha is doing and how you brew your favorite flavors.

Happy brewing!

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!
    http://realfoodforager.com/fat-tuesday-february-7-2012/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Amanda! I'm in Austin too, were did you get your 2 gallon glass container locally? And thanks for the tip on the bottles from IKEA! I've been thinking I'd have to buy them online.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Michelle! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any local small business that sold the 2 gallon jars, but they do have them at most giganto stores like Target and Wal-mart. Hope that helps!

      Delete
    2. I buy all my jars from the Salvation Army, they have tons, and are usually less than a dollar.

      Delete
  3. I found 1 Gallon and 2 Gallon Jars at Wal-Mart. The lids are not tight fitting which is a good thing. AND...they are CHEAP!

    Here are the links: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Anchor-Hocking-Heritage-Hill-1-Gal-Jar-with-Lid/16486706 AND http://www.walmart.com/ip/Anchor-Hocking-Heritage-Hill-2-Gal-Jar-with-Lid/16486707

    ReplyDelete
  4. How long can you leave the bottled kombucha in the refrigerator before they go bad?

    How long can you keep the SCOBY in the refrigerator before you use it again? Does the scoby go bad after awhile?

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete