Kombucha is a living, fizzy, fermented beverage made from tea that is refreshing but also great for you. Kombucha is essentially a sweet tea, that is fermented using a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) resulting in a delicious fizzy probiotic drink.
When making Kombucha, I highly recommend keeping a journal. Kombucha batches are greatly influenced by the types of sugar you use, the type of teas, and how long you ferment (1st and 2nd fermentations) each batch. I prefer using an organic white tea as my tea, and usually either a organic sugar cane or organic palm sugar (Coconut Palm Sugar). Also, I tend to ferment for 5-7 days before starting the second fermentation.
This instructional is to get my friends started quickly (So it's a little rough around the edges). I'll write a more complete article at a later time.
Types of Sugars I've used
- Organic Sugar Cane - Best (Clearer End Product)
- Organic Palm Sugar - 2nd Best
- Organic Date Sugar (Dates that have been dehydrated, then blended into a powder)
You can experiment with other sweetners as well such as honey, or table sugar. The end product has less carbs than the early stages as the SCOBY will breakdown the sugars.
Types of Teas I've used
- Organic White Tea (Best - Clearer End Product)
- Organic Green Tea (Best - Darker End Product)
- Organic Oolong Tea
Many commerical Kombucha will use a black tea, which is higher in Tannins, I'd stay away from that.
- 1 Gallon Glass Jar (Or 1 Gallon BPA-Free Plastic container) - The lid should be plastic, and not metal.
- Cloth for keeping bugs out (Not a cheese clothe, something like an old bed sheet or microfilter rag)
- 1 Quart Mason jar w\ Plastic Lid (For keeping your SCOBY alive when your Kombucha is complete)
Note: During the 2nd fermentation stage I typically bottle my Kombucha. If you do the same you can get all the supplies from a brewing store. I.e. Bottles (apx. $15.00 for 24 bottles) , Bottle Caps (apx. $5.00 for 300 caps), Bottle Cap Press (apx. $12.00 for press) You can also use 1 quart Mason Jars w\ Plastic Caps, or a growler bottle. (I've used them all, and they all work great. I chose bottles, as I can give them to friends and make individual servings. Also, I get the greatest amount of fizz)
- 13 Cups of distilled or filtered water. (I make a lot of Kombucha, so find it easier to used filtered water from the fridge which works fine.)
- 1 Cup Sugar (Any of the above)
- 5 Tea Bags (If using Teavana, about 15 pearls)
- SCOBY (Which you can purchase off Amazon, Online, or get from a friend... Like me)
Simple Directions - 1st fermentation Stage
- Add 13 cups of water to a pan, along with sugar and tea. Then bring to a boil.
- Boil for 5 minutes, then turn off stove.
- Let tea sit covered until it comes down to room temperature. (Don't rush this. If the tea is too hot, it will kill the SCOBY)
- Transfer the tea to the 1 gallon container
- Put the SCOBY along with the liquid it was stored in into the 1 gallon container
- Cover with cloth and rubber band. Place somewhere dark and warmer. (I.e. Cupboard)
- Let sit with minimal disturbance for 5-7 days.
During this time, a new SCOBY will begin to grow on the top of the liquid. At first it will look clear, and ugly but then start to look like a white cake. It'll typically be between 1/8 to 1/2 inch thick (I've seen it has thick as an inch) After 5 days, I typically push a straw through the edge of the SCOBY into the liquid. And pull out a sample into a small dish then taste. If it's too sweet, it needs to ferment more. The longer it ferments, the more like vinegar it'll become. (This is where the journal comes in handy, as after 3-4 batches you'll get it down to a science on what's best for you. I like my Kombucha to be slightly sweet, but more on the vinegar side)
Simple Directions - 2nd fermentation
Remove the original SCOBY (Which will either be on the bottom of the container, or it may have floated to the top. It may have even combined with the new SCOBY. Just pull it apart if it has. The new SCOBY you can cut into quarters. (Now you have 5 SCOBY's). Place all five in a 1 quart jar, and put 1 cup of the Kobucha in to keep it alive. Just store in a dark place with a plastic lid, until your next batch. (You're next batch, you can place all 5 SCOBY's in, which will speed up the fermentation process. Or give them to friends.)
The second fermentation is where you get the bubbles. :) This is also where you can flavor your Kombucha with fruit (If you like). I typically use about 2 Tablspoons of fruit puree to every 8-10oz of Kombucha. My favorite is Papaya & Mango (Which I peel, cut and place in a food processor to puree)
If bottling, sterilize everything by dipping into a pot of boiling water. (Like you would do if canning). But let the bottles cool before you put the Kombucha in.
- Put a funnel, with a sieve on top (To filter out yeast\bacteria) into the bottle.
- If using fruit puree, put 2 Tablespoons of the puree in.
- Using a dipper, pour the kombucha into the bottle, leaving about an inch or two gap in the neck.
- Cap and set aside for 2-3 days.
Mason Jar Directions
Essentially same concept. Sterilize everything.
- If flavoring, add about 6 Tablespoons of fruit puree into 1 quart jar, then fill jar with Kombucha.
- Leave about 1 inch at the top, then place plastic lid on top.
- Set aside for 2-3 days
Same. Sterilize, add flavor (About 2TB per 8-10oz Kombucha). Cap, and set aside.
Remember to keep a good journal on the following;
- What day you brewed the tea
- What type of water (And how much)
- What type of sugar (And how much)
- What type of Tea (And how much)
- How long for 1st fermentation
- When you started 2nd Fermentation
- What flavor (Fruit) if any, and how much.
- How long second fermentation
- And of course how the finished product tasted. (I.e. Great fizz, too much like vinegar, etc.)
All of these notes will help you hone in on the perfect recipe for you.