How To Make Kombucha
This recipe makes 1 liter of Kombucha tea. I use this as a base recipe, and multiply it when I need to make a bigger batch. I usually make 4 liters at a time, so I just put 4x the Ingredients in.
You will need to let the kombucha ferment in a glass jar- make sure the jar is slightly bigger than the batch size e.g., if you are making a 2 liter batch of kombucha- allow space for slight expansion, for the scoby, the tea and the starter kombucha, so get a jar that is about 2.5 liters.
Choose a jar with a wide opening at the top (and not one that tapers up). The lid isn’t important, as you won’t be using it. So a glass bowl could work well too. Only use glass- no plastic, metal or coloured glass as these damage the SCOBY.
Don’t have a SCOBY? Ask someone who makes Kombucha at home 🙂 everytime a new batch of Kombucha is made, a ‘baby SCOBY’ grows on the original one. That means that you can make more and more tea after every batch, and you can share the SCOBY’s around!
Want to learn about the amazing health benefits of Kombucha? Read my profile on Kombucha here.
Large stainless steel saucepan/stock pot
Large 1.5 liter glass jar or bowl
Dishtowel or cheesecloth
Mason jars or glass bottles for bottling
1 Liter Filtered water
1/4 cup Refined white sugar, organic or raw sugar
2 x Organic tea bags (green or black, I use 1 of each)
1 Kombucha starter culture or SCOBY — where to buy starters
100mL Kombucha from a previous batch
1. Add the filtered water to the saucepan, cover with lid, and bring to a boil.
2. Turn off the heat, pour in the sugar, and stir until it is dissolved.
3. Add the tea bags, remove the stockpot from the heat. Let most of the steam out, then cover and let cool (this takes a few hours, so I often leave it overnight).
4. When the tea is at room temperature (if it’s too hot, it can kill your starter culture), pour it into the large glass jar. Add 100mL of kombucha from a previous batch (or store-bought kombucha), and add the starter culture SCOBY.
Make sure the glass jar has been cleaned. No need to fully sterilize it, just give it a good wash in hot soapy water, and give it a rinse from all the suds.
5. Cover the jar with a dishcloth (this is just used to keep the bugs and dust out — but it needs to be porous so air can get in) and wrap a rubber band around to fix it on the jar.
6. Leave it in a warm dark place for a few days, tasting it every so often. Tasting it around day 5 is usually a good time.
7. When the kombucha tastes the way you want it to remove the starter culture and put it into a bowl or another glass jar. Pour enough kombucha over it to make sure it’s completely covered (this will be your starter tea for the next batch).
8. Pour the rest of the kombucha tea into glass bottles or mason jars, seal, and store in the fridge (I use sterilized wine bottles).
Tasting: It is a good idea to taste your Kombucha while it is fermenting. Myself, and a few of my friends were a bit wary of this, with the first few batches of kombucha they made, but taste away- this won’t make you sick! Using a straw is a good way to taste test. Depending on how sweet or sour you like your kombucha, it will be ready as early as three or four days (slightly sweet but tangy), and can take as long as two weeks (very vinegary).
Weather: The rate of fermentation (and therefore the level of sweet or sour flavour) depends on how warm your kitchen is. You can make kombucha faster in summer and it may take longer in wintertime when your kitchen is cold. I find an intermittently warm spot, like under the kitchen sink so that it doesn’t take so long in winter.
What if I want to take a break from making Kombucha? If you want to take a break from making kombucha, just leave your starter culture in the gallon jar covered with kombucha and a dish towel. It will stay alive for many weeks or months with very little attention (I know, because I’ve left mine in there for months.) You can always pour a little store-bought kombucha in there if you want to make sure it stays alive. Or brew a few cups of tea and add sugar and throw it in if you’re too busy to make a batch of kombucha and you’re nervous about killing your starter.
Making Fizzy Kombucha: Kombucha is usually lightly fizzy after being fermented. If you’d like to make it fizzier, do a ‘flavouring’ stage and add a couple of raisins/sultanas and leave for 2-3 days to fizz up! Beware when opening the bottle though! See the next paragraph for more details on ‘flavouring’.
Flavouring: If you want to go a step further and flavour your kombucha, simply decant the completed kombucha into a bottle or jar and add any fruit/spice/herb or root (e.g., ginger) that you like into the Kombucha. Seal the container and leave it to sit for 2-3 days. Take care when opening, as this flavouring stage can make it extra fizzy. Decant and enjoy!
Things to Consider When Making Kombucha:
- The tea must be completely cooled before adding to the SCOBY
- Do not keep the SCOBY in the fridge, the cold will kill them
- If you see mould, throw out the entire batch of tea, rinse the mould off the SCOBY in filtered water and start again. Mould on a SCOBY will usually be black or green.
- The SCOBY’s natural colouring (white, brown, yellow) is normal and NOT mould.
- Place brewing Kombucha in a room without direct sunlight, other food, fruit or other fermenting foods.
- Using white sugar with Kombucha is very safe for the consumer, as the refined process for the sugar takes out bacteria that may harm the SCOBY (which consumes most of the sugar in the fermenting process anyway).
- Don’t use tea that has added flavouring, or essential oils. Herbal teas can be used, but rotate batches with black tea as the SCOBY needs caffeine.