Make Your Own Kombucha

Our more focused health journey started with healthy cooking and the importance of quality fruits and vegetables and convenient, inexpensive ways to get and grow them. This had great health benefits, but some continuing digestive issues opened our eyes to the world of fermenting, which has been tremendously helpful. It is amazing how much power God put into the things we eat and drink and the world around us… much of which has been lost to the modern mind. 

As we pursue the path to healthy living, may we grow in our awe of the God of creation! As the song goes, “All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all.”

MATERIALS:

  • SCOBY 
    • This is the key ingredient of kombucha. Making Kombucha creates more SCOBYs, so you only need one to get started.
    • If you live near us, let us know and we may have a SCOBY for you. :o)
  • Black Tea (bags or loose leaf – I use loose leaf and have a filter to get it out later)
    • Not flavored tea, which has other flavors, oils, etc. which could damage the SCOBY
    • Preferably organic
  • Green Tea (Gunshot – to have caffeine)
    • This is optional to mix 50/50 with the black tea
  • Organic Pure Cane Sugar
    • Costco has this
  • one gallon glass jar
    • I recommend having two (or more) to help with the process and to alternate start weeks.
    • This could be any large glass jar with a wide mouth.
  • Smaller bottles for 2nd fermentation
    • Need to have:
      • airtight seal
      • strong enough for some pressure build up if you plan to allow for carbonation
    • Old Kombucha bottles should work
  • Optional Items
    • Heating Mat – If you will be making Kombucha in cool weather (lower than around 80F)
      • I like the mats that wrap around the jar more than those that are underneath.
      • Some heating mats have adjustable temperature.
      • The temperature can also be adjusted by putting chopsticks/pencils between the mat and the jar. (Add more chopsticks as needed.)
      • You can also store the Kombucha in a warmer cabinet, etc. as long as the temp is between 76-85 (warmer is better).
    • Thermometer (There are choices for this)
      • Temperature Strips – These are nice to check the temperature at a glance
        • Note: A heating pad should come with a temperature strip
      • Temperature Gun – This is nice if you want to be able to check many things, not just a Kombucha jar. 
        • Hint: Put some masking tape on the jar to shoot with the temperature gun.
  • Materials that you may already have

DIRECTIONS: 

Notes before starting:

  • Making kombucha is really quite simple. 
    • I highly recommend the video “How To Make Kombucha – First & Second Fermentation” from DaddyKirbs Farm to see the whole process.
    • My directions below have a lot of details and comments (to answer questions that may come up from the video), but it’s really quite simple.
    • Basically: Make sweet black tea > Let it cool > Add the starter tea & SCOBY > Cover and put in a dark spot > Wait 7-21 days > Bottle and drink!  (It’s also fun to watch the SCOBY grow. :o)
    • The first two times, I was figuring out what to do so it took more thought and time, but since then it is quick.
  • Let me know of any questions and comments and I can then use those to clarify these directions.

Directions:

  • First Ferment
    • Prepare 1 gallon of tea
      • Boil 1 gallon of water (remove from heat)
        • Let it boil for a few minutes to off gas chlorine (if you have chlorine in your water).
        • If you have purified water, you can boil 3+ cups of water to make tea, and then mix with cool water later to quickly cool the tea.
      • Add 2 Tbsp (6 tsp) loose leaf tea (black and/or green) (or equivalent tea bags)
        • Steep for 10-15 minutes
        • Note: The SCOBY eats the caffeine from the tea. The tea needs to be black tea, Gunshot Green tea, or a mix of the two.
      • Remove tea (run through a sterilized filter if using loose leaf)
      • Stir in 1 cup Organic Pure Cane Sugar
    • Cool the sweet tea to 75-85 F
      • If you boiled 1 gallon of water, let it sit for a few hours.
      • If you boiled 3+ cups of water to make the tea,
        • Fill glass jar ⅓ full of cool filtered or boiled/cooled water
        • Add tea
        • Top off with cool water, leaving room for the starter tea and SCOBY (apx 3-4 in)
    • Add starter tea and SCOBY
      • Note: pH should be below 4.5, BUT I don’t check our pH. I simply use more than the minimum amount of starter tea as mentioned below. The pH will drop as it ferments.
        • If the pH is too high, some people add distilled white vinegar (some say to never add white vinegar)
          • I have never added white vinegar.
          • You could also add more of your recently finished batch of kombucha.
        • Most commercial SCOBYs come with ~2 cups of starter tea and most directions recommend setting 2 cups aside from the previous ferment. I prefer to set 3-4 cups aside to make sure that the acidity is low enough.
          • The benefit is that the pH is low enough and I don’t need to think about it.
          • The negative is that we have less of each batch to drink (but still have plenty).
    • Set aside for fermentation
      • Secure cloth over jar
        • I like a coffee filter or solid knit, non-shedding cloth.
          • Personally, I just use a coffee filter.
      • Place in warm area (75-85F)
        • Notes:
          • Cold = mold
          • Try not to shake the jar, etc. while fermenting
          • Dark locations are best
          • If they SCOBY floats, it will get larger. If it sinks, it will form a new SCOBY on the surface. (It’s fun to watch form and is not mold.)
      • Ferment to taste
        • usually around 7-21 days
          • shorter = sweeter, longer = more vinegary
        • Taste by inserting a clean straw under the SCOBY. Plug the end of the straw and pull it out.
          • Can also push the SCOBY down with a clear punch spoon and scoop some out to taste.

  • Second Fermentation
    • Optional, to add flavor and/or carbonation
      • To only add flavor (not carbonation), do the second ferment in an open top bottle with a cloth on top (like the first ferment)
      • To only add carbonation (not flavor), follow the steps of the second ferment, but don’t add flavor.
    • First, prepare to start a new batch for first ferment
      • With clean hands or tongs, take out the SCOBY and put it in a bowl
        • You may want to wipe or rinse the yeast off to reduce alcohol production.
      • Put some of the finished kombucha that just finished fermenting in the bowl.
        • Many recommend 2+ cups of starter tea. I prefer to use 3+ cups to make sure the acidity is low enough in the new batch.
        • Scoop from the top to avoid the yeast to reduce alcohol production.
      • If you won’t be starting a new batch in the next few minutes, put a cloth over the SCOBY bowl.
    • Pour the Kombucha into smaller bottles for 2nd ferment and serving.
      • The bottles need to be strong enough to stand the pressure of carbonizing.
      • Optional: Add flavoring to smaller bottles
        • Flavoring can be: Pure juice, fruit pieces, ginger pieces, etc.
      • Pour the rest of the finished Kombucha (that wasn’t set aside as starter tea) through a filter into the smaller bottles.
        • Leave space at the top for expansion.
        • Use a funnel.
        • The filter removes any big pieces of SCOBY and yeast
    • Optional: Prepare to carbonate
      • If you want to add carbonation, seal the bottle.
      • If you don’t want to carbonate, leave the bottle open with a cloth on top (as with the first fermentation)
    • Store in a warm, dark place (as with the 1st fermentation) for 1-3 days.

  • Start a new first fermentation
    • Rinse the now empty fermentation jar 
      • water only, no soap
      • I rinse with tap water, then put in boiled water to sanitize.
    • With the SCOBY and needed starter tea aside
    • Follow the directions for the 1st fermentation.

As you make kombucha, you will start to have extra SCOBYs. These can be used for many things, including sharing with a friend to spread the joy!

I hope that you enjoy the process and benefits of making your own Kombucha. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to Contact Us.