- Stainless steel pot (and lid) for boiling water
- Wooden or stainless spoon
- Perhaps a funnel (pending on your pouring skills)
- 1 gallon glass jar
- Muslin cloth and rubber band to secure
- Tea (4 TBSP)
- 1 cup sugar
- SCOBY and starter tea
- Glass bottles for drinking (optional)
A note on cleanliness:
Kombucha is a hearty drink, and the SCOBY itself was used in kitchens far more basic and likely not as clean as yours (think dirt floors with goats in the other room.) That said, at Kombucha Mama cleanliness is a top priority (hairnets and gloves). While you may not chose to be that extreme at home, it is important that your hands are scrubbed, dishes cleaned and counters cleared. The SCOBY is a living culture and the more conscious you are about keeping your tea in a sacred space, the less likely you are to have problems arise.
Bring one gallon of water to a boil. Let boil for 10 mins. Turn heat down slightly and add 1 cup sugar. Bring sugar water to boil for another 10 mins. Turn heat off.
Add tea (4 TBSP or 6 bags). Let steep anywhere from 20 mins to overnight. This depends on your taste preference. The longer it steeps, the more tannins are released and generally the “fuller” the tea tastes. LET COOL TO ROOM TEMPERATURE. It’s very important that you don’t add SCOBY to hot water. This will kill it.
Empty sweet tea into gallon glass jar leaving enough room for SCOBY and starter. Your starter tea will generally be about 10% of tea from previous batch. You have enough starter in your kit for batch #1.
Add SCOBY and starter and make sure there’s enough space for air at the top. Cover with muslin and rubber band. Tell your SCOBY that you love it and tuck it in for the next 8 – 15 days.
*The best fermenting room is a place that is relatively stable in temperature and away from daily “dirt”. For example, you don’t want to keep it right by the stovetop if you’re cooking eggs and oil could splash onto it. You don’t want to keep it in the laundry room if your cats are allowed to sleep on the counter. A kitchen cupboard is great if it’s out of the way (and bonus, it’s dark.) The length of fermentation will depend on personal taste preference. The longer the SCOBY stays in the tea, the stronger the Kombucha. Difference in temperature will play a role as well. You may find that you have a slightly shorter brewing cycle in the summer vs. the winter.
WHEN IT’S DONE:
Check your tea after 1 week to see how it tastes. To do this, stir tea (the tea sitting at the top will always be the strongest, so you want to make sure and mix it.) Dip spoon (a ladle is ideal for this part) into tea and pour into separate glass. If you like it, take the SCOBY and starter out (you can store in glass jar while your get a new batch ready to go. If it’s still sweet, leave it in longer checking every couple of days until you find the tea you love.
*Once you figure out about how long your tea takes to brew, you can get your next sweet tea mixture ready the day before so that you’re ready to add it to the SCOBY when you take it out.
Since Kombucha is a live culture, it will continue to ferment even after the SCOBY is out. This means it will naturally carbonate itself. Refrigerating the tea will virtually stop this. However, if you want your tea fizzy, it’s easy to do – you just have to wait longer to drink it!
After you take the SCOBY out, pour your tea into glass jars that you can seal tightly (recycled juice bottles (or Kombucha growlers) work great for this.) Pour your tea into jars, seal, and leave at room temperature for 1 – 3 weeks. We’ve found that 3 – 4 weeks make the perfect fizzies, though you may not be able to wait that long!
After a few brews, your SCOBY will naturally “split”. We refer to this as the “mother/baby”. You’ll want to leave the two of them together for the first couple of brews as it makes for a stronger/healthier SCOBY.
Splitting the SCOBYS can be done on either of the following occasions:
- The SCOBY has split on its own and has a “baby” to share
- You notice that the SCOBY has grown too thick. It should be no more than 2 inches thick. If the SCOBY is too thick, the culture at the bottom cannot “breathe” through the rest of the SCOBY. The SCOBY does need air to live and it can suffocate.
SCOBYS are easy to split. Often they will break apart for you. You don’t need to tear or pull too hard. Give them away or they make great compost or fertilizer for your garden!
SCOBYS should be whitish – brownish in color and have a smooth surface. The longer they have been in tea, the darker they will be. The newest ones are the lightest and the babies are often somewhat transparent. The surface while starting silky smooth, often becomes more uneven due to air pockets and goofy forming of new SCOBYS. This is no problem. Whether ugly or pretty, it’s what’s inside that counts and they both produce great tea as long as they are healthy!
If you see mold, remove the SCOBY immediately and throw out that batch of tea and starter. Thoroughly wash container with soap and do a vinegar rinse. You must start with both fresh tea AND starter. Mold on a SCOBY looks very similar to bread mold. It is very rare that this happens. Having enough starter for each new batch helps to prevent mold from forming.
Please feel free to send us an e-mail with questions as you brew using the contact us page above. We love to hear your stories and it helps us to know what to cover for the classes to come. We hope you love making your Kombucha as much as we love making ours.
Cheers to your health!
Jamie and Michelle
Kombucha Mama, 1470 NE 1st St. Suite 700, Bend