How to Make Kombucha: Brewing Your 1st Batch

118 How to Make Kombucha: Brewing Your 1st Batch

The last time I posted about making your own kombucha, I included a rather unsightly photo of a SCOBY. Sorry about that.

Appearances aside, I thought it was important for you to see what the kombucha “mother” should look like. It isn’t pretty (and the SCOBY gets thicker and more unattractive over time, trust me).

MG 5488 How to Make Kombucha: Brewing Your 1st Batch

The finished product, however, is worth your time and a lot easier on the eyes.

Here are a few of the reported health benefits of kombucha (according to the Kombucha Kamp website):

  • Kombucha contains probiotics (healthy bacteria) that can help improve digestion
  • It alkalizes the body to help balance ph (one of the goals of the Crazy Sexy Diet style of eating)
  • Kombucha can help increase energy
  • It’s high in antioxidants that can help destroy cancer-causing free-radicals

Please note that  this information is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended to replace the advice or attention of health-care professionals. 

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Health benefits aside, I also happen to like the slightly acidic, apple-cider-vinegar-like flavor. There’s something addictive about it.

MG 5504 How to Make Kombucha: Brewing Your 1st Batch

And in addition to saving nearly $4 every time a kombucha craving strikes, one of the great parts of brewing your own is that you can play around with the sweetness (a longer fermentation period will yield a less sweet, more acidic kombucha) and also the flavors. I went with a blueberry kombucha this time, adding in just a couple of tablespoons of frozen berries before I bottled it. I also really like strawberry and mango, and I’m looking forward to making a ginger version soon.

MG 5521 How to Make Kombucha: Brewing Your 1st Batch

The fruit creates this awesome natural carbonation, making the kombucha extra fizzy and fun to sip. And if you’re worried about the strands of yeast (you’ll often see them at the bottom of the liquid), it’s really easy to strain those out, rinse them down the drain, and pretend they never existed. I also like to pretend the SCOBY never existed.

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Garnish your kombucha with a few mint leaves for a pretty, non-alcoholic, and good-for-you beverage. Or add a shot of tequila, vodka, whatever. Sometimes, that can be good for your soul.

Homemade Kombucha5.0 from 2 reviewsPrintRecipe type: DrinkAuthor: Amanda Maguire | Adapted from kombuchakamp.comServes: 12 C. KombuchaIngredients

  • 1 Kombucha Scoby (the “mother”)
  • 2 C. Kombucha Liquid from Previous Batch, taken from the top of the jar
  • 12 C. Water
  • 5 Bags of Organic Green or Black Tea (or 5 Tbs. looseleaf tea)
  • 1 C. Sugar (I used Raw Turbinado)
  • 1 Gallon Glass Jar
  • Clean Cloth or Paper Towels
  • Rubber Band
  • Glass Jars with Plastic Lids for Bottling
  • Fruit for Flavoring the Kombucha (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, bring 12 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add 1 C. of sugar to the boiling water and stir to dissolve.
  3. Turn off the stove and add 5 bags of organic green or black tea (or 5 tablespoons of loose leaf tea). I used green tea.
  4. Cover the pot to prevent the mixture from evaporating and allow it to come to room temperature. This will take some time, but it’s important that the mixture has cooled before moving on to the next step or you’ll kill all that good bacteria in the kombucha liquid.
  5. Once the water/sugar/tea mixture has cooled to room temperature, remove the tea bags and pour the mixture into a large glass jar (I used a 1 gallon biscotti jar from Williams Sonoma).
  6. Using clean hands, add the kombucha scoby to the tea mixture, followed by 2 cups of the reserved kombucha. It’s okay if the scoby sinks to the bottom of the jar.
  7. Cover the top of the jar with a clean dish towel or 2 layers of paper towels and secure it with a rubber band. This will keep fruit flies and other bugs out, while still allowing air to circulate.
  8. Place the jar in a warm, dark spot (I chose the top, back shelf in my pantry) where it won’t be disturbed, and allow it to to sit for about 7 days before taking a peek. You should see a thin, cloudy-looking film growing over the top of the mixture – this is a new baby scoby!
  9. Insert a straw below the baby scoby and taste the kombucha. You’ll know it’s ready to bottle when it has an apple cider vinegar taste and isn’t overly sweet.
  10. If the kombucha still tastes sugary, allow the mixture to ferment for 3-7 more days, tasting every so often until it meets your taste preferences.
  11. Once the kombucha is ready, prepare your glass jars. You can add a small amount of fresh or frozen fruit (for example, a tablespoon or two of blueberries, strawberries, ginger, whatever you like) to the empty jars.
  12. Pour the kombucha into the jars, straining out the yeast strands if you like.
  13. Fill the jars to the very top and make sure to use plastic lids (metal can erode). The less air in the jar, the more natural carbonation will take place and the more fizzy your finished product will taste. Fruit will also create carbonation.
  14. Allow the bottled kombucha to ferment for 1-3 more days in a warm, dark spot, making sure to “burp” the jars every so often to release any pressure. This is important, as the jars can explode if carbonation builds up!
  15. After the 2nd fermentation, move the bottled kombucha to the fridge to prevent further fermentation.
  16. Enjoy (and repeat this process for your next batch)!

Notes

If at any point during the process you notice green mold forming in the mixture, toss it and start over. This can happen when the liquid isn’t acidic enough, which is why it’s so important to add that full 2 cups of the bottled kombucha.

The time it takes for the kombucha to ferment is very much dependent on environmental factors and it’s not an exact science. If you find, for example, that the kombucha tastes acidic enough at 6 days instead of 7, for example, go ahead and move on to the bottling process. I personally find that 10 days is about how long it takes to get the right flavor.

Each time you brew kombucha, a new scoby will grow on top. It’s a good idea to save a few as back-ups in case something happens to your original scoby. To do this, simply add your leftover scoby to a glass jar, cover with finished kombucha liquid, and close the jar using a lid (not a towel) to prevent the kombucha liquid from evaporating (a metal lid is okay as long as the liquid isn’t touching it). Store the jar in a warm, dark place.

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Have you tried kombucha before? Did you like it, or were you not a fan? What’s your favorite flavor?

For instructions on how to grow your own SCOBY, check out this post.

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