Supplies You Will Need
Kombucha SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast)
1 cup kombucha beverage from your last batch (or the liquid your new scoby arrived in, if this is your first time brewing). If you forget to save kombucha from your last batch use 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar.
1-gallon wide mouth glass jar (cookie-jar style, not mason) or Pyrex bowl. Do not use metal, ceramic, or plastic. Make sure the opening is quite large, as your kombucha needs to breath. Target carries a nice inexpensive gallon-sized glass jar in the kitchen section. I like to have two on hand so I can remove my scoby from the previous kombucha batch at the last minute, rather than let it sit out for a couple of hours while the new batch cools.
Tape, if using a Pyrex bowl
Black teabags (you can experiment with green tea and oolong after your kombucha is well established, if you like)
Pot for boiling, at least 4 quarts capacity
Clean white dishcloth
For First Time Brewers: If I sent you a scoby you received either a whole, round scoby or a piece of a scoby. (If multiple people are requesting scobys I often divide it into several pieces). If you received a piece of a scoby then follow the directions below just as if you had a whole one.
Your first batch of kombucha will grow you a brand new, round scoby. Simply peel the piece of the scoby fragment off the top, and use the new round scoby as your "mother" in future batches. Your new scoby might look lumpy or have air bubbles: this is normal. Future scoby "babies" will most likely develop smoother and with a more even texture. Feel free to exchange your old mother for one of these babies if you like.
Making a fresh batch:
Bring 3 quarts of water to boil in a stainless steel, glass, or enamel pot. Add 1 1/2 cup of white sugar and boil for five minutes. It is very important to use white sugar and not whole sugar, brown sugar, or evaporated cane juice. It seems counter intuitive, but the kombucha really grows better on white sugar.
Take the sugar water off the burner. It is time to add tea. Use six tea bags or six teaspoons of loose leaf tea.
If you are using black tea add it at this time, let the tea steep for 10 minutes, then remove.
In the future if you use green or oolong tea wait until the water cools down to 18o degrees F to prevent bitter tea. Steep for ten minutes.)
Note: the first several times you brew kombucha it is probably a good idea to stick with black tea until you know you are producing good results.
Never us herbal tea in your kombucha! It needs real tea from the camellia sinensis plant. Also, do not use decaffeinated tea.
Cool the tea in the pot for half an hour. Pour into the gallon jar, and let cool until barely warm or room temp, about 2 ½ more hours.
As soon as it is cool, add the 1 cup of kombucha from your previous batch (or the kombucha tea that was included with your new scoby.
Gently remove the kombucha scoby from your previous batch of kombucha. It will have produced a brand new layer (the baby) on top of your original (the mother) scoby. Peel these two layers apart. The scoby on the bottom is your mother. Add it to your new batch of kombucha, laying it gently on top of the sugar-tea solution in the jar. It may float, or it may sink; it doesn't matter. Sinking scobys often rise to the surface after a few days, and if they don't, the new baby scoby forms on the surface anyway.
Cover the jar with a fresh, clean white dishcloth, handkerchief, or birds-eye cloth diaper. Do not use cheesecloth. The cloth needs to let air in but keep all dust and bugs out. Secure with a rubber band. If you are using a Pyrex bowl make an X with tape across the top of the bowl. Drape the cloth over the X; it will keep the cloth from dipping into the kombucha. Keep it in a dry, warm place away from sunlight. A kitchen cupboard works well.
Brew this new kombucha for 7-14 days. I personally like the flavor after about 7 days, but it varies depending on my kitchen temperature.
Try not to disturb the jar before it is finished. After day seven taste to see if it is to your liking. The shorter it sits the sweeter it will be. The longer it sits the more like vinegar it will taste.
When it is finished, repeat the above instructions.
If this is the first time you are using your new scoby: For your first brewing with a new scoby that was shipped to you, I recommend brewing for a full 14 days in order to make sure that you have a good, strong, healthy new scoby. The new baby scoby that grows on top of the old scoby that was shipped to you will become your new "mother." Discard or compost the old one.
The resulting kombucha from this longer brew time will be very strong, and you may or may not want to drink it. It is perfectly fine to do so, and when I find that a brew is too strong for me I often dilute it half and half with water.
The next time you brew you can brew for any length of time that you like.
Your newly harvested batch:
You now have a new, baby scoby. You can keep it and brew two batches of kombucha at once (follow the above directions). You can also gift it to someone else and spread the kombucha love! Or you can compost it or throw it away.
You now have a fresh jar of kombucha tea from your previous batch. Pour yourself a glass and enjoy! Fresh kombucha is nice and sweet with lots of bubbles! After you pour it into a storage container it looses most of its fizz. I like to enjoy that first fizzy glass right away. J
I store the rest of my kombucha in a ½ gallon growler jug with a screw-on lid. The narrow mouth is easy to pour from, and it stores well in the fridge. I store the extra in a bale-top soda pop bottle. You can use any container you like: ice tea pitcher, mason jar, or whatever you have handy.
You are done! Sit back for a week and enjoy your kombucha while you wait for your next batch to ripen.
Important: A warning about cross-contamination. If you are raising several different cultures in your kitchen (kefir, kombucha, water crystals, fermented veggies, ginger bug, sourdough, yogurt, villi, or other cultures) it is very important to avoid cross-contamination. Each of your cultures are unique, and are made up of their own blend of bacteria and yeasts. If allowed to come in contact with one another, your cultures will no longer be pure, and can give unexpected results.
If you use utensils in common, be sure to wash very well in hot, soapy water. Store your cultures in separate pasts of your kitchen. If you are working with more than one in a given day be sure to clean up the area you are working in completely. Wash all dishes you use well, clean off the counters of any drips and spills.
Also, when using soap to clean your kombucha brewing gear, be absolutely sure that all soapy residues are washed away. Antibacterial soap, even the tiniest amount, can kill off the bacteria in your scoby. ……………………………………………………………….
Storing your Kombucha over vacations
Kombucha is very "vacation friendly." Brew a batch as usual. Cover it with the cloth and leave it in a warm dark place. You can leave it as is for a week to several months! If your trip is longer than 10-14 days your brew will be very sour. Longer than that and it will not be drinkable at all (though you could probably use it as vinegar)
When you come home make a fresh sugar-tea batch and add your scoby. Brew as usual. Pour out the old batch.
Here are some helpful links:http://www.geocities.com/kombucha_ba...#SCOBY%20Sinkshttp://www.seedsofhealth.co.uk/ferme...kombucha.shtmlhttp://www.laurelfarms.com/about_lau...mbucha_tea.htmhttp://www.sulis-health.co.uk/kombucha/faq.shtml#q22