Follow this simple guide on how to make kombucha tea. Cheap, easy and effective, we will be surprised if you don’t get everyone brewing this “health elixir”. Read here on how drinking Kombucha could benefit you.
- 1 kombucha culture (or scoby)
- 2 litres of water
- 3 or 4 tea bags or 3 or 4 teaspoons of tea (green, white, or black tea)
- 160 grams of white sugar
- 200 ml of kombucha from a previous batch as a starter or 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar if you don’t have any kombucha.
- A 3 litre glass Pyrex bowl
- A tea towel for covering the bowl
- A rubber band or piece of elastic to secure the tea towel
- A teapot or saucepan to make the tea in
- A measuring jug that can measure 2 litres
- A scale to measure the sugar
- A strainer
- Some bottles for storing the finished drink
A Note on Cleanliness
Make sure everything is very clean when handling kombucha. It’s a living culture, a complex system of bacteria and yeasts and you don’t want risk contaminating it. Use freshly cleaned hands, clean jars and clean non metallic implements.
Make the tea
Make a pot of tea with the tea bags and leave it to brew for 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively add your tea to a saucepan and simmer it gently for 5 minutes.
Strain the tea into your measuring jug, add the sugar and stir it until it dissolves. Now add cold water to bring the tea up to 2 litres. Hot tea can kill the culture. It should be no more than blood heat before you add it to your culture, so if it’s still too warm then let it cool down before you add it to the bowl.
Making the brew
Add the starter.
Into the Pyrex bowl put the starter liquid from the previous batch of kombucha. If this is your first batch then use 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar as your starter, (It adds the acid environment the culture likes) or some commercial kombucha if you have some. Once you’ve made your first batch you’ll have your own kombucha to use as a starter on the next batch.
Pour the cool tea into the bowl.
Make sure your tea is cool before you add it to the kombucha culture! Hot tea can kill the culture. It should be no more than blood heat before you add it to your starter.
Add the kombucha scoby.
Pick up your scoby and slide it into the bowl. It will probably float but sometimes they sink. It will make no difference if it floats or sinks so don’t worry about it. If the scoby has a ‘dirty’ side where it’s darker in colour and has beard like brown bits sticking to it then put that side facing down into the tea. The brown bits are yeasts.
Cover it and leave it to ferment
Put your tea towel over the bowl and secure it with a rubber band or a piece of elastic. This keeps contamination out of your culture. Fruit flies especially like the smell of kombucha and can appear like magic out of thin air to lay their eggs in the scoby. So it’s important to cover it properly.
Checking The Brew
The fermentation will take 5-14 days depending on the temperature. If you check your brew after 2 or 3 days you’ll notice a scum forming on the surface. It’s not scum at all; it’s the first thin membrane of your new kombucha scoby.
Start tasting the brew after 4 or 5 days. Gently move the scoby aside and dip a spoon in to the liquid. When the kombucha is ready it should be neither too sweet nor too sour. This is rather a personal taste and will depend on how much sugar you want left in the brew. Some like it sweet but others prefer it sour. It’s up to you, so test it every day until its the way you like it.
When the kombucha is ready, with clean hands gently lift the mother culture and it’s offspring out onto a clean plate.
Strain the kombucha into your measuring jug leaving behind about 200ml in the bowl as a starter for the next batch.
Now fill your clean bottles with the kombucha, label them and store them in a cupboard or the fridge. You can use any kinds of bottles but some batches will be a lot fizzier than others and it’s a good idea to use pop bottles, like the Grolsh bottles, that have rubber gaskets on them. This kind of bottle will let out any excess pressure and prevent explosions!
After bottling your kombucha make up a second batch of tea for the culture and set your second brew to ferment.
Kombucha is ready to drink immediately, but storing the bottled kombucha for a month or two will give you will give you an even better drink. This kind of bottle conditioning can improve the flavour as any home wine brewer will know. The sugar continues to ferment a little, giving you lighter, drier taste and producing more fizz.
The kombucha will often grow little scobys on the top of the liquid in the bottles. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about but look out for them when you take your first mouthful!
You are now ready to drink your first home made kombucha!