Kombucha How To

straining the berries

I love kombucha! As I was sitting here having a glass and thinking about my neglected blog, I remembered I had taken some pics when I made my last batch. I did this so I could do a post on how I make it. (This is for you, E!) Of course, this how-to begins with a SCOBY in possession. If you don’t have one, here’s a great primer for how to make one:
How to grow a SCOBY.

There are also websites devoted to sharing SCOBYs. Here’s a group on facebook:
Facebook Kombucha Group

Any questions? Feel free to ask in the comment section or on my facebook page.

Once you have obtained a SCOBY, you need to make sure you have the right kind of tea. The kinds I have seen most recommended are green, black, and oolong. I personally use a combination of 1 black to 3 green or oolong. (This is to reduce caffeine) Just make sure it isn’t a flavored tea. I also always buy organic tea, because I’ve read that non-organic tea has a higher level of flouride. This is what I am currently using:
good tea

I start by heating a teapot of water. Using filtered water is very important. You don’t want to kill your SCOBY with chlorinated water. While this is heating, I pour 1 cup of sugar into a gallon jar.
UPDATE: I now use turbinado sugar exclusively.
sugar in jar

I then pour the hot water into the jar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the tea bags.
sugar water and tea

I set the jar on the little rack so that it will cool faster. I usually just leave the tea bags in until the water is cool. You can remove them sooner, if preferred. Once the tea is cooled, remove the tea bags if you haven’t already. Then add filtered water so that the jar is approximately 5/8 full.
ready for SCOBY

At this point, I need to warn the faint of heart there is graphic material ahead. If you like science and science projects, you will probably be fine. And if you ever hope to brew your own kombucha, you will have to forge ahead. But if you are the least bit squeamish and have never seen a picture of a SCOBY, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Okay, then, here we go…

My SCOBY is in a bowl, where I keep it after I pour up the last ferment. This is because my only other gallon jar is holding my backup SCOBYs. It is soaking in some of the last brew. I cover it with a plate while I’m brewing the tea. Here it is, in the bowl:
SCOBY

Weird looking, huh? Okay, here comes the weirder part. I’m going to pour the brew from the bowl into the tea and then pick up the SCOBY and place it on top, like so:
holding SCOBY

and

ready to ferment

You have to be sure your hands are totally clean when you do this. And make sure they’re dry so you don’t have chlorine on your hands. In fact, make sure everything is very clean, because you don’t want to grow something unwanted. Like mold. (Eww) Sometimes I move it around to get as many air bubbles out as I can. Sometimes it sinks to the bottom. So far, it’s always brewed more kombucha and grown another thin SCOBY. I keep my extras in the fridge in a SCOBY hotel in case mine meets a sudden demise.

Make sure the edge is dry all around the top of the jar, then put a piece of cheesecloth over it and hold it in place with a rubber band.
ready for cupboard

Now it’s ready for a nice warm spot. I keep mine in the cupboard. Brew time can take from one to three weeks. Mine is ready at seven to nine days. (Nine if I forget to pour it up) Keep checking and you’ll figure out in time how you like yours to taste. Mine has a slightly sour taste, which is not unpleasant at all. It’s not strong, doesn’t burn, and doesn’t taste like vinegar to me, but doesn’t taste sweet either. It’s kind of like the sour you’d get from squeezing some lemon in. So, maybe tart is a better word than sour. Yeah, tart. Once it’s ready, I pour it up into my bottles. I used the kind with stopper tops. (Bought them at Marshall’s/Home Goods) You can also use old kombucha bottles if you have some saved. Once you pour it up, you can then add some flavoring if you like. I have been adding some elderberries, because they are supposed to be great for the immune system and for fighting colds and flu. I buy them here. I put about 2 tablespoons in the jar and then pour the tea in. I don’t like to fill mine all the way to the top.
elderberry kombucha

The berries will float to the top.
elderberries at top

I then let it sit out for the rest of the day and put it in the fridge before I go to bed. It’s ready to drink the next day, but it gets better after a couple of days and the berries have had time to infuse. I use a little strainer when I pour it into my glass. Sometimes I’ll mash the berries, then throw them away, and sometimes I’ll pour them back into the bottle. So good!
straining the berries

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade. Check it out to see what other food renegades are doing/eating/learning!

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10 Responses to Kombucha How To

  1. Thank you so much for this post, you are so sweet. I started my SCOBY and cant wait for my first batch of kombucha!

  2. Dawn Farias says:

    Thanks for visiting and commenting on blog!

    I have been reading how to posts for kombucha today and so was excited to see yours. I hadn’t read about the filtered water part and was just going to use tap water. Hmm…

  3. Tammy says:

    I started my first batch of Kombucha today. Where did you get such a cool jar for brewing?

  4. Katherina says:

    Just inherited a mother and am searching around the internet for guidance – thank you for this post! And yeah, what a cool jar!

  5. Rachel says:

    Is that turbinado sugar shown in the photo? I use it too, and it is a light brown color, so was wondering about the white sugar in your jar.

  6. Hi, Rachel. I started out using white sugar, then about a year ago I switched to turbinado sugar. I’ve had total success with it, but am in the process of switching to rapidura. From what I understand, it’s less processed than the turbinado. Of course, it costs more. :)
    The only difference I found in using the turbinado for my kombucha is that the SCOBY is darker. Still works the same though!
    ~Karen

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