Preparing my first batch of kombucha was a long ordeal. Like…quadruple the amount of time it would take a pokey, middle-aged granola bum who stops every so often to flip through Birds&Blooms and water her cucumber plants, long time. I’m talking about a solid two hours just filling a big jar with hot tea, making sure everything was well sterilized, and painfully measuring out ingredients, all for about two bottles of liquid.
But it was totally worth it, and with some practice, the prep is now considerably less time consuming. The process can seem intimidating at first, but after a couple batches, you’ll be a pro.
- Kombucha is a fermented, probiotic tea that has been around for about two thousand years and originated in China.
- The fermentation occurs when a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) digests the sugar and tea.
- Health Benefits:
- rich in antioxidants
- improves digestion and gut health
- 1 large glass jar
- rubber band + piece of breathable cloth
- 6-7 cups of water
- 4 tea bags (black tea)
- 1/2 cup of white sugar
- 1 cup of white vinegar OR starter liquid
- a SCOBY
| step 1 | Find a large glass jar that will be able to hold 8-9 cups of liquid. I used a two quart jar, but even something a little bigger would work better. Clean the jar with 1-2 T of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Swish it around the sides and pour it out.| step 2 | Add three cups of boiling water to the jar. Use a funnel if necessary. | step 3 | Add 4 tea bags. Make sure you used unflavored, black or green tea. Earl Grey, Chai, and other smoked or flavored teas will upset the scoby. | step 4 | Allow the tea bags to steep for 5-6 minutes. Then add 1/2 cup of white sugar to the hot tea and stir.| step 5 | Once the sugar is dissolved, add 3-4 cups of cold water to the tea and sugar mixture. | step 6 | Give it a good stir and wait 5-10 minutes for the mixture to cool. Then remove the tea bags, squeezing out any yummy liquid they might be hanging onto.| step 7 | Now add either 1 cup of starter liquid, which could be some leftover kombucha or the liquid your scoby came in, OR add 1 cup of white vinegar. | step 8 | The tea can be warm at this point, but if it’s too hot, give it more time to cool. A mixture that’s too hot might kill the scoby. Once the tea is cool, add the scoby. Make sure you leave a little room at the top of your jar. It can overflow. This jar was filled too high, so I poured off about a 1/2 cup of the liquid.| step 9 | Find a breathable cloth (meaning something cotton with a loose thread), and secure it with a rubber band or the band of a canning jar lid. | step 10 | Keep the jar in a warm, dry, preferably dark place for 1-2 weeks, depending on how fermented you want your kombucha to be. After a week, you can always take a taste and decide if you want to give it more time. I usually ferment my kombucha in a cabinet, but I know some people who prefer to leave it on their counter on even in their fridge. It’s up to you. Fermenting it in the fridge will take a little longer though.
- If your scoby smells strange or looks fuzzy, that’s a bad sign. Throw out your batch. It should look gelatinous and tan. However, scobies will look different depending on the amount of sugar you add, temperature, etc. Healthy scobies can come in all shapes and sizes.
- Your scoby will probably grow a baby! That’s a good thing. It means that the scoby is healthy. You can save the baby for future brews, compost it, or even use it as a face mask.
- If you want to get fancy and add flavor, check out this website for insight on second fermentation.
- If you are concerned that something isn’t right with your batch, throw it away. You are working with living organisms, and there is the possibility that something might go awry. Use caution. Don’t chance getting sick.
So tell me…
Have you ever made kombucha?
What’s your favorite flavor?