Simply put, kombucha is fermented tea. A culture of bacteria called SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), sometimes called “the mother,” consumes the sugar in a fermentation process just like yeast does in beer.
The result is a tangy, semi-sweet fermented tea with a very low level of alcohol–typically below 1% ABV. It can be carbonated, making for a bubbly elixir, and combined with other ingredients like fruit or spices to open up even more flavor possibilities.We recommend using Oregon Kombucha Starter Kits. They let you brew your own delicious kombucha at home. Each kombucha starter kit contains a live culture and enough organic tea to make ONE gallon!
What You Will Need:
- Oregon Kombucha Starter Kit- 1/2 cup of sugar.
- A large pot to boil water.
- A long handled spoon.
- A 5 Liter Kombucha brewing jar to brew your kombucha.
- A clean warm place to brew your kombucha batch
Preparation Is Key:
Before putting anything in your fermentation crock, it will need to be sterilized. This will help you avoid contamination and other problems that your first kombucha brew could encounter.To Make A One-Gallon Batch:
- Boil a gallon of water in a large pot.
- Turn off heat, add the enclosed tea big teabag or if you are providing your own tea, 10-12 regular size tea bags and stir. Remove tea bags in 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in one cup of sugar.
- Let it cool to room temperature.
- Pour the cool sweet tea into your 5 Liter Kombucha brewing jar.
- Add the entire contents of the live culture packet. No need to stir, but all of the liquid is essential to growing kombucha.
- Cover the 5 Liter Kombucha Brewing Jar with the included lid.
Your Brewing Jar:
While we recommend the 5 Liter Kombucha Brewing Jar. This is the first-ever fermentation crock to be designed specifically for kombucha brewing. It comes complete with its own filter and tap valve and allows you to brew and store your own kombucha in one container, removing the need to bottle The tap valve allows you to pour right from the crock. The re-writable label at the top of the crock makes it easy to identify each batch. However, you can use any clean, non-metal, food-grade container. A one gallon, wide-mouth glass jar is great. A large glass or ceramic bowl or a big plastic pitcher will also work. No matter what container you use, be sure to wash the container well, and let it air dry. Do not use a container that has been used to ferment other foods, keep your Kombucha Brewing Jar for Kombucha. Cover your jar with a tight-weave towel or coffee filter and secure with a rubber band.
Occasionally, mold will grow on a batch. Mold looks dry, powdery or fuzzy and is always on the surface. Anything growing under the scoby is not mold. If you touch mold it, it will rub off on your finger. Adding a bit of vinegar helps to avoid mold, about 3 Tbs of of cheap, pasteurized vinegar to any batch when you start it.Following the directions and keeping the batch close to 80-90 degrees eliminates 96% of mold. Avoid brewing near old wooden cabinets, old books or carpet, over ripe fruit, or lots of houseplants. Dust is a mold source so make sure your kombucha is well covered. Wash your hands before working with your kombucha. Keep your batch away from drafts - open windows, AC units or vents. Mold is rare, but if you see it, destroy the batch and sanitize the equipment.Kombucha needs good ventilation.
The 5 Liter Kombucha brewing jar works with a water seal and a cloth filter, which creates a perfect environment for fermentation and a clean environment. If you are using your own Kombucha Jar, be sure to keep the cloth cover used to keep your batch clean lightweight. You want air to pass through so the kombucha can breathe. Fold cheesecloth over 4 or 5 times to avoid contamination.
What Is That Blob Anyway?
If you are fortunate enough to see that blob floating on top of your Kombucha, you have a new scoby! It will look like a thin film of jelly at first, then become thicker. It can be white or brown, smooth, lumpy or bubbly. It can grow long slimy brown arms underneath. It can sink for no reason, and another new scoby can start. It will look wet or slippery or slimy on top. It may grow into layers that can be separated.The little scoby that come in the package usually sinks and stays at the bottom. All this is normal and healthy.
How Soon Until My Kombucha Is Ready?
After 7 or 8 days taste a sample. This is easily done with the attached spigot. If you are using your own Kombucha jar, use a clean spoon. Taste it every few days. It will taste less like sweet tea and more like tangy kombucha each day. It is ready to drink when it tastes good to you, usually 15-25 days.
Does it matter what type of water I use? The general answer is, if the water tastes good to you and is safe to drink….you can make Kombucha with it.
Flavor and Alcohol
The fermentation process of making Kombucha will produce between ½% and 1% alcohol. This is not “a-lot” but it is in there.If you are using the preferred Oregon Kombucha Starter Kits, you will have your flavor tea already. Adventures in Homebrewing also offers a selection of Oregon Kombucha flavored teas. These teas are flavored and pre-measured to make 1 gallon Kombuchas.
Oregon 1 Ounce Teas From Austin Homebrew Supply
Your Kombucha Likes It Warm
Kombucha needs a warm environment to thrive. This is the most important part of the instructions! Keep your batch warm! Kombucha brews best around 80 degrees.You don’t have to warm your whole house. For best results, set the batch next to a heating pad. If in doubt, it is better to keep you batch a little too warm.
Your Kombucha Likes It Sweet
Granulated sugar works best, organic or non-organic. Use one cup of sugar per gallon. Most of the sugar is used during fermentation. The culture eats the sugar to create kombucha.
You Kombucha Is Finished, Now what?
Once finished, remove the scoby and 2 cups of the kombucha you just made from the jar. You can use these to start another batch. To add bubbles, let the bottles sit at room temperature for a few days to build up carbonation, then refrigerate. The 5 Liter Kombucha Brewing Jar
Want Your Kombucha Bottled?
For bottling, you’ll need about 4 liter-sized bottles or 8 to 10 22 oz. bottles. I prefer flip-top bottles, but any of your various stocked up bottles should do. Sanitize the bottles, caps, funnel, and strainer. You can use a funnel with a built-in strainer.
By bottling your kombucha, you have moved it to the secondary fermentation. Allow the kombucha to ferment another week to ten days in the bottles in the refrigerator. Allowing your kombucha to ferment in secondary will increase carbonation. If you like your kombucha less bubbly and carbonated, you may not want to let it ferment in secondary as long. It will stay good in the fridge for months. Drink Up!
Now, That Next Batch…
Use the scoby and 2 cups of kombucha that you saved from the previous batch. Taste a sample from the 2 cups. If it is sour you are ready to start a second batch. If it still tastes sweet, you will need to let it ferment longer. Put the 2 cups and the scoby back in the brew container and back in its warm place and let it sit until it is sour, probably another week. Brew another gallon of tea, add one cup sugar, stir and cool. Add the 2 cups of kombucha from the first batch. Add a piece of the scoby. Any size piece will work. Repeat, place in your Kombucha Brewing container and start all over again.