1. A SCOBY, which stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria & Yeast, is a starter culture where bacteria and yeast live (the good kind!) and eat away at the sugar and caffeine to ferment your tea. You can get them from Amazon, eBay, or even locally from Craigslist. They are not pretty. They are actually a bit freaky looking and slimy, but these are things you get over quickly when you start making delicious kombucha at home.
Each time you make a batch, you start with a SCOBY called the mother, and as it ferments, you get an additional SCOBY, which is called the baby.
2. Teabags to make the tea with. For each batch, you will make a gallon of tea, so you’ll need about 16 tea bags. Black and green teas tend to work the best, but I’ve heard of others using herbal teas if they are super sensitive to caffeine. The final fermented kombucha contains very little caffeine because it is eaten away by the SCOBY. I only suggest you buy organic tea bags because you want the best quality kombucha. For me, I buy Newman’s Own Organic Family-Sized Tea Bags which are great for making a big batch. Each tea bag is equivalent to 4 standard size tea bags, so I use 4 of them for each batch.
3. Stainless steel pot that can hold 4 quarts of water. You’ll need something that you can boil a gallon of water in, which is about 16 cups. I use a 6 quart pot, just so it has some extra room to boil up and it’s just easier to handle when I’m pouring out the tea later on.
4. A gallon sized glass jar in which the fermentation will take place. I have this one and it works great. It’s not supposed to be used for canning, which is fine because the tea shouldn’t be closed airtight and I don’t use it for anything else. It needs some breathing room in order to ferment, so you just close it with a piece of cloth and a rubber band.
5. Airtight glass bottles to store the finished kombucha in. I have collected many GT’s Kombucha bottles from before I started making my own kombucha, and I mostly use those and they work great. Flip top bottles are also a fun option and you can really see how carbonated your kombucha is because of the way the tops pop up.
Along with these items, you’ll need organic cane sugar, vinegar, and any type of flavorings you want to add. I didn’t start flavoring my kombucha until about my 5th batch. I didn’t want to complicate the process before I understood fully how it worked and perfected my steps. These days, I flavor mine with organic fruit juices, beet juice, ginger, lemon, vanilla extract, or whatever I’m in the mood for. You can play around with it.
As for the carbonation level, your first few batches may not be as fizzy as you’d like. Be patient. As you keep making your kombucha, the SCOBY will mature and your kombucha will keep getting better and better, and carbonate really well. Also, the warmer it is, the faster the kombucha will ferment and carbonate. Hope this helps! Now go forth and brew!
- 1 kombucha SCOBY
- 16 organic black or green tea bags or 4 jumbo family-sized tea bags
- 1 gallon filtered water (or 16 cups)
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 1 gallon glass jar
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup fruit juice (optional)
- Before beginning, clean all equipments and utensils with a paper towel moistened with white vinegar.
- In a large pot, boil 1 gallon of water.
- After it starts boiling, dunk the tea bags in the water and remove the pot from heat.
- Pour sugar into the tea and stir with a clean wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves.
- Let the sweetened tea sit for several hours until it reaches room temperature. Sometimes I do this process at night so it cools overnight.
- Once the tea is cooled, take out and discard the tea bags and pour the tea into a gallon glass jar.
- Drop the SCOBY into the jar on top of the tea and pour 1 cup of white vinegar on top.
- Cover the top with a cloth and close it with a rubber band.
- Leave in a dark place at room temperature and out of sunlight for 6-10 days. The warmer the temperature, the shorter the fermentation time.
- On the 6th or 7th day, taste the kombucha. It's ready when it tastes sour and not too sugary.
- Now is the time to flavor the kombucha, if you like. Take out the SCOBY (there should be 2: the mother and the baby). Add 1 cup of fruit juice and stir.
- Pour out the kombucha into airtight bottles. Fill them up almost all the way to the top.
- Close the lid tightly and and keep them again in a dark place at room temperature for 3-5 days.
- On the 3rd day, you can open up a bottle to see the carbonation level.
- Once fully carbonated to your liking, store in the refrigerator so it slows down the fermentation process.
Don't forget about your bottles while they are fermenting at room temperature! If it's too carbonated, the bottles can explode. Set an alarm to check them.
You can store the SCOBY in a glass jar submerged in a little bit of kombucha until you are ready to make your next batch.
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