Oh fermentation. I’ve got a big ole fat crush on you and all of the yummy things you create! I’ve been interested in trying to brew my own kombucha at home but you know me, I’m a visual person and like to see something done by an expert first. Luckily, my friends at the Beacon Food Forest had a 101 class a few months ago that I eagerly signed up for. Three delish samples and 1.5 hours later and I felt like I could totally do this at home.
By no means am I an expert, but I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned so far. If you love kombucha as much as I do, but hate the $4+ price tag for a single bottle, well then home brewing just might be the way for you to go!
DIRECTIONS for Continuous Brewing
*Generously provided by Rowan Maya Lang*
1 kombucha mother (aka SCOBY) in 4 oz. of “starter” tea – you’ll need to get this from a homebrewer such as myself! Happy to share!
1 cup organic sugar
7 bags organic tea OR 1/4 cup loose leaf tea (green or black tea is preferred!)
1 large pot
1 fine-mesh strainer
2 two gallon wide mouth glass jars (PCC or brewing stores carry them for around $5 each) one for brewing and one for the SCOBY hotel if you continuous brew
1 gallon filtered or distilled water
1 square, clean cotton cloth, such as a napkin or bandanna
Rubber band or string to secure cloth over top of jar
1 straw for testing your first ferment
Smaller jars or bottles for final product or second fermentation (optional)
How to brew:
- Wash your hands and brewing containers thoroughly with soap and water to remove any unhealthy bacteria and reduce chances of mold or other contaminants.
- Bring 1 gallon of water to a roiling boil and stir in 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup loose leaf teas or tea bags. Remove from heat, cover and leave overnight to cool.
- When cool, pour your tea-sugar mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and into the 1 gallon wide mouth glass jar being sure to leave 3 to 4 inches of space at the top of the jar. You’ll want some leftover liquid for your SCOBY Hotel (mentioned in step 6 below). Slide your kombucha mother into the container along with the 4 oz. of starter tea. It should float nicely!
- Secure cloth with rubber band or string on the top of the jar and place it in a cupboard or closet where it will be undisturbed and out of direct sunlight for 5 to 10 days. Check every few days for mold, which will be a very obvious black, green or blue fuzz. A healthy brew will naturally grown strands of yeast, which appear as gold or brown strands in the liquid hanging from the bottom of the mother. A normal mixture will also grow a “baby” on the top of the tea-sugar mixture, even if the mother has sunk to the bottom. It will start our as a thin, milky white membrane and will grow in thickness.
- At day 5, have a little taste of your tea. A straw is an easy tool for checking! You may like it sweet/tart and mildly fermented at days 5 to 7 or if you find it’s too sweet, then let it brew for a few more days. Check daily until desired acidity is reached. Fermentation speeds up in the hot summer months and slows way down in the wintertime. Add a heating pad or a string of lights in the winter months helps keep fermentation speedy.
- Once your kombucha is at your preferred taste level, remove the mother and baby with clean hands. Peel them apart and place one in the second wide mouth jar (SCOBY Hotel) and pour 4 oz. of leftover tea-sugar liquid to cover. The other SCOBY will stay in the current jar with it’s own 4 oz. of fermented liquid to repeat the process!
- Strain kombucha tea through fine-mesh strainer basket into your small jars. Refrigerate and enjoy!
DIRECTIONS for Continuous Brewing – Second Fermentation (where you can add flavors and get a ton of fizz!)
1 batch of first ferment
2 hinged bottles
2 teaspoons of sugar (split between the bottles)
4 tablespoons of fruit juice, freshly peeled ginger or frozen fruit (split between the bottles)
How to brew:
- Add 1 teaspoon sugar and 2 tablespoons of fruit juice, fresh peeled ginger, fresh or frozen fruit or other yummy flavored loose leaf tea to each bottle. This step provide sugars for the yeast to eat up to create the C02 for that extra fizz.
- Top off bottles with your first ferment, leaving 1 inch of head space.
- Cap bottles and put in a dark, safe spot for up to two weeks. Again, a heating pad or string of lights is helpful at this stage to speed fermentation up. You’ll need to keep a close eye on your bottles though as second fermentation can take as few as 5 days with additional warmth being applied.
- Beware of fast-fermenting bottles and let them cool in the fridge before opening. Always open second ferment bottles in a bowl or container to catch the overflow!
Sound Homebrew Supply in Georgetown as all of the supplies you could ever think of. I got my funnel, thermometer and bottles from here. Support local businesses people!
I get about two large hinge lidded bottles (one liter each) out of kombucha first ferment, which leaves me with enough liquid to start the next batch.
Our kitchen isn’t super warm all of the time, so I’ve supplemented heat with a string of Halloween lights. No need for a fancy heating mat. They’ve kept my brew at a nice, warm 70-75 degrees! My first brew takes about 5 days and the second about 6 days on average.
I use painter’s tape to date each batch so I don’t forget when I started them.
If you are continuously brewing, you’re gonna need a SCOBY hotel. You’ll be able to hold your back up mothers in there and can rotate accordingly. As you start to build up your supply, you can gift them out to interested friends and family to start their own. How fun is that?!