Brewing kombucha at home

Homebrewed kombuchaOh 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*

Supplies needed:
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:

  1. Wash your hands and brewing containers thoroughly with soap and water to remove any unhealthy bacteria and reduce chances of mold or other contaminants.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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!) (more…)

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