Kombucha is great. It’s a lighter caffeine alternative to have in the morning. Or a refreshing carbonated drink to have during the day with the perfect level of sweetness. I even like using it as a cocktail mixer. It is fizzy and delicious and contains probiotics with provide beneficial bacteria to support your gut microbiome. I love drinking kombucha, but I don’t love the cost. I’ve seen kombucha sold anywhere from $3 to $7 per bottle. If you’re drinking a bottle of kombucha everyday, this adds up quick. I started brewing my kombucha as a cheaper method of obtaining kombucha- it’s also pretty easy to make. The majority of the process includes just letting the mixture sit and ferment.
Step 1: Obtain the SCOBY. I used a purchased SCOBY, you can however also make your own SCOBY if you wish to do so.
Step 2: Pick your ingredients. You will need tea, sugar, and filtered water. For the tea, you can use either green or black tea or a combination of the two. The sugar needs to be cane sugar. I had a really hard time with this and was really trying to avoid this ingredient and find substitutions with coconut sugar, honey, etc. However, through research I learned that you must use cane sugar or else the fermentation process will not work. You need to use ~1 cup of sugar as well. This is necessary for the fermentation to work. Do not be alarmed, you are not consuming 1 cup of pure cane sugar per gallon of kombucha made. The SCOBY “eats” the sugar during the fermentation process and only the remaining sugar is actually consumed on the kombucha. You will also need fruit to flavor the kombucha during the second fermentation process. Other items you will need to brew kombucha include a glass gallon jar, rubber band and cloth to over the glass jar, 6 individual air-tight glass bottles for the second fermentation, and a filter to transport the kombucha.
Step 3: Start brewing. With clean hands, place the SCOBY in the glass gallon jar. Bring 4 cups of filtered water to a boil. Add 1 cup of cane sugar and allow it to dissolve in the water. Add 4 tea bags and let seep in the water for ~10 minutes. Set this to the side until the water has cooled to room temperature. DO NOT add the hot water to the gallon jar, this could damage the SCOBY. Once cooled to room temperature, add the mixture to glass gallon jar via the filter. Fill the glass gallon jar to ~2 inches away from the top with cool, filtered water. Place the glass gallon jar in a room temperature and dim location.
Step 4: Do nothing. The SCOBY needs to ferment for 7-14 days. Start tasting the kombucha brew everyday starting at the 7 day mark to determine when the kombucha is ready for the second fermentation. If the kombucha brew tastes too sweet, allow it to keep brewing. If it tastes too vinegary, it has brewed for too long. This is more of an art than a science.
Step 5: Bottle the kombucha. This is the second fermentation process and takes ~1-3 days. You will place the kombucha brew into the air-tight bottles via the filter. Keep the SCOBY in the glass gallon jar filled to ~1-2 inches high with kombucha brew. This will be the starter brew for your next kombucha batch. In order to make carbonated kombucha, you will need to add cut fruit or fruit juice to the glass air-tight bottles. The kombucha needs sugar to become carbonated. Without the added fruit or juice, the kombucha will be flat with no carbonation. Let the bottled kombucha sit at room temperature for 1-3 days for the second fermentation process. After this, the bottles can be placed in the fridge. The cool temperature halts the fermentation process.
Congrats on making your first brew of kombucha! As previously stated, you can keep the SCOBY in the glass gallon jar at room temperature to immediately reuse for your next kombucha brew. If you ever want to take a break from brewing kombucha, you can save the SCOBY by placing it in the fridge in 1-2 inches of kombucha brew.