I love kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that contains probiotics. It is a refreshing carbonated drink to have during the day that contains the perfect level of sweetness. I even like using kombucha as a cocktail mixer. 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 learned how to brew kombucha as a cheaper method of obtaining kombucha. I am by no means an expert, but I’m going to share the process that I follow to brew kombucha and I’ve found the results to be pretty consistent.
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 3/4-1 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 juice 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 4-6 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 step is more of an art than a science in my opinion.
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 fruit juice to the glass air-tight bottles. The kombucha needs sugar to become carbonated. I have tried using whole fruit for the second fermentation, however, I have personally found more success using fruit juice to achieve carbonation. Without the added fruit 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. Release the pressure in the bottle from the carbonation by opening it slightly everyday. After 1-3 days, the bottles can be placed in the fridge. The cool temperature halts the fermentation process and makes the kombucha a pleasant, cool temperature to drink.
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.