Yeah, so this post is not technically cooking or baking, but it is about making something that is pleasantly digestable so it counts. This post is inspired by the fact that I had a very difficult time finding information that I needed on how to make kombucha. After compiling information from a few different sites, I have come up with a recipe for about 1 gallon’s worth of kombucha that’s pretty simple and yields a great drink. The instructions are listed below:
What you’ll need:
– 1 gallon glass container (can use porcelain but MAKE SURE it does not contain lead. Kombucha is a detoxifier and as such will leech lead from the porcelain container if there is any.)
– 5-6 tsp loose leaf black tea or 5-6 bags of black tea
– 1 cup of white sugar
– Wooden Spoon
– White distilled vinegar
– 1 cup kombucha
– 1 kombucha scoby
– Coffee filter or fine cheese cloth and a rubber band
Before getting started, make sure your work area and all the tools are CLEAN. That’s where the vinegar comes in. Completely wash the glass container, wooden spoon, and work area with a vinegar/water solution of about 1/4 cup vinegar to 3/4 cup water. Once everything’s cleaned, you’re ready to start making kombucha. Do not use soap and water or bleach as these can kill the scoby.
Begin by boiling 4 cups of water. After it reaches a boil, turn heat off and let water sit a minute. Put the black tea or tea bags in the water and let steep for 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the sugar into the glass or porcelain container. After the tea has steeped, take out the bags or sift the loose leaf tea out and pour the tea into the container. Then stir with wooden spoon until sugar is disolved. Next, fill the container almost to the top with cool, purified water, leaving just enough room for the scoby and the kombucha. An important note is to make sure the water is not too hot, else you could kill the scoby. Room temperature is fine.
Finish by covering the top with a coffee filter or cheese cloth and secur with rubber band. This will keep away any bugs that are enticed by the sugary liquid. Move the container to a shaded, dry area of the house. If it’s summer in a humid area, make sure the room is air conditioned as the moisture in the air can increase the chances of mold. The kombucha poured in as a starter also helps with mold by lowering the pH to a more acidic level to start.
Now you play the waiting game. The average wait time is between one and three weeks. Factors such as temperature and taste preference come into play here. If you prefer sweeter, wait less time, and if you prefer more sour, wait longer. Also, if it’s hot, the kombucha will ferment faster versus during the colder seasons. After about 7 days, taste a little sample and wait or start bottling according to your preference.
Here are some tips and extra information regarding the kombucha:
-If at any point you see mold STOP! Get rid of the scoby and all the drink, clean container thoroughly, and start again. Ingesting mold can cause illness and overall just isn’t any fun to deal with.
-Before buying a scoby, look around in your community. Because scobies form a new one when kombucha’s made, people end up with many scobies before long. Those that make kombucha tend to share them with friends, family, and their community so check listings like craigslist first. If unable to find any, several sites exist that sell great cultures.
–Flavoring kombucha is an easy and fun activity that adds a bit of excitement to an already great drink. Simply add a small amount of juice or a few berries, ginger pieces, etc to the bottles used for bottling. Leave the bottles out for a day or two to absorb the flavors and continue to carbonate then place in fridge. Cooling will halt further carbonation.
-To bottle, first remove cultures (along with about a cup each of new kombucha) and place in jars for storage. Next pour kombucha in ez-cap bottles or any glass bottle with a plastic lid. I personally reuse kombucha bottles that I bought from stores like Whole Foods OR I use Grolsch bottles (after finishing the beer of course). Some people recommend buying the ez-cap bottles online; however, they are almost just as expensive as the Grolsch bottles and have no beer inside. Therefore, Grolsch bottles are definitely the better deal.
-For storing kombucha, place the cultures with a cup of komucha in very clean glass jars. They can stored either in the fridge or in a cubbard. Many people choose to put them in a dry cubbard; however, I always end up growing more that way so I put them in the fridge, which makes them hibernate. Simply take them out before you start boiling the water so they have time to wake up a little.
Well, this concludes the basic how-to for kombucha making. Making one’s own kombucha is a great way to save money and connect to the earth in an interesting way–through fermentation. Good luck and happy brewing!