Last week, I wrote a bit about the health benefits of kombucha. Now, I’m sure you’re all super excited to get your hands dirty* and start making it yourself. So without further ado, I present you with my step-by-step guide to making your own kombucha! Remember to check in next week for some great kombucha recipes! *You really shouldn’t get your hands dirty when you’re making kombucha. More on that soon.
Ingredients needed for making kombucha
When you’ve decided to get started on your big kombucha adventure, there’s just a few things you’ll need to get going with the brewing. This is what you need to make a small batch of homemade kombucha (you can easily double the recipe):
- Your SCOBY/kombucha mother
- 4 oz (1 dl) starting liquid (kombucha tea that came with your SCOBY or a storebought bottle of kombucha without additives. Even apple cider vinegar works)
- 3 bags of pure green, black or white tea. I found that tea bags are easier than loose tea as it was quite difficult to strain away all of the tea afterward.
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- A 0.5 gallons (2 l) glass jar
- A cloth
- Flavorings such as berries, fruit, juices, spices, herbs (optional)
The first part of the mission is to get hold of a SCOBY. The fun thing about the kombucha mother is that once you start making your own kombucha, you only get more and more SCOBYs. So if you have friends who already brew their own kombucha, you can ask them and they probably have an extra one (and some starting liquid) that they can give you. If not, try looking online for communities where you might get hold of a SCOBY. It’s also possible to make your own kombucha mother from scratch. If all else fails, it’s possible to buy kombucha mothers from some health food shops or online (that’s what I ended up doing).
Kombucha making: step 1
- Wash your hands. Before you start, make sure you have clean and sanitized hands. This is very important as you don’t want any harmful bacteria in the mix – only the friendly ones. Also make sure you boil the jar and any utensils you’ll be using in the process.
- Brew the tea. Make a little less than the jar takes. Allow the tea bags to steep in hot water (do not bring to a boil) for about 30 minutes. Add sugar, stir until it is dissolved. Allow the tea to cool completely.
- Mix with the starting liquid. Pour the starting liquid into your sterilized jar, and mix in the cool tea. Make sure you don’t fill the jar up completely, there needs to be a bit of space in the jar (at least a couple of inches / 5 cm).
- Add your SCOBY and cover up. Place your SCOBY in the jar. Cover with a dishcloth or some paper towels, and seal with a rubber band.
- Store in a warm dark place. Now you just have to wait. Place the jar in your cupboard or any other suitable spot and sit back.
- Taste. After a few days, you can start tasting the kombucha. Depending on how you like it, your kombucha will be ready in everything from 3 days to two weeks – a week to ten days seems to be quite normal though. The longer you wait, the less sweet it will be. The first time it will be a bit tricky to find the time when it’s ready, but if you bought a kombucha from the store to use as starting liquid, you can taste this as a reference.
- During this time, the SCOBY should have become a lot bigger. However, if you see any mold, you need to trow everything out, including your SCOBY, and start again.
- When you’re satisfied with the taste, remove the SCOBY, cover it completely with kombucha from your fresh batch. If you’re hooked, you’re very welcome to use this SCOBY straight away in a new batch of kombucha. Or just store it in the fridge until it’s time for another batch.
Now you have your very own batch of kombucha! If you like, you can drink it like this. However, if you like, you can move on to the second phase of kombucha brewing, where the drink will becomer fizzy. You can also add some flavors to the mix, such as some pieces of fruit, berries, fruit juice, spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves …). Personally, I made three versions: one plain, one with dried blueberry powder and one with apricots.
Step 2: Second fermenting
- Pour the kombucha into an airtight, sterilized, glass jar or bottle. Add some spices or pieces of fruit if you like. Make sure the jar is not filled to the brim.
- Seal the jar very well, and set aside for about two more days.
- If you added fruit, strain the liquid. Store in the fridge for up to a month, and you’re done!