As home ferment is on the rise so is the delicious art of Kombucha brewing. If you’ve never heard of it, kombucha is a fermented tea-like drink with natural living probiotic bacteria making it excellent for your gut and health! It is known to be sweet and tart with a bit of carbonation, and can come in any flavor you decide to brew with…
Thought I’d share the steps you need in order to make your Kombucha:
You will need a starter ‘SCOBY’ (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast- the bacteria motherload). I purchased an entire kit since it seemed cheaper than buying the pH strips, scoby, and extras separately, plus I wanted a little instruction to get me going. You can make your own scoby if desired but will take a little more time planning and growing the bacteria first- that isn’t outlined here though.
Once you have a scoby you can do this using any tea you’d Iike for flavor, black varieties are suggested for optimal flavors but I chose mint since it is a summer staple and my absolute favorite. The first batch I made was using a plain black tea adding fresh ginger and only a few mint leaves to steep. It had a strong ginger flavor almost like ginger beer, great for drink mixers!
When making your tea you will need some headspace in the jar using to ferment.. i.e. I had a two gallon jar and made about a gallon and a half of tea. This isn’t rocket science but you can surely follow exact cup measurements for tea/sugar proportions for a gallon size and scale from there. I used a little over1C sugar for my mint batch. Organic cane sugar is suggested to reduce chemical additives and keep the Kombucha as wholesome as possible.
IF YOU’VE NEVER HOME BREWED MINT (or other) TEA BEFORE:
1. Fill large pot with water and bring to boiling
2. In order to prevent burning leaves or getting a bitter taste, shut off heat at boiling and add your bundle of mint, or tea bags filled with flavor of choice, stirring and pressing to release flavors
3. Add sugar, stir, and let brew for 10-30 minutes depending on how strong you like your flavors or how busy you are doing other things– tea is easy to just leave on the stovetop and get back to later!
4. Strain leaves and filter into your fermenting jar.
Most kits come with just a glass pickle jar, but I wanted to make a continuous brew system so I can keep my tea going all summer long, so I opted for a $8 jar with a spout on it- you can use either as long as it is glass and cleaned well before use.
Once your tea reaches room temperature in its new fermenting jar, around 70’F, you can add the SCOBY along with a bit of culture from its original thriving juices. Each time you make a batch of tea hereout, remember to save about a cup of the tea your scoby has been living in so it can start re-fermenting properly otherwise you will need distilled white vinegar as a substitute.
Kombucha should sit covered with a close-knit cloth (can use a coffee filter too) secured tightly with a rubber band for at least a week to up to a month fermenting in a place out of direct sunlight before being consumed. My kitchen countertop worked best.
**Using pH strips always test before you ingest 😉 A pH of 3 – 4 is a good level not too acidic or vinegar-y bitter tasting. The longer it sits the stronger it gets! It should have good carbonation fizz as well- not as much as soda but more Iike a ginger beer or seltzer of sorts.