A couple of weeks ago, I had a friend and her husband over to show them how to make kombucha. I would love to post a picture that I took of them, but it took me a few tries to get the lighting right. Then, I went to edit them, and there is a big yellow dot over her husband’s face. Weird.
Anyway, my friend, Heather of Constitution Nutrition, came over, and we had a lot of fun making kombucha. I sent her away with her new little baby and the knowledge to continue on making her own kombucha. She has taken the information and run with it so much that she holds a workshop her in Monterey at her Crossfit Gym on how to make it. I must be a good teacher.
That got me thinking. Since I have had others ask me about it, and it can be kind of daunting at first, I decided to put up a How to Make Kombucha – Step-by-Step post. So it will be a resource forever available. I know there are other places you can find this on the inter-webs, but I still had trouble figuring it out exactly the first time just by what was written. So I am doing… dun-dun-dun…
That’s right. A complete pictorial on making kombucha. I will do my best to answer any questions you might have about the kombucha making process by answering the questions I and others had. But if I miss anything, just ask in the comments, and I will do my best to answer you in a timely manner. (aka quickly)
BTW, I am very sad that I cannot drink my kombucha anymore. (I still make it every week for the boys because I am that kind of awesome mom/wife. Because of the yeast allergy (yep, that SCOBY is all yeast, baby) I had to stop. Boo-hoo!
How to Make Kombucha
Step 0 – Wash your hands really well. Any germs, stuff, whatever could get on your SCOBY and kill it. It is very sensitive. Be kind.
Step 1 – Gather the ingredients that you will need. (This is after you have your SCOBY. We will talk about that after the steps.)
- Gallon Jar (presuming you already have kombucha brewing in it. If not and starting new, do step 2 and then skip to step 9.)
- Bottles for you kombucha
- 8 tea bags (You will want some type of regular tea (Camellia sinensis), not herbal. It’s best to use black, green or white. And stay away from teas flavored with essential oils, such as earl grey. Most SCOBYs don’t like them and may die on you.)
- Filtered Water
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of juice (if doing a second fermentation)
- Something to pour your kombucha into bottles (I use my quart measuring cup. Works great!)
- 1 SCOBY either in your gallon jar fermenting your kombucha or in a small jar waiting to get going.
Step 2 – Boil water and brew your 8 tea bags. Some people use a large (non-metal) pot to brew the whole gallon of water as tea. I brew my tea in my french press (that is only used for tea) and add cold filtered water when I am ready so I don’t have to wait for my tea to cool down to make the kombucha. Hint- if using the boil-a-gallon-of-water method, wait for it to cool down completely before finishing your kombucha making process.
Step 3 – If doing a second fermentation (which I loved for the extra flavor), add 1/4 cup of juice to the each bottle before adding you fermented kombucha.
Step 4 – Bring out your fermenting kombucha from your cool, dark place. (It should have been fermenting for 5-7 days, depending on how strong you like your kombucha.)
***Side note*** Below is a picture of the SCOBY as it will probably look in your jar. Don’t be afraid. It is actually quite friendly. It’s a slimy weird
little big mushroom, but you get use to it, oddly enough.
Step 5 – Make sure your hands are very clean and take the SCOBY out and set it aside.
Step 6 – Fill your bottles while leaving a couple of inches at the top for breathing room with the kombucha from your gallon jar that has been fermenting. I pour it into my quart measuring cup with the handy-dandy little spout and then pour into the bottles. Some use funnels. I have never had luck keeping those around. The boys always think they are toys that belong to them. Gone.
Step 7 – Make sure to leave 1 to 1 ½ cups left of your fermented kombucha for a reserve for your next batch. This will help to acidify the next batch and prevent potential contaminants from developing.
Step 8 – Place cheesecloth squares on top of the bottles of kombucha and secure with rubber bands. You want the kombucha to continue breathing during the second fermentation, but you want it to be safe from contaminants and pests like fruit flies. (Little suckers love this stuff.) Give it another 24 hours in a cool, dark place for second fermentation. Remove cheesecloth. Then store in the fridge and drink. I just use regular wine stoppers for the tops.
Step 9 – Back to the brewing tea. Measure out 1 cup of white sugar.
Step 10 – Add brewed tea and sugar to your now-empty gallon jar. I have been told to always use white sugar. I know some that have used honey or brown sugar, and they were fine. Others have had their SCOBY die on them. I have always stayed safe with white sugar. It’s up to you what you want to do.
Step 11 – Then add enough filtered cold water to almost fill it up, leaving enough room for your reserve and SCOBY. Add the reserve to the new tea. If this is your first batch, you should have some reserve that your SCOBY has been growing in.
Step 12 – Add SCOBY to your new batch of kombucha tea to ferment.
Step 13 – Put cheesecloth over the top and secure with a rubber band. (See step 8 for reasons why.) Store your jar in a cool, dark place for 5 – 7 days. Take out and go back to step 1.
Bonus – If you are a regular kombucha drinker, getting it either from friends or from the store, you can start your own baby SCOBY. Or if a friend is either of those, they can start a SCOBY for you.
I have heard of ways to buy one online, but I have never done that, so I cannot comment on it. If you want to start your own, just take a look in a bottle of kombucha. Most of them will have a little strange blobby thing. (See example in picture below.)
That is a new baby SCOBY trying to grow. (For store bought, look at the raw, unfiltered bottles of kombucha.) Just put that baby into a jar with some of the kombucha to live off of and cover with cheesecloth. Secure with a rubber band. (See step 8 for reasons why.) Give it a week or so, and it will grow. Then you can go up to step 1 and start a whole new batch of kombucha and be on your way. Or you can give it to a friend so they can start their own kombucha fermenting process. Refer them to this post for directions.
If you have any questions or thoughts, please let me know in the comments below. I will do my best to answer them. Happy Fermenting!Print