How to Brew Kombucha at Home
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Kombucha has become super popular lately with crunchy granola types and non-crunchies alike for its wealth of health benefits and fizzy alternative to soda. The only problem with kombucha is at $3+ a bottle this delicious elixir can get expensive quickly. Brewing kombucha at home is a great way to save money and have total control over the ingredients. This post will give you the 10 easy steps to brew kombucha at home so you can start enjoying your own home fermentation. You won’t be an expert just from this post, but you will be drinking your own home-brewed kombucha.
For the encyclopedia level of everything you ever could possibly want to know about kombucha get The Big Book of Kombucha. It will answer the technical questions that may arise as you get more into brewing. This round up of kombucha guides is also a great resource to learn all there is to know about kombucha brewing.
Kombucha Brewing Supplies:
Gallon Glass Jar:
You can buy gallon glass jars specifically marketed for brewing kombucha on Amazon for about $12. Or you can get a gallon jar of pickles at the grocery store for about $6. Do what you want with the pickles. Your gallon jar is what you will use for your F1 (1st fermentation).
Stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Sounds gross but is actually amazingly powerful for improving gut health and providing your body beneficial cultures. They do not feel slimy or sticky, more like touching wet wax or petting a dolphin.
The best way to get a SCOBY (and some starter liquid) is from a local friend that already brews kombucha. Every time you brew a batch the SCOBY reproduces itself and creates a baby SCOBY. In just a few rounds of brewing you’ll find yourself with extra and will be eager to give them away. Lots of brewers store extra SCOBYs in a “hotel” where all their extra SCOBYs are fine to chill out and wait to be used in brewing. If you don’t have any friends that can give you a SCOBY, Kombucha Kamp is the most reputable online seller of SCOBYs. You want to be careful buying them online as not all sellers provide quality products.
SCOBYs are living organisms so give them the good stuff just like you would want to drink yourself. Straight tap water can have all sorts of minerals, chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals that inhibit healthy growth of your SCOBY.
Kombucha is by definition fermented black tea. Some people will say you can make it with green or herbal tea but those teas do not have the tisanes and caffeine that your SCOBY wants to eat. Organic tea is of course best to provide a healthy growing environment for your SCOBY and different black teas will produce a variety of subtle flavors in your brewing.
The bacteria and yeast in your SCOBY need sugar to survive. Though sugar is added at the beginning of the brewing process it is processed by the SCOBY and very little is left over for you to drink, leaving you with a sweet but not sugary drink.
Cloth Cover for Jar:
As your kombucha is brewing you want to keep dust, mold spores, and bugs out of it. Any cotton cloth is fine to use, just make sure it has a decently tight weave. Cheese cloth will not work as the weave is too loose.
Any old rubber band will do, you just need one big enough to hold your cloth in place over the mouth of the jar. Now I finally have a use for all those green rubber bands Whole Foods sends me home with every week.
Pressure Safe Bottles:
As your kombucha goes through F2 (2nd fermentation) it will produce carbon dioxide. This is what gives kombucha its delightful fizzy carbonation, but also what can make F2 a dangerous mess. Pressure safe bottles help ensure the pressure from the CO2 does not cause the bottle to explode. It’s a good idea to burp (open them a little) your bottles during F2 to release any excess buildup of pressure. Homebrewing bottles are great for F2 but are a little tricky to clean because of their tight necks. I prefer to just buy GT’s Synergy or Kevita kombucha and save the bottles because their wide mouthes make for easier cleaning and if I’m going to pay $3 for a bottle it better have something in it 🙂
Ingredients for Flavoring:
Fruit juices, pieces of fruit, herbs, and spices all make for great F2 flavorings. See the sign-up at the bottom of this post to get my free ebook with recipes.
For easy bottling a funnel is a must have. Ideally one that stays put in your bottles well without having to get someone else to hold it still for your while you pour.
2 Cup Measuring Cup:
Yes, you could just use a regular 1 cup measuring cup and do it twice, but trust me, a glass 2 cup measuring cup makes this whole process easier and you’ll find it has uses beyond kombucha brewing too.
1 Cup Measuring Cup:
You’ll need the 2 cup measuring cup for your starter liquid and the 1 cup measuring cup for your sugar. Much easier to just have separate measuring cups for each.
Brew Kombucha in 10 Easy Steps
The very first time you make kombucha will be a little different than when you are bottling and starting a new batch but the steps are still the same. When starting from scratch start at step five.
Pour off 2 cups of starter from your finished F1 brew and set it aside for your new batch. (The first time you brew you will use the starter that came with your SCOBY)
Using clean hands, set your SCOBY aside either in that starter you just poured off or in a SCOBY hotel.
Put any flavorings you want for your F2 into your bottles
Using your funnel, bottle your F1 leaving a about an inch of head room at the top of each bottle. Watch out for fizz! Let F2 sit out at room temperature for 2-3 days and then refrigerate.
Clean your gallon jar with warm soapy water. Regular dish soap only, no antibacterial soap.
Brew eight bags of black tea (organic preferred) with 2 cups water. Let steep for 6 minutes.
Mix 1 cup sugar into tea until fully dissolved.
Pour your 2 cups starter into your gallon jar and place your SCOBY in the jar.
Once tea has reached room temperature, pour your tea concentrate into gallon jar and top off with filtered water.
Cover with your cloth and let sit in a warm, dark, place with good circulation for about two weeks depending on temperatures.