Do you want to learn how to make kombucha tea at home? It's really fun, I promise. I started making kombucha a couple of years ago after I realized how much I was buying! If you are new to fermenting, kombucha is an easy beginner project. It's low maintenance and creates a super healthy brew.
What you Need to Get Started
- A large glass vessel for brewing
- Tea - black or green
- Organic Sugar
- Kombucha scoby and starter
- Small empty kombucha bottles with tight fitting lids (for the second ferment)
- Fruit Juice (for second ferment)
- Plastic mesh strainer (like this one)
To get started making kombucha tea and home you'll want a vessel that holds at least a gallon (mine is 1.5 gallon and works well). Also make sure the cover is either glass or plastic, never metal. Metal should not come in contact with your scoby and it will corrode. I purchased mine at Home Goods but it looks similar to this one.
Acquiring a scoby is the most important part! If you are lucky enough to get one locally or from a friend, that is ideal. If not, you can purchase a dehydrated scoby from Cultures for Health. If you do get one that is dehydrated, you'll need to follow the instructions that come with it to get it going for your first batch.
Making Your First Batch of Kombucha at Home
Start by thoroughly cleaning your vessel, even better run it through a hot dishwasher to properly disinfect it. Next, place your scoby and starter kombucha into the vessel.
What is the starter kombucha? If you've gotten a hand-me-down scoby, the previous owner will give it to you in a small amount of their brew. This helps to get your batch started. Alternatively, you can use a store bought bottle of kombucha to get it going.
Now that your vessel is all set up, you can brew your tea. Black tea is traditionally used for kombucha but many people (including me) use green tea and it works nicely. Brew enough tea that will fit in your size vessel. While the tea is still warm, add your sugar. The ratio needed is one cup of sugar per gallon of water. Make sure you use organic tea and sugar to avoid any harmful chemicals in your brew.
Once your tea is fully cooled, you may pour it into your vessel. Now we wait. Let this brew for two weeks.
The Second Ferment
After two weeks have passed, your kombucha is ready. You can drink it on it's own or you can start a second ferment to flavor the kombucha and to make it fizzy (most people do).
Now it's time for your extra small bottles, empty store bought kombucha bottles works perfectly or larger ones like this work well too. Use a funnel and a plastic mesh strainer to fill your empty bottles with the brewed kombucha tea. I use the strainer to catch any large clumps from going into the second ferment. It's OK if you don't do this but I find it helps it from having too much yeast growth.
Fill your bottles about 3/4 of the way with kombucha tea. Then, fill the remaining 1/4 of the bottle with organic fruit juice and close tightly with a plastic lid. Let this sit for at least 2-3 days and it will be ready to drink! It can sit longer which will reduce the sugar content. If you would like to slow down the process you can put it in the fridge.
Once you have bottled all your kombucha into the second ferment, now it's time to start a new batch in your fermentation vessel. Be sure to leave some kombucha in the jar as your starter and add a new batch of sweetened tea. In two weeks, you can do this again!
Get creative with your tea combinations to find new flavors you like. Make sure you use green or black tea and then you can add herbs. Some I like to use include hibiscus, rose, orange, rooibos tea, chammomile, elderberry... the options are endless. I sometimes use a scoop or Herbal C Tea in addition to the green tea.
Making kombucha tea at home is fun and rewarding! It's a great way to get kids to consume a healthy fermentation because it also tastes pretty good. Another way I get some fermented goodies into their diet is with fermented garlic. I use a small clove in hummus, salad dressings, soups and more... and they don't even notice.
Do you make kombucha? What is your favorite flavor combo?