Not to be confused with konbu-cha (Japanese seaweed tea), it is speculated that kombucha has Chinese origins. Kombucha is a fermented tea with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).
To start 1 gallon of kombucha culture, you will need:
Adapted from The Kombucha Shop:
- In a medium-sized pot, bring 4 cups of filtered water to a boil, then turn off the heat.
- Pour 3 TBSP of tea into the cotton tea bag and tie it shut. Place the tea bag into the pot.
- Let the tea steep for 5-7 minutes, then remove the tea bag and discard tea leaves. Rinse and air dry tea bag for future brewing uses.
- Add 1 cup of sugar into the pot and stir until dissolved.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, pour your newly made sweet tea mixture into a 1-gallon glass brew jar.
- Fill the brew jar with 8 cups of cold, filtered water. The jar should be about ¾ full.
- (Optional but highly recommended): if you have a temperature-indicating sticker, stick the the side of the jar. The temperature should read between 68-86 degrees F. If it's still too warm, add a ½ cup more of cold water.) Or, with a clean finger, check to make sure tea is body temperature.
- Pour the SCOBY and the starter liquid it came with into the jar. Gently stir.
- (Optional: Dip a pH test strip into the liquid. It should read 4.5 or below.)
- Cover the jar with a cotton cloth and seal with a rubber band.
- (Optional: Use a wet erase marker to label the glass jar with brew notes: tea type and quantity, date brewed, etc.)
- Place your brew jar in a warm place, out of direct sunlight, with plenty of airflow (no closed cupboards). Leave it there for 8-10 days and do not move it. The temperature should maintain the ideal 68-86 degrees F.
- By day 8-10, you will see that a new, cream-colored layer has grown in on the top of your brew. This is your new culture! While trying not to disturb the culture, obtain a sample of the kombucha to taste test. (Recommended to gently slide down a pipette past the SCOBY and draw into a cup to sip. Or, gently slide a straw in.)
- Taste every few days until your ideal kombucha flavor is reached. Too tart? Simply sweeten during bottling and brew for fewer days next time. Too sweet? Put the cloth back on and let it brew for a few more days. (Optional: once it's to your liking, use your pH test strips to verify it's between 2.5-3.5, the ideal pH range for finished kombucha.)
Your kombucha is now ready to be enjoyed as is, or if desired, you can flavor and bottle your brew in a process called “second fermentation.”
Either way, too finish the initial ferment, use clean hands to remove the SCOBY cultures from the jar. Place them in a glass container. Pour off 1-2 cups of your freshly made kombucha into the glass container holding your SCOBY. Tis will be your starter liquid for the next batch.
- Temperature tips
- What does a healthy culture look like
- Choosing tea and sugar
- Choosing flavoring
- Second fermentation
- Storing your cultures