* 1 gallon "good" water - non treated or filtered. I use water from here.
* 1 cup white sugar - any kind (I use organic from Costco)
* Black tea - 6 tea bags or 2 Tbsp loose leaf (pictured what I use)
* 1 SCOBY
*. 1-1 ½ cup "starter kombucha" from previous batch.
Some persons feel the cheapest tea and sugar are fine to use for kombucha- save some $$.
I always have extra, free SCOBYs.. Contact me to set up a time for pick up.
STEEP & STRAIN
Place tea into glass measuring cup.
Bring 2 cups water to boil, pour over tea.
Let steep for 7-10 minutes (or more).
Remove tea bags or strain tea leaves.
Pour over 1 cup sugar and stir to dissolve.
Let tea cool to room temperature or add cold water to sweetened tea to cool more quickly.
I start out with a 2 cup measuring cup for steeping the tea leaves, allowing them to float free in the hot water. I then strain into a 4 cup glass measuring cup, adding the sugar to the strained tea. Then I fill it to the tops with cool water to cool it to room temperature faster.
KOMBUCHA IN JAR
I use a 1 gallon mason jar for the first fermentation. This is a photo of kombucha that has fermented for 3 weeks and is ready to strain.
Any jar will do.
Be sure you can fit your hand in so you can easily remove the SCOBY. Avoid old/vintage jars as they may contain lead that would leach into the kombucha as it ferments.
I used to use punch bowls, but I now use gallon canning jars as they fit better on a shelf. I typically have 4 jars going at once as we use 1 gallon or more each week.
A LOOK AT A SCOBY
Here is a view of the SCOBY from the top of the jar. Thought it might be useful to see it! Every batch of kombucha grows a new layer on the SCOBY. Thus, anyone making kombucha always has extra SCOBYs to share!
Your black tea has steeped and been sweetened. It is time to remove the SCOBY from the initial ferment. I place it in a glass bowl along with 1-2 cups of kombucha from that batch to be added in the next batch as a "starter". This is a photo of the SCOBY and starter in the bowl. The one on the left is the layers that have built up over the past few batches. The one on the right is the new one that grew with this batch. I just put them all in this next batch, along with the starter.
Leave a couple inches breathing room at the top of the jar.
So what difference does the SCOBY make to the sweetened tea? This is the fresh sweet tea on the left. On the right is the fermented tea/kombucha, which 3 weeks before was the same shade as the left side. The SCOBY feeds off the tea and the sugar, resulting in a lighter, fizzy beverage full of probiotics and many other benefits. I'll put an article about that in the answers section soon. Very fascinating!
READY TO SIT
Here is my new batch of kombucha, ready to be placed on a shelf for 1-4 weeks, out of direct sunlight. I let mine ferment for 3 weeks or so, less in the summer when it is warmer, resulting in faster fermentation.
The less time you allow to ferment, the sweeter it will be. Many people ferment for closer to 10 -14 days.
Cover the jar in some way to keep fruit flies and dirt out. I use a unbleached coffee filter and rubber band. I also put the date that I started the initial ferment on the filter. Some people use a piece of clean muslin or other fabric for covering the jar. Don't use cheesecloth - fruit flies will find their way in and ruin the SCOBY. Experience speaking there.
Place securely covered jar on a shelf or somewhere with adequate ventilation and let it sit 'till it tastes good to you.
PLAIN OR FLAVORED?
You can drink your finished kombucha as is or you can add juices, herbs, flavorings and let it sit for a 2nd ferment for 1-3 days.
To do a 2nd fermentation, put kombucha in a clean jar - I often use 2 smaller jars and make 2 different flavors of kombucha.
Add any spices, juice, or flavoring. Cap tightly.
Let sit at room temperature for 1-3 days - the longer it sits, the fizzier it becomes.
In almost every batch of kombucha I make, I add some lemon juice (I think it helps remove some the potential yeasty flavor), a cinnamon stick, and fennel seed.
Experiment to come up with the best ratios and combinations for your taste preferences.
Here are a few ideas for your 2nd ferment:
In the photo to the left is the ingredients I used for this batch, focusing on antioxidants and eye health.
From top left: lemon juice, elderberry syrup (in brown bottle), tart cherry juice concentrate, cinnamon stick, star anise pod, rosehips, spearmint leaves, hawthorn berries, bilberry, and fennel seed.
Other favorite additions:
Ginger, fresh or dried
Pineapple juice concentrate
Any fresh or frozen fruit
Roots such as burdock or dandelion
Peppermint and other mints
Let your imagination run wild!
Just a pretty picture of the 2nd ferment ready to sit for day or two, tightly covered. I stirred in the flavorings and it already started fizzing up - note the white foam forming on the top already. The 2nd ferment gives an extra fizz to the finished kombucha.
Cap your 2nd ferment tightly to let carbonation occur. Some people use a special airlocks, but I typically just use a 2 quart jar and tight lid.
I have found that using powdered herbs makes it very fizzy. If you use powdered herbs, be sure to check your brew after 24 hours to make sure it isn't getting too fizzy. I've only had a jar "explode" on me once due to the pressure. It. Was. Messy.
Here is the finished kombucha, after straining out the herbs and other flavorings.
I reuse old kombucha bottles and other glass bottles with tight lids.
If I want it a bit sweeter or still fizzier, I will add bit of honey at this point.
Store in the refrigerator or on counter.
Finally, I take the strained herbs, put in a tea pot of some sort or French press, as in the picture, cover with just boiled water, steep and then enjoy a hot cup of herbal tea.