Kombucha 101

25 Apr

 Kombucha was my first fermentation experiment, and I have already spread my love of making it to many other folks already.  Whenever I give away a new SCOBY, I offer this set of directions for people.

  1. Get a jar that holds ¾ gallons to 1 gallon of water.  You might obtain a free one at your local health food store—their discarded olive or pickle jars will do the trick.  You can purchase one for about $10 at a kitchen supply store.
  2. Brew the tea.  Pour boiling hot water over 4-5 black tea bags or the equivalent of loose tea.  Organic is better because anything added to the tea leaves to kill pests can also kill your culture.  Add 1c sugar.  Plain, cheap, white sugar.  Let it sit until the temperature is comfortable to the touch—usually I let it sit overnight.  If it’s too hot, you’ll cook your mother—she is alive!
  3. Strain out the tea leaves.  Put your SCOBY mother (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) on the top of the culture.  She might float down to the middle of the jar.  That’s okay.  Add ¼ to ½ cups (I just throw in a good sized “glurp”) of starter kombucha liquid.  This could either be from your last batch or from some plain flavored live active cultures kombucha from the store.
  4. Cover it securely with a towel.   You want it to be able to breathe, but you also don’t want bugs to get in.
  5. Leave it in an out-of-way place, out of direct sunlight for 1-2 weeks.  After 1 week, taste it.  If it’s too sweet for your liking, then it’s not done.  Put it back and let it keep going.  If it’s too sour, you let it go too long.  It’s still okay, just not as pleasant.   Batches will ferment faster in warmer temperatures.
  6. When the batch is done, you will notice that a new SCOBY has formed at the top of your kombucha.  Now you have two mothers.  You can save one as a back up, give it away, compost it, or look for other options:  if you look online, you’ll find people who have developed recipes for SCOBY (eeeewwww).  I’ve also heard of people drying them and turning them into fabric.
  7. You can leave your finished kombucha in a big jar, or you can bottle it.  Bottling the kombucha will help it to build up more bubbles, because you are not constantly opening and closing the same container and the pressure can build a little.  If you are bottling, this is also a good time to flavor it.  A few pieces of chopped ginger will make an extra fizzy one.  I like to use a few dollups of frozen juice concentrate, or if you ever see Jamaican woodroot tonic, that’s delicious in it.    Edible aloe vera can make an interesting addition to your kombucha cocktail as well.
  8. Make another batch!  If you wait in between, you can store your SCOBY in a little bit of kombucha liquid in the refrigerator.   She will lie dormant until you are ready to rock.

P.S.  It’s a pretty no-fail recipe, but sometimes things can happen. If you see mold growing on your mother THROW IT OUT!  If flies invade, throw it out.  But, if there are little brown strands hanging off the bottom of your mother, or if the mother has air bubbles in her, it’s okay!

Variation:   Jun.   If you think that Kombucha is mysterious, check out Jun.  I’ve looked online and nobody agrees as to what it is.  That being said, I got my culture from a friend, and the instructions are identical to that of Kombucha, only you use green tea and honey instead of black tea and sugar.  It’s got a lighter taste to it and a little more sediment.  Be extra careful sealing up the top:  I’ve had more problems with fly infestation in my Jun!


Healthy Kombucha  SCOBY growing on top of the batch.

15 Responses to “Kombucha 101”

  1. Tea Foodie [by Zanitea] August 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    So excited to try this! I’ve been reading about making kombucha for awhile, but haven’t been adventurous enough yet. Thanks for sharing your method.

    • Adele August 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

      Have fun making kombucha! Feel free to message me if you run into any stumbling blocks. If you are already making kimchi, then you are certainly ready for more fermentation! Your blog is beautiful, too! I’m sure I’ll be checking back there regularly.

      • ChrisJanzenMail@Gmail.com September 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

        Hi. I love kombucha and now that I have my first batch, and two mothers, should I separate them and ferment with one mother? Or, would using two mothers speed up the process? Happy brewing everyone!

      • Adele September 15, 2012 at 10:13 am #

        Hi Chris,

        You can ferment with two mothers–I don’t see much benefit to it, though. I tend to stick to just one in my brew, and I store the extra one in a little bit of fluid in a glass jar in the fridge. This way, if anything goes wrong with my active batch, I have a backup SCOBY available to me. The mothers will keep in the fridge just fine for a few months. When the mothers start to build up, I compost them or give them away.

  2. Annie August 10, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

    Nice blog and great inspiration 🙂 is there any chance you have one (or two) extra Jun cultures to share? If you do and you send them to Iceland I would be so happy, because I’ve been looking All over for them 🙂 you Can email me and we Can figure out about payment 🙂 Annie
    (sorry if there are any misspellings, autocorrect! 😉)

    • Adele August 10, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

      Hi Annie, I have plenty of Jun cultures to spare, though I’m not sure about procedures for shipping them overseas. We might be able to work something out.

      • Bethany September 29, 2012 at 1:58 am #

        I have been looking for Jun cultures. It’s so much harder to find than kombucha, mothers or information. If you would be willing to share that would be wonderful!

      • Adele September 29, 2012 at 10:30 am #

        Bethany, I am happy to share. If you want a SCOBY, you can write me via email at brooklynalewife@gmail.com to give me your address. When I send out the SCOBY, I’ll send you a confirmation email and a paypal invoice for the $$involved in shipping and handling: Unless you live in Brooklyn or NYC– in which case we can plan to meet somewhere and I’ll just hand it to you!


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