This page documents my adventures in making kombucha, including recipes and steps I've tried for making kombucha from scratch.

Terminology

I see common confusion regarding jargon when making kombucha:

TermMeaning
scobystands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
starterunpasteurized raw kombucha from a previous batch, used to make a new batch

Brewing your first scoby/starter

These notes are mostly taken from this video. I don't know if it will be successful yet!

Ingredients:

  • 2 black tea bags

  • a pre-bought organic unpasteurized kombucha bottle.

  • sugar

Pt 1. Making your starter:

  1. Buy a bottle of kombucha that is unpasteurized. I'm using a GT's Synergy raw kombucha which is organic & unpasteurized/. It is 480ml.

  2. Get a large jar (I think ours is a gallon? or 2-3 litres?)

  3. Clean the jar with soap and water.

  4. Boil 2 cups of water

  5. Add 2 black tea bags to the big jar. Pour the boiling water in.

  6. Let it steep for 15 minutes and then take the teabags out.

  7. Add 1/2 a cup of sugar. Stir until it dissolves.

  8. Let the tea cool until it is below 90 deg F (32 deg celsius). (you can add icecubes to speed that up)

  9. Pour in your bottle of kombucha

  10. Add a cloth cover, and fix it in place with an elastic band. Do not use cheesecloth or other porous cloths.

  11. Set the jar in a warm-ish environment for 7-12 days.

  12. A scoby should start to form - it might not be much.

  13. You now have a "starter" - a liquid full of the organism that helps make kombucha (yeast and bacteria and other stuff I don't know about). The starter should be sour (but not quite vinegary).

Pt 2. Making your first batch

Requirements:

QuantityIngredient / Material
1Gallon jar
1jar/bowl/pot for steeping tea
1 cupsugar
5-8black tea bags
1thick towel (to cover jar)

This step by step guide assumes you have a 1 gallon jar.

  1. Your starter should taste sour - not as strong as vinegar... but strong.

  2. Set aside your scoby/starter liquid in a bowl or jar.

  3. We'll now use the concetrated tea method: a. Fill your kettle (mine is 1 litre) and boil it. b. Pour the boiling water into a teapot or stove pot and steep for 15 minutes. c. Clean the jar you are using for the next batch while the tea is steeping.

  4. Add 1 cup of sugar to your gallon jar.

  5. Once the tea is done steeping, pour the hot tea over the sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves.

  6. Add tap water (filtered is apparently better) close to your 1 gallon mark (minus about 250-500 mL to leave room for your starter.)

  7. Let the tea cool till below 90 degrees (careful - if it's too hot it will kill the scoby!).

  8. Add 1 cup of starter (and your pellicle.) into the jar with the tea.

  9. Add your cover on top.

  10. Place the kombucha somewhere warm and dark - it should be warmish.

  11. Let it sit for about 7-10 days.

Regarding step 8, theoretically, you could add a bit more starter which might expedite how quickly things ferment (I tried adding closer to 500 ml.)

Pt 3. Second fermentation!

The second fermentation involves bottling the 1st fermentation with optional additional flavours and sugars added to create carbonation.

  1. Take out your scoby and put it in a clean jar or bowl

  2. Reserve 1 cup of starter liquid and add it to the jar with your scoby

  3. Add flavours to your bottles (ex: crushed raspberries, mango, chunks of ginger, jalapeno etc.)

  4. Add kombucha from the 1st fermentation to your bottles, topping them up. Try and leave about 1 inch of free space at the top of your bottles.

  5. Ferment for about 2-5 days. You may need to occasionally "burp" your bottles to avoid over carbonation (exploding bottles are rare but something to be aware of.) The more sugar in the drink the faster it will carbonate.

  6. Once you have some carbonation, move the bottles into the fridge - this helps to settle the carbonation.

  7. Be careful when you open your bottles! If you are concerned about explosions, toss a ziplock bag over the bottle when you open it, or, hold your hand firmly over the swing top and open the latch but do not release your hand immediately. Once the swing top is loosed, slowly (slowly!) release your palm to escape carbonation.

If you like, repeat pt 2 at the start of pt 3, so that you can immediately move your scoby into the new batch.

Good luck!