Ready to embrace the new fizz? Start your own kombucha brewery! If you need a list of reasons to turn off the usual carbonated beverages and start fermenting, here you go. If you’re eating clean or following a version of paleo, then kombucha is your friend. You ready? OK.
Ideally, buy/beg/borrow a scoby from someone. That makes life SO much easier. (Are you local to me? I’ll give you one!)
I like using 1L mason jars to brew. They’re a manageable size and easy to store in the pantry and fridge. Keeping that in mind, I make my tea (after scalding jars clean) with two teabags. I’ve been experimenting lately with some of the fruit-flavoured teas and some fun herbals, with good results.
Small is fond of the raspberry/cranberry mix and I like a blueberry/apple combo, so in our batches you’ll find one ‘boring’ teabag and one fruity one. Anything with a black tea base will work, it’s just a matter of playing around. Quick FYI: Teas with oils (Earl Grey, anyone?) can screw with your scoby and take a lot longer to brew. Peppermint and honey are natural antibacterials and NOT good for scoby health.
Make your tea, add sugar (about 1 tsp per cup, so 4 for me) and set aside to cool. Once room temperature, you’re good to add the scoby and about 100mL starter tea – this helps the pH stay below 4.6. I don’t test mine, but it should smell vinegary. if it needs help, a splash of apple cider vinegar will sort it out.
With tea and scoby safely in jar, stick a clean cloth over and secure with a rubber band. Those cheap handkerchiefs that you can buy in packs of six for a couple dollars are perfect.
Place jar in a warm dark spot. Ideally temperature will be between 22-30C (72-86F). Give it a week or so and sniff. If it’s smelling like vinegar, you’re on the right track. This tells you that your scoby is gobbling up sugar and excreting probiotic goodness. If you want to get all technical about it, your pH should be around 3. If it’s higher, return to dark spot and wait a few more days for the brew to complete.
Ready to move on? Rinse your fingers or utensils in a little vinegar so you don’t contaminate your scoby with bacteria, then fish out the solids and set them in a clean container. By now you probably have a baby scoby that’s separated from the mother (yay!). Gloop about 100mL/10% of your jar capacity of your brewed tea over them to protect them. We’ll come back to this later.
Pour the rest into something for storage. For me, this is another clean mason jar, but you can use whatever you prefer. If you fill all the way to the top and only leave a tiny bit of air, your tea will fizz up nicely over the next couple days. The more space you leave, the less fizz you get. Cap tightly if you want bubbles, loosely if you don’t, and let sit at room temperature between 2-5 days. After this, refrigerate and DRINK!
Back to the slime in the bowl… Of course, you’ve already brewed your next batch of fresh tea; simply slide your scoby and some kombucha tea to fix the pH in. Your OTHER scoby (since every fermentation creates a baby) can be used to start a second batch of tea going, or fostered out to a friend
Got all that?