How we personally make my Kombucha - a basic premise:
Following is the basic way that we make our Kombucha. We have been making and drinking it continuously for several years now and haven’t had a decent cold or the flu since so it must be doing something good.
when making it for our personal use, we make it using the old 800ml glass “Agee’ preserving jars and simply use 2-3 tea bags and 60-70 grams sugar per jar (approx 1/4 of a cup) per 1 litre of water. We keep them in the pantry (out of the sun) and find it takes 5-7 days to brew (longer in winter (7-10 days) because the room is colder). We use a large eye dropper to suck a bit out or simply tip the jar and sip some carefully out after 4-5 days to taste test it for readiness. If it still tastes quite sweet, then we leave it another day or two and test again. If it is left to ferment too long it will start to taste like vinegar, and while still safe and good to drink it, we usually don’t bother if it's too vinegary. Once it tastes strogly like vinegar it cannot be saved by adding more sugar or anything so we simply take our losses and chuck it out or Claire uses it for 'cosmetic' purposes or cooking (like any vinegar).
Basically, once it’s got bubbles/air collecting under the scoby, has a fizzy taste and isn’t too sweet, it’s ready for drinking or bottling. We then bottle it into old glass drink bottles such as old “V’ and Red Bull bottles that we have collected from other people who (ignorantly) drink them. Good quality swing top bottles are also excellent to use. We find glass drink bottles give a better flavour than plastic bottles if left for a few days before drinking. We aim to drink a bottle/glass a day, so make 7 to 10 bottles a week.
We experiment with different flavours by adding fruit infusion tea bags, for example, use 2 teabags of black tea and one bag of raspberry and peach flavour per Agee jar. It gives a nice fruity edge to the taste. The traditional 2 black or 2 green tea bags will give a hint of apple-like taste.
To start your first Kombuch culture - The detail:
Get a glass Agee jar or similar of up to 1 litre in volume and ¾ fill with boiling water and add two black tea bags. (2-3 tea bags per 800-1000ml) Leave to draw/brew for at least 15 mins then add 60-70g of plain, white sugar (approx 1/4 cup max for a full litre, less sugar if less than a litre) and stir to dissolve (80-90g max for 1 litre). You can use raw or cane sugar if you want, tho it makes little difference. Remove the tea bags and leave to cool to room temperature (it will take a few hours to cool).
(Note: Always use a glass jar or container to brew your Kombucha as it becomes more acidic as it brews and can react with plastic or metal containers).
Once the brew of sweetened tea has cooled to room temperature, pour at least threeTablespoons of the supplied kombucha tea or starter (also at room temp) into the Tea then carefully add your supplied kombucha scoby/culture into the jar as well. It may float or sink and it doesn’t really matter which it does.
|Place the jar in your pantry or somewhere out of direct sunlight (to avoid temperature extremes) and cover the top with muslin or some other breathable fabric to stop ants and fruit flies getting into it but still allowing air to flow in and out of the jar. Air is needed by the yeast and bacteria in the scoby to breath.
Leave it for at least 4-5 days to ferment/brew. During this time a new scoby or ‘baby’ will form on the surface of the tea and if your original one was floating, the new ‘baby’ will most likely be adhered to it. After 4-5 days check it to see if it is starting to build up bubbles underneath the surface scoby. If it is, try and carefully draw a little bit out with an eye dropper or pipette by carefully tilting the jar on edge to taste it. If it’s still really sweet and not very bubbly, leave it another day then test again. If it’s really fizzy and only slightly sweet, it’s ready. If it tastes vinegary, it’s been left too long. Ultimately, you bottle it off when it reaches the level of flavour that you personally like.
When testing, try not to submerge or get the top of the Scoby wet as it stalls the fermenting process because the wet layer slows oxygen transfer to the bacteria and yeast.
When it’s ready, pour off 80-90% of it to either drink straight away or you can bottle it to drink over the next few days etc. Take the remaining 10+% and the now 2 scobies and start a new batch with another brew of sweetened tea as per the start of these instructions. Using 2 scobies in the second batch should give you an even better result than the first. It may take two or three brews to get it really working well. A scoby of 3 or 4 layers/generations gives a good, consistent brew. Be patient. After the third or fourth brew, you can peel off the older scobies and use them to start a new/second brew in a new jar.
You may soon learn that you may need/want 3 or 4 bottles brewing at once or use a larger glass jar if you can find one to make enough for everyone in the household to have a glass each day.
Experiment yourself using different flavoured teas or herbal/fruit infusion teas, but always use at least one or two black or green tea bag as many of the herbal/fruit teas contain very little actual ‘tea’ leaves and the tea is necessary for the scoby to feed on.
As for the ‘Scoby’ (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) I have found that a scoby that is three or 4 layers (generations) thick gives the best flavoured drink so don’t be surprised or disappointed if your first batch is nothing to rave about. Simply put both the original/mother scoby and the newly grown scoby/baby into a new batch of tea for the second week and you should get a better brew next time round. 2 or 3 scobies in a brew seem to give a better result than just a single scoby.
In colder weather, the Scobies may not grow as fast or become as thick as in summer, but they will still give a good brew and as long as the Kombucha still brews and tastes good, then the size of the Scobies matters little.
Stuck together layers of scoby float better than single ones too because of the air trapped between the layers so I like to keep my scobies at 2-4 layers thick and floating on the surface
If your scoby sinks in a new batch of tea, it just means the new one that forms on the surface won’t be stuck to it (obviously).
If your scobies always float and get thicker each week, peel off the older bottom layer or two so that it doesn’t take up too much volume in the jar.
If they don't float, simply throw out the ones that go dark brown with age and only use the newest 2 or 3 generations.
What to do with the old scobies? Give them to friends to start their own kombucha, start another jar/batch yourself or simply throw them out. I put my extras in my worm farm/compost.
Remember, it’s all about experimenting, finding what works best for you in your situation and what kind of flavour you like.
Have Fun and enjoy.
It's not an exact science
You don't need to be a perfectionist when making Kombucha. Scobys are quite flexible with the conditions they will grow in so (within reason) you can vary the amounts and types of sugar, tea and flavourings you use without too much risk of 'killling' your scoby.
Many people make it in many varying ways so you can experiment and try different things when making Kombucha to get various flavours, strengths and volumes etc. Just keep the basics in mind (always have sugar, some black/green tea and a warm temperature) and always have more than one jar going so that if one variation fails or you drop it on the floor, you have a backup.
Some variations from the basics though will slowly weaken the scoby health and viability (due to less than ideal conditions or ingredients) so if your scoby(s) start looking 'not that good', then go back to a standard black tea and sugar only brew for a few brews to revitalise your scoby.