Kombucha Brewing Instructions
To make one litre of Kombucha using a ‘medium’ scoby (i.e. a kombucha culture).
If you are not starting your brew immediately please store your scoby somewhere cool and away from direct sunlight. Not in the fridge.
In readiness for brewing the scoby, it needs to be at room temperature to function best.
Items required to brew your kombucha:
- A Scoby (kombucha culture)
- A heat proof glass jug that holds approximately 1.5 litres – for making the brew
- A wooden or long-handled plastic spoon
- A plastic sieve
- 3-4 Teabags or 3-4 teaspoons of leaf tea. (Whichever type of tea you choose it must be black, green or white not fruit teas, as these can harm the scoby’s fermenting capabilities)
- 60 – 80g cane sugar (i.e. granulated)
- A wide mouthed glass jar or ‘kilner’ type jar that can hold 1.5 litres – to accommodate the scoby and sweet tea during the fermentation
- A square of tight-weave cotton (e.g. like a CLEAN tea towel) and a strong elastic band; to cover the mouth of your fermenting jar
- 1 litre of filtered water
It is important to ensure that your Kombucha scoby does not come in contact with metal: removing rings, bangles and bracelets before starting your kombucha brew is advisable.
It is fine, however, to boil the water required for the brew in a metal vessel/kettle.
All equipment needs to be washed and RINSED thoroughly – with no residues of detergents or soaps left on the surface; that goes for your hands too – as any residues or antibacterial soaps will potentially disrupt the scoby’s micro-organism balance.
Kombucha brews best at a constant room temperature (ideally 20-24°C). The cooler the ambient temperature the slower the ferment; however, a slow brew is not a bad thing if you are not in a hurry for your Kombucha. The end result is a mellow, zingy brew with less acidic ‘notes’!
How to Brew Your Kombucha
Boil the litre of filtered water.
Put the teabags/tea leaves into your glass container and pour on the boiled water. Allow to ‘steep’ for anything between 5-15 minutes; to taste. Being mindful that the scoby’s action relies on the tannins in the tea to ‘ferment’ i.e. they LIKE the tannins!
Remove the teabags or tea leaves, then add the sugar and stir until dissolved (a wooden or plastic spoon is best – to avoid, inadvertently, using anything metal once the scoby is in the picture).
Leave the sweet tea to cool.
Once ‘cool to touch’, certainly no more than ‘barely warm’ (if putting your little finger in it) but ideally cool or cold. It is then time to put the cold tea into the wide-mouthed jar and place your scoby AND the accompanying liquid from the bag, with it.
Note: The scoby may float, sink or hover; all are good and the position it takes will not affect your brew.
Put the square of cloth across the mouth of the jar and secure with the elastic band.
Finally, place your jar somewhere at a (relatively) constant temperature (20-24*C) away from direct sunlight.
Allow your Kombucha to ferment for 7 days. Then sample it to see how it is progressing.
From here-on, test daily until you decide it is fermented enough for your taste. The longer the fermentation time the lower the sugar content of the tea. You might want to start with a ‘young brew’ (slightly sweeter and less tangy) initially and build-up to a more ‘mature’ brew (more tangy and less sweet) with each new batch. The usual brew ‘window’ is anything between 7 and 30 days.
As you get more experienced you will come to know the ideal brew duration that best suits your palette. Essentially, Kombucha should taste a combination of fruity/sour/tart – and may have a slight natural fizz to it. It will smell a little like cider vinegar and, maybe, slightly yeasty.
When your brew is ready, pour it into the jug/bottle you plan to keep it in – but keep 100-125ml of the original tea, with the scoby, as a ‘starter’ for your next batch.
Put your jug/bottle in the fridge. Decant your kombucha as and when you like to drink it. Chilled is best.
The longer you leave home brewed Kombucha in the fridge, the fizzier it can become – depending on how much sugar was left in the liquid, when you decanted it from the scoby. It is therefore important to ‘burp’ the bottle if it is lidded. It is not imperative to store your kombucha in the fridge, but if you keep it at room temperature be mindful that there are still live micro-organisms and yeasts in the kombucha, and they will continue to ‘ferment’; so ‘burping’ the container becomes even more important if you want to avoid a ‘feisty’ bottle exploding!
It is quite normal for ‘fuzz’ or ‘bits’ or ‘clouds’ to form during the fermentation process; these are yeast chains, collections of bacteria and by products of the fermentation and are not harmful. They sometimes attach themselves to the scoby’s underside. It is therefore suggested that you filter your fermented kombucha through a fine plastic sieve or a piece of muslin when decanted away from the scoby.
It is common for baby scobies and yeast strands to form, even once the kombucha has been removed from the ‘mother’ scoby i.e. in the bottle it is stored in. This happens because the live organisms suspended in the kombucha continue to be active, albeit at a slower rate. If you are caught unawares and find one of these ‘blobs’ or ‘strands’ in your glass, it can be a little disconcerting! So it is advisable to sieve your Kombucha into your glass to ‘catch’ any ‘bits’ and either compost it or add it to your current brew.
During the fermentation process you will notice a new ‘baby’ scoby start to form (a thin white layer on top of the ‘mother’ scoby). After a few batches, once the ‘baby’ is about 5mm thick, you may want to gently separate this top layer (new ‘baby’) from the mother and either start a new (second) batch or ‘gift’ the new scoby to someone who might like to start brewing their own kombucha.
Note: Sometimes the ‘mother’ and ‘baby’ layers are fused together, making separation difficult, if this is the case, then simply allow the original scoby to get thicker and continue to brew as you have been.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.