ATTN: I am successfully brewing kombucha! Some of you might know this if you follow me on Instagram or other social media. In this blog post, I’m going to tell you exactly how to brew kombucha tea starting with your shopping list.
What you need to brew your own kombucha
A while back, my friend and yoga soulmate, Lisa, gave me a super healthy SCOBY. SCOBY is an acronym for “Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast,” and it is what transforms the beverage from sweet tea into sour, carbonated kombucha. Before you start brewing, you need a healthy SCOBY. I recommend getting one from a friend or acquaintance. SCOBYs are constantly growing and peeling into layers. You can also grow your own or buy online. Below is the rest of your shopping list. If you plan to go all in, buy large qualities of the tea and sugar.
For the kombucha:
- organic black tea (bags)
- organic cane sugar
- organic distilled vinegar
- 1 bottle of store-bought kombucha (original or simple flavor)
- 100% juices for flavoring
Other important stuff:
- pH strips (or borrow some from a friend)
- large 2+ gallon jar (with stainless steel spigot on the bottom)
- glass bottles with plastic or rubber tops (no metal — it rusts)
- paper towels
- elastic band
- funnel (if your jar doesn’t have a spigot)
- stock pot
- wooden spoon
Now that you have all of the stuff, it’s time to start your first brew! Cultures for Health has a great resource to reference, as does The Kitchn. I suggest starting with a 1 gallon batch. The recipe below are for a 1 gallon batch.
How to brew kombucha
- In a large stock pot, bring 1 gallon of water to a boil. Continue to boil as your stir in 1 cup of organic can sugar until it dissolves.
- Turn off the heat and brew 8 bags of organic black tea. I like to use the wooden spoon to help hold the tea bags up. Place the wooden spoon across the top of the pot, and then tie two tea bags together and lay them over the spoon to facilitate easy removal. Steep for as long as the package recommends, then lift the spoon to pull the tea bags out. (Photo by The Kitchn.)
- Let the tea cool to room temperature and prep your jar. Clean the inside of your jar with a clean cloth (or paper towel) with a touch of vinegar on it.
- To the the same jar, add your starter kombucha — the store bought bottle of booch. The bottle of store-bought kombucha acts as your starter tea — unless you SCOBY comes with at least 2 cups of starter tea, you’ll need this store-bought *ish.
- Once your tea cools, pour it into your jar. Finally, slide that SCOBY in! Cover the jar with a paper towel (cloth or coffee filter), then use an elastic to secure it. Your SCOBY needs some room to breathe.
- Store the jar out of direct sunlight. Mine stays on top of the fridge where it’s out of sun, but not too cold.
- After 3-4 days: Test the pH level to make sure it is on track. Your brew should be between 3.2 and 2.8 pH.
- After 7-10 days: Test the pH level again. A reading between 3.2 and 2.8 pH tells you that the brewing cycle is complete and the tea is at the correct pH to drink. Taste-test your kombucha to make sure it’s the perfect balance of sweet and sour. If it’s too sweet, give it a couple more days.
- Bottling/carbonating: If you are using a jar with a spigot on the bottom, this process will be easy! Fill each of your bottle 90-95% of the way, then top off with 1–3 Tbsp of your favorite 100% juice (I usually add 1/2 – 1 Tbsp of fresh ginger juice). Seal each bottle and store out of direct sunlight for 2-3 days to allow carbonation. Note: Bits of your SCOBY can get caught in the spigot. Keep an eye out as your are bottling.
- Refrigerating: After 2-3 days in a sealed bottle, your kombucha should be carbonated enough to drink. To test, put one in the fridge to chill, then open it up. If it’s not carbonated enough, the other bottles might need another 1-2 days out of the refrigerator. Store carbonated kombucha in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
*Put all of your questions, concerns, and tips in the comment section below! I’ve asked or Googled almost every question out there… so don’t hesitate.
Healthy vs. unhealthy SCOBYs
It pretty easy to tell if your SCOBY isn’t healthy. It will smell and have noticeable mold spots. Don’t mistake the dark yeast strings for “unhealthiness.” The yeast string could be enough to keep your batch fermenting during warmer months. Here is a great resource with photos.