Some people love kombucha because of the probiotics. Some love it because of that vinegar-like taste. Some just love it because of the health benefits. Honestly, there are a lot of reasons why should you drink kombucha tea. There is something magical in the way that the sweetness of the beverage brings everything together. Some people simply don’t believe that something as delicious as kombucha can be made out of tea.
So, how can you make kombucha at home? It’s simple, easy, and the preparation takes little to no time. Yes, it will take several days before the kombucha is ready, but it’s all worth it. With this recipe, you can prepare up to eight bottles of probiotics (kombucha) for just a fraction of the cost you’d pay for probiotics like yogurt.
What you need?
First off, let’s take a look at the ingredients. This is what you need for one gallon (eight bottles) of kombucha. You can adjust the ingredients for more or less, and I’ll share the ratio with you later on.
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 bags of tea, green or black (always include at least 2 bags of black tea)
- 3½ quarts of water
- 2 cups store-bought kombucha
- 1 scoby per fermentation jar, homemade or purchased
You can also add 1 or 2 cups chopped fruit, a cup or two of fruit juice, and some honey or fresh herbs for flavoring—that’s up to you. As for the equipment you’ll need, this is it:
- 1-gallon glass jar
- Clean napkins, tea towels, paper towels, or coffee filters to cover the jar
- Stock pot
- Six clean bottles
- Small funnel
Step-by-step guide to make kombucha
Let’s take a look at all the steps you need to follow to make your very own kombucha tea.
Step 1: Prepare the tea
- The first thing you need to do is prepare the tea base. Boil the water, and then remove it from the heat.
- Add sugar, stirring until it dissolves.
- Add the tea and steep until the water has cooled. This process might take up to a few hours, depending on the size of the pot. If you want to speed up the process, place the bottle in an ice bath. However, I recommend leaving the mixture to cool down naturally.
Step 2: Add starter tea
- After your tea mixture has cooled down, remove the tea bags. You can also strain any loose tea.
- Add the two cups of store-bought kombucha and stir. The reason you want starter tea in the mix is to make the mixture acidic, which will help the fermentation process once you add the scoby.
Step 3: The scoby makes its entrance
- Pour the mixture into the one-gallon glass jar. If you prefer, you can also divide the mixture into two 2-quart jars (however, if you divide the mixture, you’ll need 2 scobys).
- Wash your hands, and then gently slide the scoby into the jar. Cover the jar with a few layers of cloth (clean napkins, tea towels, paper towels, or coffee filters), and secure with a rubber band.
Step 4: Fermentation
- This is the most important part of the process. Fermentation lasts between 7 and 10 days. Keep the jar at room temperature during the fermentation process. Also, keep it out of direct sunlight.
- A few things to note (all of these are signs of normal and healthy fermentation):
- During the fermentation process, the scoby might float to the top, the bottom, or even sideways. That’s not unusual.
- You will also notice a new, cream-colored layer of scoby forming on the surface of the kombucha. This new layer might attach to the old scoby, but it can also separate from it.
- Bubbles collect around the scoby as well.
Step 4: Check it out
- Once the initial seven days have passed, you can taste and check the kombucha to see if it is ready.
- To check the kombucha, pour a little out of the jar into a glass or a cup. You want to find the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness.
- Once the balance is pleasant for you, your beverage is ready.
Step 5: Remove the scoby
- When your kombucha is ready, gently remove the scoby out of your kombucha beverage and place it on a clean plate.
- Check the scoby to see if the bottom layer is getting thick. If so, remove it. You can prepare another batch of kombucha using the same scoby.
Step 6: Bottling
- From the kombucha you have ready, you can save a starter tea for the next batch. After you’ve measured and set aside the starter tea, it’s time to bottle the kombucha beverage.
- Strain it if you like, and then pour the fermented beverage into bottles. Use the small funnel for this.
- At this point, you can add juice, herbs, and fruits to the bottles, leaving ½-inch at the top of each bottle. Another way to add flavor to the beverage is to infuse the kombucha for a day in a covered jar, strain, and then bottle.
Step 7: Final preparations before drinking
- Your kombucha is ready, but that doesn’t mean you can drink it yet. The last part of the process is the carbonation. For this process, you need to store the bottles at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. Wait for one to three days for your kombucha to carbonate.
- For beginners, you can use plastic bottles for the carbonation process, as it is easier to see how long it takes the kombucha to carbonate. Your kombucha is ready for drinking once it carbonates.
- Store the bottles in the fridge to stop the carbonation and fermentation process. Consume this beverage within one month. After that, it’s time for a fresh batch of kombucha!
I would also like to share some bonus tips with you. These tips will help you avoid any mistakes and improve your skills at brewing kombucha.
- When you cover the jar, use a cloth that will be difficult for insects to wiggle through and get into the kombucha. That means no cheesecloth.
- As I said at the beginning, you can increase or decrease the amount you make. The basic ratio is 1 cup of sugar, 2 cups of starter tea, and 8 tea bags per one gallon of kombucha.
- One scoby is enough for any amount of kombucha. However, if you prepare more than one gallon, it will take longer to ferment.
- If you use herbal teas, make sure to include at least two bags of black tea. The scoby needs black tea for the fermentation.
- Your kombucha will start with a neutral aroma. However, as the fermentation progresses, the aroma will become vinegary. If the aroma becomes cheesy and rotten, it means that something has gone wrong.
- Although one scoby will last for long time, it does have its own lifespan. Once the scoby becomes black, it’s time to get a new one. Black or green mold on the scoby is also a sign you need a new scoby. To prolong the scoby’s lifespan, peel off the bottom layer.
Fun and creative ways to use kombucha
When you prepare kombucha, a simple beverage is not the only way you can use it. There are other fun and creative ways to use this beverage:
- Use kombucha for dressings in salads instead of vinegar. You can use kombucha instead of ketchup and mustard as a condiment.
- You can marinate meat with kombucha thanks to its acidity. Pork, beef, lamb, and even fish can be marinated in kombucha.
- For your muffins, cakes, and bread, soak the grains in kombucha.
- If you want an acidic ingredient in cocktails, kombucha is always an option. You can use it instead of any sweet and sour mix.
- You can drink kombucha as a healthy alternative to soda.