Beginner’s Guide To Kombucha ~ Make Your Own

Beginner's Guide To Kombucha ~Make Your Own, DIY, keeper of the home, healing remedies, health benefits, natural medicine chest, the old ways, scoby, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, white sugar, tea bags, fermentation, fermenting, raw, probiotic,restoring the gut, black tea, brewing kombucha, organic sugar,

 Beginner’s Guide To Kombucha ~Make Your Own

Probably you’ve heard of kombucha somewhere online, seen it for sale at the health food store, or had a glass of this wonderful (and expensive) beverage. Maybe you are wondering what it really is and why you should drink it. One year ago, I thought I would never be making it, but I hadn’t properly experienced it then, either!

Kombucha is a fermented tea that has value both as a medicinal drink and a refreshing one. According to Wikipedia, “Kombucha originated in Northeast China or Manchuria and later spread to Russia and the rest of the world.”

Some believe that Kombucha has been around for centuries, probably a few millenia. Here are a couple of different stories about how Kombucha came into being. It has been extensively studied and applied for several medical uses in Russia, Germany, and China. Here are some purported benefits.

It is typically made with black tea that is sweetened with sugar and has a SCOBY ( an acronym for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) placed in the tea. The SCOBY is the culture that makes the tea ferment and give it its good bacteria. Kombucha usually ferments in anywhere from 1-4 weeks (we like 6-9 days best), but there definitely is a ‘sweet spot’ during the process of fermentation that produces the best tasting drink. And wonderful it is!

Beginner's Guide To Kombucha ~Make Your Own, DIY, keeper of the home, healing remedies, health benefits, natural medicine chest, the old ways, scoby, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, white sugar, tea bags, fermentation, fermenting, raw, probiotic,restoring the gut, black tea, brewing kombucha, organic sugar, fermenting kombucha, SCOBY, storing, brewing

I kept hearing how great it tastes and how good it is for us, so when a friend offered us a SCOBY, I knew I wanted to try it. These are some photos I took of the process once I had repeated success. If you regularly purchase this wonderful effervescent drink, save yourself a small fortune and make it yourself.

Beginner's Guide To Kombucha ~Make Your Own, DIY, keeper of the home, healing remedies, health benefits, natural medicine chest, the old ways, scoby, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, white sugar, tea bags, fermentation, fermenting, raw, probiotic,restoring the gut, black tea, brewing kombucha, organic sugar, tea pot on the stove, brewing black tea, steeping tea bags

When I made kombucha with our new SCOBY (a.k.a. “mother” because of its ability to reproduce, or “mushroom” because of its appearance) for the first time, I was very careful to have everything practically sterile, but I soon became much more relaxed about sterility. Now my confidence in the ability of kombucha to thrive has grown, and I know you can do it, too.

A funny thing is that I just LOVE the living SCOBY. It isn’t gross or icky at all; I am rather awed by the beauty of it and marvel at the wonderful things God placed in our creation just for our benefit and delight!

Things you want to be careful of are: Always have clean hands, jars, bowls, and instruments when handling kombucha. When washing your hands, rinse them very well, especially if you use anti-bacterial soap.

The mushroom or SCOBY is a powerful culture, and once it’s established it doesn’t let much else grow, but it’s always possible for it to be weakened or infected with something foreign. Pay attention to the smell, which should be clean and a bit vinegary, not rotten or foul in any way. The SCOBY itself can look very different and still be healthy. Though I have not had this happen, if you have actual mold growing on it, it would be wise to throw it away and start over.

Beginner's Guide To Kombucha ~Make Your Own, DIY, keeper of the home, healing remedies, health benefits, natural medicine chest, the old ways, scoby, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, white sugar, tea bags, fermentation, fermenting, raw, probiotic,restoring the gut, black tea, brewing kombucha, organic sugar, culture, mother, what it looks like

I like to grow mine in a one gallon re-purposed glass pickle jar. It’s best to keep the kombucha away from plastic or metal for storage, though it’s fine to use stainless steel to make the tea in or a plastic funnel for bottling. The strong acid of the kombucha will oxidize metal with prolonged contact, and leech nasty stuff out of plastic containers. A nice ceramic crock would also be great if you have one.

The process is an easy one:

Make a sweet tea using 2-3 quarts of water (for a gallon container), roughly 2 TBSP. of loose black tea (probably equal to 5 teabags) and 1 cup of sugar. Bulk organic teas are available at great prices from the Bulk Herb Store or your local health food store.

Beginner's Guide To Kombucha ~Make Your Own, DIY, keeper of the home, healing remedies, health benefits, natural medicine chest, the old ways, scoby, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, white sugar, tea bags, fermentation, fermenting, raw, probiotic,restoring the gut, black tea, brewing kombucha, organic sugar, sweet tea

While the tea is cooling, I keep the scoby from the previous batch covered in a glass or ceramic dish (as in picture above). Make sure your sugar is dissolved while hot.

Beginner's Guide To Kombucha ~Make Your Own, DIY, keeper of the home, healing remedies, health benefits, natural medicine chest, the old ways, scoby, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, white sugar, tea bags, fermentation, fermenting, raw, probiotic,restoring the gut, black tea, brewing kombucha, organic sugar, dissolve sugar in black teaThe sweet tea needs to cool down until it’s just warm to the touch, and then you can combine it with your starter scoby and a cup or two of the mature kombucha in your big jar or crock. A good rule of thumb is to retain about 10 percent of your mature kombucha liquid to help inoculate the next batch. Top off the jar with water leaving ~ 2″ head space.

The scoby will float to the top of the jar, and over the course of the next week it will probably double in thickness. You can see the new baby below, forming the second layer.

Beginner's Guide To Kombucha ~Make Your Own, DIY, keeper of the home, healing remedies, health benefits, natural medicine chest, the old ways, scoby, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, white sugar, tea bags, fermentation, fermenting, raw, probiotic,restoring the gut, black tea, brewing kombucha, organic sugar,

You can let your scoby get pretty thick; I take mine apart about once a month, either sharing the extra scoby with friends or chop it up for your chickens. It is pretty tough and separates easily.

Beginner's Guide To Kombucha ~Make Your Own, DIY, keeper of the home, healing remedies, health benefits, natural medicine chest, the old ways, scoby, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, white sugar, tea bags, fermentation, fermenting, raw, probiotic,restoring the gut, black tea, brewing kombucha, organic sugar, separating SCOBY culture, mother for kombucha

Keep your jar covered using a pretty cloth and a large rubber band to keep dust and flying things out. Store the jar out of direct light; I keep mine in a dark cabinet. The warmer the room is kept, the faster it will culture or mature.

You might try your kombucha after 7-10 days to see if you like the flavor. Too early and it will be too sweet, but if you let it go too long it will be very strong and vinegary. One reason I’m not concerned about the sugar is that it is used up in the process of fermentation, so we don’t drink it. We think it tastes a bit like a effervescent ginger ale.

We take it with a meal and limit our daily amount to 2-3 ounces daily, which is not a lot. Being fermented (like sauerkraut, sourdough, or real fermented pickles), it is a good probiotic and a little goes a long way.

I’ve read some people like to bottle their kombucha (with tightly capped wire bale caps), store it at room temperature for 24 hours until it’s fizzy, and then store it in the fridge so they can drink it cool. Storing it in the fridge keeps it from fermenting any further. If you don’t have a lot of fridge space, you can simply bottle it and stick it in a dark, cool kitchen cabinet. Once it is ready, I store a big bottle in the fridge so we can drink it chilled, but the rest would keep in a cupboard just fine for many weeks. In the fridge I’m sure it would last indefinitely.

Try experimenting with different ways you can flavor your kombucha. This summer, we tried raspberries, and it was particularly delicious!

Beginner's Guide To Kombucha ~Make Your Own, DIY, keeper of the home, healing remedies, health benefits, natural medicine chest, the old ways, scoby, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, white sugar, tea bags, fermentation, fermenting, raw, probiotic,restoring the gut, black tea, brewing kombucha, organic sugar, raspberry kombucha, fermented drink, health beverageIn England, we had an amazing dish of slightly fermented fruits served with fresh homemade granola and yogurt for breakfast. Next summer, I am going to try to duplicate the fruit compote using fresh peaches, red raspberries, pears, plums, and apricots soaking them in kombucha for a week. Maybe it will be a success, and I will share it with you.

Try kombucha. If you find the right length of fermentation time, you will end up with a drink that is not only good for you, but light and bubbly and a pleasure to drink!

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Beginner's Guide To Kombucha ~Make Your Own

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~ Jacqueline

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23 Responses to Beginner’s Guide To Kombucha ~ Make Your Own

  1. Pingback: Beginner's Guide To Kombucha~Make Your Own | Deep Roots at … | A Beginner's Guide To

  2. Rebekah says:

    At what point do you add your flavors? So far we haven’t been very satisfied with our kombucha, but maybe we’ve tried too hard.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Rebekah,
      I added red raspberries the third time we made it…just washed them and dropped them in. Have you tried testing it after just 6-7-8 days?

  3. jem says:

    Why do you only drink 2-3 oz. a day? I’m curious.

    Amazing how you were not grossed out by the scoby, I make kefir and I think the grains are so neat looking, it just amazes me that they are so full of probiotics and they are multiplying so fast!

    • Jacqueline says:

      Hi, Jem! Good to see you here :)

      First, we want to make it last until the next batch is finished.
      Also, we have heard that its main benefit is as a probiotic and digestive aid. When we make sauerkraut, we just take a big TBSp with our meal once or twice a day as that’s all we need to keep a good bacteria level in the gut. (In our thinking anyway,) we’d rather do it every day a little bit than feast and have gaps with nothing :-]
      Yes, I just love my scobys, and I also love the milk kefir grains. I had one that was like a beautiful cape, all frilled and lacey, about 6″ long!

    • sheree says:

      You can suffer from die-off symptoms if you start off with too much, as well. Die off feels like the flu and is no fun at all :D

  4. I am not a tea drinker, but my family is! Where did you get your scoby to begin with? Do you have any you are willing to share? I would be willing to pay shipping.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Hi, Erika,
      I was given a SCOBY by a friend at our church. Now I sell mine at a local farm store and have an agreement with the owner. I would think you might pit out an email to all your church family and someone would have one locally. Or you could put a notice on the bulletin board at your local health store board asking if anyone has one to share. Oh, and another thought to ask on FB to those who are local to you. http://www.ehow.com/how_5342604_kombucha-scoby.html Where do you live?

    • Rebecca says:

      Hi Erika (and Jacqueline)!
      I’m new here…what a happy find!! Kombucha is brewing as we speak, just added flavors today. Erika, my Scoby is getting quite large, and I end up throwing them away or composting them, as I don’t have animals who would enjoy it. Where do you live? I’d be happy to share!! Also, just for reference, I ordered my starter Scoby from Ebay. It cost under $10 total, which was the least expensive I could find online. Let me know!!

  5. Pamela says:

    I can hang it up for the day since I’ve already learned something! I was amazed by this, even though I can’t have sweet tea. My daughter will find it intriguing, too.

  6. The Teaist says:

    Dear Jacqueline,

    Wow, this recipe looks amazing, if not a bit… creepy? To be honest, I’m a bit grossed out by it but I know that’s a silly, knee-jerk reaction. What a fascinating approach to tea – I never knew such a thing existed! Maybe if I can get over my squeamishness, I ought to try this sometime. Thank you for a beautifully documented blog post!

    Blessings :)

  7. Best tutorial I’ve seen on this yet! Thank you, Jacqueline!

  8. Jenifer says:

    I have never heard of this and I am fascinated! Thanks!

  9. Fairlight says:

    Thank you for sharing the link to this on FB. I have a question for an experienced komucha maker to give their advice on. :)
    I started my kombucha last Tues. My friend told me she would give me enough Ktea for a half gallon with the scoby. So I made half a gallon of tea to feed it with, picked up the jar of scoby and tea, brought it home and poured it into my big brewing jar with the prepared tea. But, to my surprise, not one or 2 scobies slipped out of that jar, but 4!!! My brew is a week old today and has just been getting a slight skin over it in the past 48 hours and some bubbles, but it’s been a week. Should I go ahead and take out some of the scobies, put them in separate jars and add new tea to everything anyways? The Ktea smells super vinegar-y and I’m worried that that many scobies ate up all the sugar in the tea super fast?? Or should I wait a couple of more days? I don’t know since I’ve never done this before. Any thoughts of suggestions?

    • Jacqueline says:

      Hi, Fairlight~
      I wish I was really experienced…I’ve only been making it for a year. I have had only textbook (normal) brews, but I wonder this: have you stirred it? If the scobies are floating as they often do, it might look like a skin. Stir it. It shouldn’t be cloudy…and go by the smell and cleanness (or lack of it) and go by that. It shouldn’t smell musty or off in any way, but vinegary is fine. Yes, the extra scobies can use up the sugar, too fast. You might take out three and put them in your compost (not down your disposal~ they might grow in there :0) Also if it smells’good’, taste it. At one week with that many scobies, it might be ready! I’d love to know what happens!
      Anyone else have any ideas??

  10. Amy says:

    I learned about making kombucha at a local herb shop. When I told my mom about it, she said that her mother made something similar to it. However, they let it ferment until it’s quite vinegar-y and ate the scoby in salad or as pickles.

  11. Scott says:

    You said to add a cup or so of mature Kombucha when starting the process, if I’m starting from scratch, could I use a store bought Kombucha or will my brewed tea work to begin with?

    • Jacqueline says:

      Scott, do buy kombucha or get a 1/2-1 cup from a friend. Also, if someone is giving you a scoby, it should be covered with kombucha to keep it fed and you should use that. It is a starter. Good success to you!

  12. Franchesca says:

    Thank you for this! I am trying to find someone with a scoby/ mature kombucha in my area. Thank you for explaining everything so well. I’ve really enjoyed your blog since I found it a few days ago!!

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