Alright. Let's see how this attempt goes...
As I hate when instructional guides ramble on before presenting anything, let’s just go right to it and discuss later if there are discussions to be had. I will make footnotes where I see fit to keep the process streamlined. (Maybe they'll even work?)
- 1 Gallon of filtered or Spring Water
- 1 Cup Sugari
- 1 Ounce Tea Leavesii
- 6 Ounces Kombucha starter culture and/or SCOBYiii
Tools ***Do Not Use Metal Tools!***
- >1-Gallon Pot with lid
- Wooden spooniv
- Fermentation vessel(s)v
- 1-Cup measuring cup
- 1-Tablespoon measuring spoon
1. Add 1 Gallon of water to a pot. Bring to a boil on Medium-High heat.
2. Once Boiling, stir in 1-Cup of sugar. Allow to boil for 10 minute
3. After 10 minutes, remove from burner. Add tea loose into your pot.vi
4. Steep tea for 15-45 minutes with the lid on. (I go for about 25 with a mix of green and black teas.)
5. After steeping tea for 15-45 minutes, sanitize your fermentation vessels (boiling water works just fine) and strain in the sugary tea liquid. Allow to cool to <100°
F. Approx. 3-4 hours at room temperature. (I do this with lids placed on, not tightened at all, just to avoid airborne contaminates from falling in)
6. After cooling to <100° F, measure 6 Ounces of SCOBY culture liquidvii and add it to the cooled sugary tea liquid along with your slimy disc of a SCOBY body!
7. Cover your fermentation vessel with a cut of paper towel, doubled-over cheesecloth, clean tea towel, clean t-shirt, or set it up with a fermentation airlock. If it doesn’t breathe, it won’t form well and fermentation will be fickle.
8. Now just store in a dark, 70-90° F area for 1-4 weeks.viii (Mine found a nice home next to my incubating spawn jars, as the winter here has my house at a steady 68° F, so I have a nice, cozy corner of the house with extra heating)
9. When the 1-4 weeks are up, seal the fermentation vessels to allow them to carbonate for that desirable effervescence.
- I decided to do this today because my SCOBY hotel had not been fed since mid summer (about 7 months). I filled the two ½ Gallon Mason jars to the brim so that I had some extra sugary tea liquid to feed to the hotel. So...these are resilient cultures if started the right way.
- If you are quite a fan of kombucha and find this process easy enough to frequently replicate, I highly recommend designating a “SCOBY Hotel”, which is basically just a bunch of SCOBY bodies in a jar full of their own vinegary water culture. This does need to be maintained, but, as I stated just above, they are quite the resilient little buds.
- There is also the “continuous brew" method. This entails removing all but 1/10 of the kombucha liquid, leaving the SCOBY body and simply refilling the 9/10 with new sugary tea liquid. There are even ceramic/glass containers with a spigot for easy pouring. I’ve heard mixed opinions about whether this method is superior or inferior to “batch brewing”. What I can surmise is that, if there is a difference, it is negligible. Basically, do whichever method better suits you. They will both offer great rewards.
- It is said that if your SCOBY body sinks, it is no longer viable. I beg to differ. I’ve had them sink for days, only to revive and establish quite a strong top-layer.
That’s about all! Open to questions. Hope this helps someone. I decided to put it in All Edible, Medicinal, and Other Fungi, as...it is all of those things! (Just hangin’ with some bacteria). Mods, feel free to move it if you see it necessary.
i As little as ½ Cup sugar can be used, depending on water quality, type of tea/phytochemicals present in base herb, temperature, etc. Also, other sugars can be used. The one finicky one is honey, as it has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. I have, however, successfully used honey as well
ii Black teas tend to have the highest concentration of available phytochemicals used by the culture. However, many different teas and herbs can be adequately used as a replacement, though fermentation time will be altered.
iii SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) can be easily obtained by simply leaving a store-bought kombucha out on a counter for a week or two (be sure to drink about 2/3 ot 3/4 of it, lest it get explosive!). In fact, my original culture was obtained from a bottle that I had lost in the back of my fridge
iv It has been reported that contact with metal can slow, stall, or downright kill a kombucha culture. The only exception to this is Brewery-grade Stainless Steel. I have personally used metal strainers, knives for cutting SCOBY, and metal measuring cups with seemingly no trouble, but it is certainly advised to avoid them if you can.
v ½ Gallon Mason jars are quite convenient for smaller batches like this. Getting the SCOBY out is something easily overlooked when starting a culture from liquid.
vi Tea leaves like to open up and breathe! So let’s allow them to do that in the full volume of your pot. This also gives the most amount of surface area to allow maximum efficiency of extraction.
vii If you do not have a SCOBY starter culture, you can use apple cider vinegar in it’s stead, coupled with the SCOBY you obtained via my 3rd footnote. You are mainly looking to assist the culture in it’s microbial warfare with a nice acidic environment to start with.
viii Higher temperatures ferment kombucha faster. Lower, slower. For a more sugary beverage, ferment for a shorter duration. For a more vinegary beverage with more health benefits, ferment for a longer duration.