Let's face it: Buying kombucha to satisfy our daily habit of drinking it gets expensive. Like, really expensive. I know for myself, if I had to buy all of my beloved 'booch, then I'd be spending a yearly total of something pretty close to $2,800! Yikes! So to save on all that hard earned cash - and to create something perfectly suited to my tastes - I brew my own.
If you're intimidated by the idea of making your own 'booch, or just plain don't know where to start, then fear not! Below are detailed directions on how to make super simple + super good kombucha. Trust me, if you can make a cup of coffee, you can make kombucha. Pinky promise.
Alrighty, so Step 1 is pretty basic. Grab yourself a 1/2 gallon jar (most tutorials recommend using a 1 gallon jar, but 1/2 gallons are SO much easier to find. Heck, you can grab a 6-pack of 'em at Walmart for $8 or $9), and put about 2 Cups of boiling water in it.
M'kay, did you do it? Boiling water = in jar? Cool. Now throw in 3 bags of black tea. Doesn't matter what brand; just make sure it's only black tea (no Earl Gray allowed). Set yo' timer for 4 - 5 minutes. Note: 4 minutes makes a smoother, milder kombucha. 5 minutes makes a bold, strong kicker.
Once the timer goes off, pull those soggy tea bags out.
Wow, look at you just blowing right through this! Next part, pour 6 Tablespoons of sugar into that piping hot tea and stir it until it's dissolved. Raw cane sugar makes the best + most reliable brew, but if this is your first time brewing and you don't have that kind, then you can certainly reach for the common white sugar. Just maybe don't make a habit of using that stuff. Kombucha scobys tend to have a shorter lifespan when white sugar is consistently used. You can also use turbinado if you desire; I admit that I occasionally make a brew with this because I love the deep, molasses-like flavor that it imparts to the finished brew.
Ahem, to recap though: Throw some sugar in the bloomin' jar. Stir it. Move on.
Brace yourself, 'cuz this is probably the *hardest* step. Seriously. Grab a chair to hold on to. Or sit down on. Or find a hand to hold. Or a cat. Cats work too.
Take your jar of tea, and fill it up to the 6 Cup line with COLD WATER.
And everyone in the room faints! Oh my! I've never seen so much shock at one time!
I tease. I'm a teaser.
But yep, just fill that thing up with cold water. This dilutes the tea and brings down the temperature (Scobys don't like hot tea. So uncivilized...)
This is the fun part! You'll feel like you're actually making kombucha, and not watery tea now! Once the tea in the jar cools to room temperature (just stick a clean finger in there and see if it's hot or not), gently get put your scoby in the jar. No rain dance required, no chanting, no waiting for a full moon... It's really that simple. Just drop the scoby in the tea. It might float at the top, it might sink to the bottom, heck, it might hang out in the middle. Doesn't matter. Just let it do it's own thing and all will be well.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Don't have a scoby yet? Then I HIGHLY recommend you BUY one from a trusted resource, like Kombucha Kamp. Yeah, yeah; it seems like a lot of money for something that you've read you can make yourself, or can get from a friend. Just trust me on this. You NEED a high quality, reliable scoby if you want good tasting kombucha. Growing one yourself from a store bought bottle of kombucha takes a long time (30 - 60 days), and the resulting scoby won't survive more than a couple of batches. Buying one from some random place online often results in a teeny, tiny, pathetic scoby that can't be used for anything.
Size is everything when it comes to scobys. It needs to be 1/2 to 1 inch thick (1 inch will be the healthiest), and it HAS to be the circumference of your brewing jar. In my picture, I'm actually using a scoby that is on the small side. See how there's extra room around it as it floats? That's a no-no. I'm only using this one because it's getting old and I want it to make a new scoby before I retire it; so it's going to sit undisturbed in that jar for about 40 days. A proper sized scoby will make great tasting kombucha in 7 - 10 days. If its too small, then it won't be able to handle all the sugar in the brew and you'll have a botched batch (I do so love saying that. Botched batch... Haha.)
Almost done! You're doing great! Lastly, you need to pour in some "starter liquid". This helps raise the acidity level of the brew, which keeps bacteria from growing and helps your scoby do its job better.
For a 1/2 gallon jar, you'll want to pour in a 1/2 Cup of starter liquid. Now, this can be the liquid that came with your brand new, bought scoby (again, Kombucha Kamp provides a stellar product!), or you can use a 1/2 cup of store bought kombucha (GT's brand works great for this since they don't put Co2 in their brews).
And for the grand finale!! :::Drumroll::: Put a cover on your jar (tee shirt fabric is the best. Seriously.), and put it somewhere warm for about a week! Your work is done!
Kombucha loves to be in an area that hovers between 78 - 80 degrees (Fahrenheit obvs), but since none of us live in a perfect environment like that, just try and keep it as close to that as possible.
Since we're using a 1/2 gallon jar, your brew will ferment super fast. Start tasting it after 3 days; if the temps are really warm then it could be done that fast! Typically though, the taste will be perfect after 5 - 7 days.
You can either drink your brew now (making sure that you remove the scoby + 1 Cup of the liquid before doing so), or you can look for some of my other posts to learn how to flavor + bottle your kombucha to make it even more awesome!