How to Make Kombucha

Kombucha-from-Slim-PalateObviously with my recent post for Homemade Bacon along with this post being stringed together so closely I have been quite in the curing/fermenting mood. I feel like I am kind of finally breaking through that surface of cooking that’s make it even more interesting and attractive rather than mundane or boring. It’s amazing the simplicity behind what you have to do versus the complex order of events that happen while you wait for whatever you’re fermenting or curing.

Tea-Bags---Slim-PalateKombucha is a fermented tea that is typically comprised of sugared tea that has an almost magical globular disc called a Scoby introduced to it. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, which is exactly what it is. Over time, this colony of good bacteria eats the sugar inside of the tea and transforms the liquid into the fizzy elixir known as Kombucha.

Steeping-Tea-Bags-Slim-PalateI have constantly been perplexed by kombucha with it’s odd and unique yet addicting flavor. It’s tart and semi-sweet fiziness  is always satisfying and awakening. As soon as the book Fermented was released I knew it was finally my turn to take a shot at it. Lucky for me I had Jill as my coach because I was being incredibly stubborn as I made it. My mom got me all worked up thinking that I was going to grow some sort of poisonous sludge that would cause deadly convulsions on the floor, because she’s a mom, and that’s what mom’s do. As it turns out, making Kombucha is incredibly easy; dare I say,  almost foolproof.

Pouring-Tea-for-Kombucha

Now the difficult part of making this really is simply obtaining  a SCOBY. There are many ways to get one like buying it online or grabbing one from a friend that brews it themselves. I got mine from my friend Lynsey from Yonder Way Farm. I’m lucky to be able to have friends willing to give me SCOBY’s for my instant gratification because to be flat out honest I just didn’t want to wait for one to come in the mail. Now I just need to figure out what to do with these 3 SCOBY along with another one growing on top of them in their SCOBY hotel.

Kombucha-via-Slim-Palate

How to Make Kombucha
5.0 from 2 reviews
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Adapted from Fermented By Jill Ciciarelli
Ingredients
  • 11 black tea bags
  • 1½ gallons water
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ cups starter tea
  • 1-2 SCOBY (I used 2 small SCOBY's)
Instructions
  1. Pour all but 2 cups of the water into a 1-1/2 - 2 gallon jar or glass vessel. Heat the 2 cups of the water you didn't add to a light boil then add the tea bags and let steep for 4 minutes then remove the teabags and squeeze out excess water. While the tea is still hot pour in sugar and dissolve completely then allow the tea to cool completely.
  2. Once the tea is completely cool and room temperature pour the tea into the glass vessel along with the rest of the water. Add the SCOBY then the starter tea.
  3. Cover the vessel with a dish towel or coffee filters and secure it with butcher string or rubber bands. (This is super important and will keep flies and other foreign objects out of your brew.)
  4. Place your vessel in a well ventilated, warm, dry room that is not dark because light encourages the SCOBY to eat the sugar. I left mine on the counter in my kitchen.
  5. Allow your kombucha ferment there undisturbed for at least 10 days and check for taste, depending on how sweet you like it. The longer you ferment the less sweet it will become and the less sugar it will have. I let mine ferment for a total of 21 days.
  6. Once you have done that your Kombucha is done but optionally you can bottle it for a second ferment to make it even more fizzy and delicious, this is also where you can add flavors. If you want to add flavors simply add some fruit additions such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries along with some other additions such as ginger, lemon/lime juice, herbs. The sky is the limit for flavors so be spontaneous. Add the fruit or flavorings to flip top bottles then pour over the Kombucha and fill it up just about 1½ inches from the top and close the tops and let it sit on the counter for 4-5 more days. Refrigerate the bottles until cold then open and enjoy!
Notes
Notes about the sugar: For those of you who don't know what this is and are freaking out about the sugar; don't worry because the SCOBY eats the sugar and your fermented drink should have about 1-3 grams of sugar per 100 ml. Also while you can use coconut sugar I do not recommend it as it can cause a sloppy or slow ferment because it's harder for the SCOBY to digest, if you want a smooth and easy ferment your best bet is organic evaporated cane sugar.
Note about starter tea:Starter tea is any leftover Kombucha from a previous ferment or an unflavored Kombucha bought from the store. I used GT's Enlightened Original Kombucha.
Flavor ideas: I did about 4 different flavors. Blackberry, Ginger, and Thyme. Blueberry Rosemary Lemon. Strawberry. Blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, lemon, ginger. Lastly Raspberry, lime, ginger.

 

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17 Responses to How to Make Kombucha

  1. Brandon 24 October, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    Nice tutorial! I’ve been making Kombucha for a little over two years, but have yet to flavor it with a second ferment. I should try this this weekend!

  2. Emma 24 October, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    Looks fantastic! I’ve never really known about SCOBY in kombucha until now. Thanks for the tutorial! I shall try to get my hand on some SCOBY now…

  3. Joyful Susan 25 October, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Should the first instruction be “Pour all but two cups of the ‘water’ into a 1 1/2 to 2 gallon jar or glass vessel”?

    • Slim Palate 26 October, 2013 at 7:59 am #

      Thanks for the note! Fixed it.

  4. zane 27 October, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    is there a variation that is caffeine free? or does it have to be made with black tea?

  5. Lauren 3 December, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Hi! Where did you get that fermentation vessel? It looks great!

    • Slim Palate 3 December, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

      I picked it up from Sur La Table. This is the one I believe.

      • Enrico 9 August, 2014 at 10:24 am #

        Love the glassware.I have been brewing Kombucha for a year now, and always have passed up these beautiful pieces because I thought I couldnt have metal around my scoby. The spigot looks stainless steel? Can I use a metal spigot? Im so excited if I can!

        • Slim Palate 11 August, 2014 at 10:39 am #

          Actually I think it was plastic and just looks metal. It brewed fine and I had no problems, so go get yourself one! ;)

  6. Kelly 5 December, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    Ok just want to know, this is Paleo friendly?

    • Slim Palate 7 December, 2013 at 9:12 am #

      I believe it is. Robb Wolf has a post on it here.

  7. Sonia! The Healthy Foodie 16 December, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Hey Josh, I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for inspiring me to finally take the plunge and start making my own kombucha at home.

    The beauty of your pictures and the simplicity with which you described the whole process gave me just what I needed to convince my brains that we were able to successfully carry this task to completion if we wanted to.

    Thanks to you, we did it and are now completely addicted! ;)

  8. echo 8 September, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    Hi,
    I am growing my own scoby and it was going great but this morning I found that it sank. It is still young the color us clear and cloudy and the snell is wobderfull. I tasted the liquid and it still has plenty of sugar to grow on. My question is will it still grow okay if it was bumped and dropped from the surface. I started it from a kombucha drink that my husband brought back from the usa. We do not have access to kombucha or scoby in Ecuador. You in put would be greatly apreciated, thank you.
    Echo

    • Slim Palate 9 September, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

      I am not certain but I’m sure it’s find. Sounds like a job for google!

  9. Brianna 19 October, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

    I grew my own SCOBYS it is super easy. I also want to just point out that your container has a metal spigot which can mess with your SCOBY.

    • Slim Palate 20 October, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

      The spigot isn’t metal it’s plastic. Also the inside of it is plain plastic without any paint on it.

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