Making our own kombucha: basic recipe (step 3)
After weeks of waiting, our SCOBY and starter fluid are ready for the first brewing. We are uncanningly excited and ready to get started. If you have not succeeded or wish to grow your own SCOBY, you can also just skip steps 1 and 2 and get some kombucha culture with a cup or so starter fluid from a friend who is already up and running. Don’t know any kombucha nerds? You can also buy a starter package online.
(Full-disclosure guys… we have to fess up to the fact that: We totally failed with our SCOBY and had to pour it down the drain. But fortunately, we are buddies with Dr Soki Choi who quickly provided us with two SCOBYS. We are crossing our fingers now that we manage to keep these alive!)
Well then. Here we go!
Base recipe: kombucha with white tea
(17 cups total)
12 cups of water
4 tablespoons white tea (alternatively 8 tea bags)
1 cup raw sugar
4 cups kombucha (starter fluid)
In addition, you’ll need:
a large glass jar, a piece of cloth and a rubber band
a funnel and a strainer
some bottles and labels
Boil the water then add the tea and sugar and stir. Allow to cool to room temperature. Strain out the tea leaves (or remove the tea bags) and pour into a large, clean glass jar. Add the kombucha (starter fluid) and add the SCOBY. Lay a thin piece of cloth over as a cover and fasten using a rubber band. Leave the glass jar unattended at room temperature for 7-12 days.
Take a sample on day 7 (use a clean straw so no dirt ends up in the kombucha) and continue testing every day until you are satisfied with the taste. When the kombucha is ready, keep it in the refrigerator so that the fermentation process stops.
The taste of kombucha changes during the fermentation process and varies from sweet, fruity and bubbly to more vinegar-like if it stood for a long time. And just like with cheese, yogurt, wine and sauerkraut, the fermentation process helps to create healthy and friendly bacteria. After a week or two, you have a lightly fermented tea with live bacterial culture.
If you are satisfied with your kombucha as it is, pour into cleaned glass bottles and store it in the refrigerator. It gets more sour the longer it stands, but will last well for several months! If you want to flavor your kombucha, you will have to wait just a while longer. We promise to publish Soki Choi’s best tips for flavored kombucha here on the blog shortly. Keep your eye out!
What do you mean live bacterial culture?
A bottle of kombucha is stuffed with good lactic acid bacteria and organic acids that have been shown to contribute to both healthier intestinal flora and a healthier brain. After a few weeks of fermentation, one milliliter of kombucha contains as much as one million bacteria. Which bacteria exactly may vary, but usually we find bacterial Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are known for their psychobiotic properties (they strengthen brain health).
What temperature can I store kombucha?
During the fermentation process, it should stand at room temperature or a few degrees warmer. On top of the fridge is usually perfect. The lower the temperature, the slower the fermentation. When the kombucha is ready and you want the fermentation to stop, put the beverage in the fridge.
What do I do with the SCOBY?
Already during your first brewing your SCOBY/kombucha culture, will multiply and form new offspring. These are then used for future brews, along with a cup or so of really sour kombucha that you save as starting liquid. You can also give away a baby SCOBY and some starter fluid to a friend. But keep an eye on your kombucha culture! If it’s looking strange and the kombucha tastes strange, it’s best to throw that batch and SCOBY and start a new one.