• Prep Time 15 min.
  • Cook time 5 min.
  • Yield 3 quarts

Instructions

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Bring 1 quart of filtered, spring or purified water to boil in a stainless steel or glass cooking pot.

Place boiling water in large bowl and add one cup (8oz.) of Organic Evaporated Cane Juice Sugar.

Add three Organic Black Tea bags and one green tea bag. Let steep for 15 minutes.

Remove and discard tea bags and add 2 quarts of cold filtered water

Pour tea in a one gallon glass container (I use a fish bowl) add 1 cup of the starter tea (which should come with your mushroom/SCOBY or take it from the previous batch).

Place the mushroom(SCOBY) on top of the cool sweetened tea making sure that the darker rougher side faces down..  (Don’t worry if it sinks to the bottom)

Cover Jar with cotton cloth so the mushroom(SCOBY) can “breath”.

Secure with a rubber band to keep cloth in place and to keep out any insects.

Place the glass jar in a warm ventilated place. Ferment for 10 to 20 days without moving. The warmer your house, the shorter the fermentation time.  Keep away from direct sunlight and kitchen odors, plants, smoke and pets. The ideal constant fermenting temperature is 72-85 degrees Fahrenheit. If your house is too cold you can get this heating strip system.

At about 10 days remove cover and  dip a pH test strip into the tea to measure the degree of acidity.  A pH of 3 is perfect.

You can also do a taste test. If it does not have a “bite”, continue with the fermentation process for few more days and retest. It should have a “sweet & sour” taste with a” bite”.

After the fermented tea has passed the tests, remove the mushroom(SCOBY) that has formed on top of the tea. The top culture is the new one and some people call this the baby.  If the “mother” and it’s “baby” are stuck to each other separate the two carefully and place them in a glass container with lid with enough “Tea” to cover it for future use. After several batches the Mother starts to look really dark. I discard the old mushroom/SCOBY.  They compost well.

You can now flavor it. I like freshly squeezed lemon juice, freshly grated ginger, or fresh/frozen pureed raspberries. The sky is the limit! See Article about flavorings.

Pour “tea” through a mesh strainer and a funnel into a glass container. I like the ones with a snap down top. Store the “tea” in the refrigerator.

If you would like to get your kombucha to have more carbonation(fizzies). You can add something sweet like fruit juice or sugar and then bottle with secure tops, place on your counter and let ferment 2-3 days more.

Kombucha wrapped in blankets

Kombucha wrapped in blankets

Separating Mother from Baby

Separating Mother from Baby

Before and After Fermenting

Before and After Fermenting

Bottling the Kombucha

Bottling the Kombucha

Fresh Raspberry Kombucha

Fresh Raspberry Kombucha

Tips and Trouble shooting:

Starter? Starter tea is simply previously brewed kombucha. Usually, you’ll be given some with your SCOBY. You’ll need at least 1 cup. If you have a SCOBY and no starter tea, try to find a plain kombucha in one of your local health food stores.

Brewing water? You need clean water, free of bacteria and chemicals. If your city uses chlorine or fluoride, you should filtered the water.

Types of  tea? I highly recommend organic because non-organic is high in fluoride. I like to use 3 black tea bags and one green tea bag. I do not recommend any flavored teas. If you want to add flavor, add it after the culturing process.  Black, green or white tea all provide the chemical composition your SCOBY needs, because they are created from the same plant (Camellia sinensis). Be sure to read the labels on herbal tea blends and ensure that it’s pure tea.

Kind of sugar?  Organic evaporated cane sugar is what I use. Those are the only two recommended sugars. Raw sugars are too difficult for the SCOBY to digest and the SCOBY suffers over time. Raw honey can actually kill the SCOBY, due to its anti-microbial properties. Molasses creates a very unpleasant flavor, and stevia starves the SCOBY.

Brewing container? Use glass not plastic, because the chemicals in plastic can leach into the kombucha, and don’t use metal because it can corrode and harm the SCOBY.

Sterilize the jar? No.  Simply wash the container with dish soap, hot water. Rinse it well. Never use bleach, and never use antibacterial soap. Similarly, when you wash your hands before handling the SCOBY, you want them clean, but not antibacterial.

Airtight or open jar? Your SCOBY needs to breathe, but it also needs to be protected. Cover the top of your jar with a cotton cloth secured with a rubber band. This allows air in, but keeps contaminants out.

Best spot to culture kombucha? Someplace warm, out of direct sunlight, with plenty of air flow, away from your garbage can and away from plants. Why? Your garbage and plants can have mold or harmful bacteria present, and you don’t want those drifting over to your kombucha. Don’t put it in a cupboard, or it won’t get enough air flow. I put mine in my living room. Find a space where you can leave it undisturbed during it’s culturing cycle.

Brewing temperature? Kombucha thrives between 72-85 degrees. Temperatures in the upper 90′s will eventually kill the SCOBY. Temperatures in the low 60′s will make it very slow to culture.  So, what do you do in the winter? I cover mine with a wool blanket. You can set a tall lamp over the kombucha with a 25 watt bulb shining down on it. Make sure there’s about a foot between the bulb and the SCOBY, so you don’t risk overheating. Or, you can buy a heating strip system designed for kombucha fermentation, which keeps the brew at a perfect temperature year-round.

Continuous Brew? I have not done this technique but if you are interested, you can order a Continuous Kombucha System .  Read more about this.

Going away or on vacation? Since a SCOBY can safely ferment at room temperature for 30 days, just let it brew while you’re gone. You can also but your SCOBY in the fridge covered in tea mixture.  I have left it for 30 days and it was fine.

How much should you drink? Start off slowly, with just one or two ounces, and see how your body reacts. If you have no adverse reaction, slowly increase to 8 ounces. Once you tolerate that level, you can decide whether you’d like to have a bottle of kombucha a few times per week, or smaller amounts on a daily basis. Although some people drink a few bottles daily, that’s not necessary. Fermented foods are very effective in small quantities, and it’s better to diversify your fermented foods (kefir, yogurt, lacto-fermented vegetables, water kefir soda)than overdo on one kind. In fact, many people say that 4 oz. daily is a medicinal dose.

When should I drink it?  Some people like it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, allowing the probiotics to enter the digestive tract, and the detoxifying acids to enter the bloodstream, without delay. Others prefer to have it with food, because it aids digestion. There is no right or wrong here. Try it both ways, and see what works best for you. I like a small glass with lunch and another one at dinner.

Too Sweet?  Usually this just means you need to ferment longer. Continue to check it every few days. Other considerations are: (1) Did you add enough starter tea? For every new gallon batch of kombucha, you want to add at least 1 cup of fermented kombucha. (2) Are you using flavored teas? Sometimes these have essentials oils that harm the SCOBY. Use plain black, green or white tea instead. (3) Check your room temperature – it needs to be at least 72 degrees. If it’s not, try one of the heat boosting techniques listed above. (4) Your SCOBY needs to breathe. Make sure you have it in an open location and not stored in a cabinet or closet. (5) Did you accidentally add your SCOBY to the brewed sweet tea when the tea was still warm? This can kill the SCOBY. Make sure your tea has cooled off to 80 degrees before adding it. (6) If you’ve done all this and your kombucha still doesn’t seem to be brewing, you might need a new SCOBY.

Too sour? This just means it fermented too long. You can still drink it, by combining it with fruit juice to be palatable. In future batches, taste test it sooner. If you live in a hot climate and your room temperature is hot and therefore brewing the kombucha too quickly, try to find a cooler spot in the house to put your kombucha.

Normal SCOBY ? SCOBYs are funny looking a act funny. They looks like a jellyfish, rubber pancake, bumpy, smooth, have holes, sink to the bottom of the jar, float, dark brown, stringy, cloudy on top of jar, has sediment on bottom of jar… Believe it or not, all these things are ok!

Mold? This is bad news. That’s mold and cannot be salvaged. Throw away the SCOBY and the kombucha. Photos of Mold 

How do I prevent mold? The good news is that mold in kombucha is rare, but there are steps you can take to minimize the possibility: (1) The 1 cup of starter tea you add to every new batch of kombucha is the key to preventing mold from forming; don’t skip this step. (Starter tea is fermented kombucha.) (2) You can add 1 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar to the brew, to enhance its anti-mold power. Don’t use apple cider vinegar, though, because it’s a living food that can take over the SCOBY. (3) Make sure your kombucha isn’t brewing near plants or garbage; both can be mold carriers. (4) Make sure the cloth covering your container is tightly woven; loosely woven cloth (like cheesecloth) is more likely to let in contaminants. (5) Don’t smoke near your kombucha. (6) When you clean your jar between batches, make sure there’s no food or soap residue left behind; both can lead to mold. Rinse very well. (7) Be sure your hands are clean when handling the SCOBY. (8) Is your kombucha brewing in a humid location? This makes it more susceptible to mold.

Black SCOBY : Sadly, this means your SCOBY is dead. Dump both the SCOBY and tea, clean your container, and get a new SCOBY to start over.

History? Kombucha most likely originated in Northern China and/or Russia. The name derives from that of a Korean physician, Kombu, who was called to treat the Japanese Emperor Inkyo back about the year 415 AD.  In Russia the kombucha culture is called chainyy grib (literally “tea fungus/mushroom”), and the fermented drink is called chainyy grib, grib (“fungus; mushroom”), or chainyy kvas (“tea kvass“). Kombucha was highly popular and seen as a health food in China in the 1950s and 1960s. Many families grew kombucha at home.

An amazing story!  I read this story just when I was getting interested in kombucha and I always tell people about it in my classes.

In Tom Valentine’s article (Search For Health, Volume 1, Number 6, July/August 1993) Günther W. Frank relates an amazing but true story -about Soviet cancer researchers in the crucial years just before Stalin died in 1954.Taking a page from the police tactics of the KGB, Soviet cancer researchers determined to find out why, where and how this dread disease had increased so dramatically following World War II. Using the probing techniques made infamous by the KGB, the Soviet researchers analyzed the cancer epidemiology community by community in minute detail-taking into detailed account all the environmental factors.There in the midst of dreadful cancer statistics two districts in the region of Penn on the Kama river in the central western Ural mountains stood out like neon lights. The districts of Ssolikamsk and Beresniki had hardly any cancer cases reported, and those few with cancer often turned out to be people who had only recently moved into the area from elsewhere.How could this be? Environmental conditions were not any better than other districts-in fact the region had potassium, lead, mercury and asbestos mining with production facilities spewing plenty of pollution. In fact trees in the area and fish in the Kama were dying.In typical KGB fashion, two teams of scientific investigators were set up, one in Ssolikamsk, the other in Beresniki. They probed into private lives and investigated and analyzed. In the end they were puzzled. Günther Frank points out in detail how the people of these two districts drank as much vodka as other Russians, but did not seem to have the social drunkenness problems, nor the poor -work record usually associated with drinking. The problem was finding an explanation for this curious improvement.

Then it happened that one of the scientific team leaders personally visited the home of a family selected to be studied. It was a warm summer day and the family was away- only an elderly “babushka” was at home.

The old woman offered Dr. Molodyev a refreshing beverage. What was it, he asked? She responded that it was “tea kvass.”

But Dr. Molodyev had never known of this particular product named tea kvass. Molodyev inquired and learned from the babushka all about the “tea wine” made from the “tea sponge.”

The “spongy mushroom thing” floating in the sugary tea was not exactly appetizing to look upon, but, as the elderly woman explained: the drink was tasty enough and “very healthy, easy to digest, and what’s more, it is free!

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Enjoy,
Lorraine