Kombucha is a delicious drink made from sweetened fermented tea and raw cane sugar and is packed full of good bacteria for your gut. Here is a simple way you can make your own homemade kombucha.
What You Need
- 3 1/2 quarts water
- 1 cup sugar (regular granulated sugar works best)
- 8 bags black tea, green tea, or a mix (or 2 tablespoons loose tea)
- 2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought kombucha
- 1 scoby per fermentation jar, homemade or purchased online
- Optional flavouring extras for bottling: 1 to 2 cups chopped fruit, 2 to 3 cups fruit juice, 1 to 2 tablespoons flavoured tea (like hibiscus or Earl Grey), 1/4 cup honey, 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh herbs or spices
- Stock pot
- 1-gallon glass jar or two 2-quart glass jars
- Tightly woven cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels, to cover the jar
- Bottles: Six 16-oz glass bottles with plastic lids, 6 swing-top bottles, or clean soda bottles
- Small funnel
Note: Avoid prolonged contact between the kombucha and metal both during and after brewing. This can affect the flavour of your kombucha and weaken the scoby over time.
Make the tea base:
Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled. Depending on the size of your pot, this will take a few hours.
Add the starter tea:
Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea. (The starter tea makes the liquid acidic, which prevents unfriendly bacteria from taking up residence in the first few days of fermentation.)
Transfer to jars and add the scoby:
Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar and gently slide the scoby into the jar with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers tightly-woven cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels secured with a rubber band.
Ferment for 7 to 10 days:
Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, checking the kombucha and the scoby regularly.
After 7 days:
Begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.
Remove the scoby:
Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch of kombucha, as outlined above. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. As you do, check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick.
Bottle the finished kombucha:
Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch. Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if desired) into bottles using the small funnel, along with any juice, herbs, or fruit you may want to use as flavouring. Leave about a half inch of head room in each bottle. (Alternatively, infuse the kombucha with flavourings for a day or two in another covered jar, strain, and then bottle. This makes a cleaner kombucha without "stuff" in it.)
Carbonate and refrigerate the finished kombucha:
Store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Until you get a feel for how quickly your kombucha carbonates, it's helpful to keep it in plastic bottles; the kombucha is carbonated when the bottles feel rock solid. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.