Making your own kombucha is much simpler than you might think. Once you start brewing, everything you’ve read that seems over-complicated starts to fall into place. While it is simple, I have outlined a few things to consider before you begin brewing that will help you succeed the most.
1. How Much Time is Needed to Make and Maintain Kombucha?
I’ve heard so many times, “I would LOVE to make my own kombucha, but I just don’t have the time.”
In reality, kombucha doesn’t require a lot of maintenance and can be easily brewed and bottled in under an hour per week.
There will be a little learning curve for the first few brews, but once you’ve got the basics down, you will have freshly brewed kombucha regularly without much time, input, or effort.
From start to finish, brewing a new batch will take no more than 20-30 minutes. This includes boiling (a small amount) water for tea, steeping the tea, stirring in sugar, and then adding cool water to dilute the concentrated tea solution and cool it to room temperature before adding your SCOBY, covering it, and putting it away to ferment.
A batch of kombucha can take 7-21 days to ferment, depending on the temperature and your desired flavor between sweet and tart.
After fermenting your batch, you’ll want to bottle and flavor it. Depending on how you plan to flavor, the time required could vary. If you’re in a hurry, adding fruit juice is an easy, quick way to add lots of flavors.
2. What is the Ideal Environment for a SCOBY?
When choosing a spot for your kombucha brew jar, you want to consider temperature, airflow, sunlight, and smell.
Every microbe has a temperature in which they are most active and a range that it can tolerate. Kombucha is special because it is a community of different microbes that work together and tolerate different temperatures. The ideal temperature range for kombucha is where the most microbes will be the most active, which is 75-85F. While this might seem high for some, it is again the “ideal” temperature and can be flexible to suit the environment of your home to a certain degree (pun intended). If your house tends to be on the colder side, see this post, which goes over ways to keep your kombucha warm during the fermentation.
Since kombucha is an aerobic fermentation, placing your vessel in an open space helps promote oxygen flow and makes for a healthier ferment. Many people suggest keeping it in a cabinet, which I did for a few years when I was starting out. So while it can work fine if it’s your only option, it’s important to note that this is not necessarily ideal, as reduced airflow and dampness can increase the chances of mold. I found that another bonus of keeping it out of the cabinet was that I could see it. This allowed me to take better care of it, simply by remembering it was there which helped prevent over-fermentation.
It is best to keep your vessel out of direct sunlight if you’re using a clear glass container. Indirect sunlight is okay, but direct sunlight can disrupt microbial processes.
The last consideration is that kombucha can give off a potent vinegar smell, especially if you prefer a longer fermentation time. You will probably get used to it pretty quickly, but if you care what your guest thinks, you may want to consider this when choosing a location for your kombucha brew.
For most people, the place that fits each of these qualifications will be on top of the fridge. The heat radiating from the fridge helps warm the brew up, it is open-air, usually out of direct sunlight, and the smell rises, so no one will really notice.