Brewing kombucha at home is easy!
The hardest part is learning to trust the process. Feeding bacteria and yeast, as you would a pet, then drinking its byproducts isn’t exactly intuitive but, luckily, that’s the main hurdle you’ve got to get over. A brew or two is all you need to get comfortable with the weirdness and begin loving and enjoying your very own home-brewed kombucha!
The only other hurdle you may run into is the factor of time. You’ve got to embrace your inner laziness and let that babysit. You may get antsy and may get excited (which you should), but fermentation takes time. Once you get into a rhythm, it becomes second nature, and before you know it, you’re a pro.
Let’s talk more about time. The longer you let any ferment go, the more time the bacteria and yeast have to eat and produce the nutritious byproducts. For kombucha, however, if you let it go too long will eventually compromise the flavor. The sweet spot depends mainly on the temperature of your kitchen (or wherever you’re brewing). Warmer temperatures promote faster brews, while colder brews will ferment slowly. Simply monitoring your brew by taste-testing allows you to mark the progress and decide when it’s ready.
Your taste buds are your most valuable indicators of when your brew is complete. A good rule of thumb is to start tasting on day 7. If it needs more time, don’t fret– depending on temperature, a healthy kombucha brew can take several weeks. If it happens to be too vinegary for you by day 7, then you’ll know to begin tasting earlier for the next brew.
HOW TO BREW KOMBUCHA
Gather all of your supplies and give your utensils, pot, and gallon glass jar a good rinse with hot water and distilled white vinegar.
What you will need:
- 1-gallon glass jar
- Small pot
- Coffee filter or cloth cover
- Rubber band.
- 14 cups of filtered water*
- 1 cup of organic cane sugar.
- 6 tea bags or 6 tsp loose leaf black tea, green tea, or a kombucha tea blend.
- Kombucha SCOBY starter culture.
- Thermometer <— these sticky adhesive ones work great, making it easier to see the temperature throughout the fermentation as well.
- pH strips.
- Air tight bottles – these 16 oz airtight Kombucha Bottles work great for both secondary fermentation, and storage of your finished brew.
*Filtered water is essential. City water is treated with chlorine; a chemical specifically added to inhibit microbe growth. We are trying to encourage microbe growth during fermentation, so its best to remove the chlorine. Any carbon filtration system will work. This includes Brita Filters and refrigerator filters, given you have been on top of changing the filter. If not, a gallon jug of spring water from the store will work as well!
- In a small pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil – turn off and remove from heat.
- Place tea in the pot. If you’re using loose-leaf, you can either use a reusable tea steeper or add it straight to the pot and strain out later
- Allow tea to steep for 5-10 minutes, then remove from pot.
- Add the sugar and stir until it’s fully dissolved.
- Pour the contents of the pot into the gallon brew jar.
- Top the jar off with cool filtered water, making sure to leave room for your culture plus a little breathing room–about 3 inches
- Before you move on to the next step, the temperature of the tea should be somewhere in the 70’s. Using cold water makes that happen quicker.
- Gently stir in your kombucha starter culture–SCOBY plus starter tea [should be 1 cup starter tea per gallon]
- Using a shot glass or a spoon, remove a small amount of liquid from the brew jar to test the pH. If the pH reads 4 or below, continue to step 11.
- If the pH reads above 4, slowly add distilled white vinegar and test until it reaches that point.
- Secure the coffee filter over the opening of the jar with a rubber band. This is important to keep bugs out and allow your ferment to breathe.
- Place your brew jar in a warm spot, out of direct sunlight for 7-10 days, undisturbed.
- After seven days in the desired temperature range [75-85°F], it’s time to start taste testing. It should only be slightly sweet. If it tastes overly sweet, then it needs more time to ferment. Cover and check back daily until it reaches a balance of slightly sweet and tart.
When you’re kombucha tastes to your liking, it’s time to bottle it!
Ready to bottle? Hop over to the How to Bottle Kombucha post to get started!