Homebrew kombucha

 

What you’ll need:

  • 15g good quality, whole leaf tea (organic if poss) – I have been using white tea from JING Tea, but you can use black tea as well
  • 2 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • large teapot (1l min.) – this is a great set to use
  • large storage jar (1l min., heat proof and with a wide mouth) – something like this, for example
  • a SCOBY – ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast’. This is the culture that will ferment your drink. It’s a slimey disk, which you grow to love. Tradition has it that you get given one of these, you do not buy them. So find someone that is already making kombucha and they will be able to give you one of their SCOBYs (you end up accumulating lots). They can’t really be posted, but if you want to get one from me, I live in West London, get in touch.

 

  • Boil the kettle – use filtered water if possible
  • Sterilise your storage jar by filling with boiled water and leaving for 10 minutes
  • Prepare your tea – weigh 15g of tea into your teapot and add the sugar, pour over (approx) 1 litre of freshly boiled water
  • Leave the tea to infuse for around 10 minutes – it will be much stronger than you would normally drink it
  • Once ready, strain (remove the tea leaves) so that the tea stops infusing and allow to cool down to room temperature. You don’t want to add the tea to the SCOBY when it’s too hot, as this could kill the microbes
  • Once your storage jar is sterilised and your tea has cooled, pop the SCOBY into the jar and add some of the liquid that the SCOBY came in
  • Add your sweet tea to the storage jar, do not seal the jar – instead, cover with a folded j-cloth and elastic band around to keep it in place. This will allow the air to get to the liquid and ensure there is enough oxygen for the fermentation to take place
  • Leave your kombucha at room temperature for up to a couple of weeks – knowing when it’s ready will take a bit of getting used to. In my kitchen, during Winter, it takes around 10 days, but when the weather gets warmer it will take less than this. The SCOBY will feed off the sugar and ferment the tea. Over time a new SCOBY will form on the top of the liquid

 

When the kombucha is ready, it won’t be smelling so sweet anymore and it should have that ‘fermented’ smell going on. I tend to let mine get ‘mature’ (i.e. ferment for longer than usual) and it goes reasonably sour – but I prefer that to the overly sweet versions you can buy pre-made. Experiment and have fun, it’s rewarding making your own kombucha, it can become a bit of a hobby.

Have a little taster to see whether you think it’s ready – if it is, then pour it into another sterilised bottle, pop a lid on and leave it in the fridge. It can fizz up during this time, since you have cut of the oxygen supply.

A few pointers:

  • A SCOBY is also known as the ‘mother’
  • Ensure your equipment is clean and soap free – rinse with boiling water to remove residues
  • Make sure your hands are clean when you’re preparing everything and if you are handling the SCOBY
  • I’m told that contact with metal will kill your SCOBY – so beware
  • If you find patches of mould appearing on the film of the new SCOBY then I am afraid something’s gone wrong and you will need to start again. Hopefully your original SCOBY inside the liquid will not be affected
  • Once you’ve made a match, you’ll have to make the next one, and keep it rolling, otherwise your SCOBY will die
  • If you’re needing to store your SCOBY for a few days before making a new batch, be sure to retain some of your kombucha fluid for it to sit in
  • For further reading, check out Sarah Wilson’s blog

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