Recipe: Basic Kombucha

January 13, 2013 · 51 comments

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I did it! I made some really fine kombucha at home from a beautiful healthy SCOBY given to me by a friend. It was easy once I got over the learning curve and the anxiety I felt when I received the SCOBY and screamed “what do I do with it?” I’ll tell you what I did, how easy it was and how to be a little more prepared than I was.

FIrst of all, be sure to have all the equipment you will need on hand ready for the arrival of your SCOBY. A good friend of mine gave me a SCOBY and it came much sooner than I expected so I was sort of caught out. I had to scramble around for large glass containers which are much harder to find than I expected! I also didn’t have the tea on had so I had to run out and buy some good organic green, black and white tea.

When it came time to bottle the kombucha I didn’t have the bottles on hand so I simply used quart mason jars as I wanted a strong glass jar for this.

All in all it has been a little on the edge and I was pushed into just doing it! The end product? Fantastic! I made really good kombucha and now I have all the things I need to do it again!

Ingredients

  • 1 SCOBY mother, culture or mushroom (where to buy)
  • 1 gallon filtered or spring water (not tap!)
  • 1 cup starter liquid the SCOBY came with
  • 4 – 6 organic black, white or green tea bags or 1/4 cup loose tea (where to buy)
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar (no other sweetener will work)

Equipment

  • 1 – 2 gallon glass container (where to buy)
  • stainless steel pot to make the tea in
  • Plastic funnel (for bottling)
  • Distilled white vinegar for rinsing the jars
  • Clean cloth (like muslin) to cover the top of the jar with
  • Rubber bands to secure the cloth to the jar
  • PH strips if you want to be technical

Instructions

  1. Clean the jars you are using  — I wound up using two 1/2 gallon jars as that is all I could get locally at the time I needed them
  2. Do not use soap as that will kill the SCOBY — just rinse with hot water and rinse again with white vinegar
  3. Of course whenever you are handling the SCOBY or jars be sure your hands are clean
  4. Brew the tea in a brewing vessel — I used a stainless steel pot that I thoroughly cleaned and put the tea bags into the hot water for about 5 minutes
  5. Remove the tea bags
  6. Add the sugar and stir a bit
  7. You can pour this tea into the glass container but be sure to let it cool before putting in the SCOBY
  8. When the tea is room temperature clean your hands and place the scoby into the vessel
  9. Pour about a cup of the starter liquid the SCOBY came in, into the vessel as well
  10. Cover the jar with the cloth and secure it firmly with the rubberband
  11. Place in a warm, quiet place out of direct sunlight and let it ferment for at least 7 days
  12. After 7 days start tasting it to see if it needs more time
  13. It loves to be at around 70 degrees F so if it is warmer it will go faster and if it is cooler it will go slower
  14. It will be slightly tart when it is ready
  15. You could also check the PH level if you happen to have PH strips handy. I did not have any when I needed them so I just tasted it. If you use PH strips it should be around 3.0
  16. Using a plastic straw, stick it into the liquid and taste your kombucha — if it is still sweet, let it go another day and keep checking it until you think it is ready
  17. The brewing time will vary for each home and each person’s taste and may differ at different times of the year

Flavoring

Here’s the fun part! Think about what flavors you would like to try and have about two tablespoons of the fruit or whatever it is ready when you are ready to bottle your kombucha.

Here are some ideas:

  • Unsweetened cranberry juice
  • 1 tablespoon sliced fresh ginger
  • Fresh blueberries or strawberries (organic)

Bottling

  1. I was not prepared for this part and I did not have the cool “grolsch” style bottles on hand — actually I thought I saw them at Bed Bath and Beyond, but they didn’t have them when I shopped for them this week
  2. As a second choice I simply used quart mason jars with lids — plastic is best
  3. Remove the SCOBY — you should have another baby SCOBY from this brew — and place them into another clean 1/2 gallon or gallon jar for the next brew
  4. Take 1 cup of the brew as starter liquid and pour it into the new vessel with the SCOBY and place aside
  5. Now place you flavoring into your separate jars or bottles and pour the kombucha you made into the jars or bottles — using a plastic funnel if needed
  6. Leave a little room at the top of the jar or bottle
  7. Place the caps on the bottles or lids on the jars and leave out for 1 – 3 days
  8. You should check them each day for the amount of carbonation you want and to make sure they are not so pressurized that they are ready to explode — that can happen at this stage so be aware and be careful to keep these in an out of the way place
  9. You can place a towel around these bottles or jars for this reason
  10. When you think it is ready place in the refrigerator and enjoy!

Continuing the Ferment

Now you can start all over with the new jar and the SCOBY and start to make the next batch.

Depending upon how much your family drinks you may be able to keep up with your kombucha needs in this way. However, if it becomes clear that you are drinking more than you are making, you may want to consider the continuous brew system.

Stay tuned for more about Kombucha including a post about the continuous brew method!

Where to Buy Organic Kombucha and Kombucha Making Supplies

 

This post is shared at: My Meatless Monday, Melt in Mouth Monday, Barnyard Hop, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tasteful Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday , Hearth & Soul Hop, Mommy Club, Real Food Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Healthy 2Day, Party Wave Wednesday, Seasonal Celebration, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Tasty Tradtions, Creative Juice Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Gluten Free Friday, Fight Back Friday, Foodie Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Foodie Friday, Cultured Gathering

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Beth January 14, 2013 at 11:31 am

I think I may have just found a source for a scoby! I’m so pumped to get started on this. I am trying to grow one, but not sure if it’s working (only been a week). I already bought the grolsch bottles. So you basically brew it until it’s the flavor you want, then bottle it–I’m assuming the bottling/airtight part is when the carbonation forms right? Kombucha is fizzy right? I’m real excited to try because the thing I miss most from being a whole-foodie (believe it or not) is diet soda. Not even the sweetness so much as the fizz….

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2 Jill January 14, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Yes, just follow the directions in the post. The second ferment will produce the bubbles.

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3 Flo January 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm

If you know anyone with a Scoby you should ask for some of theirs as it continues to grow, this is how I got mine. Also Scoby is good for the chickens and the compost!

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4 Patty January 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Jill, I’d really like to know what you think about the health benefits, which I hope you’ll cover in the upcoming posts. I made kombucha a few years ago, and enjoy drinking it but I didn’t really notice any health benefits so I lost my motivation to hassle with it.

Also, I’ve seen the grolsch style bottles at places like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, etc. for about $1 each.

Reply

5 Jill January 14, 2013 at 3:15 pm

HI Patty,
I discuss the health benefits in this post — but some people do not experience them — as with any food, supplement or treatment.

http://realfoodforager.com/kombucha-my-next-challenge/

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6 Beth Michaels January 14, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Ok I have another weird question–I know most people give extra scobys to chickens or compost them, but can you get them? I remember hearing that if you have extra kefir “grains” you can just eat them & get all the probiotic benefit so long as you’re keeping enough to keep the culture going (or in this case as long as you have the mother culture). Thanks :-)

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7 Beth Michaels January 14, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Sorry! I miss typed the most important part of my question–not can you “get” them, can you “EAT” them?

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8 Jean January 14, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Hi: I have a few questions. Can you use decaffeinated tea to make kombucha, if not, how much caffeine do you get from this? I gave up caffeine many years ago. Also, I live in a cold climate, we turn the heat down at night and during the day when we are not at home. How can I get my kombucha going? My house is some times 66 degrees. I could try putting it by my furnace or my bathroom is a warm room in my house. Sorry for the stupid questions, I want to try this, but want it to work before I spend money on this project. Thank You

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9 Jill January 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Hi Jean,
My house is on the cold side too. I wrapped the bottles in towels and put them in the warmest part of the house. It is taking longer than 7 days to ferment but it is definitely working.

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10 Mary January 14, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Hi Jean,

My house is very cool too…..I put what I’m brewing on top of my refrigerator and it works well.

Also, I’m in southern Ontario, and I have extra SCOBY’s…..I’m more than willing to share if someone needs one to get started.

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11 Becky H January 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I really, really want to make Kombucha… none of our health food stores carry the bottled stuff and I’ve yet to run into someone who makes is locally. Can you mail Scobys? I’m in Alberta… sort of far and I guess they’ll freeze- not sure if that kills them.

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12 Natalie June 25, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Hi Mary, I know it’s been quite a while since you posted your message but I just noticed it while I was searching for a kombucha starter source. Are you still sharing your scobys? If so, please email me details – I’m very excited to get started brewing. Thanks!

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13 Robin January 16, 2013 at 5:01 pm

I’ve been looking for a simple step-by-step directions to give to my patients to make kombucha at home. Kombucha is so delicious and good for you! I shared it on my practice FB page! Thank you!!

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14 Kathy @ Mind Body and Sole January 17, 2013 at 1:33 am

Love the instructions. :) I’ve never made kombucha, but I make water kefir frequently and the steps are almost identical. :) I get my jars for the second ferment at Ross, TJ Max, or Home Goods, they usually have good prices for them. But I have had them explode on me when I’ve left the kefir to ferment too long. :)

Thank you for sharing the steps on Wildcrafting Wednesday! :)

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15 Susan Godfrey January 17, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I have a friend holding a baby scoby for me and I can’t wait to get started with my first batch of kombucha. Well, not my first batch, but the first batch that wasn’t dropped on the floor and broken before it was finished brewing (Darn kids! GRIN!).

I’ve been enjoying your blog! You have a lot of great information :)

I’d like to invite you to join in my blog hop tomorrow, Get Real Frugal Friday, if you are interested :)

http://realfoodrealfrugal.com/category/get-real-frugal-friday/

Blessings!
Susan

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16 Miz Helen January 19, 2013 at 11:15 am

Hope you are having a great weekend and thank you so much for sharing your awesome recipe with Full Plate Thursday.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen

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17 Diane Balch January 19, 2013 at 12:37 pm

I’m about ready to take the plunge. I just order “The Art of Fermentation.” I love this tea. Thanks so much for sharing it on foodie friday.

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18 Alea @ Premeditated Leftovers January 21, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Great post! Thanks for sharing your tutorial with the hearth and soul hop. I’ve pinned it to my beverages board on Pinterest.

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19 Adelina Priddis January 22, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I have never heard of Kombucha, or Scoby. Looks interesting. Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friday.

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20 Bernice January 26, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Hi, I started making Kombucha this fall. What fun it has been. I wanted to ask if anyone adds fruit to the first ferment. I add about 1 cup of fruit that is muddled, eg. raspberries, or fresh cherries. Have even used frozen. Then I grate in fresh ginger. Sometimes lemon. I have found the bottles with the spring clip top are the best, I burp them everyday and we seem to get lots of fizz. I was interested to see about the fruit in the first ferment. Thankyou for all of your great information.

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21 Jill January 26, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Hi Bernice,
I don’t think it is a good idea to put fruit in the first ferment as that may disturb the SCOBY. But second ferment is fine.

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22 Elena August 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm

How long does a SCOBY last? Also, how do you transition baby SCOBYs into mothers?

I’m looking forward to trying this since I’m hooked on Kombucha and going broke buying the stuff!

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23 Jill August 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm

SCOBY can last forever if you keep feeding it. The babies grow up into the mother. You can keep them in a separate glass container. The babies make kombucha also.

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