A healthy SCOBY to make Kombucha

Kombucha brewing at home – First Fermentation

Today we’re going to walk through the first stage of brewing Kombucha, right in your home kitchen! This stage is when we brew and set up the tea for fermentation, and the second stage is when we bottle and flavor the Kombucha, creating the final fizzy product. It might seem intimidating, but I promise, the steps are easy, and the end is delicious and worth it!

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What the heck is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a type of fizzy, flavored tea, that’s been aerobically fermented with the aid of a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). It’s sharp and refreshing, a little acidic, and packed full of probiotics, enzymes and nutrients.

This beverage is so amazing for your gut health and your immune system. If you like the taste, incorporating it into your regular diet is very beneficial-> boosting the good bacteria that your body needs to fight off infection.

Bottled Pineapple Kombucha

There are great brands with delicious flavors sold in stores, but at an average of $3 a bottle, regular consumption can get pretty pricey. Learning to make your own is easy peasy and WAY cheaper. I’ve been brewing my own kombucha at home for over 8 months now, and I absolutely love it! It was intimidating at first, and I’ve had to learn my SCOBY and play around with timing and flavors. But it’s totally worth it, and now I love my own kombucha taste more than the expensive store bought stuff (except for GT’s Gingerade, that stuff is the greatest). 

kombucha brewing supplies

Supplies for home made Kombucha

Here’s what you’ll need:

-Glass Brewing Jar

-Liquid Measuring Cup (I like using this big one!)

-Organic Black Tea Bags (I just use these)

-Wooden Spoon

-Sugar (You can use white sugar, organic cane sugar, or coconut sugar)

-SCOBY

-2 C Starter Tea

-Jar Covering & Rubber Band (Something breathable, but not too porous- I like to use flour sack cloths)

details on the SCOBY
(the heart of kombucha)

Now, what in the world is a SCOBY and starter tea, and how exactly do you get some?

A SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) is the weird looking home that hosts all of the good bacteria and yeast that makes kombucha so incredibly good for you. It’s usually pancake shaped,  layered and a little slimy. Honestly, most people walk into my kitchen, and think I have some raw chicken chilling out in a jar (GROSS).

Starter tea is just kombucha, that’s already been through the first ferment. This is crucial to brewing your own batch, be sure you have at least 1.5 Cups, preferably 2.

You can actually purchase a SCOBY and starter tea, here on Amazon…there are also some online companies that sell starter kits, like https://www.getkombucha.com/, and https://www.thekombuchashop.com/

A healthy SCOBY to make Kombucha

But really, SCOBY’s are passed, neighbor to neighbor. I haunted my neighborhood’s Facebook page until somebody posted that they had an extra one. She put a little SCOBY (it doesn’t take a huge one), and 2 cups of starter tea in a jar and left it on her porch for me to pick up!

This would be my top recommendation on getting started, as a fellow home brewer has probably taken good care of their SCOBY, and has strong organic starter tea to pass along. 

Brewing Vessel

2 gallon glass jar

 

I chose this big, 2 Gallon glass jar as my brewing vessel (Anchor Hocking from Walmart). For me, a larger jar was necessary, because in the summer we go through so much kombucha, that I make double batches. My husband just has to be told the health benefits, and he’s all about adding a bottle to his routine as well!

However, a 1 gallon size jar would totally suffice for home brewing (and not take up quite so much space on your kitchen counter).

how to:

Step 1:

Boil 4 Cups of water (I prefer using my ceramic electric kettle for this)

Step 2:

Add 6 tea bags & 1 Cup of sugar.

Stir with a wooden spoon (It’s important to not use metals in this process, as they can disturb the natural properties of the SCOBY).

Let it steep for ten minutes or so. You want this tea to be strong!

sugar and tea
sweet black tea

Step 3:

Add the tea to your brewing vessel, and then add in 8 Cups of cool water. (This is to ensure the tea isn’t so hot that it damages the SCOBY).

Step 4:

Add in your SCOBY, and the 2 cups of starter tea. Gently stir.

SCOBY and tea for Kombucha
SCOBY - Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast
Home Brewed Kombucha
Home Brewed Kombucha and SCOBY

And that’s it! Now you place your flour sack towel over the lid and hold it in place with a rubber band. 

You want to keep your brewing vessel somewhere not too warm, and out of direct sunlight.

Let this tea sit and ferment for 7-10 days, depending on what your SCOBY likes, and on how warm your house is (the warmer the climate, the faster your kombucha will ferment).

This part takes a little bit of trial and error, and it’s also partially up to you and your tastebuds. If after 7 days, you taste it and it’s not very strong to you-not very acidic, not a strong yeast smell- then leave it a few more days and try again. When your kombucha tastes right, move on with me to the second fermentation!

Home Brewed Kombucha - First Fermentation

Good luck and happy brewing!

– Mal

2 thoughts on “Kombucha brewing at home – First Fermentation”

  1. I love home brewing kombucha! I’ve finally figured out the first ferment, but I’m still experimenting with the second ferment. I can’t always achieve fizz and my flavor combos aren’t always very tasty. I’m looking forward to seeing how you handle that step to see what I can try next!

    1. mgrace2397@gmail.com

      Thanks for reading Jen! Yes, the second stage is tricky. Lots of trial and error, depending on SCOBY, temperature, flavoring and sugars…It’s an adventure! I’ve got some flavor combo ideas in part 2, be sure to check them out!

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