homebrew kombucha: making the first batch

One of my goals for 2014 was to homebrew kombucha. Almost exactly a month ago, I started by growing a SCOBY. The SCOBY has been ready for a little bit, but I only had time to start the kombucha this weekend. I’m using this recipe for the base, since it’s as simple as it comes.

You start by boiling some water. Easy peasy.

Once it comes to a boil, you add a cup of sugar.

Once the sugar dissolves, add the tea bags and let it steep for a long time – until it cools off on its own.

   
Fast forward a couple of hours (I baked 96 mini blueberry cupcakes while this was cooling!) and you’ve got sweet tea. Squeeze the tea bags and remove.

Here we’ve got the sweet tea, a brewing container, some starter kombucha, as well as my SCOBY, floating on the top of the jar. I’ve read that you can use that liquid as the starter instead of the original kombucha, but I don’t like to experiment and divert from recipes when I first make them. Just my personality.

 Add all 16 ounces of the original kombucha to the starter tea. You do this so that the acidity of the tea stays high enough that the bad bacteria don’t grow. You only want the good ones! Once this first batch is done, I can save out 16 ounces of that batch for the next one I make. So you might very well be looking at the last bottle of commercial kombucha I’ll be buying!

I then transferred the tea mix to the brewing container. I had chosen this container after a lecture I heard at Mother Earth News Fair about good containers for started kombucha. Since the spout on this container doesn’t have any metal, it would be ideal for brewing and then transitioning to bottling.

Then it’s time to transition the SCOBY over. Man was this thing weird. I’ve seen pictures of them, but never touched one before. And it was seriously a blob. But I was pleased to see that it was healthy with no problem areas – only just one thin spot.

Ironically, once I put the tea mix in the beverage container, I had to step away to attend to something, so it sat on the counter for a bit before I could put the SCOBY in. During which time the container’s seal proceeded to leak. Just a tiny bit – not enough that you’d notice at a party if you had punch in the container. But enough that I knew I couldn’t leave the container like that to brew for a week, or I’d lose it all.

Plan B was to split the SCOBY in two and use half gallon mason jars to brew. Cutting the SCOBY was ridiculously hard though, since it was like thick tire rubber. Definitely an experience. I covered them both with cheesecloth held in place by a rubber band, like the jar on the right, and set them in the same place where I grew the SCOBY, since it seemed to have the right temp and light to grow a good SCOBY in the first place.

So now I sit and wait for 7-10 days while these ferment. Then it will be on to the next step – bottling, flavoring and carbonating! Stay tuned!


  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12205244293158113523 Ber

    That SCOBY is crazy!!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16336925504159543895 Joanna Taylor Stone

      It is the weirdest texture – kind of like discovering an alien species, since it was like nothing I’ve ever seen.