Kombucha Brewing For Beginners
Welcome to the wonderful world of KOMBUCHA!
Hobbyist, you are in for a real treat.
I recognize that there will be two types of readers taking a look at this tutorial:
The “I love Kombucha! But it’s sooo expensive…. Can’t wait to make my own!” or the “Uhhhhhh…. What is Kombucha?”
The plan is to convert our “Uhhhhhh…. What is Kombucha” friends into Kombucha aficionados!
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea full of probiotics and a high amount of B-vitamins. Popular nicknames include “Elixir of Life” and “Healthy Soda”.
And don’t fret, it is pronounced like so:
DISCLAIMER: Due to live cultures used to make Kombucha, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not consume.
What’s inside of your NHB?
One Gallon Glass Jar
One Cup of Organic Sugar
Two PH Strips
Three Oregon Kombucha Teas
One SCOBY floating in Organic Kombucha Starter Tea
What is SCOBY?
SCOBY stands for: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. Basically, Scoby + Sweet Tea = Kombucha. With each new batch of Kombucha, a new layer of Scoby will grow. If kept properly, a Scoby will last indefinitely and will continue to produce Kombucha.
The Scoby included in your NHB was grown and packaged by our friends at Oregon Kombucha based in Portland, Oregon.
STEP ONE: Gather your materials. In addition to the contents of your NHB, you will need to get the following:
– Pot to boil water
– Something to stir with (Preferably wooden)
STEP TWO: Fill your gallon jug with water. (Tap water is fine)
STEP THREE: Empty half of your jug’s water into your pot. Bring water inside of pot to a boil.
STEP FOUR: Choose your tea.
We’ve included three amazing teas for your brewing pleasure. On your first batch, we recommend choosing a black tea. Black teas stand up better against heat and are easier to work with when you are just starting out.
STEP FIVE: Brew your tea. Once your water has come to a boil, remove your tea bag from the plastic and place it in the water. Reduce your heat to medium and allow it steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove bag and stir.
STEP SIX: Add brewed liquid and bag of sugar to vessel. Note: Bag contains one cup of sugar.
STEP SEVEN: Stir. Make sure to stir up your tea/sugar mixture.
STEP EIGHT: Cool for a few hours.
**Before continuing on with the Kombucha making process, your sweet tea must cool so you can add the Scoby. If the Scoby were to enter the sweet tea at a temperature above 90 degrees, it would die.**
STEP NINE: Once you are certain your sweet tea is cooled down, add the Scoby and the cup of Kombucha it is floating in.
*Whenever starting a new batch, you must add a cup of Kombucha or vinegar to increase the acidity levels.
STEP TEN: Cover your Kombucha with the cloth and twine.
STEP ELEVEN: Make your Kombucha a home.
Find a dark spot that keeps a consistent temperature (66-78 degrees) for your Kombucha to live for the next few weeks… A closet works well. I cleared out a small kitchen cabinent and lined the bottom with a towel for insulation.
STEP TWELVE: Bless your Kombucha! Tell it how much you believe in it, love it and be sure to set your intentions. (Give it a name if you so choose- my first batch was named “Boochy”)
STEP THIRTEEN: PATIENCE! Give your Kombucha space. Aka no poking/prodding or messing with the bottle… It will alter the flow. Instead, peep in on it every few days and say hello (with your mouth only).
You will need to wait AT LEAST 7 – 10 days. Some brewers wait as long as 31 days before bottling. The longer it ferments, the higher the acidity and taste of vinegar. A Ph level between 2.6 and 3.5 is the sweet spot 😉
Over time, notice that your Kombucha will turn from the dark black tea color to a lovely golden brown.
Any intense colors like fuzzy blue or red mean it’s BAD.
It’s rare, but sometimes your Kombucha can grow mold off of a particle that accidentally falls into your batch. (This is why it’s important to keep your ‘bucha covered and not to mess with it.)
The following photos are of an old batch’s new (baby) scoby that grew on top of another one. In my opinion, this is the most exciting part….. No matter what size or shape of vessel, the new scoby will form on the surface. The longer it sits, the thicker it becomes!
Once you get this initial batch under your belt, you will be amazed at all of the possibilities and types of Kombucha you can make. I’ve gotten some AMAZING recipes here: https://www.culturedfoodlife.com/?s=kombucha
If you are new to the Kombucha world, I recommend heading out to your Publix, SafeWay, Kroger, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Wegmans, QFC etc. and try out a bottle! GTs Enlightened (shown below), Kevita and Simple Truth are the brands I see the most.
Once you’re ready to consume your brew, check back here for part two!
Have questions about this process? Don’t wing it- drop a line below!
Part two is here!
Thank you for waiting…. It was for your own good.
*PAUSE* If your Kombucha has fuzzy and blue… do not follow the following steps because unfortunately your batch needs to be thrown out.
Fingers crossed that your SCOBY made it through to the next round.
Letting go of your culture can be very sad. If this happens to you, please don’t be discouraged. You have still gained the knowledge to start your next batch… And please, try again!
If you have let your kombucha sit for at least 7 to 10 days, now is a good time to test your Ph!
Even if you started your batch the same day as someone else, the Ph will most likely vary based on temperature, light or even how potent you made your tea.
We provided you with pipettes to carefully steal some ‘booch without disturbing your culture too much. Once you gather a sample in your pipette, empty it onto your Ph strip.
Compare your strip to the closest color scheme standard shown on the chart below:
A Ph level between 2.6 and 3.5 is what you are looking for. The higher the Ph the sweeter the Kombucha… and you guessed it- the lower the Ph the tarter the Kombucha (like vinegar).
If your Kombucha doesn’t fall within this range, don’t be discouraged! Again, depending on conditions, it could take up to a month (and lots of practice) for your Kombucha to be where you want it!
Don’t be afraid to also take a little taste test as well 🙂
You will notice “floaties” in your brew and it is completely normal. Once you bottle, it will settle to the bottom. If you prefer, you can filter out.
If you think it’s ready, let your scoby fall to the bottom of your jar and pour out your bounty!
Make sure to leave at least a cup of your kombucha in the bottom of your jar so your scoby can continue to live and the contents left in the jar will start your next batch.
When you’re ready to keep and store your brew you can decide to either keep the it in the gallon jar we sent you and transfer your scoby/cup of kombucha into another vessel *OR* keep the scoby/cup of kombucha in gallon jar and transfer your kombucha into new vessels.
I suggest the latter… just make sure any vessel you use is glass!
Personally, I am a huge fan of “swing-top” bottles. I found them at IKEA, The Dollar Store, Target, Amazon and even Big Lots. Another great option is using mason jars or even recycling old pickle or sauce jars!
Once you transfer into a bottle, be sure to refrigerate!!
Here’s a pic of my most recent batch named, Boochy (she is a tart ginger pear brew and quite delicious).
What flavor did you brew first? How do you like it? Have questions?
Please share your experience! Thanks again for trying new things with us- Cheers 😉
Want to try flavoring your kombucha?
We’ve pinned some pretty awesome recipes worth taking a look at… If you use any of them, let us know how they turn out!