- 4 cups water
- 1–3 tablespoons loose tea, or 4–8 tea bags
- 1 cup sugar
- 12 cups water
- 1 mature kombucha SCOBY
- 1–2 cups starter liquid (fully fermented mature kombucha from a previous batch or provided with SCOBY)
1. Heat four cups of water in a pot to boiling. Turn off heat.
2. Combine the tea and hot water and let steep 5–10 minutes, depending on the recommended time for the type of tea you are using. Remove tea.
3. Add sugar to tea; stir to dissolve.
4. Pour the remaining 12 cups of water into the brewing vessel.
5. Add the sweet tea. Test the temperature. It MUST be lukewarm (body temperature or below) before adding the SCOBY. Cover with a clean cloth and set aside, if necessary.
6. Add SCOBY and starter liquid.
7. Cover the brewing vessel with a breathable cloth, like a dishtowel, piece of cotton or a coffee filter, and secure with a rubber band. Do not use cheesecloth.
8. Place in a warm location, out of direct sunlight. Do not disturb. Allow to ferment for 7–21 days. You will see that a new layer has grown on top of the liquid—this is your new culture! After seven days, insert a straw along the side of the jar while trying not to disturb the culture and remove a sample to taste. If you find that it’s too tart, reduce your brew time next time. If it’s too sweet, brew longer, checking daily.
9. Once the brew is to your liking, the kombucha is ready to drink. At this time, you can also add flavors and carbonation through a second fermentation. Before bottling or flavoring, remove 1–2 cups of starter liquid for the next batch, placing it in a bowl. Remove the SCOBY and add to bowl, cover with towel and set aside.
About this recipe
Things to consider | Brewing Notes
• The brewing vessel should be glass, food-grade ceramic, stainless steel (grade 304 or higher) or wood. The most common type of brewing container is glass.
• The desired temperature range for brewing is 68–86°F (ideally, 76°F). Below 68°F, the conditions don’t allow for active fermentation.
• It is important to create an environment conducive to the growth of the bacteria and yeast. The kombucha requires airflow and should be brewed out of direct sunlight. Do not disturb during the initial seven-day brewing process.
• As with most anything, the better the quality of ingredients, the better the quality of the final product. Use the best ingredients you can, organic when possible.
• Traditionally, kombucha was brewed with black tea; however, today it is most commonly brewed from some combination of green and black teas. Black, oolong, green, white and pu-erh tea are great options.
• Do not use herbal or flavored teas, which can harm the culture. These are best left for experimental batches once you have extra SCOBYs.
• Processed cane sugar is the most common sugar used for brewing. For the best-tasting kombucha, use organic evaporated cane juice. Plain white sugar is fine—just be sure to check that it’s cane sugar to ensure it isn’t derived from beets.
• Use filtered, chlorine-free and fluoride-free water; chemicals can harm the culture.
• A fresh SCOBY and good starter liquid is key. A SCOBY should come with a cup or two of starter tea from a previous batch of mature kombucha and it should never be dehydrated or refrigerated.
• Yeast is a by-product of the fermentation process and can be seen floating in the kombucha as it brews. This is completely normal.
• When cleaning your brewing vessel and utensils, avoid antibacterial soaps, which can affect the culture. Use a 1:1 dilution of distilled vinegar and water, or very hot water.
• Sample, experiment and create what you like best.