Introduction: Double Fermented Kombucha

One time, while eating at a local health food store, the chef came over to me and began talked to me about fermented teas and drinks. Sounds gross, right? At first when I tasted the drink, it tasted and smelled like vinegar. But the more I drank, the more and more I began to really like the taste. This drink is called kombucha and is a fermented tea using a bacteria called a Scoby.

After spending way too much money on buying fancy kombucha teas at the store, I decided to make my own! It was a lot easier than I anticipated and with some patience you too can have your own fermented teas for significantly cheaper than any store! Change your flavors, multiply your batches, and enjoy!

Step 1: Materials

Ingredients:
Scoby
Tea (generally 4tbsp)
1- 1 1/2 cup Sugar
3tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
3qts Water

Other:
Kettle
Bottling Jars
Gallon Fermenting Jar
Cloth and rubberband

Step 2: Making the Tea

I am a tea addict, and maybe that's why I was drawn to kombucha. My tea collection is ranging on about 30 teas right now; I don't consider it a problem but more of a collection.

For your kombucha, boil 1 quart (4 cups) of water in your kettle. I like to measure it out before boiling and then add a little extra to boil off.

To pick your tea, you can use almost any tea you want! Bagged, loose, black, green, it's up to preference. One exception: make sure your tea is not "unsweetened" and make sure your tea is not herbal with pieces of fruit! I made a mistake in my first batch and used an herbal tea entirely from dried fruit. It didn't harm the Scoby but it has serious potential to weaken or kill your Scoby. The fruit has sugars that the Scoby is unable to process, and an unsweetened tea takes away natural sugars your Scoby needs to survive! You will flavor the kombucha later, so you just need a solid base tea for now.

Since I used a loose tea, I made my own tea bags by making little "dumplings" out of coffee filters. Some stores have disposable tea bags that are awesome if you don't want to go through the struggle of straining all your tea after it steeps.

Pour your water in and let the tea steep for at least 10 minutes. The longer you let it steep, the stronger the tea will be.

Add 2qts (8 cups) of cold water. Purified water is better than tap.

Step 3: Adding Sugar

While the mixture is still warm, add 1 - 1 1/2 cups sugar. This is your Scoby's food for the next 10 days. Too much sugar could overwhelm your Scoby, so don't go over 1 1/2 cups. I typically just use 1.

Mix the sugar in until completely dissolved. If you do this step while the tea is still very hot, make sure it doesn't caramelize at the bottom!

Let the mixture sit until room temperature is reached.

Step 4: Adding Vinegar and Scoby

I highly recommend buying a Scoby online instead of trying to grow one. Or, if you have a friend that brews, see if you can snag a baby Scoby off of them!

Your Scoby is an organism, and is susceptible to mold. To prevent mold, add 3 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar to the mix. And here you wondered why it tasted like vinegar!

If you order a Scoby online, add the original kombucha the Scoby was packaged in. If you are making another batch from an already used Scoby, save some of your own kombucha and pour that into the new batch. This helps the process get started and gives the Scoby a familiar environment to thrive in.

Step 5: Cover and Wait

Your Scoby is now happily in your Kombucha and needs to some time to ferment. If your Scoby is not floating like mine is here, fear not! It will ferment just the same, each Scoby is different.

Cover with a cloth and seal with a rubber band. The cloth allows for some breathing in the bacteria culture to help the fermentation. If you do not have a cloth, a few coffee filters can be used.

Let the Scoby sit in an area of ~70F, not much colder. Colder temperatures will slow or halt the fermentation process. If you don't have the needed temperatures, above the fridge often gets warmer than other parts of the house. I keep my fermentation station in a cupboard above the fridge. DO NOT expose your Scoby to sun and just leave it on the counter!

Let it sit for 10-14 days.

Step 6: Remove and Check Your Cultures

In between this all, I started a second batch of a green tea kombucha; the more the merrier!

A few notes on the how your culture looks:

1. If you think it's mold, it's probably not. Mold has a very distinct look of a different, fuzzy, texture. Brown discoloration is completely normal and a pure white Scoby is also fine!

2. The tendrils are the yeast from fermentation. This is really good to see (shown in the second picture) and when you bottle, you will filter these bits out

3. You might notice a film later of a Scoby on top, but yours is still at the bottom. Congratulations, your Scoby had a baby! Save this for later for more brewing or give to a friend.

Step 7: Removing Your Scobys

Pour some of your tea into a large bowl and take your Scoby's out and place them in the bowl.

The Scoby needs to be in the kombucha liquid if not being used. I usually put them back in an unused fermentation jar or the large bowl and place them in the fridge till I use them again.

Placing them in the fridge puts them in a dormant state where they won't ferment. If you leave the Scoby out, you might need to check in on it once and awhile and give it more sugar to eat. Who knew a bacteria could be like a pet.

Step 8: Flavor Your Kombucha

For my black tea, I have decided to go with a fruit mash and for my green tea, ginger.

For flavoring kombucha you can also use a juice of your choice and use 1 part juice to 4 parts kombucha.

For the fruit:

If you have fresh fruit, that is obviously preferably to frozen fruit. Heat your fruit to release some of the juices and then mash the remaining berry mixture. Spoon the mixture into your bottles until it covers the bottom of the jar.

For the ginger:

Chop up your ginger and place a few chunks in each bottle.

The more of a flavor you add, the more the drink will pick up on it.

Step 9: Add the Tea

Using your funnel and strainer (you can get a combo funnel with a strainer that snaps right in, and that thing is a god send!), pour your tea into each bottle. Pour slowly to avoid overflow, and pour over the sink to avoid major spillage.

When full, seal up your bottles. If you have any left over that isn't enough for another bottle, give it to the Scoby in liquid that you set aside earlier!

Take your bottles and put them in the same spot your let your kombucha ferment. This will start the process of double fermentation. Now, the extra yeast left in the mixture will ferment whatever you added for flavoring, capturing the taste. Double fermentation is also a great way to create a carbonated kombucha.

Step 10: Strain the Tea and Enjoy!

After 3-5 days, you can stop the process of double fermentation. To do so, simply restrain your tea and pour it back into your bottle. I just put a colander over a bowl do do this process.

Watch out! Your kombucha may be very carbonated by this point and the pressure sealed bottles have a tendency to pop like a bottle of champagne. If it seems like you have less kombucha than you started, realize some tea may be lost in the process and the volume of your double fermentation items can be deceiving.

Put your tea in the fridge and enjoy! If you have any questions on the process, leave a comment below. Happy brewing!

Comments

author
jermncoco (author)2016-07-07

I thoroughly love kombucha! I am excited to see how to make it as I buy quite a bit. My favorite has chia seeds in it, which adds a whole other dimension.

The form of chlorine that can't be boiled or evaporated out is chloromine. It's a combination of chlorine and ammonia, and is often referred to as "chloromines" because multiple forms can be present.

You can check your local water jurisdiction whether they add it or not. It specifically wrecks havoc on bacteria and microorganisms and can only be removed effectively with reverse osmosis utilizing carbon filters or complete distillation. The most cost effective method of course is buying distilled water

Thanks for the Instructible!

author
tonymengela (author)2016-07-05

If you want a cheap way to get a scoby, go to local health food store get a bottle and transfer into "white vinegar clean" quart jar with a cup of tea that had 4 tea spoons of sugar, make sure cooled. cover jar with cheesecloth and put into dark spot at proper temperature and a scoby will start to form, when you get one across the surface you are ready to make a half gallon batch. Starting this way kind of gave me a little satisfaction. TEMPERATURE is key to making faster and better batches. honestly only use white sugar, it works the best.... Ohh and I use Oolong and green tea mix mostly for mine.

author
noveldork (author)tonymengela2016-07-07

This is super cool- I heard making scobys was super hard, so thanks for sharing your method to make your own! I've definitely noted that temperature plays a huge factor in fermentation.

And I'll have to try oolong tea, that sounds good!

author
tonymengela (author)noveldork2016-07-07

yes for sure temperature and also I think nice dark place.

author
JB16 (author)2016-07-07

So that's the white scum that floats at the top of my coffee pot after I leave the coffee in over the weekend! Maybe I should drink that too, I never thought it might be healthful!

author
noveldork (author)JB162016-07-07

Oh, I wouldn't drink that! The scoby is a very carefully made culture full of healthy bacteria. I worry that what is in your coffee pot might not be such healthy bacteria...like mold. Even a scoby can get mold, and mold is still bad.

author
AndrewA89 (author)2016-06-21

Kombucha must be a healthy and tasty drink because my sons drink it. I haven't tried drinking and making it yet ..so maybe they will lead the way. Is it healthy?

author
noveldork (author)AndrewA892016-06-21

Kombucha is definitely an acquired taste but it is healthy! It looks scary when you put in all the sugar, but your culture eats all of that sugar during the fermentation. Kombucha aids in digestion and is high in probiotics (also good for digestion and detoxing your body). I've also heard of people developing less of a sweet tooth from drinking tons of it, but there's no real evidence on that. If you don't really like the taste, making your own is a good way to make it more tolerable or less vinegary to the taste buds.

author
JB16 (author)noveldork2016-07-07

What is "detox"? (I'm only aware of the "detox" that alcoholics go to in a usually unsuccessful attempt to stop drinking.)

author
noveldork (author)JB162016-07-07

In simple terms, a detox removes bad things from your body and ultimately it should make you feel better. In this case, the detox deals with what food and liquid you put into your body. Certain foods have things to "flush out" toxins from other foods in your body. Same concept as eating healthier, this can just be one helpful step to get your body feeling happier and healthier!

author
JerryS42 made it! (author)2016-06-23

Long ago, as I was working in Iceland, a roommate gave me a "Sveppir-baby" (Scoby) as way to get out of the tradition that you have to bury them (in the snow-covered, frozen rocky soil). I was happily making tea until my departure when Icelandic customs informed me that the poor little thing had to stay in the country. Great Instructable, and I was relieved to see the the burial ritual has been dispatched with.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 11.11.55 PM.png
author
noveldork (author)JerryS422016-06-24

That's an awesome story! They probably had to be buried to stop the fermentation and literally freeze the bacteria. A kinda unconventional way to do it, but for Iceland, totally appropriate!

author
chinkajack1 (author)2016-06-23

Yes, purified water is better than tap water, because tap water containing chlorine will kill scoby. All equipment that's been washed in chlorinated tap water, that will come into contact with the kombucha needs to be rinsed in filtered water or rain water first. Also do not use antibacterial soaps or detergents.
And only make kombucha in glass containers, not plastic or steel (although stainless steel can be used it will probably eventually rust because the culture is acidic. Plastic will leech).

author

I use tap water, no problem. Boiling the water to make the tea gets rid of the chlorine.

author
mimberg (author)rosemaryknits2016-06-23

Agreed: While it is true that chlorine is harmful to the scoby, air-drying your materials overnight will also make them safe, as this allows the chlorine to evaporate. I'm not sure if this is the case everywhere, but I have the good fortune of living somewhere it is! It's easy enough to grow your own scoby from a bottle of unfiltered kombucha you can buy at any health food store. So, it might be worth experimenting, if you live somewhere with reasonably good tap water.

author
sl0j0n (author)rosemaryknits2016-06-23

Hello, "rosemaryknits":

Not necessarily so, since some municipalities use a form of chlorine that does *not* 'boil out'.
Can't remember the name, but it's *not* the same as regular chlorine, so it's much safer for the water dept. people.
Just not nearly as safe for you.

author

As chlorine is added to drinking water to kill bacteria, if water isn't boiled for at least 20min there is no guarantee of no chlorine (and even then not, if you haven't tested the chlorine level with test strips). The scoby you have might no longer have as full a complement of probiotic species of body-friendly yeast & bacteria that would otherwise been available had non-chlorinated water been used.
Leaving bucket of water in direct sunlight for a day will also get rid of chlorine, this is why swimming pools need to have chlorine added on regular basis.

author
noveldork (author)chinkajack12016-06-23

These are really good and true points! I followed all these things while making but didn't mention them, thanks for adding this!!

author
saintquinn007. (author)2016-06-23

I can't imagine this tasting good but if it has positive health effects I'll drink it...

Just WHAT therapeutic effects could be expected?

Is it an aphrodisiac.... NOVELDORK?

author
noveldork (author)saintquinn007.2016-06-23

The health effects aren't overwhelming unless you drink tons of it, just like anything else that's a "magic food". Don't rely on this drink as a sole source of positive health effects. If the taste is a concern, you can always sweeten with more fruit or ferment for less time

For therapeutic effects, it helps with detoxing your body and stabilizing your metabolism and usually when your body is in balance, it will help the mind as well.

I've never heard of it being an aphrodisiac but it seems like depending on what you second ferment with, it can be. You can use jasmine which would make it such.

author
ptabakaru1 (author)noveldork2016-06-23

Or how much you drink, perhaps...

author

Kombucha tastes (to me) like a cross between Liptonice soft drink (soda) but not that sweet, and apple cider but without that much alcohol. Its a probiotic of body-friendly yeasts and bacteria that help boost immune system (SCOBY = symbiotic colony of bacteria & yeasts). This means less colds and flu.

author
ScottB231 (author)2016-06-23

Great Instructable!

A colleague of mine returned from climbing Mt. Everest with a recipe, but the instructions were a bit bizarre. Other online resources were similar - they all involved the cooperation of a large fat man. (^-^);

This one rocks!

author
noveldork (author)ScottB2312016-06-23

Ha! That's too funny! I found a lot of great resources online and spent countless hours googling questions I had, but I had to piece together a ton of stuff to get it just right. I'm glad you found this helpful, thank you so much!

author
DeadInTheHead (author)2016-06-23

Wow, great use for tea leafs, what's ABV 8-12%, am on it:)

author

Alcohol by volume

author
pmuhammad dwi (author)2016-06-22

vinegar will help the scoby find its optimum pH to growth, occassionally at acidic

author
geekrex (author)2016-06-20

nice instructable

author
ifdispensers (author)2016-06-20

Fabulous

author
ash_doge (author)2016-06-19

Wow, great instructable! This looks delicious!

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