Instructables

How to Make a Big Batch of Kombucha

Featured
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage popular in Russia, China, and elsewhere.
The culture forms a leathery skin called the "mother" that floats on top.
This week's Instructables TV episode shows how to wrangle the jellyfish-like "Mother" and make Kombucha 5 gallons at a time. This method produces a fizzy carbonated kombucha that tastes very much like hard apple cider.

For background on this bizarre beverage, read Arwen's Making Kombucha Instructable and the Wikipedia Kombucha article. Some confusion arises from the existence of a Japanese kelp tea also called "kombucha".

Back to the blob:
For me it all started when my friend Anne Harley went to Russia, made herself fluent in the language, joined a band of gypsy musicians, and went on tour with them.
Did you know Russian Gypsies have a caste system that dates back to their origins in India?
That was news to me. So was the fact that Kombucha exists. Anne brought a very fine Kombucha culture back with her and taught me how to make it.

Since then I've made hundreds of gallons of Kombucha for my friends and myself. I've done a great deal of experimentation and had some serious mishaps. I've killed the culture several times, coaxed it back when it got out of balance, and had a couple of explosions that splattered kombucha far and wide and could have seriously injured someone.
Between the mistakes, mishaps and disasters, actual Russians and new-age fruitcakes have tasted my Kombucha and told me it's the best they've ever had. I work with my culture until I get it tasting like apple cider. So much so that you'll try to figure out what varieties of apples it's from. But there's really nothing in it but tea, sugar, and a festering mass of microbes.

We'll be going step-by step through the process later, but for reference, here is how to make the sweet tea to be fermented.

Anne's Recipe:
6 tsp tea
6 cups h2o = 1.5 quarts
1 cup sugar

same recipe for 4 gallons
64 tsp tea = 1.3 cups
4 gallons h2o = 64 cups
10.66 cups sugar

same recipe for 5 gallons
Just under 5lbs sugar
5 gallons water
1.5 cups dry tea

Here is part 1 of the Kombucha making video - tea brewing and mixing in the mother



And here is part 2 of the video - fermentation and bottling



You can download the .m4v ipod formatted videos from blip.tv
Kombucha Part 1
Kombucha Part 2

Do you like this instructable? Digg It!

 
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
1-40 of 219Next »
thebigjoy1 year ago
hello friend, thanks for this.
I left my mother with an ex co-worker to take care of while I was away and the boss threw it out, and now for the life of me I can't get my hands on another mother mushroom lady.
Please help?
Could you?
That would be divine.
Thank you, in advance.
Have a fantastic day
They sell the mother on Amazon. I bought one as a gift. About $9.
Hello! Firstly, thanks for such an awesome tutorial! I have a few questions, if you have a moment.

My background is that I am a beer and meade maker, so I have all of the appropriate equipment for said productions and it is all pretty great quality stuff (glass). I have a 3gal glass carboy that is sitting around not doing anything that I'd like to use to make a batch of k'cha with.

1.) Can I not use it with a standard bubbler on top to allow for gas to escape? I have never noticed condensation forming with the production of beer or meade, so since k'cha requires a cool environment, I don't see how it would produce it with that.

- Or could I use the glass carboy with a coffee filter over the top instead of the bubbler?
- Is it the headspace that makes the difference?

2.) What sugars are considered good to use and in what form?
- Do any of them, like honey, need to be boiled for a certain time period to break the complex sugar bonds for the mother to process, or is it fine just heating it up?
- Can I use a mixture of sugars (namely thinking honey + light brown sugar)?
- If just using honey, what amounts would be suggested?

3.) Does the equipment used need to be sterilized like it does with beer making?

Thanks so much! =(^_^)=
lnwn1 year ago
That was awesome. I love your tips to avoiding champaigning k'cha all over the place. I had a chia seed booch splatter me in the face and all over my kitchen and the ceiling.
z_malloc2 years ago
I am brewing my 3rd batch of Kombucha and I have some serious concerns. After drinking a ton of the de-facto commercial brand for about 2 months I started having really bad headaches. I have completely stopped, and they have dissipated to some degree, but I've been pondering what happened. I'd like to mention that I own a copy of Alana Pascal's book 'Kombucha - How-To and What It's All About' thought by many to be the definitive book on Kombucha.

My first concern: Mobilization. It is my understanding that Kombucha is very effective at not only helping your liver process toxins much more effectively, but that if you have amassed a good deal of toxins in your system over the years that they can be 'mobilized'. This raises serious concerns for those who might have a sizable quantity of such things as heavy metals like mercury. After being mobilized, they may not be rapidly expelled from your body, as was the case that caused them to build up in the first place, subsequently redistributing in other soft tissue of the body such as the brain. I believe very little is discussed about this the average consumer has no clue just how effective Kombucha can be at mobilizing toxins and super charging your liver. Clearly this is a double edged sword and something that should be regarding in much the same way any sensible person would look at vitamins. Proper dosage is key. It bothers me that commercial products say little about the dangers of over consumption. Given that Kombucha mobilizes so well, it is highly recommended that you DO NOT drink it when pregnant or breastfeeding as the fetus/infant will be subject excessive toxins. It is also discouraged for use by children. I don't want people doing damage to themselves out of ignorance, and I don't want the drink I've grown to enjoy greatly to face regulation or worse.

My second concern: Carbonation and storage. In Alana Pascal's book, she informs that when Kombucha is capped, and anaerobic fermentation occurs, toxic by product is created namely in the form of acetone (think paint thinner or nail polish remover). Acetone is a ketone that is very destructive to the kidneys. She indicates that Kombucha should not be stored capped in the refrigerator for more than an astonishingly conservative 3 days or there is the risk acetone production. This is troubling. Most people will tell you, Kombucha is much more palatable when carbonated. This is where I am uncertain. Small amounts of acetone are present in commercial foods we consume and such trace amounts have been deemed relatively safe. Thinking back, I purchased dozens of bottles of commercially available RAW Kombucha. That means, unpasteurized and while I know there are chemical compounds that can be added which do not kill the culture but prohibit it from continued fermentation, I have serious doubt those would have been used. Of those many bottles, several were near there expiration date, and even more of them when opened exhibited vast over-carbonation. This would seem to indicate that shipping and handling practices during the life of that product did not include continuous refrigeration. Suspecting heavily now that this may have contributed greatly to my headaches. To pasteurize or not to pasteurize. Many of the health benefits remain after pasteurization but it certainly isn't the most desirable option. I'd love to hear thoughts on carbonation options, and the risk of prolonged anaerobic fermentation.
kombucha-batch3.jpg
Headaches can also be caused by your pH being off. Drinking lots of kombucha could do that.
Foaly74 years ago
How do you keep it from building up too much alcohol?
preed4 Foaly72 years ago
The only thing you can do is ferment it for less time. Make your batch for about 5 days. It'll have less alcohol, but also less of the beneficial acids that we want. It really is such a little amount of alcohol, anyway, I say just make it how you like the taste. http://goo.gl/35zcT
preed42 years ago
I believe I have written the simplest and easiest to follow instructions for making kombucha from store-bought kombucha. Check out my instructions on http://goo.gl/35zcT
majjuss2 years ago
Hi there!

Thanks for your great instructable! Your videos really helped me make my first kombucha. I got the starter culture from a colleague and started with green tea. The taste is really interesting and nothing like the kombucha I bought at our supermarket. The kombucha tastes a little bit like peach, what I didn't expect at all.

I will make the next batch with black tea to see what it tastes like.

Greetings from germany,
majjuss
sageo6 years ago
I really like the aesthetic of those wide-mouthed jars.
Anyone know where I could get some.
I like the Big Mother potential they have too.
I bought mine at Walmart. I tried to get one at a locally owned department store but they've changed their product lines and had to go there. The glass jars are under $13 and i put a dish towel over the top secured with a big rubber band.
yanggers sageo4 years ago
Looks like Anchor Hocking 1 or 2-Gallon Heritage Hill Jars. Check it out at Amazon.com.  Anchors happen to be USA made in this day and age, nice and cheap too.
thunder1 sageo6 years ago
Smart and Final has great wide-mouth jars.
fety thunder14 years ago
FYI, Smart and Final is ONLY in CA, NV & AZ. You're better off mentioning Target because they're in all 50 states.
natvlegl3 years ago
Check out the clothes that a British designer "grows" from yeast, bacteria & tea .. sounds like scobies to me. I see no reason why it couldn't be flattened when wet, pressed together to dry in sheets & then material cut. They call it BioCouture. The site with the pictures of the jackets is at :

http://www.ecouterre.com/u-k-designer-grows-an-entire-wardrobe%20from-tea-fermenting-bacteria

I think MOV would work as well. I've used them interchangeably for bandages & they both turn out like leather when dried. The pics show it looking to me, at least, like native brain-tanned leather. It can be dyed with natural dyes they say.
Yes , Kombucha can be made into a "leather" alternitive , but production methods as of now are still only able to produce a very water soluable version of leather , meaning , as previous comments about the scobys here " Slimy when wet" ...
So not too good if your motercycle jacket would met when you splash in a puddle :) . hope somebody combines it with beeswax or something like that to improve water resistance
TahoeGal4 years ago
To add to "Chard"'s comments about adding sugar to the bottle to increase fizz... Intead of sugar I thought I would compliment the natural apple essense of KT by adding unfiltered bottled apple cider when I bottle.I have been having really good results adding about an inch to a 16 oz glass bottle and leaving about an inch of head-space and then put the bottles back in the "incubator" at 75 F for 4 days or so (no explosions-the re-used plastic lids did expand a bit.) Also, a mix of the cider and a small amount of ginger juice with the bits from pressing through a garlic press (a little goes a long way). I love both these flavors ...sparkling apple cider and the ginger/apple cider. I think the ginger/apple mix is especially good if you have a cold or during colder months. I was nervous about using a non-pasturized juice because of mold/contamination/etc (the bottled cider is pasturized) but I went ahead and made fresh mango juice/puree and added an inch of that to the bottling. All I can say is wow on the fizz! It was a very tasty batch, if very hard to get into the glass! I would have to guess that the alcohol content is higher since the raw juice will ferment, but not real sure. I took samples of the Mango to my local health food store and they swore it tasted just like GT's Mango KT. My next trial is going to be with fresh peach juice/puree because they are on sale this week at Safeway for 49 cents a pound! So, there you have it. My fizzy flavor taste trials ;D Contact me with what you have been trying! Christine Peace and Love!
Chanio TahoeGal2 years ago
Good perception with the blendings!

I would try adding some STEVIA leaves to the bottle as a sugar substitute that would increase the fizz.. Stevia leaves are good because, though not as sweet as sugar work well as a natural substitute and helps diabetic persons with their illness.

I noticed that when preparing any sweet fruit juice with water and stevia leaves, after bottling it and keeping it for a week, it starts fermenting and becoming alcoholic. As if stevia would be eating the sugar of the fruit and transforming it into alcohol...

I must try kombucha!

THXs!
Alberto
jhanger Chanio2 years ago
I'm not sure you would be able to use stevia. The sweetness from stevia doesn't come from sugar, but from something else.. Unless it's a carbohydrate of the sugar strain it won't ferment. Starches as an example are a carbohydrate but won't ferment without being broken down into sugars ..
While it's a great idea, i don't think stevia would be an adequate fermenter for adding fizz... sweetness yes, fizz no...
Though it can't hurt to try and prove me wrong ;)
ilpug2 years ago
I gotta say, this stuff looks like the most disgusting thing ever. My friend gave me five bucks to try it, and I was pleasantly surprised. I Still don't entirely trust home made kombucha though.
melanyrae622 years ago
slimy when wet - sounds like the perfect material for a snow saucer for sledding. Hmmm, might have to try the swimming pool idea in time for sledding season.
cloclo593 years ago
Bonjour.
Lorsque la boisson kombucha est acide, à l'odeur et au goût :
Peut-on la boire ? Peut-on s'en servir comme d'un vrai vinaigre ? Si oui, se conserve-il comme un vrai vinaigre ?

Hello.
When the kombucha beverage is acidic, smell and taste:
Can we drink it? Can we use it as a real vinegar? If yes, will keep it as a real vinegar?
Bonjour. Oui, on peut la boire quand elle est acide, s'il vous voulais.
Aussi, on peut l'utiliser comme d'un vrai vinaigre quand elle est devenu comme ça.

J'espere que je vous ai aidé! (Je suis desolé que je suis un peut rouillé avec le français)

Hi. Yes, you can drink it when it has become very acidic, if you want.
Also, it can be used as real vinegar when it has become as such.

Hope this helps! (Sorry that my french is a bit rusty.)
cloclo593 years ago
Hello.
Do you know these sugars used in France and Belgium? If so, can they be used in the production of Kombucha?
- Vergeoise blonde or brunette, or the link in French http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vergeoise
- Brown sugar, brown sugar kind.

Bonjour.
Connaissez-vous ces sucres utilisés en France et en Belgique? Si oui, peut-on les utiliser dans la fabrication du kombucha ?
- Vergeoise blonde ou brune, voire le lien en français http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vergeoise
- La cassonade, sorte de sucre roux.
arsenius3 years ago
@deathpod : You can get a mother from another kambucha batch. When the tea is brewing , little baby kombuchas are formed and they can be given to anyone, then they will turn into the mothers. There's a full explanation on http://www.brewingkombucha.com plus there are some more photos for you to see of the brewing process.
deathpod4 years ago
How do I get a Mother? Can I get some from a bottle i buy at the store?
put out the word on CL i give them away as presents
loki11385 years ago
Plastic is NOT toxic. Silly.
Soda has the same PH as Kombucha and it will not WILL NOT leach killer chemicals into the brew. http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/petbottles.asp
no its fine for storage but the mother doesn't like it
better safe than sorry
Skai wenpherd4 years ago
yeah plastic just scares the bejesus out of me in many applications
I have a question about this. I saw this instructable and was really fascinated by it, but never got around to doing anything. (considering I don't drink...) Anyways, I've been working on a project to brew tea at work (TONS of it) and we bottled a few gallons for reference. well... a week later (this is unsweet tea) I realized they needed to be thrown out. needless to say, at least one has stuff growing in it. most didn't look great, but one... well I looked at it and said "by gosh, is that a mother?" (see picture) Anyways, what do you think. I didn't add anything, the jugs were sanitary, and the tea was brewed at 202 degrees. it SHOULDN'T be mold. Now, (I'm working at a fast food HQ) this is a kitchen, so there could be some yeast in the air. so i thought it may be possible this is actually a mother. They have been working on bread products a lot recently. What do you think? do you think it'll turn into kumbucha? it is a skin, it's new, but it looks like the pictures above. I added sugar to see what happens, this really facinates me, even if I won't drink it (maybe I can find someone who will IF it's safe ) what should I look for to let me know if it's poisonous or if it's the real deal?
IMG_7074.JPG
Well sure you don't drink, but Kombucha really doesn't have that much alcohol in it at all. It's legally classified as a non-alcoholic beverage because it has less than perhaps 1% alcohol when it isn't fermented for too long. I think there's a little bit of alcohol in some things that we drink everyday and we dont even know. Try drinking it and see if you can even really taste the alcohol, but i mean, i don't even know what it tastes like so ... but this is just what i've heard
Foaly74 years ago
So you can make this stuff from coffee?
abadfart Foaly74 years ago
no but you could mix it, i might have to try it  thanks for the idea 
Foaly7 abadfart4 years ago
But he says in step one that coffee works to brew the Kombucha.
abadfart Foaly74 years ago
thanks i didn't see that ill have to try
abadfart Foaly74 years ago
thanks i didn't see that ill have to try
abadfart Foaly74 years ago
thanks i didn't see that ill have to try
1-40 of 219Next »