Brewing the kombucha tea is a simple process of boiling water and sugar solution, adding and steeping the green or black tea. Then allowing this mixture to cool to room temperature before adding the kombucha cultures. Once you have tried it a few times it will be a very easy process to remember. So Let's Get Started Brewing Your First Batch Of Kombucha Tea!
Step 1: Getting Started...
There will be a few items that you will need to gather before starting:
- A fresh kombucha culture starter, organic if possible. You can search the web for a starter or go here for a good organic source http://store.organic-kombucha.com or our new site http://store.organic-cultures.com
- A large vessel to heat the water/sugar solution. This can be metal for this step.
- Filtered water (the best choice) or well water, never city water
- Cane sugar or other natural sugar, we suggest organic cane sugar
- Tea (Camellia Sinensis) - This may be green,white, or black tea, or a mixture thereof, we again suggest organic tea. Fruit tea and herbal tea will not work as they do not provide the proper nutrients for the growing cultures and may slow the new culture from reproducing. However, feel free to add these to your finished product for added health benefits.
- A glass container for fermenting the tea solution (an old gallon pickle jar works great!) Here some people use plastic, if you do, make sure it is food grade plastic with a #2 symbol on the bottom. We always use glass container for safety reasons. Never use lead crystal, ceramic, or metal containers to ferment kombucha cultures.
- Clean cheese cloth (you can double this up if it seems to thin) or clean T-shirt, cut to size. You'll need this to keep out bugs.
Step 2: The Brewing Process
Step 3: Adding the Sugar...
Caution: When brewing kombucha tea, make sure to add the sugar slowly as the hot water will want to boil over if the cold sugar is added to fast! Simmer the sweetened solution for another 10 min or until the sugar is completely dissolved.
We recommend using organic cane sugar for the best results. Other natural sugars may be used, however result may vary and could change the structure of the cultures within the kombucha.
We suggest using a back up/extra mushroom culture if experimenting with other sugars or sweeteners. Maple syrup or agave should never be used.
Step 4: Adding the Tea...
This may seem like a long time to steep the tea but you'll want to pull out all the constitutes from the tea. These constitutes will be part of the nutrients that the culture will grow from and provide benefits, such as anti-oxidants, when you drink the tea.
After 10 minutes remove the tea bags or tea ball.
Step 5: Adding the Kombucha Culture...
Now that the sweetened tea solution has sufficiently cooled to room temperature, you are ready to inoculate it with the kombucha cultures. This step is very easy and will only take a few minutes to perform.
With each new batch you will want to save your best SCOBY or "mushroom" along with 5-10% of the old tea as a starter or inculum. For a gallon size batch use about a cup or two of starter tea. You may also check the pH at this time to insure that enough starter tea has been used. The pH for the start of the brewing cycle needs to be below 4.5 pH. This will insure that you culturegrows quickly and will be able to compete with any foreign cultures or molds that maybe present. This lower pH also abates the growth of foreign bacteria that could be dangerous for human consumption.
Add both the starter tea and mother culture/SCOBY to the sweetened tea solution. If you did not save any left over tea or received just a SCOBY from say a friend, you may use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white organic distilled vinegar as a replace/ substitute starter for your first batch.
You have now inoculated the tea solution with the tea cultures!
Step 6: Culturing the Tea Beverage...
culture. Which appears as a translucent jelly-type layer forming on the surface of the tea solution.
At 5 to 14 days the fermentation process is complete. This time will very depending on the environment & temperature, the mushroom culture likes the temperature to be between 75 and 85
degrees F. Having the incorrect temperature, especially in winter time, seems to be where most people go wrong.
After the 5 to 10 days, you'll want to start checking if the tea is ready to drink. You may buy pH strips for testing acid content, however, this is not necessary. The easiest way to tell if your tea is ready is by smell and taste. You may use a straw to pull a small sample from the side of the jar, trying not to disturb the new culture growing on top of the tea solution.
After brewing a few batches of kombucha tea you'll know when your tea is finished and ready to drink! If using pH test strips, the pH reading should be between 2.5 - 3.2. This range tells us that the organic acids, pro-biotics, and nutritional benefits have been fully produced and that the culturing process is complete.
The finished tea should have a slight vinegar smell, not to strong, and have carbonation. If your tea still smells sweet and/or is flat, then most likely it needs to set a few more days. After 5 to 10 days, the taste should be fizzy, semi-sweet, and similar to apple cider in appearance. Allowing it to brew longer (8-14 days) produces a sharper vinegar taste and contains a higher amount of beneficial medicinal properties.
Now that the brewing cycle is complete, you can simply bottle any extra tea into clean glass containers or jugs.
To start a new batch, just follow the above instructions remembering to save some starter tea for the next batch. If you have more questions you may go to this website for photos, FAQ, and a lot of information on kombucha - http://www.organic-kombucha.com
Happy Culturing !