Brewing kombucha tea, or Manchurian tea, is an easy process which only requires a minimal amount of time, some common kitchen utensils, and some basic knowledge about cultures and good hygiene. If you look after your mushroom culture and care for it properly it should last you a lifetime!
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...
What you'll need to get started brewing kombucha tea...
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
The actual process of brewing kombucha tea is really very simple. In this example, we will be brewing a 1 gallon batch of tea. You start the brewing process by bringing to boil 1 gal of filtered or distilled water. Just as with any equipment you use, you'll want your water to be clean, too. Never use city water as it contains chlorine and other additives from the treatment plant which could kill some of the cultures in the kombucha.
Step 3: Adding the Sugar...
Once the water comes to a boil add 1 1/4 to 11/2 cups of sweetener.
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...
After the sweetener has dissolved, turn off heat, and add 6 tea bags or 6 teaspoons of loose tea in a tea ball, cover, and steep for ten minutes. Green or black tea are most commonly used or you may use a combination of both. Feel free to try other non-flavored teas except herbal teas. Herbal teas may contain oils that the kombucha cultures do not like. If you wish to add the benefits of herbal teas you may brew them separate and add them after the fermentation process is complete and you have drawn the tea for consumption.
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 you'll have to allow the brewed tea solution to cool to room temperature before adding the kombucha cultures. If thetemperature is to high, the cultures can be killed! Once the tea solution is cooled we are ready for the culturing process!
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...
The last step is to allow the inoculated tea solution to set in a warm place, out of direct light and undistributed. It will take 2 to 3 days to see the start of the formation of the new kombucha
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 !