kombucha- and how to make it

kombucha- how to brew it and how to look after your scoby || cityhippyfarmgirl

I hadn’t heard of kombucha before I started blogging. Then I started, and voila, really it was a whole new fermentation food world opening up before me.

I started making sourdough, and the steady supply of all things fermented slowly trickled their way in. There were experiments of pickles, mead and kefir. Whole hearted love for sauerkraut, ginger beer and sourdough, and sometimes there was just talk. Kombucha was one of those talks.

I talked and I talked, until I really had to walk my talk. Kombucha was one of my last men standing so to speak, because in my head I had made it far more daunting than all the others for some reason. I kept putting it in the all too hard to think about basket.

Then something flicked, the idea had fermented enough *ahem*. Water kefir and I had done our dash, ginger beer was already established and I really was ready to move on to another drink. Ready for a new fermentation project to get to know and bring into our family’s life.

Kombucha, lets do this.

scoby forming

scoby forming

I had two false starts initially. One with a cranky scoby, (I say cranky, because the person who gave it to me was a little distempered and it seemed the scoby had a similar temprament. The scoby didn’t do anything and seemed long past it’s useful date. The second attempt was no scoby and instead, growing it from scratch. This method could have worked, maybe even should have worked but it didn’t and it was time for me to move on.

Then stepped in the lovely Sarah from Remedy Kombucha. Listening to my tales of kombucha woe on instagram, she offered to send me a scoby, would I like one? Well yes, yes indeed I would!

I’d had some of their kombucha at a Sandor Katz talk earlier on in the year. I knew it was good. I knew they knew their kombucha and I also knew if I couldn’t get this funny sounding little fermented drink happening with their help?…well, I may well have to hang up my fermenters flag for a bit.

First up a little info…

What is it?

It’s a fermented tea drink.

Why would I want to make it?

Because it’s good for you, full of probiotics, and who doesn’t like a little science experiment on their bench top now and then.

What is that thing on top? That’s a scoby, and a rather amazing little gelatinous thing that keeps growing more and more layers as time goes on. You can pass them on to other fermenting enthusiasts as a starter, (go on they’ll love you for it.)

kombucha scoby || cityhippyfarmgirl

So did I get it work? Yes, yes I did, and have been happily fermenting and drinking batch after batch of kombucha ever since. Thank you to Sarah for being so generous, helpful and best of all sharing tips on kombucha brewing.

I think I’m rather hooked on this stuff!

REMEDY KOMBUCHA’S EXTRA HELPFUL TIPS

* 175g raw organic sugar

* 35g organic tea

* 3.85L glass jar

* Muslin cloth (and rubber band)

* MOTHER (i.e. Symbiotic Community of Bacteria & Yeasts) & feeder (500ml)

Directions (makes 3.5L of Kombucha)

  • Boil 1L of filtered water (let cool until water temp approximately 90 °C)
  • Add tea (steep for between 5 and 6 minutes)
  • Strain Tea
  • Add sugar and stir until dissolved
  • Fill glass jar with 2L of filtered water (room temp) *It’s important to use filtered water (including the water you boil)
  • Add tea / sugar concentrate (i.e. 1 L) to glass jar
  • Test temperature of full jar (body temp is perfect)
  • Add feeder & MOTHER culture (0.5L)
  • Cover with muslin cloth
  • Place jar in a well-ventilated and warm area (24°C is the perfect temp), out of direct sunlight (but not in a cupboard).
  • At around the 3 to 4 day mark a slight film (MOTHER) will have developed on the top of the Kombucha.
  • Leave for 4 to 5 days before taste testing (it’s important not to stir or mess with your MOTHER during these early stages!). An easy way to taste test is to use a straw (i.e. push the straw down the side of the jar past the MOTHER).
  • After approx 7 days the brew will be slightly sour but still fairly sweet (it will be perfect for drinking at this stage).
  • The longer the brew is left the stronger (more sour) it will get. It’s personal preference how long you leave it at this stage – please be aware that if left for a long period the brew will eventually become Kombucha vinegar (and not really suitable for drinking – but great as a vinegar!).

MOTHER ongoing: for the first couple of brews, transfer the entire MOTHER from the previous brew. After your 3rd or 4th brews (once the MOTHER looks healthy and approx. 2cm thick) you can peal the new MOTHER (BABY) that grows on the top of the older MOTHER and use this in your new brew. Alternatively you can just rip the MOTHER in half and add this to the brew (and donate the other half – or make a 2nd brew!).

 If you don’t have a scoby you can still grow your own-

To grow your own kombucha mother (scoby), pour a couple of bottles of Remedy Original (or another unflavoured brew) into a wide mouth bowl, cover lightly and leave on counter for a week or so. You will start to notice a thin film growing across the top of the liquid…that’s your new kombucha mother! You can then use this mother and the kombucha liquid to start another kombucha brew.

* I’m using organic green tea at the moment which seems to be working well. 

kombucha ready to go || cityhippyfarmgirl

Remedy Kombucha is on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter if you would like to know more about kombucha.

The book The Art of Fermentation is excellent if you want to really delve into the world of fermentation. It’s one of those forever books that I will always keep going back to.

***********

Do you brew kombucha? Would you like to give it a crack if you don’t already? 

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34 thoughts on “kombucha- and how to make it

  1. oh my Brydie… you must be psychic! I have been sitting on a scoby for a couple of weeks, procrastinating about how I start , when i start, what do I do? then THIS! you are a fabulous lady for sure xx

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  2. I’ve got the Art of Fermentation too have have been delving in and out of it. It’s funny how I instinctively thought that it all sounded too hard and a bit weird and could I really do fermentation…until I went oh, and remembered the yoghurt jar on the bench, and the sourdough in the mixer and the multiple jars of fermented lemons, limes and cumquats all over the place!
    Kombucha, why not 🙂

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  3. You learn something new everyday. I’ve never heard of a scobie. Everyone seems to be getting into fermenting and I keep hearing of all that’s good about it. Your kombucha looks like it’s turned out really well and you must be thrilled – I love it when that happens in my kitchen xx

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  4. Wow just come across your blog! I make my kombucha, I use 2 organic green tea bags and 2 organic black tea bags, when I bottle my kombucha I add grated ginger..tastes soo good.love reading your past posts.thanks

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  5. My journey was similar to yours. My first attempt was rubbish, and I couldn’t quite get my head around how it was all supposed to work. This time it all seems to have clicked and I am brewing up a storm. I am currently on the look out for the right container so I can set up a continuous brewing system. I have been doing a lot of secondary ferments. Pomegranate was particularly good, as was the berry. And apple & ginger … Oh my!

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      • I juiced the apple with the ginger and I also threw some mint in. Then added the strained kombucha to the juice (probably 1/3 juice to 2/3 kombucha). Just allowed it to ferment until it was fizzy (I think 2 -3 days) then into the fridge. I am really enjoying playing around with the second ferment.

        I have a Pinterest board where I have been collecting flavour options for water kefir and kombucha if you need more inspiration. There are so many flavours and not enough time 🙂 I am waiting on new season peaches because I imagine that will be divine.

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  6. Wow, this is a great tutorial Brydie! I’ve never tried kombucha (despite reading about it quite a bit!) and this post makes it seem a little less daunting to create at home. I am enthusiastically on the ‘fermenting bandwagon’ too, I adore sauerkraut and I am thinking of starting some kimchi soon. Maybe I’ll push the boat out and start a batch of this, too! xx

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  7. Perfect timing Brydie. I’m on top of milk kefir, have water kefir grains turning up this weekend – and Kombucha is next on my list. So thanks for the tips for how to grow your own scoby. I think it was fermented food that finally tipped me over into now being able to tolerate gluten (YAY!) – so i’m guzzling as much as I can 🙂

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    • Gut health is completely amazing isn’t it Tricia. It’s a small brain explosion on how much of our body problems is tied into our food intake,(that barely makes sense, but you know what I mean.)
      Fermented? Yes. It’s all good, good good 🙂

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  8. Great post Brydie. I was drawn here by the intriguing line ‘How to look after your scoby’ appearing in my FB feed. I had NO idea what a scoby was, or indeed how to look after one. Out of all the food blogs I read (and there are a *lot*) yours is consistently the one where I learn something new. Lady, you are the fermenting queen, and your kombucha looks beautiful.
    PS. I’m still buying my sauerkraut… really really must leap in and give it a try one day.

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  9. I have finally said farewell to my kombucha days after three years of nurturing the scoby as we were given some water kefir grains earlier this year – more fizz, and none of those amorphous kombucha babies growing in the liquid all the time. I still worry about the high acid content of all these drinks, once they have converted the sugars and what they might do to one’s tooth enamel, does anyone ever refer to that? I haven’t seen anything online and am still making bread from time to time with the milk kefir. I have a feeling that the kombucha scoby is very very similar to the one that you use to make apple cider vinegar with as if you leave it long enough it becomes very vinegary. Anyway it’s all good fun and so interesting! xx Joanna

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    • Now that you mention it Joanna, I wonder about the acidity as well…I wonder indeed.
      What did you do with all your scoby’s in that time? Did the dogs ever eat them. I’ve tried chewing one once, probably won’t be repeated 🙂

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      • morning Brydie! The scoby at the neck of rhe jar just got thicker, layer by layer, gave some away to people, made a bread ferment one time, as you do, but most of it went in the compost. Dogs not interested. 🙂

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  10. You can even use one of your old SCOBY’s to make coffee booch with brewed coffee. SO many ways to make it and so many different flavours, it’s all gravy…(hmmm gravy booch? Maybe a step too far?! 😉 )

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  11. I love adding turmeric and ginger and apples to the mix (second ferment). Lubbly jubbly but don’t leave it out in a tightly sealed bottle on a hot day…just sayin’ (unless you like sticky kitchens a la Mr Bean and the exploding paint can style 😉 ). Secondary fermenting is a whole new world of flavours and that’s where you can add all kinds of fruits, extracts and spices to boost the interest value of your booch. Hildabooch sends hugs to your mother SCOBY 🙂

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