* Please note that this blog remains up as a resource. However, this blog is currently on hiatus until further notice. For more information, please read this blog post. Thank you and happy kombucha brewing, drinking, and SCOBY trading! Lots of love. ~Annabelle *

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Your Average One-Gallon Kombucha Recipe

So I meant to make this a really brief Kombucha Brewing Recipe, but there was too much important information! So the truly short and simple recipe may have to wait. And I promise to post more Kombucha brewing/bottling details! These are just the "essential basics"!

Note: DO NOT use soap, which can kill some of the bacteria/probiotics! Please clean with distilled vinegar or some sort of sanitizer used by brewers, such as Iodophor!


  • 1 brewing container
    -glass is best
    -size depends on how much you want to brew
  • 1 SCOBY aka a Kombucha Mushroom
  • 3 quarts water (aka 12 cups)
    -preferably filtered water
  • 5-6 tea bags (or around 2-3 tsp. or 15 g of loose leaf tea)
    -ex. Organic Green, Oolong, or Black Tea, or a combination
  • 3/4 cup sugar (around 150 g)
    -What’s typical: organic evaporated cane juice
  • 1.5 cups (12 oz) starter tea
    -From your previous batch, or some good, raw, store-bought, unflavored KT
    -The starter tea should be 10-20% of your overall brew
  • 1 clean cloth
    -or a paper towel, coffee filter, or cheesecloth
    -make sure it’s big enough to cover the container
  • 1 rubber band
    -or something to secure the cloth on the container
  • Optional: pH strips/pH meter
  1. Boil the water.
    -Not for too long- remove the pot from the heat once the water reaches a boil.
    -Boiling reduces the oxygen and carbon in the water, which are needed for the fermentation process.
  2. Add the tea and allow it to steep for 15 minutes (or follow the specific tea brewing instructions).
  3. Remove the tea bags/tea leaves (or you can leave them there overnight. It's your choice).
  4. Add the sugar and mix it until it all dissolves.
  5. Let the sugar/tea solution cool to room temperature
    -Leaving it overnight is easiest.
    -Make sure the mixture is properly covered so nothing gets inside!
  6. Pour the sugar/tea solution into the brewing container.
  7. Add the starter tea into the brewing container and stir it so that it’s evenly distributed throughout the solution.
    -Optional: check the pH of the liquid. You want it to be between 3-4.
  8. Add the SCOBY.
    -You want the temperatures of the sugar/tea solution, starter tea, and the SCOBY to be the same so that the SCOBY won’t get temperature shocked. SCOBYs are living things!
  9. Cover the container with the clean cloth and secure it with a rubber band.
    -The goal is to allow oxygen in and keep pathogens out.
    -If you cover the container with cheesecloth, double layer it! The holes in cheesecloth are pretty big and may let pathogens inside.
  10. Put your brewing container in a quiet, undisturbed spot.
    -Every time you brew, a new baby mushroom typically forms.
    -Factors promoting Kombucha Baby Mushroom formation:
    -Constant temperatures
    -Warm temperatures (SCOBYs particularly like 73-83°F, or 21-26°C)
    -Undisturbed spots- every time you disturb your brew, the new mushroom has to begin forming all over again.
    -To avoid:
    -Smoke (ex.: in kitchens)
    -Direct sunlight (brewing in the light is ok, though)
  11. Ferment for 6-8 days (when you’re brewing at around 80°F at a constant temp.)
    -Takes around 8-14 days when you’re brewing in the 70’s.
  12. Your kombucha tea is done! Enjoy! To check-
    -It should taste like semi-sweet cider, hard apple cider, or vinegar
    -Optional: check the pH of your brew. It should be around 2.5-3.5.
  13. Set aside 1.5 cups of KT for your next brew.
  14. Drink your kombucha tea as is, or consider bottling your kombucha or letting it undergo a second fermentation (kombucha wine, anyone?)

Thanks to Happy Herbalist (and my own experience and research) for some of this information!

Note: You do not have to brew a gallon of KT at once! You just need to brew everything proportionally. (A useful conversion: 1 quart = 4 cups).


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kombucha Brewing Demo

This past Tuesday I performed a Kombucha Brewing Demonstration at Slow Food BU’s second potluck of the semester! The demo included a kombucha tasting of fresh, chokecherry, grapefruit, and lime flavors. This was my second KT demonstration for SFBU, and I love teaching others how to brew kombucha so that they can learn how to do it themselves!

It’s a lot cheaper to brew kombucha yourself than to buy it in stores- a 16 oz bottle of GT’s Kombucha at Whole Foods costs more than $3 each. Meanwhile, the main ingredients of kombucha: water, sugar, and tea, are all fairly cheap. I bought a box of 80 organic tea bags for $4 at Whole Foods. I also bought some organic, fair trade evaporated cane juice at the Harvest Co-Op in Cambridge for $1.59/lb. After doing some math, I found out that with those prices, it costs me only $0.17 for every 16 oz of my own home-brewed kombucha tea, and that is when the sugar isn’t even on sale! Of course, the $0.17 doesn’t count for the electricity and time it takes to brew, and there are many more flavors and varieties of teas and sugars that are more expensive. But brewing kombucha is a lot of fun, is much cheaper in the long run, and you can’t get any more local and fresh then brewing kombucha tea in your own home!

I even donated a few kombucha mushrooms at the demo- it’s always hard to part with my SCOBYs, because I become so attached to them! But they were getting crowded in their home, so I knew it was time to part ways.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What is Kombucha?! The Basics.

Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been traced back to Chinese origins, around 220 B.C. It is made with water, sugar, tea, starter tea, and a kombucha mushroom.

Kombucha mushrooms are not actually mushrooms. They are cultures, also referred to as SCOBYs, or symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast. Typically with each brewing cycle, a new culture, or "baby" mushroom, forms from the "mother" mushroom.

The yeast ferment the sugar to alcohol, and the bacteria convert the alcohol to beneficial acids. Because of the brewing process, kombucha tea has a slight trace of alcohol.

Various factors, including pH, temperature, and time can affect the brew.

Also known as the "elixir of immortality," kombucha is claimed to cure various ailments, such as cancer, and is said to have detoxifying effects and probiotics (beneficial bacteria), which are beneficial to the digestive system.