Saturday, March 16, 2013

Love your mother - making your own kombucha tea

Welcom to Hippychick's kombucha starter page.  
The following will get you started on your journey to making your own healthy kombucha and save big bucks.

Hippychick’s Basic Kombucha Recipe

You will need a glass quart size container or larger to start (a glass container is preferred). Several elastic bands and a flour cloth or like material large enough to generously cover the top of your brewing container.  Choose a container with a wide mouth opening as oxygen exchange is beneficial to the brewing process.   *Container, Cloth and elastic bands are not included.

·       You are now ready to start your very first batch of home brewed kombucha tea - Make tea using

o    Loose tea

o    1/4 cup of sugar

o    1 pint of chlorine free water - If using tap water, boil water for 15 minutes to purify or leave your water in an uncovered pot overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate off.

Place tea bags and sugar in water - If using the boiling method – add the tea and sugar after the 15 minute boiling off of chlorine.

o    Stir the mixture until sugar is dissolved. If using the boiling method, let tea steep for 15 minutes before removing tea bags.  If using the evaporation method, allow tea to steep for at least 6 hours at room temperature.

o    Cool tea and sugar mixture to room temperature.

o    Using your quart and/or larger sized brewing container, add the kombucha starter and s.c.o.b.y. colony (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) to the cooled / room temperature sweetened tea.

o    Cover the container with a flower towel or coffee filter or breathable cloth and secure it with a rubber band, elastic, or string to keep out insects and air borne contaminants.  Fruit flies will be attracted to your brewing tea so make sure that the material you use to cover the container will block entry of flies small in size.

o    Place the kombucha container where it will remain relatively undisturbed and away from bright lights.  Some folks use a second towel to wrap the brewing container so as to keep out bright light.

o    Allow the kombucha to ferment for about 7 to 10 days depending on the growing temperature and how acidic (sour) you like your kombucha. The Kombucha culture needs a warm and quiet place. The temperature of the tea should not fall below 68°F /20˚C. Optimum temperature for fermentation is approximately about 74°F - 85°F / 23˚C – 29˚C. Light is not necessary. The culture also works in darkness. The culture may be damaged by exposure to bright sunlight. Half shade is better.

A note about tea

Kombucha requires tea for its fermentation. That's real tea (Camellia Sinensis) not herbal tea. Use black, oolong, green or white tea and look for organic tea as contaminants in some commercial teas can affect the culture.  Kombucha can be also be sensitive to strong aromatic oils. A

A note about sugar

White cane sugar is cheap and works very well. Organic white sugar would be even better. Sugar is used by the yeasts during fermentation, and is broken down and transformed into acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and carbon dioxide. Sugar is also involved in the propagation of the Kombucha culture. It uses the sugar to build the scoby. (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast)  At the end of the fermentation period, if done correctly, the sugar will have been virtually all converted and there should be little or no sugar left in the kombucha. Using raw brown sugars can give the brew a bad taste and result in poor culture formation.

A note about containers

It is considered best to use clear glass containers for this whole process. Metal is considered toxic to kombucha so never let metal touch the kombucha colony or kombucha tea. Never use aluminum containers for anything having to do with making kombucha and avoid it every way you can, especially in food preparation. Try brewing your kombucha in a gallon jar.  The kombucha culture needs oxygen for the fermentation. A glass gallon jar gives a large surface area and is an excellent brewing container. You can use smaller jars to brew the kombucha, it will simply take longer to brew because there's a smaller surface area exposed to oxygen. A sterilized clean pickle or sweet jar will do very well.

*Notes about checking the brew

The fermentation will take 5-14 days depending on the temperature. If you check your brew after 2 or 3 days you’ll notice a scum forming on the surface. It’s not scum at all; it’s the first thin membrane of your new kombucha scoby/mother. Start tasting the brew after 4 or 5 days. Gently move the scoby aside and dip a spoon in to the liquid. When the kombucha is ready it should be neither too sweet nor too sour. This is rather a personal taste and will depend on how much sugar you want left in the brew. Some like it sweet but others prefer it sour. It’s up to you, so test it every day until it is the way you like it.

·       Remove the original kombucha colony (scoby) and the new baby colony (scoby) that formed on the surface of the tea.  Save at least 1 cup of the starter in order to feed your next batch of tea.

·       Strain your finished kombucha tea, bottle it if you like and store it in the refrigerator.

A note about bottling your kombucha

Try bottling your kombucha in glass jars.  The strained kombucha when stored in a covered container will begin a natural carbonation process . Bottle the kombucha, cover and set out on the counter away from light for several days (3-4).  Note – if you prefer to use plastic containers be aware that the container may bulge from the build up of carbonated gas.  If you discover this in process, it is best to remove the cap to allow for a small bit of gas to release otherwise you might run the risk of the bottle exploding.  Refrigerate your kombucha after the 3-4 day set on the counter.  Enjoy your kombucha at your leisure.  The fermentation process will continue while in the refrigerated state but at a significantly slower rate than the process at room temperature.  Kombucha will lose a bit of its carbonation once opened in the same way as a bottle of soda does.

Later on…

For larger batches, the basic ratios are 1 large teabag per quart of water, ¼ cup of sugar per quart of liquid, 1 cup of kombucha starter and your mother.  Always cool liquids to room temperature before adding to the mother.  Heat will damage and possibly kill your mother. Start by making a quart, then a ½ gallon and so on.

Feel free to contact me, hippychick, via email at

Thanks so very much and enjoy your refreshing delicious home brewed kombucha tea.

Hippychick a.k.a. Michelle

Here are a few great videos to refer to from  CulturesForHealth

Note you will not need vinegar as suggested in the videos as you have real kombucha as your starter tea. 

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