Kombucha – A Makers Experience

Kombucha, which is sometimes referred to as Kombucha Tea is a fermented tea drink that is thought to have originated thousands of years ago in China, Russia, and Eastern Europe. You may read more about Kombucha here

My wife and family have been consuming Kombucha for four or five years now and while I don’t have scientific data to present here, I can personally attest to some of the touted benefits of this fermented tea. Better gut health equals better overall health and this is precisely why we as a family drink this wonderful beverage.
It would be inauthentic of me to claim that I made our first batch of Kombucha as I was not the one who created our SCOBY. This beautiful experiment was the doing of my lovely wife. I drink a fair amount of sweet tea (black tea sweetened with agave) and during the cooler spring months, we leave a glass container full out on the counter. As the weather warms, we move the container to the fridge, otherwise, we get a natural fermented black tea after only a few days of sitting out.
From the last batch of sweet tea, there was a little leftover tea in the early stages of fermentation that my wife transferred to a small jar and placed a coffee filter over the top of (to keep bugs and dust out). After about three weeks we noticed organic material developing in the little jar. Unbeknownst to me, this was my wife’s intent all along. She was experimenting to see if she could grow a SCOBY. A dear friend of ours came up to visit and we shared our SCOBY journey with her. She immediately asked, “are you feeding her (referencing the SCOBY which is sometimes referred to as a mother). From that day forward we began feeding the mother about a quarter cup of sugar (raw organic) and what happened next is one of the miracles of nature, a SCOBY was born!
I wanted to document this extremely fulfilling and easy experience of making our own delicious Kombucha at home in hopes that you will as well!
Ref A: Bubbles after feeding
1. Creating a “Mother” (SCOBY)
  1. Brew about a quart of tea (black or green) – Herbal teas will not work.
  2. Add 1/3 cup of raw organic sugar
  3. Pour sweetened tea into a glass jar (mason jar or something similar)
  4. Use a coffee filter or something that is breathable, but keeps out the dust and bugs to cap the jar.
  5. Set this jar in a place where the temperature does not fluctuate much (on top of a refrigerator works) and is consistently room temperature.
  6. Daily check your mother by smelling her. She should smell like tea at first, but slowly you’ll begin to smell the fermentation happening. She will begin to smell like kombucha.
  7. Add roughly 1/4 cup of raw organic sugar about every other day to encourage fermentation, which you will see bubbles form when feeding. (Ref A) You will notice sugar building up on the bottom of your jar which is perfectly normal.
  8. After about 3-4 weeks you’ll notice a membrane begin to form at the top of the jar. This is your mother (SCOBY). She will grow roughly to the size she is constrained to. So, larger jar, larger mother. (see Ref B)
  9. Once you have a fully formed mother, you are ready to move to the next step!
Ref B: Newly formed SCOBY
2. Brewing a Batch of Kombucha
Note: Ensure you have a large glass jar in which to pour your brewed batch into for the first fermentation. I use a large 4-quart container that has a spigot at the bottom which I use to fill individual bottles for the second fermentation (flavoring/fermentation).
  1. In a large pot, fill with at least 4 quarts of water and place on stovetop.
  2. Add at least 3 black or green tea bags per quart (in this recipe, you’ll use 12 bags)
  3. Bring the water up to a slight boil and turn off the heat.
  4. Add 1/3 cup of raw organic sugar per quart of water and stir (in this recipe, you’ll add 4×1/3 cups total)
  5. Let cool to room temperature and pour into your large fermentation jar
  6. Carefully scoop or pour your mother from the small jar into the large fermentation jar.
  7. Cover the top of the large fermentation jar with a towel or coffee filter (something that allows air in and out, but keeps dust and bugs out.
  8. Place the large fermentation jar in a consistent room temperature area. I place ours on the counter behind our stovetop.
  9. Leave for one week. (do not add anything, the mother will do her job with the tea)
3. Bottling and Second Fermentation

Ref C: Newly Bottled for 2nd Fermentation

After one week your first fermentation should be complete and it’s time to bottle and flavor your kombucha. Ensure that you have a few (maybe 4) fairly thick glass bottles that seal with lids (plastic or metal lids work. No corks)
  1. Using 100% organic fruit juice, fill your smaller bottles with (about) 10% fruit juice. Not enough and the kombucha flavor will prevail. Too much and you’ll have an overly sweet kombucha. This is really a preference. Some juices work better than others. For instance, Cherry, Apple, Berries, work really well. Citrus, not so much.
  2. Fill your smaller bottles with your first fermentation kombucha leaving about 2 inches at the top.
  3. Close the lid and place in a consistent room temperature area
  4. Repeat until you’ve filled all your bottles. (Ref C)
  5. Make sure you keep a little of your first fermentation and your mother. You’ll use these in your next batch. I go ahead and brew another batch of tea (section 2, step 1) during this process to keep things going.
  6. About every other day I carefully “burp” the smaller bottles to alleviate the pressure build-up (be extremely careful as these bottles are producing a lot of C02 and the pressure could cause the bottles to explode) 
  7. After 1 week of your second fermentation, move your smaller bottles into the fridge.
  8. After an hour or so, when your bottles are chilled, remove and carefully open the lid.
  9. Pour yourself a small glass and taste.
  10. Congratulate yourself on a job well done!
You can keep the process going for as long as you like. Remember, your mother (SCOBY) is living and needs to feed. Keep her in tea (with sugar – section 2, step 1) and she’ll keep doing her job for you. If you accidentally kill her, just begin again. 
God is truly wonderful in His creation and His mercy is evident in the beauty and bounty He provides for us +

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