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There are very few drinks that are as complicated to make as the kombucha is. However, there are also very few drinks that are as popular all around the world as kombucha is as well.
Whether you are someone who is interested in making your own drinks, or you want to save money by not purchasing expensive store-bought kombucha, there’s a good chance that you will be able to learn how to make your own kombucha.
With that being said, there are going to be a few things to note about the process of making kombucha. For one, kombucha fermentation is finicky and it can take a fair bit of time to get done.
You should not expect your kombucha to be ready before a minimum of 12 days, as this is the time it needs to properly ferment. Additionally, kombucha goes through a two-phase fermentation process.
This means that there is likely going to need to be more work done on your part to ensure that you can transition the kombucha, and everything inside of it that is fermenting, to that second phase of fermentation.
You should not try to brew your own kombucha unless you are truly dedicated to it, as it can take a fair amount of work for someone who has never fermented anything before.
When you are ready to begin fermenting and feeding the kombucha base to begin creating your health drink, you will want to begin learning about the best ways to ferment and raise your kombucha brew.
You will also want to try and do what you can to learn about the feeding process, so that you can get all of the health benefits out of kombucha as you want to.
While it might take a fair amount of time and effort to create your first kombucha batch, it will all be worth it in the end when you have the ability to customize the flavors, features, and appearance of your own kombucha drink.
What Will You Need?
First things first, you are going to want to try to get a good idea of what you will need to get the job done. There are three stages to fermenting and feeding kombucha, and each one will require its own separate list of items that you will need to get the job done.
The first phase will be making the SCOBY, or the “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria (and) Yeast.” This is essentially the mother of your kombucha and what you will be using to feed and fuel the fermentation so that you can get all of those health benefits from your drink.
For this, you will need water, sugar, black tea, a base kombucha to use (this can be from a previous batch or it can be your last store-bought kombucha, as long as it is unflavored), a container for the SCOBY, and a way to seal the container.
The second phase is going to be the first round of fermentation. This process is going to be the step where the SCOBY ferments, adding the nutrients and vitamins to your kombucha brew.
For this, you will need more water and sugar, either black or green tea, more unflavored kombucha, the SCOBY from the previous step, another clean container (and a way to seal the container).
Finally, there is going to be the last round of fermentation. This is the step where you can add your own flavoring to the kombucha to really turn it into the drink that you have always wanted.
For this last step, you are going to want the kombucha brew from the previous step, a sweetener of your choice (it can be fruit, honey, or sugar), and bottles that are designed for fermentation.
As you can tell, the process of fermenting kombucha isn’t exactly difficult, but there are quite a few phases and steps that you have to go through to get the drink that you want.
Whenever anyone is trying something out for the first time and they are faced with this many tasks, it can be easy for things to go wrong, making it all the more important for you to know what you are doing and for you to make sure that you have everything ready to go the first time around.
Feeding Your Kombucha
Considering that there are three phases that you are working with when brewing kombucha, there are going to be a few different ways that you “feed” it.
First, you are going to start out by making sure that you have a healthy SCOBY to feed the kombucha with. Making sure that the SCOBY is healthy and has a decent amount of bacteria in it is going to be key if you want your kombucha to be full of nutrients and good things.
To make a SCOBY, you will want to begin by boiling water in a clean pot. Everything you do when making the SCOBY has to be clean, so you do not introduce unwelcome bacteria into the environment.
Once the water has been boiled, you will want to dissolve the sugar into it so that the SCOBY will have some fuel to start out with.
You will then want to add the tea, let it steep, and wait for the water to cool down to about room temperature. Depending on the environment, this should only take a few hours.
You will want to test the water before doing anything else, as you do not want to harm the SCOBY’s new feeding grounds.
Once you are certain that the water is room temperature, you will then want to add the sweetened tea mixture into the large container alongside the store-bought (or from a previous batch) kombucha.
If the kombucha has sat around enough to collect gunk at the bottom, don’t remove it, as this will actually be very good fuel for your SCOBY.
You will then want to seal the container with a tightly woven cloth to keep out bugs and dust before you set the mixture into a dark, still area. This area should be room temperature, between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 24 degrees Celsius) and you will want to leave it there for one to four weeks.
You should keep this mixture in this dark area until the SCOBY is about a quarter-inch thick (half-centimeter). The SCOBY should stay in this batch until you are ready to transfer it to your kombucha, and it can stay in this area for years as long as you treat it right.
Next, as long as your SCOBY is healthy, you can begin adding it to your first kombucha brew. For this brew, you will want to begin by boiling water in a clean pot again and dissolving sugar into it.
You will then want to steep your tea, although this time you can use green tea if you prefer. It is even more important to let everything cool down to room temperature here, as the hot water can easily kill a SCOBY.
Once you have cleaned your hands as thoroughly as you would if you were a surgeon, you will want to remove the SCOBY from its current container and you will want to place it on an equally clean plate while you carry on with the rest of the process.
It is imperative that you keep the environment around the SCOBY clean so that it does not pick up any harmful bacteria that would end up fermenting in the kombucha.
After this, you should pour the tea into a container alongside your base, unflavored kombucha. From here, you can now carefully place the SCOBY into that jar so that you can begin the fermentation process with it.
You will then want to follow through with the same sealing with a cloth and setting the jar with the new SCOBY in a dark, still area at room temperature.
During the second fermentation period, the focus is less on feeding the kombucha and keeping the SCOBY healthy. Of course, you will want to make sure that you are not killing the SCOBY, but the focus of this stage is to add the desired flavor to the kombucha so that it can turn out the way you want it to be.
Keep in mind that, in this stage, you will be adding more sugar to the kombucha. The SCOBY will be using that sugar as fuel, and there’s a good chance that the fermentation process will speed up.
You will want to check back in on your kombucha every few days to ensure that it is not turning into a vinegar, and that it is still retaining the flavor that you need it to. You can also put it in the fridge to slow down the fermentation process.
As a whole, the more that you let the kombucha ferment and you let the SCOBY feed on it, the more acidic and sour the kombucha is going to be. This is important to note when you are factoring in your own personal tastes into the kombucha.
Remember that it will always be easier to add sugar to your kombucha than it will be to try and make your drink less sweet, meaning that when in doubt, letting it ferment a little bit more than necessary is easier to fix and better for the healthy of your SCOBY if you intend to use it again.
This should create the perfect environment for all of the bacteria and yeast in the SCOBY to ferment, creating the kombucha brew that you know and love.