Kombucha – A Manual For Kombucha Brewing And Preparation
Kombucha Home Brewing – How to Produce a Delicious Kombucha Drink by Yourself
All you need for the production (of 1 liter Kombucha drink) is:
- 1 scoby with 100ml of Kombucha drink as culture medium
- 1 liter of water
- About 8g of tea
- 90 to 100g of sugar
- 1 fermentation container (made of glass or ceramics) for your desired amount of Kombucha
- 1 cover sheet, breathable (made of cotton or cellulose)
- 1 closing bracket (e.g. rubber ring) for air-tight sealing
- 1 plastic strainer
- 1 bottle or carafe for storing the finished drink in your fridge
Kombucha Making - DIY Video
Kombucha Quick Starter Guide
- Desired amount of water needs to boil. Then, add about 8g of tea per liter and let it steep for 15 minutes.
- Add 90 to 100g of sugar per liter to the finished tea and have it dissolved completely.
- Let the tea cool down to room temperature and have a clean fermentation container ready.
- Give the scoby (Kombucha mushroom) and the Kombucha drink into the container (at least 100ml per liter). It serves as the culture medium.
- Seal the container with a cover sheet and a closing bracket (e.g. rubber ring) air-tight.
- Store the container in a warm place (at least 21 degrees) and do not move it for the next days.
- After 10 to 16 days, you can fill the finished drink into bottles and store cool.
- Together with the scoby, you need to have at least 10% of your finished drink aside serving as the culture medium for your next fermentation. (Putting aside more than that is not harmful, it even boosts fermentation – 15 to 20% of your finished drink is actually perfect for the next fermentation.)
Important: It is necessary for each new culture medium that you take out the SCOBY and give it a wash under cold or lukewarm running water and, if applicable, remove the darker colored layers from its bottom. Then rinse the container with hot water and refill it with your new culture medium (at least 10% of your previously finished drink) and the cleaned scoby. You are now ready to start over again from point 1.
In case your culture medium smells musty or if no new layer of fungus has grown, you should better discard the culture medium as a precaution. Take out the scoby and start anew with only a little bit of tea, but this time please add 3 TBSP of vinegar per liter tea to your new culture medium.
Workplace Hygiene and Cleanliness for Your Handling of Kombucha
- All devices that get into contact with the tea fungus or the culture medium have to be cleaned thoroughly up-front. Please use hot water and dish detergent for cleaning. Finally, rinse off all detergent residues very carefully and make sure that all your devices are totally clean. When you use a dish washer, please rinse all items off again with hot water in order to clear any rinse aid leftovers. This is because the tea fungus is very sensitive to chemicals.
- Your hands also need to be clean and free of any soap before touching the scoby.
- Keep away all open sources of mold (e.g. bread, cheese and fruits) from the fungus and lodge your culture in a place not next to a potted plant.
Detailed Instructions with Many Tips and Tricks
1. Desired amount of water needs to boil. Then, add about 8g of tea per liter and let it steep for 15 minutes.
- You add about 8g of tea per liter to the boiling water. This also applies to green tea when used for the production of Kombucha although it may be different to what you have learned about brewing regular green tea.
- Tea may differ greatly in thickness and weight. Just weigh your favorite tea once and see how many TBSP that is. We don’t have to nail it down here because Kombucha grows and tastes fine with about 5 to 12g of tea per liter anyway.
- Our tea has to steep for about 15 minutes which is much longer than for brewing regular tea. This is necessary because only this way the various ingredients of the tea necessary for the Kombucha come out. You may even cook the tea for 2 to 3 minutes in the boiling water.
- We also recommend to use at least a little bit of green tea for fermentation: The various and valuable ingredients of the green tea remain almost fully within the Kombucha. They complement and combine with the ones of the tea fungus.
- By a green tea only approach your finished Kombucha drink will have a mild and fruity bitter flavor whereas a black tea only approach will result in a fully aromatic character. Therefore, we recommend using a half and half approach of green and black tea as a basic recipe. This is an ideal mix in terms of taste and also valuable ingredients necessary for your scoby nourishment. Either way, your Kombucha will also grow properly with green or black tea only as well. Just try out what tastes best for you and what leads to an optimum growth of your Kombucha.
- Important: Please DO NOT use flavored tea because its flavors and essential oils could harm your scoby. We invite you to our recipes page for finding out what special blends of herbs and teas are suitable for your Kombucha culture.
2. Add 90 to 100g of sugar per liter to your finished tea and dissolve completely.
- Sugar is not an enemy but your friend! There is much less sugar left in your ready fermented Kombucha because most of it nourishes your scoby and therefore gets transformed into other substances. Your scoby will starve by less than 80g of sugar per liter but also produce a too intense taste when adding more than 110g. Thus, 90 to 100g of sugar per liter is perfect.
- Kombucha grows with no problems when using regular white sugar. However, you can achieve a much better growth by using at least partially raw cane sugar or whole cane sugar because both sugars contain real molasses (so not only sugar but also the other valuable components of the plant sap). Whole cane sugar even contains the full scope of natural components of the molasses. The mineral-rich molasses is produced through pressing of sugar cane. For refined white sugar, these are being removed completely.
- Versus refined white sugar, therefore, natural molasses is fully rich in valuable vital substances such as Potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and many other essential nutrients including important trace elements such as phosphorus, copper and chromium.
- In case you want to use white sugar but do not want to forgo on the healthy molasses in your Kombucha drink, you also have the option of adding pure liquid molasses additionally. (Adding about 1 level TSP per liter of your drink is fully ok.) Your scoby will grow better and your finished drink will have a strong and slightly malty flavor. You can get whole cane sugar, raw cane sugar and pure liquid molasses for example in our online shop in the “supplies” area.
- We do not recommend using honey for the production of Kombucha. Unfortunately, Kombucha cannot process honey easily and, furthermore, honey does kill bacteria and hinders the growth of your scoby. Stevia is also not suitable although it is a sweetener - it does not deliver any nutrients essential for the growth of your Kombucha mushroom.
3. Let the tea cool down to room temperature and prepare a clean fermentation container.
- Please never put the scoby in hot tea, this would kill him. The tea should be no warmer than 2 to 3 degress above room temperature when you add it to the culture medium with the Kombucha mushroom. For example, the tea should be no warmer than 26 degrees when your room temperature is 23 degrees. You should rather use a thermometer if you are not sure. Over time, you will quickly gain experience to already feel by yourself if the tea is cool enough by simply touching the boiler.
- It is best to use a glass or jar which is easy to clean as your fermentation container. Ceramic containers are also suitable (e.g. a rum pot). In any case, metal containers should not be used since they will harm your scoby.
- Also important is that you use a glass with a wide opening so that your Kombucha culture can breathe easily. It is better to use a wide and flat glass or jar instead of a very high and slim one.
4. Give the scoby and some of your finished Kombucha drink (at least 100ml per liter) into your fermentation container - this serves as your culture medium. Now just fill it up with cooled down tea.
- Give the culture medium (ready fermented Kombucha drink) into your fermentation container. The container should be filled to at least 10% of its capacity in order to ensure a quick growth. The culture medium already contains the necessary microclimate for the scoby. If you want to speed up the process of growing your Kombucha mushroom, you may just increase the amount of culture medium to 20 to 30% of the container capacity.
- Then fill up the glass with your cooled down tea, but only up to the point where the glass starts to taper in diameter. This is to give your Kombucha culture the largest possible surface where it can generate a new big tea fungus easily.
- Finally you add the scoby upside down. The lighter (freshly grown) side should be up. The tea fungus may either sink down to the bottom or it remains floating on top, both is fine. If it floats, it will continue growing on its top side, and if it sinks down it will bring out a new fungus on its top within a few days which will soon cover the whole culture medium again. In the latter case, you will discover streaky threads from the old fungus at the bottom of your container to the top where they will form a new scoby.
5. Seal the fermentation container with a cover sheet and closing bracket (e.g. rubber ring).
- Cover your container with a clean cloth so that the Kombucha can breathe without contamination by dust or insects.
- It is important that it is a breathable cloth. Accordingly, thick cloths or regular paper are not suitable; also make sure not to use coarse-meshed cloths either because vinegar or fruit flies may enter even through the smallest meshes in summer time.
- Tissues and paper towels are ideally suited as well. They are made up of several layers so that you can remove some of them until the cover sheet is thin and breathable enough. Your Kombucha will thank you with an even better growth.
- You will prevent fruit flies and other vermin from entering and harming your culture by additionally using a closing bracket (e.g. rubber ring).
6. Store your fermentation container in a warm place (at least 21 to 22 degrees) and do not move it for the next days if possible.
- Your Kombucha needs a warm and quiet place in order to grow. That is why you should not move the container for several days in the beginning. Movement prevents the formation of a new fungus membrane (Kombucha disc) on top of the tea.
- The scoby does not like direct sunlight because sunrays prevent its growth. However, it can be stored in daylight without any problems and also grows in completely dark spots, just as you like.
- It is important not to smoke in the same room especially for your first culture when the fungus is still small.
- Your new tea fungus will look like a thin, milky membrane in the beginning and will gain thickness very soon. Please use this membrane for your next culture medium just like the older parts below until your new scoby has reached a sufficient height of about 1 to 3cm.
- The room temperature should be at least 21 to 22 degrees Celsius for the fermentation of your Kombucha. Optimum for its growth is 23 to 24 degrees. And the warmer the place is, the faster the fermentation process runs. A temperature below 19 degrees may not kill it but it does stop action. On the other side, a temperature above 25 degrees speeds up fermentation very fast. A few weeks above 25 degrees (in summer) are no harm but you should not keep your scoby like that permanently.
- In winter it is usually not required to have a heater ready. Your tea fungus just works slower in these days and you would only need a heater if it gets uncommonly cold in your apartment.
- In case you feel it might be too cold for your scoby please relocate it to a warmer place or obtain a heating pad and place your container on there. You can get these pads for any budget in pet shops (for terraria) for example. But you have to regulate its temperature with a thermostat or timer so that the Kombucha is not being heated to above 25 degrees.
7. Your finished drink is ready for bottling in about 10 to 16 days, please store cool.
- Your Kombucha culture needs to work for about 10 to 16 days until the drink is ready, and the higher the temperature (summer, heater) the faster your scoby works. It may take up to 14 days in winter time whereas it is much faster in summer. Additionally, your Kombucha gets more acidic over time. So if you prefer a sweeter drink with accordingly more sugar, keep the days of fermentation low but please bear in mind that you should at least have a fermentation of 8 days. It needs that time to sufficiently acidify in order to produce the valuable natural ingredients we want to get.
- In case you are not sure if your Kombucha is ready, just pour off a little bit and try. It is good when you have a balanced sweet-sour taste which is in particular refreshing in summer days. Many Kombucha fans acquire a taste for it and enjoy their Kombucha quite sour. With a little experience, you will already see by the growth of your scoby on the surface if your Kombucha is ready.
- You bottle the ready fermented Kombucha drink and store it in the fridge. It stays fresh in there for about 1 to 2 weeks. Please do not close the bottles tightly since your Kombucha continues fermenting and therefore produces carbonic dioxide.
- There is no need to filter the drink prior consumption. The dark particles forming a deposit on the bottom of the glass are mainly from yeasts. You may rather filter your Kombucha if you do not like the filaments and jelly-like parts that float around in your Kombucha tea.
- Tip: Your drink is in particular sparkling and bubbly in about 3 to 6 days of secondary fermentation in your fridge. Your Kombucha produces a great deal of carbon dioxide which cannot evaporate so easily during that time.
8. The culture medium for your next fermentation consists of at least 10% finished Kombucha drink and the scoby. For best growth use 15 to 20% of your finished Kombucha drink.
- It is necessary for each new culture medium that you take out the scoby and give it a wash under cold or lukewarm running water and, if applicable, remove the darker colored layers from its bottom. Then rinse the container with hot water and refill it with your new culture medium (at least 10% of your previously finished drink) and the cleaned scoby. You are now ready to start over again from point 1.
- If you take good care of your new friend, you may have won a life-long companion. You can always cultivate him anew and produce a fresh Kombucha drink. It continuously generates a new layer on top which is lighter. When your scoby gets too thick, then you only have to take off the darker layer on its bottom and dispose it to the compost.
- If you plan holidays for up to three weeks: Simply add your scoby to a new culture medium and keep it in a warm place. Make sure that your scoby has a little bit more room on top of the tea and just use a smaller amount of tea in your glass than usually. This reduces the risk for your scoby being pushed out of the tea by the carbon dioxide where it would dry out while you are not home. After your vacation you will have a delicious Kombucha drink.
- Your Kombucha mushroom will also survive longer vacations. It will have produced a tasty Kombucha vinegar when you return home after a longer trip than three weeks. It only gets critical when you leave home for more than eight weeks. In this case, your scoby needs to be nourished anew urgently.
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Note: All information and tips on our website have been selected and verified by us with great care. Nevertheless, we cannot guarantee for the currency, completeness and validity of the given data. We assume no liability for any damage and or accidents.
When following our recommendations, tips, and notes, please also use your own personal judgment and experience in the proper and safe handling of food.