Here’s my favorite, simplified (really!) recipe for homemade kombucha. Start with a small batch, 1 quart, and increase over time. You can make kombucha as tart or as sweet as you like. The longer the drink ferments, the more probiotics and negligible alcohol are created. Pictured here: A berry kombucha with strained berry puree added after the first ferment.
Organic & Fair-Trade Ingredients:
1 SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria & Yeasts) as the starter
2 tea bags (organic black or organic green)
¼ cup organic sugar, local honey, or organic maple syrup
¼ cup kombucha (from top of prior batch, or low-sugar organic, such as GT’s Original)
Purified, non-chlorinated water
1-quart glass jar (no plastic or metal)
Breathable cotton towel and rubber band to cover jar (no cheese cloth or lid)
Obtain a quality SCOBY from a reliable source. There are methods to grow your own SCOBY (see Kombucha Kamp) if you’re unable to find a SCOBY donor.
Clean hands, all equipment being used, and maintain a hygienic environment.
Bring purified water to a boil. If using high-quality water, less water can be boiled with cooler water added to quickly cool the tea.
Set aside and add tea bags. Brew 7 to 15 minutes for black tea, and no more than 10 minutes for green tea (will turn bitter). Do NOT use herbal or flavored teas.
Immediately mix in sugar and set aside to cool. If using honey, cool to lukewarm temperature (approximately 98º to 105º F), then add honey (can be local, but NOT raw) and mix well.
Mix tea and sugar/honey liquid well, and add to clean glass jar being used for fermentation.
Cool to below 98º (body temperature). SCOBYs react unfavorably to extreme heat or cold.
Add ¼ cup starter kombucha, then mix again.
Carefully add SCOBY. No need to remix.
Set aside from direct light in an undisturbed area of the kitchen. Ferment for between 7 to 21 days depending on room temperature. Ferments will mature faster in warmer temperatures.
Check taste of kombucha for preference by pouring small amount of kombucha into a glass. The longer it ferments, the less residual sugar is in the tea. Ideally, the tea should taste tangy but not as strong as apple cider vinegar. It will NOT be carbonated like commercially-bottled brands.
When the tea is ready, reserve ¼ cup of top kombucha batch for the next ferment. Transfer into bottle(s) for a second fermentation or store in the refrigerator. Restart the process using the existing healthy SCOBY, storing any additional SCOBYs in a “SCOBY motel.”
An optional second fermentation can be started, adding organic juice, herbal infusions like lavender, etc. See Kombucha Kamp for free information, tutorials, and guidance for secondary fermentation.