Kombucha is essentially fermented sweet tea. It ferments in two stages: an initial week or two with the SCOBY and another week in bottles. Fruit and spices are usually added when bottling to cause carbonation.
||black tea bags
Making the Sweet Tea
- Bring half the water to the boil in a stockpot then remove from heat.
- Add 400 g of granulated sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Add 16 teabags and let steep for 5–10 minutes.
- Add the remaining cold water and leave it to cool to below 30°c.
- You can remove the tea bags at any time after adding the cold water.
- Once cool, pour your sweet tea into one or two large containers. I use a 12 litre tub. But two, one gallon canning jars would work well.
- Adding some plain kombucha from the previous batch will make it acidic enough and get the fermentation going. A cup or so is enough but more is fine. If you haven’t just made a batch, the SCOBY should be stored in some liquid and this liquid should be enough.
- Add the SCOBY. It’ll probably float to the top but it’s fine if it doesn’t.
- Cover with a tea towel or paper towel and secure with elastic bands.
- Leave it in a cool place that it won’t be disturbed for at least a week. The longer you leave it the more acidic it’ll get. One to two weeks is good.
- Pour out most of the liquid into a jug. Leave enough liquid so that the SCOBY is still just floating.
- Use a funnel to pour into bottles. Leave a bit of headroom to add fruit and spices. 12, 475ml/16oz bottles is perfect for this batch size.
- Now you can just close the bottles and you’ll eventually have plain kombucha, but it won’t carbonate very well. You need to add some more sugar to aid the carbonation. Most people add some fruit to each bottle because it adds some flavour and is full of sugar. Experiment with what fruit and how much until you get something you like.
- Put in a cool dark place for a few days. If you leave it too long and it get’s too carbonated the bottles could explode, so start with three or four days.
- Putting the bottles in the fridge should almost stop the fermentation and get them chilled for serving.
The scoby can now be stored until you want to make another batch. If you plan to leave it for a month or more, leave additional liquid in the container with it. You can also just start the next batch straight away.