DIY Kombucha

I tried this method recently for my own kombucha brew. I actually just winged-it trial-and-error at first as I listed below. According to the author linked above her method doesn’t work so great anymore because since the recall in 2010 “Whatever [kombucha manufactures] did, I think they made it virtually impossible to grow a kombucha scoby from a store-bought bottle of kombucha anymore.”  It worked for me, but I will say it took a while to get going. Now I have more than I need.

Bet and I discovered the drink by accident one day after a ride. We had a meal, and grabbed two kombucha bottles to go…pre 2010. Minutes later we wondered if there was alcohol because we felt a “little” tipsy. Sure enough…

In trying to brew my own I looked for a bottle with a lot of culture still in the bottle. I used a “100%” raw kombucha from Synergy (I think I used this, which also contains this). The “classic” can be bought, but you need to be 21 as it may contain more than 0.5% alcohol. The classic may have the best potential for a good and cheap starter.

According to most recipes:

1 cup of cane sugar/1 gallon of tea

or

1 cup / 16 cups or 1 tablespoon / 1 cup

I stated with a mason jar with about 3 cups of tea, so 3 TBL of sugar. We use turbinado. It may take a little longer to break down than white sugar. see this

The first batch had fuzzy blue/green/white mold…$3.69 down the drain. I’m guessing it’s because I didn’t boil the mix after I added the tea bags, so the tea bags may have contaminated the mix. I’m not sure.

Successful Slacker method for a DIY kombucha brew:

  1. clean a microwavable container
  2. add the desired liquid amount– leave enough room for 1/2 of a store-bought kombucha bottle that you will ad to the mix later (NOT NOW)
  3. supposedly a 1:1 ratio of depth to width of liquid works best
  4. boil #2 in the microwave (make sure it boils for about a minute)
  5. remove the hot mix WITH GLOVES OR A TOWEL
  6. add the right amount of sugar (1 TBL/cup liquid)
  7. add the pouch-type (staple-less) tea bags (your call on the flavor…I use two per 4 cups, and like this one a lot). Supposedly a 2:1 black:green is better, and some herbal teas may not support scoby growth. Too much tea may favor the yeast over the bacteria as well.
  8. boil it again- I wouldn’t go over a minute, and usually only boil it for 30 seconds this time..or dip staple tea bags and seep a few minutes, then re-boil
  9. remove and let it cool
  10. remove the bags CAREFULLY with disinfected tweezers…the bags usually float a little above the tea for a few minutes after they boil, so it’s easiest to do this right away
  11. DO NOT stir or touch without disinfecting of boiling the utensil– there’s really no reason to do anything to the mix now
  12. LET IT COOL to room temp
  13. DO NOT be tempted to take a few sips from the bottle your prepared or bought before pouring it into the mix, as your lip could contaminate the mix
  14. pour off most of your store bought “100%” kombucha mix into a separate glass for drinking, careful not to dump out the culture usually at the bottom of the bottle.
  15. you could add the entire bottle to your mix as well
  16. give the remaining kombucha a little swirl to stir it up and pour it into your mix
  17. let it sit for about 7-10 days
  18. MAKE SURE YOU COVER IT with a CLEAN towel or paper towel, and band or tie it to block any chance of dust entry
  19. in the winter I put mine on the stove top about two inches from where the pilot light makes the stove top really hot (we have a cheap old-school stove and right above the pilot lights it’s unbearably hot to the touch)
  20. repeat the above, using your newly forming scoby this time

It took about a month to really get it going in the winter. I think it was week three and two more cycles of tea before a pad developed across the entire surface. I’m guessing my sugar was a little off when I first started as I was using about half the sugar recommended and a slightly less available form. So far it seems fine, and smells and tastes like kombucha. My goal is to start working on the timing for the right amount of ethanol 😉

After 7 days, or when you are ready to taste your KT, gently insert a [sterile/single-wrapped type] straw beneath the SCOBY and take a sip. If too tart, then reduce your brewing cycle next time.  If too sweet, allow to brew for a few more days.  Continue to taste every day or so until you reach your optimum flavor preference. Your own Kombucha Tea Recipe may vary. source

other tips here, here

and see the table below here–the table links won’t work unless you go to the original site

Ferment Scoby Taste Problems Temperature Technique

No Fizz

Thin SCOBY

Too Sour Tastes Like Vinegar

Mold

Brewing in high temperatures

Decreasing Yeast to Acetobacter Ratio

Too Much Fizz

Holey SCOBY

Too Sweet

Dealing with Chlorine

Brewing in Low Temperatures

Increasing Yeast to Acetobacter Ratio

Cloudy

Lumpy SCOBY

Nail Polish Remover

Contaminated Well Water

Heating

Increasing Carbonation

Slimy

No SCOBY

Like Rotten Citrus

Seasonal Effects
2 Stage Bottling
Technique

Too Slow

Dark SCOBY

Green vs Black Teas

Brewing Vessels Surface Area

Reducing Caffeine

SCOBY Sinks

Starter Pot

Climbs Out of Pot

Doubling Technique

 

Disclaimer: I consider myself a skeptic, and don’t buy into most metaphysical philosophies and health claims. I tend to trust modern medicine for the most part. You’ll read a lot of “claims” and testimonials about kombucha, but little to no science behind the benefits of kombucha…AND there could be DANGERS if you brew the wrong thing, so do the above AT YOUR OWN RISK. Here’s what the Mayo Clinic has to say about kombucha:

Health benefits attributed to kombucha tea include stimulating the immune system, preventing cancer, and improving digestion and liver function. However, there’s no scientific evidence to support these health claims.

more info here: msnbc | nytimes

My process above will get you started, but I highly recommend reading more and fine-tuning your techniques. I’m still a newbie myself on this front.

 

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