A few weeks ago, I encouraged you to gather up some equipment you may have already had laying around your kitchen, source a SCOBY, and get excited to start brewing your own Kombucha at home. If you missed it, click here to get up to speed 🙂 This second installment of how to brew your own Kombucha at home will give you the information you need to get started on brewing your first batch.
The actual process of brewing Kombucha takes about 10-14 days per cycle, depending on a few different factors. The temperature in your kitchen, the age of your SCOBY, how much starter liquid (very strong Kombucha) your SCOBY comes with, and the size of the batch you are brewing all affect the length of time each brewing cycle takes. I am a visual learner, so I put a regular brewing cycle into a timeline for your reference below.
Today, you’ll start your first brew in your gallon-sized vessel with just sweet tea and your SCOBY. My next post will cover the “second brew,” which will happen about 7-10 days after starting your Kombucha batch. This is when you can get creative by flavoring your Kombucha however you want!
We start by making some plain old sweet tea, adding it to your brewing vessel (probably a gallon-sized glass jar), letting it cool, adding the SCOBY, then letting it be. It’s that easy! Let’s get started.
Recipe for 1 Gallon of Kombucha
Prep time: 20 mins Cooling time: 4 hr Total time: 4 hours 20 mins Brew time: 7-10 days
- ~2 Q boiling water (about one full tea kettle)
- 3 t loose black or green tea, or 3 tea bags **remember not to use any flavored tea here!
- 1 C white sugar **again, no substitutes here! The SCOBY will remove all refined sugar during the brewing process
- ~2 Q cold purified water
- 1 SCOBY + about 1 C starter liquid
Step 1: Prepare your vessel
Thoroughly wash and dry your brewing vessel, and adhere your sticky thermometer to the outside so you know exactly when it’s safe to add your SCOBY to the tea.
Step 2: Brew your tea
Fill a tea kettle or large pot with fresh water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn off heat, add tea and let steep for about 10 minutes. Carefully remove tea leaves and discard.
Step 3: Pour into vessel
Fit your clean brewing vessel with your nut milk bag to prevent any impurities or loose tea leaves from making it into the brew (picture below for reference). Pour hot tea into brewing vessel.
Step 4: Make it sweet!
Add white sugar to tea, stirring with a clean wooden spoon until dissolved.
Step 5: Cool it down
Pour cold filtered water into hot tea, leaving at least 3 inches from top of jar for SCOBY and starter liquid. Cover your sweet tea with a coffee filter or lightweight cloth and set aside to cool until sticky thermometer reads between 75-80° F. This might take up to 4 hours depending on the temperature in your home.
Step 6: Add the starter liquid and SCOBY
Your SCOBY should have come with at least 1 C of starter liquid (very strong Kombucha) to get your first batch started. Pour that into your vessel, then with clean hands, gently place your SCOBY in the vessel. It may float at the top, sink to the bottom, or even lay on its side. These are all normal- just let it do its thing! Secure coffee filter or lightweight cloth around top of vessel with a rubber band to keep impurities out and set in a spot where your brew won’t receive too much direct sunlight or vibrations.
Step 7: Go about your business
Leave your Kombucha to brew for at least a few days before starting to check on its progress. Your SCOBY will start forming a new layer on the top of the brew, and it should become thicker day by day. This wasn’t very clear to me for the first couple batches, so don’t worry if you don’t see this right away. Note that your first brew might take longer as the SCOBY is probably new and you may not have had enough starter liquid to get the acidity of the brew on track right away.
After 4 or 5 days, check on your brew by removing the cloth and checking the following signs that your brew is progressing:
- slight vinegar-y smell
- thin layer forming on the top of the brew
- small bubbles forming under new layer
- color of tea is lightening
- checking the pH with a test strip – I like to stop my first brew when pH is around 3.5, but that is just my personal preference
You won’t know exactly when to stop the first brew this first go-around, and that’s ok! This is your first experimental batch. You’ll learn which brewing times get you to your favorite tasting Kombucha as you go. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any Kombucha-related questions you may have- I am here to help!
I will be back next week with a new post on how to flavor your Kombucha for its second brew cycle. This is when we bottle, add flavoring, and let the brew naturally carbonate. I would argue that the second brew is the most fun part of home brewing- so stay tuned!