Kombucha brewing is something you can do at home, but it requires a little bit of knowledge and experience. Still, it is not impossible, and you can certainly create a delicious kombucha without breaking the bank, or going to extreme measures.
What is kombucha brewing?
Kombucha is a sweet and sour tea that has been fermented, which results in a fizzy texture. This drink has been around for over 2,000 years, but it has only become popular in the Western world because of its health properties.
To make kombucha, you need yeast, sugar, and black tea. However, the process takes time and should be monitored closely. Since kombucha contains lactic-acid bacteria, it is known to be a probiotic food. Kombucha promotes healthy digestion and immunity.
What is the first fermentation?
For kombucha to be ready, the process takes two rounds of fermentation. The first process of fermentation may take somewhere between one week and 12 days. However, some people may allow for it to go on longer. During this first fermentation, the tea begins to ferment and is changed into the kombucha starter kit and the kombucha culture (also called SCOBY). By the end of this process, you will have an unflavored and somewhat uncarbonated drink.
Here are the 9 steps to kombucha brewing and the first fermentation:
Step #1: Gather your ingredients
To make your kombucha brewing starter kit, you will need the following ingredients:
- 4 cups of water that you will boil and around 8 cups of cold water
- Your chosen black tea, and about 3 tablespoons of it
- ¾ cup of cane sugar
- 1 Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY), which is essential to create the fermentation process
- 2 cups of kombucha starter tea—it can be the tea that has gone through the first fermentation cycle or the one that comes with the SCOBY.
Step #2: Gather your materials
As with any other fermentation process, you need to use specific materials before you can begin fermentation. In this case, use the following:
- Steeping vessel, which could be a pot and strainer
- 1-gallon glass jar
- Cover, which can be either a coffee filter, clean shirt, or cheesecloth
- Rubber band
Step #3: Make your tea concentrate
To make the tea concentrate, you need to start by boiling the 4 cups of water. Once boiled, turn the heat off, and add the tea. If you have a strainer, use that to get all the tea leaves and dirt out of the brew.
Step #4: Add sugar to the liquid
Now that your tea is hot, add the cane sugar and stir until it dissolves. You do need to use real cane sugar because honey, brown sugar, molasses, or non-nutritive sweeteners will not work.
Remember that bacteria and yeast need the sugar to eat and reproduce, so they require at least ¾ cup of sugar and not less.
Step #5: Allow the tea to steep for 15 minutes, then strain out the leaves
After 15 minutes, your tea should have steeped enough. You can now strain out the leaves and then add the hot sweet tea to your 1-gallon glass jar.
Step #6: Add the rest of the cold water
You should now add the 8 cups of cold water to the jar and dilute the tea, bringing the temperature down. The temperature in your jar should be around 70-90 degrees F. Be careful and monitor the temperature closely, if it is too cold the SCOBY can go dormant, and if it is too hot, the SCOBY can die.
Step #7: When the temperature is right, add the starter tea
Once the temperature is just right, add the starter tea from your previously brewed batch of kombucha and your SCOBY. Cover the jar with your cotton cloth, and secure it with the rubber band.
Avoid using an airtight lid because there still needs to be airflow, but make sure it is covered enough that there is no way for dirt or bugs to come through.
Step #8: Let it sit at room temperature in a shaded area
You are now ready to leave your kombucha in a room that is between 70-85 degrees F and is shaded. Leave your jar alone for a few days, without moving it or peeking in.
Step #9: By day 5, you can start to taste your kombucha brewing
Don’t give in to your desire to see what is going on until at least past day five. After five days, you can start tasting your product and see if you like it, or whether it needs more time. The more time you leave it fermenting, the less sweet your kombucha will be. A regular amount of time for the first fermentation is around one week to 10 days.
Now that you are ready for kombucha brewing, start with the first step in fermenting your kombucha. Don’t wait any longer and try it at home now!
You can read about the process of second fermentation here: 6 Steps To Follow For Your Kombucha Second Fermentation.