How To Make A Kick-Ass Kombucha Tea At Home
If you are a tea lover like me, you have already tasted many green teas so far. There are many benefits to physical and mental health that can be derived from having a green tea first thing in the morning. But have you ever thought of brewing a tea in advance and having it whenever you like? The kind of tea that tastes better with age? No, I am not talking about Wines. But the process and the love that goes into brewing a Kombucha will remind you of a homebrew wine. Let us walk through the steps to brewing a kick-ass Kombucha tea at home.
You will need:
- A suitable brewing container, about 1-gallon capacity (Do not use metal containers. Prefer a Glass Jar)
- A piece of breathable fabric, kitchen towel or a piece of clean porous material. Choose a size that would cover the top of the brewing container completely.
- An elastic band to hold the material on the mouth of the container.
- 4 liters (plus a glass) of water (boiled and cooled or filtered)
- 6 Teaspoons of Loose Leaf Black tea. DO NOT USE AN EARL GREY OR ANY OTHER FLAVORED TEA
- 300g refined white sugar
- A healthy Kombucha culture
- 400ml of ready brewed Kombucha or 60ml of distilled vinegar (white, apple, cider or white wine vinegar). If you are using vinegar, it must be distilled – not live, brewed or fermented.
- Suitable bottles (4 liters worth)
- A kitchen measuring jug
- Sweet tea solution
Make your nutrient (sweet tea) solution:
This is the liquid that feeds the culture and is turned into the finished Kombucha tea.
To make the nutrient, take approx. 1 liter of water.
The water should either be filtered or should already have been boiled for at least 5 minutes.
Bring the water to the boil in a kettle, stainless steel or heat-resistant glass household cooking pot.
After boiling, add the sugar and tea, stir it till the sugar dissolves, then leave off the boil to infuse for about 15 minutes.
Brewing the Kombucha:
Put 3 liters of water(boiled and cooled) and the extra glass of cool water into your brewing container.
When the 15 minutes are up, strain out the loose tea (if used) or remove the tea bags from the sweet tea container; then add the sweet tea to the water in the brewing container.
The 4 liters of nutrient needs to be between 20C – 30C, this is where a thermometer comes in useful. You might be able to judge this yourself, it’s about room temperature. Just make sure that it’s not too hot, otherwise, you could kill your new culture very quickly.
Adding the culture:
Once at the right temperature, pop the culture in the liquid. It may float or sink, it doesn’t matter which, it will work just the same. Then add the 400ml of finished Kombucha or 60ml of distilled vinegar if you don’t have any Kombucha tea.
Time to brew:
Just cover the top of the container with your muslin or kitchen towel and use the elastic band to hold it in place. The brew needs air but definitely not insects, plant or mold spores.
Move the container to a suitable location. Somewhere that it can be left undisturbed for about a week. It should be at a constant(ish) temperature 20C – 30C, away from tobacco smoke, strong smells and not in the kitchen if there is a lot of grease in the air from frying food.
You could possibly use your living room (providing no-one smokes) or an airing cupboard. If you do put your brew into a cupboard please bear in mind a couple of things:
It needs to be left undisturbed the whole time so, don’t put it on top of your stack of towels or bed linen.
The culture needs air, so leave the door ajar.
5 days later…
After 5 days, it is time to taste!
By now, you should have a new baby culture forming on top of your brew and the tea might nearly be ready. Exciting!
If you take a good deep sniff in your brewing container it will probably smell like pure vinegar, so be careful it might bring tears to your eyes.
Press down lightly on the newly formed culture with the back of a spoon so that you can get a sample of the tea. Or slide a plastic straw carefully down the side of the new culture and sample a little (be careful about backflow).
What you are looking for is a slightly sharp (acidic), not sweet taste. If it is not quite there yet then put the cover back on and leave it for another day before tasting again.
The length of brewing time can vary quite a lot but, it is normally between 5 days to 2 weeks though, it can take longer under certain circumstances.
I know it is difficult to tell what the right taste is when you first begin but you will get the hang of it quickly.
Once you have the right taste, it is time to bottle your lovely, healthy Kombucha tea.
Get yourself some suitable clean bottles.
With clean hands, take the two cultures out (the new ‘baby’ and the original ‘mother’) and place them on a clean plate.
Pour some of your Kombucha tea into a kitchen jug and then, using the jug, pour it into the waiting bottles – right to the brim, no air gaps. Pour a little on your resting cultures whilst you do this – it helps keep them free from airborne nasties.
Put the top on and stick a label on the bottle with the date.
Continue with the rest of the tea.
Remember to save some tea for your next batch – about 10%.
There you go! Your prepared, brewed and bottled homemade Kombucha tea.
You want to keep these bottles at room temperature for at least 5 days. The reason for this is twofold:
It allows a build up of CO2 (gas) that makes the drink fizzy.
It allows the tea to mature and develop a more mellow taste.
In the UK and Ireland, you can buy a Kit with all the essentials for making Kombucha Tea in it, called Kombucha Kit.
After 5 days you can move your bottles to the fridge or somewhere else cool/cold, then drink your cold, fizzy Kombucha
Continuing to brew…
The best way to look after your culture and maintain a constant supply of Kombucha Tea is to make your new batch immediately you have bottled the previous one.
I normally get my new nutrient solution ready, so that as soon as the previous batch is bottled, I can put the culture straight into a new solution of sweet tea.
That’s it! Now you know how to brew your own Kombucha tea.