Finally, as promised, I am posting the follow-up to my kombucha post. If you’ve followed the steps there, you should be ready to flavor and bottle your brew – and get the next batch going!
First, you want to brew some tea just like you did in part 1. (Boil 4 cups filtered water, and add 1 cup white sugar and 10 bags (or the equivalent of loose) black tea. You can also include some green & white tea. I have been using 4 black, and 3 each green & white. Let this cool to room temperature.
Prepare your bottles. Make sure they have been cleaned with hot, soapy water and well-rinsed. I swish mine out with white vinegar to help get rid of any soapy residue. You can bottle and drink your ‘buch as is – I think it tastes great. But if you want to flavor and double-ferment them you simply fill your bottles about 1/4 of the way with the fruit juice of your choice. Our favorite so far has been organic white grape. You could also flavor with pieces of fruit but you’ll probably want to strain it out well before drinking. A good fruit flavor is 1/2 sliced lemon and 1/4 – 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger to each 16 oz. bottle.
A note on bottles – It is better to use glass, but I’ve been using some plastic bottles my daughter got in a root-beer making kit. (And most recently, the one pictured above.) They work perfectly for this -your ‘buch will be double fermenting and hopefully it will get nice and fizzy. With these bottles, you can easily tell when they are ready because they get firm. When I am more experienced and less poor, I’d like to purchase some like these.
Now you are ready to add your ‘buch! I filter mine through a metal sieve into a funnel placed in the neck of the bottle. You want to fill your bottles about halfway up the neck. Drain all but about 2 cups of the kombucha from your brewing vessel. Cap your bottles tightly and place in a warm out-of-the-way place for 2-3 days.
To get your next batch of ‘buch going: add your cooled tea and enough tap water to total a gallon with the 2 cups of ‘buch already in your vessel. I try to pour this in slowly so as not to disturb the scoby too much, but sometimes it ends up floating sideways for a couple days while the new scoby forms on top. Replace your cloth cover and put your kombucha back in its spot!
Once 2-3 days have passed, your double-ferment should be done. You should see some nice carbonation at the top of your brew and hear a nice fizz when you open the cap! Store these in the refrigerator. As with any carbonated beverage, it will get a bit flatter once you’ve opened the bottle, so plan to finish each bottle within a day or two of opening.
That’s it! You can repeat this cycle every 7-10 days and have an almost never-ending supply of healthy, yummy homemade kombucha!
I’d love to hear from any of you who try making kombucha! And please don’t hesitate to comment if you have a question – I’m not an expert, but I’d be happy to clarify my directions or help you find the answer you need!
Some tips and FAQ’s:
1. You CAN store your scoby in the fridge. If you need to take a break from making ‘buch, place it in a glass jar with enough kombucha to cover it, put a lit on it and refrigerate – it should last a long time this way. There is a blog that claims you cannot store them this way, and it also sells fairly pricey scoby’s. I bought mine here, and it worked just fine!
2. Don’t use honey or other sugar alternatives. You may be able to “train” your scoby to feed off other sweeteners, like honey, by replacing part of the white sugar with honey in increasing ratios over the course of several batches. But remember it is made up of living organisms so a drastic change in “diet” is likely to kill it!
3. Your scoby will continue to grow with each batch you brew. When it starts to take up too much room, simply take it out and separate it by layers or by cutting it up. This is a good time to clean out your jar (it gets pretty gunky looking!) Remember to rinse it well! You can add one scoby back to your jar, and give the others away or store them in the ‘frig as a back-up.