Kombucha Instructions – 2 Quart Mason Jar
Ingredients / Supplies:
- 1 wide-mouth 2 quart mason jar (e.g. Ball brand), with lid and ring
- 1 Scoby (you can find on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Craigslist, or small companies).
- 4 tea bags, I use 2 black / 2 oolong, organic if possible. The SCOBY#1 needs some black tea (1/3rd to 1/2 black), but the rest can be oolong, green or all black tea.
- ½ to 2 cups of starter. What came with the SCOBY or from the last batch. You can also use 1 bottle of plain store bought kombucha if you don’t have any starter.
- ½ cup plain crystal sugar (this is not for you, it’s for the bacteria and will be mostly consumed by them. Do not substitute or cut the quantity)
- 2 quarts of Un-chlorinated water (and preferably un-fluorinated). I use spring water ( http://www.findaspring.com/) but that is not a necessity. You can de-chlorinate water by boiling for five minutes, de-fluorinating takes special filters and isn’t required for the SCOBY to grow. Do not use reverse osmosis or distilled water unless properly remineralized, the SCOBY needs the minerals.
- 1 Paper towel
#1 SCOBY = A Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. You can often obtain a SCOBY via mail order (Amazon or eBay), or even locally by looking on Craigslist. The member of the Facebook group “Kefir grains, Scoby and others to share” will also send you one for little more than the cost of shipping.
- Wash your hands well with regular soap (NOT an antibacterial soap) and rinse well.
- Put the scoby in to the 2 quart bottle.
- Boil two quarts of un-chlorinated water (or boil for 15 minutes to remove the chlorine from tap water), turn off when it comes to a boil. Wait 10 minutes for the temperature to come down a little from boiling.
- Add ½ cup of sugar, stir until fully dissolved
- Add the 4 tea bags, let steep for 6-8 minutes. Then remove tea bags.
- Let the tea mixture cool to room temperature (or to between 65 – 85 degrees)
- Pour the sweetened tea mixture in to the bottle with the scoby
- Cut a paper towel in to quarters. Put one quart of a paper towel over the jar mouth
- Secure paper towel with a rubber band or screw on a mason jar ring over the towel
- Let it sit someplace where it won’t get direct light for two weeks.
- Pour off 1 cup into a new mason jar, move the SCOBY to the new jar and begin at step one for a new batch
- Enjoy chilled, mixed with regular ice tea, or as a mixer for an adult beverage. Or move on to 2nd fermentation below.
This recipe may be doubled or scaled. More liquid means you’ll either need a larger SCOBY or more time to ferment.
Nothing should be washed with antibacterial soaps! Regular soaps, rinsed well, rinse again in white (pasteurized) vinegar if in doubt. I use the sanitize setting on my dishwasher and haven’t had any problems. I also disinfect my dishwasher with Borax every 6 weeks or so (instructions are on the box). The concern here is introducing bad bacteria into a brew which might compete with those in the SCOBY.
You will make a new SCOBY with almost every batch of tea. You can keep these to make additional separate batches, use 2 or 3 in one batch, or start putting them in a separate jar with sweet tea in what is called a “SCOBY hotel”. A SCOBY hotel is simply a 2 quart jar where you put spare SCOBY’s. They will need to bed every 6-8 weeks with fresh tea. The old tea can be used as vinegar or starter for a new batch. Spare SCOBYs can will be your backups or can be given to friends.
Mold can sometimes happen in a batch, this is, of course a bad thing. Mold will look like fuzzy warts growing on top of your SCOBY, and are usually green, blue, or black (not tan or brown). When you see it you’ll need to throw away the entire batch and start fresh with a new SCOBY. Do not confuse brown tea slime and yeast strings for mold, these are harmless. Again, mold will have fuzz. Mold should be a very rare occurrence.
Shorter 1st ferment time means it will have more sugar, longer times will have far less sugar but will be more tart. I let mine go longer (12-14 days usually) and sweeten with Stevia.
2nd Fermentation (this is where the fun starts)
- I add ¼ to ½ cup of non-citrus fruit or fruit juice. There are many suggestions on the internet for flavors. I use primarily Elderberries which is my favorite so far and very healthy (antioxidants, vitamin C, and is strongly antiviral). I use about 1/3 cup of berries and 2 teaspoons of sugar per jar (to help it ferment again. Not needed for sweeter fruits or juice). Do not eat the berries, strain them off and throw away. This strainer can come in very handy http://bit.ly/1hbL11W
- Put a lid on this, keep it between 68 and 76 degrees if possible, burp daily (loosen lid briefly, to let off pressure). The anaerobic environment favors yeast formation over bacterial, giving it an effervescent flavor (bubbly), a little alcohol (less than half percent) and a slightly stronger taste. If anyone drinking it needs to avoid all alcohol the 2nd ferment can be done aerobic using the paper towel / cloth cover (however, it won’t be as bubbly). I often use an airlock on 2nd ferment so I don’t have to burp the bottles, but that is optional and it’s not as bubbly this way.
- Ferment again for 2-7 days.
- Remove fruit, keep in a cool place with an airlock or refrigerate with a solid lid.