Yesterday, I wrote about what kombucha is and how I came to love it. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing what brewing kombucha looks like in my home and how you can start brewing as well. You can find all of the posts in the four-part series here. When you’re brewing kombucha, the first thing you need is a SCOBY, or symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast..
There are several different ways to obtain a SCOBY. If you have friends who brew, they probably have extras and can give you one. If not, you can always buy one on the many kombucha sites out there (or, if you’re brave, on Craigslist. For real.). When I first started brewing, I decided to make a DIY SCOBY for a few reasons.
First, I didn’t have any friends who were brewing kombucha at the time, so that option wasn’t available to me. Also, since I was new to brewing kombucha, I didn’t want to guess at which retailers would provide a quality SCOBY. I was interested in seeing how the whole process took place, from start to finish, so I decided to make my own.
You need only a few ingredients and materials to make a SCOBY. When making kombucha and the SCOBY, you will need some mature kombucha to drive the process. This is similar to the way that any fermented product, like sourdough, is made. You can use a bottle of unflavored kombucha for this.
- 1 bottle of unflavored kombucha, preferably with a small SCOBY floating around in it
- 2 bags of organic, unflavored black or white tea
- 2 cups distilled water
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- ½ gallon jar
- Paper towel
- Rubber band
- Boil the 2 cups of distilled water. Turn off the stove and add the 2 bags of organic tea. Allow the tea to steep for 10 minutes.
- When the tea is done steeping, remove the tea bags. Stir in the 3 Tbsp sugar until all of the sugar has dissolved. The SCOBY will feed on the sugar to ferment the tea.
- Wait for the tea mixture to cool to room temperature.
- Sterilize the glass jar by cleaning it with steaming hot water and dish soap. Make sure that all of the soap residue is rinsed out.
- Pour the tea mixture and bottle of unflavored kombucha into the glass jar. Cover the top with a paper towel and rubber band.
- Store the jar in a warm, dry place and leave it undisturbed.
- Your SCOBY should be ready within 1 to 2 weeks. During this time, observe the jar for a thin film beginning to form on top of the liquid. This is the SCOBY. It will continue to thicken if left undisturbed, so don’t move the jar too much. When the SCOBY is between ¼ and ½ an inch thick, it is ready to use to brew kombucha.
Stay tuned over the next two weeks for more posts on setting up a kombucha brewing system and bottling and flavoring kombucha. By then, your SCOBY should be ready to go!