I was introduced to Kombucha a few years back by my friend, Elizabeth.
I’ll be honest, I was a bit repulsed at first. There was this thing floating in it, a colony of bacteria and yeast called a ‘scoby.’ The smell reminded me of cheap booze cider, and I’d certainly had enough of that during my college days.
After some initial resistance I quickly began to love the stuff, I must admit. It’s perfectly safe and very tasty, if you prepare it the right way of course. I’d like to help you do that.
The final beverage is amazing, but you also HAVE to try the jelly! This is another one of Elizabeth’s innovations. It has all of the benefits of the fermented tea, but it comes in a delicious fruit gelatin that you will gobble down immediately, I promise. This is what really made me into a Kombucha convert.
If you’re an athlete, this probiotic, protein, antioxidant and collagen rich treat is very hard to beat.
Elizabeth has given me permission to share her original recipe with you. Really, it’s amazing stuff. I know it looks complicated at first glance, but trust me, it’s actually very easy to make.
Just as good as it looks…
Ingredients and Equipment.
Here’s what you’re going to need for 1 gallon of Kombucha…
- 3 and 1/2 quarts (about 3 liters) of cold, filtered water.
- 1 generous cup of white sugar. Organic, high quality sugar is best.
- 12 tea bags, or 12 servings of loose tea. You can use just about any tea that you want. Caffeinated or decaffeinated. Black, green, white, pu~erh, oolong, yerba mate, herbal tea or flavored tisanes, they are all excellent choices. Just avoid any oily or fatty variety of tea, and if you use an herbal variety, just add a couple of black or green tea bags as well. This is what will help feed and flavor the final brew.
- 2 cups of a store-bought raw, organic Kombucha tea. This is your starter. You can also buy a Scoby online, or score one from a friend, to quickly establish your own continuos brew.
- Stainless steel pot or anything suitable for boiling water.
- 1-gallon glass jar for fermenting the tea. Something with a stainless steel spigot is best.
- A few glass bottles for a second brew phase. Clean wine or beer bottles are great.
- Tightly woven material to cover the top of the glass jar. You can use white flour sack material. Cheese cloth also works very well.
- A few rubber bands for securing the cloth.
Pour a kettle of boiling water over the sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved completely. Immediately add the teabags, cover and let the teabags steep until the water cools completely.
Once the tea is room temperature, remove the tea bags and pour the tea into your fermentation jar. Add the cold, filtered water and then the Kombucha starter. Next, gently add your Scoby to the tea.
Cover the top of the jar with the cloth cover and secure with the rubber bands. If you use cheesecloth, make sure you use a double or even triple thickness to avoid anything getting in.
Place the jar somewhere that it won’t be disturbed, preferably in the shade.
The ideal brewing temperature is between 70 and 85 degrees. If you live in a very cold climate you could use a gentle heating pad under the fermentation jar to achieve a suitable temperature. Just test the temperature with sweet tea or water before beginning your brew.
Ferment your tea for 10-14 days. It might be ready earlier. It just depends on temperature, the cooler the environment the longer it will take. You can do a taste test after about 7 days. The tea shouldn’t be too sweet or too vinegary at this point.
Once you’re happy with the taste of your Kombucha brew you’re ready to bottle it. Being ever-careful of clean hands, dishes and utensils, carefully take out the scoby and place it in a pyrex/glass bowl along with two to three cups of the Kombucha tea and cover it until needed for the next brew.
Strain the Kombucha through fresh cheesecloth or a tightly woven strainer, the fill your glass bottles close to the top. Close/seal the bottles carefully and securely. Your bottled Kombucha is best stored at room temperature for a further 5 to 7 days before refrigerating and drinking.
This is the ‘second fermentation’ stage, when the effervescence occurs. After the second fermentation you can move your bottles to the fridge to stop the fermentation process.
- Start with 4-5 ounce servings, building on that daily to about an 8-10 oz glass.
- Always use clean hands and utensils when handling your Kombucha. Wash your hands and brewing equipment well, then rinse everything again with distilled white vinegar.
- Keep the ratio of the recipe when increasing or reducing the size of your brew.
- It’s fine to use metal utensils, but don’t ferment or bottle the Kombucha in metal jars or pots.
- It is normal for brown strings to form and float below the Scoby. Just filter that stuff out later.
- A vinegary smell is completely normal, but if your brew starts to smell rotten or cheesy it’s time to start again. Also, if your Scoby discolors or turns black, toss it out!
- Each brew will produce a new Scoby, which will look like a thin layer on top of the ‘mother’ colony that you started with. You can just keep brewing. You can start a second batch. Or, you might give the starter to a curious friend.
- If you let your Kombucha get too vinegary or tart, don’t despair. You can still drink it with juice. You can also use it to make salad dressings.
What about that jelly?
Here’s how to make it.
You’ll need about 8-10 ounces of your Kombucha. You could also use a store-bought brew. Add 1 tablespoon of dissolved powdered gelatin. If you’re using leaves of gelatin just soak them for about 15 minutes in cold water, then strain off the excess water and gently warm to melt. Add it to your Kombucha. I also LOVE to add some fresh blueberries to the mix before the jelly sets. It’s fantastic
Put your jelly in the fridge so that it sets fully. If it turns out too soft or firm, just adjust the amount of gelatin appropriately and try again.
It’s worth another try.
If you want more great recipe ideas, visit my blog Moozlers. There’s plenty of delicious, nutrient dense recipes there to keep your PR’s coming.
Everyone should drink and make their own ‘booch! Thank you for sharing the recipe. I would like to share some best practices used in my brews.
Herbal teas: may affect the long term health of your SCOBY. The SCOBY requires certain nutrients provided by the tea plant, in order to thrive and survive. Herbal teas contain much lower concentrations of the nutrients (tannins, polyphenols, etc) and commercial brands contain oils and additives. Herbal teas to stay away from- peppermint, sage, chamomile, ginger, st. Johns Wort. Herbal teas also contain more wild yeast spores than black and green teas.
Metal: kombucha is a super detoxifier and pulls all the harmful elements out of metals such as brass and aluminum. Stainless steel is fairly inert and some brewers will ferment in steel barrels. I make sure no metal touches my culture or tea in the first stage, just to be safe.
Ceramic: be careful using this medium as some glazes contain lead! Be 100 % sure to use food grade quality. Go one step further and verify the vessel is not made in China. This goes for plastic too.
Thanks again for posting this article and I cannot WAIT to make the jelly. It will taste awesome on some sourdough bread.
this is so timely as i just ordered a scoby last night ready to launch into making my own kombucha. I am so excited … thanks for sharing this 🙂