If you want to make kombucha at home, you need to get your hands on a SCOBY. A SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is a living, “breathing,” thing that will infuse your tea with enzymes, vitamins, acetic acid, and probiotics. Once you have acquired one from a friend or another source, you may need a little help figuring out what to do.
A few things to know about your SCOBY:
- It may have been brewed with various kinds of tea but it had to have caffeine to feed the, “mother.”
- You need to keep the small amount of liquid sent with the mother for your first batch of tea. Any stringy things are also necessary as they are a part of the colony you are trying to start in your kitchen.
- Your SCOBY mother likes caffeine, sugar, and an undisturbed, quiet place to grow.
- Glass bowls, oak casks, or lead-free ceramics with a wide top are ideal for avoiding unwanted particle contamination in your brew.
- Start by making some sweet black or green tea and letting it cool to room temperature. Chlorine free water is necessary as you don’t want to kill the bacteria. Organic tea is highly recommended due to high levels of fluoride and pesticides in non-organic tea. If you are making 1 gallon for instance, you would use about 8 tea bags and 1 cup of sugar.
- Put the mother and the starter liquid in your brewing container.
- Add the room temperature sweetened tea leaving some room in the top of the container for a new mother to grow. SCOBY’s are quite aggressive and if not enough space is left, you may end up with a mother overflow!
- Put the brew away somewhere quiet, away from emf’s (electromagnetic fields from electrical appliances) and where it won’t get moved unless it is intentional and very carefully.
- Keep the brew covered with a tight cloth (cheesecloth is too loose a weave) and banded.
- It is absolutely fine if your mother is lumpy, folded, or not floating at the top. Ugly cultures make tea just the same. Mold however, is unacceptable and should be discarded.
- As it sits for about 1 week (speed of brew depends on your home’s temperature), the mother will give birth to a new culture that will form much more beautifully on the top, fitting all the way across, and will be smooth in texture as long as it is not disturbed. A layer of CO2 may get trapped underneath and form some bubbles in the mother and this is normal. When it is fully grown the brew is ready.
- It is recommended to taste the mixture every few days to keep it from getting too vinegary. If your brew tastes strongly like vinegar then it has more acetic acid in it.
- When your brew is to your satisfaction, drain most of the liquid into your holding container and leave some (about 1 cup) for your next brew.
- If you have never had Kombucha before, start slowly and drink small amounts.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
MAKE SURE YOU DON’T DRINK TOO MUCH KOMBUCHA OR A BREW THAT HAS TOO MUCH VINEGAR.
A small amount of acetic acid in your body has an alkalizing effect, but if you over consume a brew that has brewed too long and has high amounts of vinegar, that could be potentially harmful and lead to acidosis. One consideration when there is a brew with too much vinegar is to use it as a skin astringent. Also, this could be used as a “kombucha hotel,” where your mother can be stored for long periods of time between uses, as long as this is not consumed, but only a small amount is used as a starter liquid when you are ready to resume your brewing.
Mold would be fuzzy and most likely on the top of the SCOBY, usually due to temperatures below 70 degrees. This is not to be confused with the yeast colonies thriving in stringy threads from the bottom of the SCOBY. If your SCOBY has mold on it, throw it out.