Start with a good quality SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) also referred to as the “mother”. The scoby transforms sweet tea into kombucha. (It took me a while to be able to handle it without being squeamish; but once I realized the delicious power “she” holds I have been handling my mother and passing on her babies regularly.) I acquired mine from a friend and have been passing on scobys as my mother divides. Use white vinegar to to wash your hands and utensils. Never use bleach or soap/detergent when washing your hands and utensils to prepare the kombucha or handle the scoby, these will kill the beneficial bacteria and yeast. Use glass, ceramic, plastic and wood utensils; no metal.
Below is a recipe that uses 4 cups of sweet tea. Adjust based on your rate of consumption and available containers for brewing. Simply divide/multiply as needed.
1/2 (+) gallon glass jar*
scoby with at least 1 cup of the starter tea from a previous batch
4 cups water; boiling
4 black tea bags (I recommend organic)
1/2 cup sugar (I recommend organic)
Pour 4 cups boiling water over 4 tea bags and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the tea bags, add 1/2 cup of sugar and stir with a wooden or plastic spoon to dissolve. Place the scoby and the starter tea from a previous brew into the brewing jar*. Tip the jar and pour the sweet tea carefully along the interior edge of the jar so as to disturb the scoby as little as possible. Secure a coffee filter** to cover the jar (the scoby needs to breathe) with a rubber band and place out of direct sunlight but not in a closet/cabinet.
The average brew time is 7 days but it can vary depending on the scoby, temperature of the brewing space and how you like your kombucha (slightly sweet or more tangy). Taste test using a pipette; carefully insert a straw into the brewing kombucha, cover the top of the straw with a finger, withdraw the straw, hold the straw over a glass and lift the finger to release the kombucha for tasting.
When you are ready to stop the kombucha from brewing pour it into a large jar or individual bottles to be placed into the refrigerator. Pour slowly so the scoby is disturbed as little as possible. Use a plastic or glass funnel, no metal, if transferring into bottles. Leave 1 cup of the starter tea in the brewing jar and start the next batch with the above directions.
*a glass or ceramic bowl can also be used.
**a kitchen towel secured with a cord can be used to secure over the bowl.