To start you will need:
- Kombucha Mother(s) (You can get one from a friend or online)
- Finished kombucha (1 cup for every 1 gallon or so of Sweet Tea)
- Ceramic or glass container (One with a slight shoulder or straight sided is best)
- *Sweet Tea (You will need enough to fill your container ¾ of the way full or so)
*For the Sweet Tea
- 1 gallon Water
- 1 cup Sugar
- 6 teaspoons or 6 bags Loose Tea or Tea Bags Black and/or Green tea
(Try making one or two of the tea bags a flavored or herbal tea!!)
Stir in sugar
Turn off heat
Cover and let steep (Let the whole pot of tea, with the tea bags, cool. Keep covered and don’t peek! Keep the other yeasts out.)
Cool to Room temperature (6 hours or so or overnight)
Pour into Clean container (Ceramic or a glass container (not metal it will react with the kombucha, and plastic is yucky. Fill almost up to the widest part of the container, or the shoulder if it's a regular shaped jar. Leave a bit of room for the mother(s), It’s best to start with a container that is only 1” or so bigger in diameter then the mother(s). When the mother(s) are at least a 1/4” thick you can move up to larger container and so on.)
Pour in finished kombucha (Already fermented kombucha, a bit too sour is ok. You can use some bottled plain kombucha if you don't have enough.)
Add Mother(s) (You can add more then one. The more the merrier!) The lightest color, newest, top side(s) up, if you can't figure out which one that is that’s ok. Sometimes the mother floats and sometime not. It’s ok if it doesn’t.)
Cover with looser weave cloth and secure with large rubber band. (Cotton muslin or poIyester chiffon material work best. Old bed linen works well too, laundered of course!) I always put a kitchen towel over the cloth. This keeps the dust and stuff off. I also cover the whole jar, if it’s clear, to keep direct sun off the mother, and to keep from grossing out my friends.)
Put in a somewhat warm spot (But somewhere you won't forget about it! The kitchen counter works for me. It's ok if the mother sinks. They do that a lot of the time. When there brand new and fresh from a batch of kombucha they tend to float more often. The batch will grow a new mother (a daughter) on the top that will cover the whole surface area of the liquid.)
Check at 15 days or so (Especially if the weathers been real hot, by dipping a straw in and tasting. You might like it sweeter, but if the new mother on top is still very thin, less then a 1/4 inch. Don't disturb it to get a taste. You might make the new one sink too, and the batch will probably take a few days longer now, since it has to make a new mother. Check a few days later. Fermentation shouldn’t take longer then 25 days when the weather is mild. It may take up to 30 days if it’s been real cold or the mothers just in a bad mood!
When you're ready to start your next batch:
Each time you make a batch of kombucha you get a new mother. That's the one that's on top. Sometimes the new mothers will stick together and some times not. It matters how agitated the mother has been.
I usually take the mother(s) out of the jar temporarily and put her in a clean, well rinsed bowl with the finished kombucha that's going into the next batch. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. The mother will be ok without air for a little while. Then after I've poured the rest of the finished kombucha into another storage jar(s), I wash, and rinse really well, the fermentation jar. Or you can have another clean fermentation jar ready to go and move the mother, and finished kombucha, directly into that first.
Then I fill the clean jar with fresh, room temp, sweet tea, almost up to the widest part of the jar. Or if it's straight sided container, the sweet tea level should be at least an inch or so from the top, to keep the cloth from getting into the kombucha. Don't forget to add back in about one cup of finished kombucha for every gallon of fresh tea. This gets the acidity level up some to help stop other things from getting a chance to grow first. Then I add the mother(s) back in gently, oldest ones first. Newest, whitest side up is best. That's the most alive side. Though if you put her in upside down she will figure it out and grow a new mom anyway, but maybe take just a little longer. A lot of the times the mother will float, but sometimes not. It's ok if she sinks. Sometimes you'll find the mother floating later, when she's good and ready.
How to flavor your kombucha (Including Ginger):
After you have removed the mother(s) from the finished kombucha, the kombucha can be drunk as is, which is great, especially if you used some flavored tea in the sweet tea. You will need to refrigerate the finished kombucha eventually as it will keep fermenting even without the mother! I have had a new mother grow on the surface of loosely closed jars of finished kombucha that I’ve left out! Just enough oxygen could get in the jar for the new mother to form! It will keep getting more sour tasting.
If you want to flavor the kombucha you can add in any variety of items such as:
- Grated Ginger (1 to 3 Tablespoons per gallon of finished kombucha, to taste),
- Mashed or juiced fruits and veggies
- Herbs and spices.
Use your imagination! You may need to add in some sweetener like sugar, honey, and/or
agave nectar, depending on how strong the kombucha is or how sour the fruit or veggie’s are.
After you’ve added the flavor(s) to the kombucha you can let it ‘steep’ for a time, then pass it through a sieve, to get out the pieces of fruit and stuff, and bottle. How long to steep depends on how soft the flavor item you use is. Mashed fruit and soft veggies can be bottled right away. Grated ginger, I find, works best when you let it steep it for 6 hours or overnight. Harder herbs and spices, such as dried rose petals or whole spices, may take up to two days. Leave the lid to the steeping jar a little loose to let out the pressure, and leave in a coolish, darkish place, or in the fridge though it will take a bit longer. When it flavors taste as strong as you like, strain and pour it into your storage bottles.
You can do a short second ferment in the sealed storage bottles if you want a little more fizz. Leave the bottles
in a coolish dark spot for one to two days. Kombucha with fresh fruit should only be left out one day as fruit
really spurs on the second fermentation. Then put the bottles in the fridge. Don’t put the bottles somewhere
you might forget about them, and don’t leave them out for more then three days, two days if the weathers
warm. The pressure will build up and the bottles could burst. That would make a huge mess and could hurt
someone. Trust me I had a large bottle of cucumber flavor burst on me and my cupboard still smells of pickles.
Thanks for making it through my long and detailed instruction! Good luck and have fun!!