Finally the weather is getting warm which means it’s time to make some kombucha! My kitchen has no windows and no air flow. Homemade kombucha has a very distinctive smell while brewing so for me it is a summertime venture. My poor boyfriend can not stand the smell of brew as it ferments. Fermenting kombucha smells just so slightly vinegary and needs to be uncapped to age correctly. With the lack of ventilation in my kitchen the smell lingers. It personally doesn’t bother me but he has a sensitive nose.
Kombucha making is a fairly simple process. All you need is a glass gallon sized container, white sugar, black tea, the kombucha mother or SCOBY and cheesecloth to cover to top of the container while the tea ferments. I’ve seen people seal the top but it’s better to just cover loosely so air doesn’t build up inside. You literally just set it and forget it. Eventually I want to make a more in-depth guide to making kombucha but for now here are a few hints to get you started:
1: You need to use enough sugar
Stevia and no calorie sugars won’t work here because the SCOBY can’t eat them! I use 1 cup of regular white sugar per gallon. It’s the safest choice. I’ve tried maple syrup and coconut sugar and the results are the most consistent with plain old sugar.
2: A good baseline for your initial brew is 3 weeks OR 2 weeks if your SCOBY is thick
When I start with a new SCOBY it can take longer for the kombucha to brew, I’ve noticed this is especially true if they SCOBY is smaller than the opening of your jar. Make sure the ambient temperature doesn’t drop below room temperature ever while fermenting. If you are brewing in the winter make sure to keep your kitchen heated because if the air is too cold the kombucha will take forever to brew.
3: Use glass only for brewing and bottling
Make sure your SCOBY never comes into contacts with metal or plastic. The metal will harm the SCOBY and plastic will leach into your kombucha. Glass is the way to go here.
My favorite part of making kombucha is flavoring it after it’s all brewed. So I almost always flavor my kombucha at the two week mark of brewing. The flavor at this point is smooth and not too tangy. To get the most out of your flavorings you will want to do a second brief ferment. So you’re going to add your kombucha and flavors into their final bottles and then allow to ferment at room temperature for another 2 to 4 days. This always makes the final kombucha fizzy. After a few days I throw the bottles into the fridge until they are drank. The second ferment really intensifies the flavor of whatever you added. Fruit juice is a safe choice but pieces of fruits, herbs and spices also work well. You don’t need to add a ton to taste it.
Here is one of my favorite flavors to get your creative juices flowing. Cranberry jalapeno basil. Fresh jalapeno adds brightness without being too spicy. It’s reminiscent of a chile beer which I personally love however I’m not much of a beer drinker. This totally satisfied those cravings.
Cranberry jalapeno basil kombucha: