Before we go any further, I need to confess something to you guys. While I was away from the blog over the last year, I became a hippie.
I mean, I still shave my armpits and everything but I am a whole lot more granola than I was the last time we spoke. And can I confess something else? I kinda love it. I love the changes we’ve made in our house and I love the effects they’ve had on our health and family. And in keeping in line with my new crunchy life, I obviously needed to start brewing my own kombucha before someone came to revoke my Birkenstocks.
I’ll admit, the thought of brewing kombucha was pretty intimidating to me because I just felt like there would be a lot of ways I could mess it up and working with a live culture kind of freaks me out. But it’s super fun to say SCOBY, so I pushed forward. I looked at several websites that walked through directions and even ordered a Kombucha recipe book from Amazon (this one). I considered trying to collect all my supplies myself, but ultimately decided I’d feel more comfortable if I could just buy sort of a starter kit that had everything I would need. Again, I did some research and settled on this brewing kit from The Kombucha Shop. It was reasonably priced and had tons of good feedback on Amazon. I got the Original kit, but in hindsight, wish I would’ve gotten the Deluxe version so that I would’ve gotten the swing top bottles. I had a couple already, but it would’ve been nice to have 6. And a couple days later (thanks Amazon Prime!) all my supplies arrived on my doorstep!
The Original kit included: a 1-gallon glass brew jar, the SCOBY, organic custom TKS tea blend, organic cane sugar, a reusable cotton tea bag, pH test strips, temperature gauge, a cotton cover & rubber band, and a pipet. They also included a direction infographic that was super easy to follow and had some helpful tips and tricks.
The process is pretty simple really: boil some water, add your tea and let it steep, add your sugar and let it dissolve, transfer to your brew jar and add some cold water to bring to room temperature, then add your SCOBY, cover with the cotton cloth, and let it do it’s thang. You’re advised to let the brew jar sit in a warm place, out of direct sunlight, with plenty of airflow (no closed cabinets). I put mine on the top of the fridge because there’s not enough clearance space between the top of our cabinets and the ceiling to put it there. I put a towel in between the top of the fridge in the jar for some extra insulation. It’s important that the brew stays between 66-88 degrees (ideal being 76) so the culture doesn’t mold, so having the temperature gauge on the side was a nice peace of mind. SCOBY’s are very hearty so they can withstand a lot before going bad.
As it brews, you’ll start to see a new, cream colored layer growing on top of the brew – that’s your new culture! You can either discard the old one and just use the new, or you can use both to start brewing multiple batches. As long as you keep up with feeding your cultures sugar regularly (even when you’re not brewing) you can use the same SCOBY for 10-15 brews. You could also give one to a friend! Kombucha for everyone!
I let mine brew for 2 weeks before checking on it. Once I thought it was ready, I slipped a small pipet down the side of the jar (being careful not to disturb the new culture too much) and took out a little to test the pH. Ideally, you want your pH in the 2.5-3.5 range. Once I verified that the pH was good and my kombucha likely wasn’t going to poison me, I took a taste test. It was a little on the sweet side, so I covered it back up with the cloth and let it brew a few more days. The longer you let it brew, the more tart it becomes. With my brew sitting on the top of the fridge where it was a bit on the cold side, it took a little longer for the fermentation process to happen.
Once I got the taste to where I wanted it, I reserved a portion of the tea and the cultures in the brewing jar to start my next brew. I left it down on our countertop this time where it would be warmer.
I transferred the rest of the kombucha to my swing top bottles. One tip when bottling: filling your bottles closer to the top helps with carbonation. Reducing the amount of oxygen in the bottle allows more CO2 to be dissolved into the kombucha, which is what makes it fizzy. My first brew wasn’t super carbonated, so I’ll be doing a second fermentation to try and get it more fizzy! I’m also going to start experimenting with other flavored teas and adding in fruit for flavoring as well!
I can’t say enough good things about how simple this brewing kit made things, so I would definitely recommend it for anyone wanting to get started. And as a thank you, my followers can use the code ‘lemondrop20’ for 20% off of any order on their website, no minimum purchase required. Happy brewing!