a Kombucha starter cultureSCOBY. If you're wanting to make your own then follow the link in my blog post
8bags Pu'er or pu-erh teablack or green fermented tea - you can also use normal black or green tea bags.
glass container big enough for 2 litres of watersterilised
muslin cloth or weaved cotton & elastic band or a long thread
Begin by sterilising all of your glass containers and utensils by rinsing them with boiling water then drying them in the oven at around 120C, till completely dry.
Fermentation/brewing your homemade kombucha DIY:
Begin by preparing your sweetened tea. Put the tea bags and sugar in the glass container. Boil the water and pour in the glass container over the tea and sugar. Stir.
Let the tea steep for 30 minutes, then remove the bags- this is your sweet brewed tea.
Let the tea cool down to room temperature. The liquid needs to be at about 20-25ºC, so the SCOBY can survive in it. When the tea has cooled down, add the Kombucha culture SCOBY along with the starter liquid. Note that it might float at the surface or sink to the bottom. *
Cover with the material of your choice and secure with the elastic band or a rubber band. This allows for proper air circulation. I used muslin cloth because I've never had issues with flies in my apartment. However, if you're even slightly worried about this then use a kitchen towel, some breathable cotton or even a couple of paper towels, so no flies will be able to wriggle their way into the jar.
Store in room temperature, away from sunlight (!), for between 7-14 days. Temperatures at around 20-23ºC will result in a slower, less sour Kombucha. A little higher temperature of 24-27ºC means the kombucha will ferment faster. Make sure the temperature never goes above 30ºC as then the kombucha will have an unbalanced flavour. In the UK I'm used to lower temperatures, so I keep it in a warm cupboard in my kitchen and check on it every few days.
Knowing when the kombucha is ready:Look at the darkness of the tea when you first add the SCOBY. As the liquid ferments, it will become slightly cloudier. This is one sign that the process is working.
You should also notice a difference in smell. Your homemade kombucha will start with a very neutral 'tea' aroma but will get more 'vinegary' during the fermentation process.
Note* If it begins to smell rotten or 'cheesy' though, then this can mean something has gone wrong, and there may be mould on your SCOBY.
After about seven days, taste test a bit of the brew with a clean spoon. If it tastes slightly fruity and not like "regular" tea, it is ready. If it still tastes tea-like, wait a couple more days and try again. Feel free to stop the fermentation at a time when the brew suits best your taste buds and palette. As you get used to brewing homemade kombucha you'll quickly learn the fermentation time that suits your taste buds the best. Mine is around 9-10 days.
When the brew is ready, pour out most of the liquid into your desired bottles. Keep a bit of the brew, so the SCOBY doesn't dry out. You can keep the SCOBY this way, even if you are not making more kombucha right way - just keep it in its jar at room temperature, not in the fridge.
Next, you need to decide if you want to flavour your kombucha, for a second ferment. I've had different advice regarding the next step, with the leaflet that came with my SCOBY telling me to refrigerate the kombucha for a few hours, allowing it to carbonate - before enjoying. However, my kombucha-making friends swear by leaving theirs at room temperature -saying that refrigeration stops the carbonation process. I'd say experiment to see if it makes a massive difference for you. Mine carbonated in the fridge as well as out of it. I've personally found that my plain kombucha can get fizzier, the longer it's left in the fridge. I've also heard that it doesn't really 'go off' as such and can be kept indefinitely - if refrigerated-. To be safe, I like to consume mine within a month, though.
Flavouring/second fermentation of your homemade kombucha:This is my favourite part of the process - where we can flavour our homemade kombucha and allow it to get its second fermentation and carbonates like soda. Sweet, fruits added to the kombucha will encourage a lot of carbonation for super bubbly results. My current favourite option is pomegranate kombucha - I love the fresh, punchy flavour.
To get pomegranate juice, first, deseed two pomegranates in a bowl of water. This is an easy way to get the seeds cleaned. Then using a nut milk bag or a muslin cloth, squeeze as much juice as you can. This is your fresh pomegranate juice.
To flavour 2L of pomegranate kombucha, you only need about 3/4 cup of fruit juice. The fruit juice only needs to be about 10% of the total liquid content. Of course, you can add a bit more or less, to suit your taste.
Use bottles (or a big bottle) with caps that can withstand pressure. The natural sugars from the fruit will lead to natural fizz (creation of CO2). Fill up only about 3/4 of the bottles for this pomegranate kombucha.
Keep the bottles in room temperature, in a warm dark place for around three days. And every day, "burb" the bottles to remove the pressure (open and close the caps lets the CO2 out).
Taste test the flavoured brewing kombucha in 3 days. The longer you leave it, the fizzier it will get until it suits your taste. **
Once ready, refrigerate. As long as it's refrigerated, I've heard you can keep it indefinitely. I usually consume it within 2-4 weeks, while preparing new batches consistently - so I never run out.
Kombucha is best enjoyed cold or over ice. It can also be added to cocktails. I drink kombucha daily since beginning to make my own kombucha at home, and I love it.
For more tips on storing your SCOBY and more then read the full blog post.
Also, note - make sure you don't use jars with a metal top for this process. Metal can affect the taste and quality of your kombucha. I like to use glass or plastic flip-top jars for my homemade kombucha. I ferment it in a wide jar, to begin with then transfer it to a flip-top glass bottle for the flavouring/ second ferment. I'll then sometimes add individual portions to small metal-capped bottles, as this shouldn't affect the flavour at this point.
* your SCOBY might float at the surface. However, it could also sink to the bottom or even float sideways- this is all normal. The SCOBY may also grow little brown strings below it - this is also normal.
** Alternatively, if you're worried about affecting the carbonation this way, then you could pour your first batch of homemade kombucha into a plastic bottle. When the bottle gets rock hard, this means it's full of air, and your kombucha will be very fizzy. You'll then know for your second batch, how long it took to carbonate adequately and will be able to do it in glass bottles with no 'burb' required.