Thursday, January 24, 2008

My First Batch of Kombucha Tea Sans Baby

This morning I set out to make my first batch of Kombucha Tea. I have been drinking GT's Kombucha for some time, but after paying $3 each I became obsessed with making my own.

I met a woman from Austria named Marianna, who brought a Kombucha culture to the US on vacation (Shhh! Don’t tell) and she made batches of the tea while she was here. She shared some with my husband and I and offered to leave me a culture, but forgot as she zipped back to Austria.

Her K-Tea was very different from GT's Kombucha in that it wasn’t as fizzy and had a sweeter apple cider vinegar taste.

I began doing research online and found a lot of great resources and recipes for making your own. The recipe was easy to understand and they also sell cultures and kits.

Well, I am too impatient to wait for a culture in the mail, so I began researching if you could make the tea from a bottled tea that contained some of the live culture in it and it seems you can. We’ll see with my first batch.

My last bottle of K-Tea from Marianna was sitting in the fridge begging to be consumed when I picked it up to see how much culture was floating around. I jumped with glee when I discovered a baby culture floating around in a perfect circle, so this bottle will be my starter and hopefully a SCOBY (the name for the culture disc) will grow from that little baby floater.

I am following the directions at the link above to the tea, although I bought organic raw sugar and organic black tea. I found a cool one gallon jar to use at Target for $6.99 , but really any glass gallon jar will work. I don’t eat huge jars of pickles from Costco, so I didn’t have anything on hand.

It is cold as heck here in Austin right now and I don’t have central heat, so I had to set up a little Kombucha station on my desk over my laptop and with a space heater close by to maintain the heat between 72 and 74 degrees. Wish I was that warm!

Here are the steps I have taken making the recipe linked above:

1. Bring to Boil 3 Quarts of Distilled Water

2. Add 1 cup of sugar (I use organic raw sugar) boil 5 minutes.

3. Turn off heat and add 4 tsp black or green tea in bags, loose or tea ball to steep for 10-15 minutes

4. Remove (strain) tea and let it cool to room temperature. Tea must be cool or it will kill the live culture. I let mine sit covered outside in 40 degree weather (told you I am impatient).

5. In my experiment, I added 12 ounces of bottled homemade Kombucha with a live SCOBY floating in it. This is about 12 percent of the three quarts of tea. You need 10-15 percent old batch tea and the scoby if you have it.

6. Let it sit for 6-10 days covered with a cloth or paper towel between 70-80 F degrees.

Get more detailed instructions from the links on this page. While I didn't read every website in detail, I found a bunch of great resources.

I'll update as I see changes in my tea. This is exciting stuff. Now I have to think about what to bottle it up in when its done.


Dana said...

dude this is awesome! i'm another austinite about to brew my first batch and was trying to figure out what to do about the heat problem.. i think maybe i'll try just leaving it to brew under my desk lamp... but then.. does it need to be in the dark? my instructions don't specifically say, so i'll assume not.

Dot Connector said...


No, it doesn't need to be in the dark. Even if it isn't very warm, it will grow, just really slowly.

Another really good resource for info is a Kombucha yahoo group. If you enlist, be sure to check out the past messages and files, as they will tell you everything you need to know.

My babys dried up after I took a hiatus over the summer and didn't take care of them. I'm interested in finding a new SCOBY though to get going again.

I found my very nice producing SCOBY on craigslist.

Laurel said...

Excellent! I'm near Bastrop (close to Austin) and though I was thinking about making my own kombucha before, now that WF and HEB have pulled the GT Dave's stuff I've *got* to make my own.

I'm going to try to start with the Buddha's Brew brand from Austin. I'm sure I'll write all about it.

I'm off to look through the rest of your kombucha entries now!

Kombucha Home Brewer said...

Hi kombucha girl. Has anyone tried something like this?