Q: How long does it take to make kombucha?
A: Assuming you start from an active starter culture and scoby, your kombucha should take 7-10 days to ferment. The exact timing will depend mostly on your personal taste preference (more sweet vs more sour) and the temperature of your kitchen.
Q: How do I know when my Kombucha is ready to drink or bottle?
A: Taste it! Simply put, it’s up to you. Some people enjoy it on the sweet side and some people enjoy it on the tart side. We recommend tasting it at 6, 7 and 8 days to get an idea of your sweet spot. We like it around 7-8 days when it starts to get a little bit of carbonation, but is still plenty sweet.
Q: I like my Kombucha without carbonation, how can I bottle it?
A: When your Kombucha is ready (to your taste), simply pour it into bottles, seal them and store them in the refrigerator. If you don’t add any sugar, it should not get any more carbonation.
Q: How do I carbonate plain kombucha?
A: When your Kombucha is ready, simply pour into carbonation safe bottles and add 1/4 tsp of sugar per 16 oz bottle, seal tightly and let sit outside the refrigerator for 1-3 days. Once it has finished carbonating, store it in the fridge.
Q: How do I know how long to leave my carbonating bottles outside the fridge?
A: You have to experiment! Everyone likes things a little bit different. More or less bubbles, more or less sweet. Start checking at 24 hours, 2 days and 3 days to see how you like it.
Q: Do I need to strain my Kombucha?
A: You don’t have to strain it, but many people prefer to drink it strained. Try it both ways and decide which is better for you.
Q: Which kinds of tea do I need to brew Kombucha?
A: Any of the Teas that come from the plant Camellia sinensis will brew Kombucha. This includes Darjeeling Tea, Assam Tea, Green Tea, Sencha Green Tea, White Tea, Black Tea, Orange Pekoe, Oolong Tea etc. Ideally, choose an organic tea that is still caffeinated, because the Scoby will feed on the caffeine along with the tannins and sugar. It can be a blend, but should not have any added flavours or oils.
Q: Should I use tea bags or loose leaf?
A: Yes! Either one will work, but I prefer to use loose leaf, because I can get organic teas for less money than regular tea bags gram for gram. Regular teabags contains 1 tsp of tea per bag, and since I like to use a lot of tea in my Kombucha, that would be a lot of teabags.
Q: Which kind of sugar should I use?
A: White cane sugar is the most common sugar used, and it works perfectly. However, if you can get organic raw cane sugar, I think it imparts a lovely taste and doesn’t add a lot of cost to the batch overall.
Q: What kind of pot can I boil the sweet tea in?
A: Ideally it should be Stainless steel or glass. Avoid using Aluminum, Copper or Cast Iron for brewing the tea. A Ceramic coated pot with no chips or a crockpot would probably work to, but make sure they are very clean.
Q: What kind of container is safe to ferment the Kombucha in?
A: While you can brew in high quality stainless steel, we always recommend glass as a first choice. We recommend staying away from plastic and other materials.
Q: How long should I brew the tea?
A: As long as you want. Actually, recipes vary so much right here. It depends on your tea, it depends on the flavour you are looking for. You can try 5 minutes or 20 minutes or leave them in until it cools. I usually leave my loose leaf tea in the water until the pot cools completely. The leaves will sink to the bottom, and I will pour the sweet tea off into jars without straining. A few leaves may make it into the brew jar, but most of them will stay in the bottom of the pot and I will just dump them off into the compost bin.
Q: How do I avoid contamination?
A: First, while your sweet tea is cooling, make sure it stays covered. If a fruit fly or mold spores are allowed access, you can spoil a batch. You can cool your tea quickly by filling a sink with cold water and setting your hot pot in it. The quicker you add the culture, the better, but it needs to be cool enough to not kill the cultures. You can also do a tea concentrate so that you don’t have as much tea to cool down, and you add cold water to dilute to the proper amounts. I recommend using purified water or previously boiled water that has been covered to cool down the concentrated tea. Second, is to sterilize everything. Use a brew safe cleanser like star-san to neutralize wild yeasts, bacteria and molds. If your dishwasher has a sanitize setting, that should be enough for the jars. Wash your hands, use gloves. Third, cover your jars securely with tight woven cloth or coffee filters and tight fitting rubber bands. Fruit flies are your most likely invaders, and they will sour a batch and ruin your scoby. Mold also can invade from the air, so that is another reason to cover it. Last, using a bit of liquid from a previous batch will help your Kombucha to get a head start, which will greatly reduce your risk of mold getting a head start.