How to Make Continuous Kombucha Brew
As promised! Notes from Candy’s Kombucha class. Check out the Intro to Kombucha post HERE.
Candy is thorough, and neat, and organized. Her notes are detailed. If you are a Kombucha drinker and want to save money and add variety by brewing your own, you can do this! Once you get going, it will become second nature. All the info you need to get started is here.
Candy’s Kombucha Tea Starter Directions
- One jar (quart, half gallon or gallon sized) with a lid for later
- A plastic or wood stirring utensil (never use metal in contact with a Kombucha culture!)
- A towel or paper coffee filter for covering the jar while brewing
- A rubber band
- One Kombucha culture
- Organic loose tea or tea bags
Black tea is traditionally used but Kombucha can be made successfully with green; good teas for making Kombucha include Oolong, English Breakfast, unflavored Ceylon and unflavored varieties of Green Teas; do not use teas containing oils, this includes Earl Grey, Orange Spice, and similar teas. If using herbal tea is desired, mix with black or green tea using a larger proportion of the black/green tea.
- Organic cane sugar: “White” sugar work best—we do not recommend using Rapadura or similar whole sugars
- Distilled White Vinegar (preferably organic); do not use raw vinegar or flavored varieties: for cleaning jar and utensils
- Starter tea from a previous batch of Kombucha for all subsequent batches
- Filtered water (non-chlorinated)
Before You Brew Your First Batch: Important Information
- The size of the Kombucha culture does not affect the size of the batch you can brew. Small cultures are just as effective as large cultures.
- Warmer temperatures will generally cause the Kombucha to brew at a faster rate. Ambient temperatures up to 85F degrees are acceptable. Cooler temperatures will slow the process down; fermentation will all but cease at temperatures below 60F degrees.
- If you are anxious to brew a large batch of Kombucha, Use the entire initial quart of Kombucha tea and the two cultures (since a new culture will form during the rehydration process) to make two jars of Kombucha (half-gallon or gallon jars if desired).
- Different varieties of tea (Oolong vs. Green vs. English Breakfast, etc.) will produce different Kombucha tastes. Green teas make for a more mild Kombucha while English Breakfast makes for a stronger tasting Kombucha. We recommend Oolong for making a particularly tasty Kombucha tea.
Ingredient Ratios for Brewing Kombucha Tea:
|Container Size||Tea Amount||Sugar Amount||Water Amount||Starter Tea Amount|
|One quart||1 ½ t. loose tea or 2 tea bags||1/4 c.||2 1/2 c. (approx.)||½ c.|
|Half-gallon||1 T. loose tea or 4 tea bags||½ c.||6 ½ c. (approx.)||1 c.|
|Gallon||2 T. loose tea or 8 tea bags||1 c.||13 c. (approx.)||2 c.|
Instructions for Brewing Kombucha Tea:
- Place hot water and sugar together in a jar. Mix until the sugar dissolves. The water should be hot enough to steep the tea but does not have to be boiling.
- Place the tea in the sugar water and allow the tea to steep. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature (this will likely take most of the day if you are making a gallon-size jar). You can wait until the water is cool before removing the tea bag if desired.
- Place the Kombucha culture and starter tea in the jar of fresh tea.
- Cover the jar tightly (keep the fruit flies out!) but allow the mixture to breathe. A towel or paper coffee filter along with a thick rubber band work best for this. Do not use an air tight lid!
- Allow the jar to sit undisturbed and out of direct sunlight for at least 5 days. You may notice a stringy brown substance forming at the bottom of the jar and/or clinging to the Kombucha culture. This yeast is a natural byproduct of the fermentation process and can be strained using a fine mesh plastic strainer prior to consuming the finished Kombucha tea.
- During fermentation, Kombucha cultures may sink, float or stay in a vertical position. This does not affect the brewing process.
- You can start tasting the tea after 5 days although we recommend giving it at least 7 days to culture. The longer you leave the tea, the less sugar will remain. If you prefer sweeter tea, you will want to culture the tea for a shorter period of time (7-10 days) but if you are trying to avoid sugar, you may want to culture the tea for a longer period of time (14-30 days).
- Once the tea has reached the desired level of fermentation, remove the original Kombucha culture (the “mother”) and the newly formed culture (the “baby). The mother culture may have sunk to the bottom or may have floated at the top (either is fine).
The baby culture should be covering the jar opening. You can now use both the mother and the baby to make two jars of Kombucha. If the original and new cultures have fused, you can either tear them apart or use them as a single culture for your next batch.
- Tightly cover the jar of finished Kombucha tea with a regular lid (air-tight is best). At this point, you can choose to allow the tea to rest for a few days (may improve carbonation) or drink it immediately. Adding fruit juice prior to putting the lid on the jar will improve carbonation during this second fermentation (make sure the culture is removed before adding the juice). Finished Kombucha tea may be stored on the counter or in the refrigerator.
- Before drinking, you may choose to strain the tea of yeast particles using a fine mesh plastic strainer.
- If you allow the tea to sit for a period of time before consuming, be aware that a new “baby” culture may begin to form (may appear as a clear gelatinous blob). This immature culture can be consumed or strained off and composted. If the tea sits for a long period, a full Kombucha culture may form. This culture can be used to make future batches of Kombucha or discarded.
- If you need to store Kombucha cultures for a period of time, place them in a jar with some Kombucha tea and a cover it with a tight lid. Store on the counter or in the refrigerator. They can generally survive this way for up to a few weeks.
- If you are culturing multiple products (e.g. different varieties of yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, Kombucha, etc.) be sure to keep a distance of at least several feet between cultures so they don’t cross-contaminate each other. Over time, cross-contamination will weaken the cultures.
BULK BREWING REPLACEMENT LIQUID (for Continuous Brew)
Continuous brewing is a big time-saver and allows a more consistent supply of Kombucha. We can bulk brew our concentrated “replacement” liquid once every two weeks, then as needed add the concentrate and additional water to our fermenting vessels.
Our basic Kombucha recipe follows a ratio of 2 to 1 to 1 to 1; that is, 2 cups water for every 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon EACH organic green and black tea. Three-fourths cup of this concentrated liquid plus 3 1/4 cups water can then be used to replace 32 ounces of liquid in your Kombucha jar.
We brew about two gallons replacement liquid at a time and store it in half-gallon mason jars in the refrigerator. (It could also be stored in a cold cellar, garage or other cool place—just be very careful that the place is cold enough to inhibit the growth of mold.) The replacement liquid keeps for up to two weeks, saving time and dishes. This also makes our every-other-day Kombucha routine very compact—add flavoring to bottles, decant the appropriate number of bottles (10-20 percent of total volume), add concentrated replacement followed by additional water to the fermenting vessel, and enjoy!
After you have this going, you may want to begin experimenting with a variety of flavors!
Click here for Candy’s instructions for second fermentation brews!
Sources for this information include:
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