I make mine by brewing the fermented tea, then doing a second fermentation with juice to flavor the kombucha and give it a little fizz.
Start with a minor investment of:
1. Glass bottles with lids (individual serving size, about 16 oz -- re-using existing Kombucha containers is perfect.) - about 12-20 bottles.
2. Nylon mesh strainer and funnel
3. Large non-metal bowls
4. Large glass container (1-1.5 gal size is great) - wide mouth
5. A SCOBY (or mother, or mushroom) - this is the culture that you'll use to create the cultured tea. SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
6. Cheesecloth or wide coffee filters + rubberbands (covers the tea while it ferments)
Where do you get a scoby? Here are three ways, choose one:
a. From someone who is already brewing (every batch yields a new Scoby)
b. Make it yourself (Buy 3-4 containers of a non-flavored kombucha, like GT's Original, pour it in a clean jar, cover with a cloth or coffee filter, and leave it in a corner on your kitchen counter untouched for about 5-6 weeks.)
c. Or, order one on Amazon.
Here's how to do it, with photos. It's as easy as brewing tea. Just a reminder: make sure everything is very clean: the jars, bottles, tools, and your hands - every step of the process!
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Quick cost comparison:
GT's Bottled Kombucha - 16-20 ounces, $3.25-$4.25
Home brewed Kombucha -
Trader Joes Sour Cherry Juice, 16 oz, $2.00
10-12 black tea bags - $.25-.50
1.5 cup white sugar - $.50
Total containers bottled - 9-10
Cost per serving: $.33 per serving
A few notes:
Brewing time will vary dependent on ambient temperature. My house is nearly always 60-65 degrees. 1.5 gallons of kombucha, first fermentation, takes 7-9 days. The second fermentation takes 3-4 days, if I can wait that long.
Tea. Use the cheapest black tea you can find. Green tea works, but black seems to work better. Don't use flavored teas (like Earl Grey), they can affect the SCOBY.
Size and shape of jar matters. I've found that 1.5 gallon straight sided jar seems to ferment faster than bigger 2.5 gal straight-sided or 1.5 gal onion shaped jars.
Sweetener: needed to feed the culture, don't skip it. Honey and agave work, but I usually use cheap white sugar and have the best results.
Second Fermentation. If you use a juice that doesn't have much sweetness like Trader Joe's 100% Cranberry Juice, you can add simple syrup* to sweeten it to the same caloric value as a cup of juice. I also sometimes juice fresh ginger, then add lemon juice and simple syrup, boil for the mixture on stovetop for a few min and let cool. Then use that combo as a flavoring for the second fermentation.
* simple syrup: boil equal parts sugar and water for about 5-10 minutes. Cool and store in mason jar in fridge until you need it.
Add-Ins. Some folks like adding Chia seed to their kombucha on the second fermentation. I tried adding chia seed directly to the kombucha on second fermentation, but they clumped together. I think if you soften the chia with the juice (maybe warm it?) then add it to the kombucha, it might work. See what SudsyMaggie came up with.