Today we’re talking to the resident Kombucha maker, my partner Phil Spiegel. Phil has been making Kombucha for years and is a self-proclaimed “madman” about the process. He’s got a tried and true recipe for making this gut healthy drink! Have fun with it, as making Kombucha at home is “far from an exact science,” as Phil reminds us!
Phil’s favorite basic recipe for making Kombucha is from Kombucha Kamp. Here is the recipe from their website, which outlines the way that Phil tends to make his batches:
Kombucha Kamp Basic Recipe:
- 1 gallon (4 liters) purified or bottled chlorine-free water
- 4-6 tea bags or 4-6 teaspoons loose leaf tea (Hannah’s Special Tea Blend for Perfect Kombucha available here)
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- Kombucha Mother Culture – SCOBY
- 1-2 cups (250-500ml) strong starter liquid, aka well-fermented Kombucha (included FREE with every KKamp SCOBY)
- fruit, juice, flowers, or other flavorings (optional)
- pot or tea kettle
- brewing vessel at least 1 gallon in size
- stirring spoon
- tight weave cloth cover (no cheesecloth) and rubber band or custom brewer cap
- bottles with tightly closing lids
The Lucky 13 Step Kombucha Recipe
- Boil 4 cups (1 liter) of purified water.
- Add hot water & tea bags to pot or brewing vessel.
- Steep 7-15 minutes, then remove tea bags.
- Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
- – If the vessel is empty, add 2-3 quarts (2-3 liters) of purified water, then add the hot tea solution. (adding cold water first helps keep the vessel from heating up)
– If the sweet tea was made in the vessel, then simply add 2-3 quarts (2-3 liters) of purified water
NOTE: The amount of water added depends on vessel size. If exactly one gallon or a little smaller then leave enough space for the culture, starter liquid & 1-2 inches from the top for breathing room. If your vessel is larger than one gallon, add no more than 3 quarts (3 liters) of cold water to the 1 quart (1 liter) of hot sweet tea.
- Check to make sure the sweet tea is body temperature or below. A clean finger is the perfect tool!
- Once it is, add SCOBY and starter liquid.
- Cover with cloth cover and rubber band or a custom brewer cap.
- Say a prayer, send good vibes, commune with your culture (optional but recommended).
- Place the container in a warm, ventilated area out of direct sunlight for 7- 21 days (depends on taste). 75-85°F (24-29°C) is the best range, 80°F (27°C) is ideal (more information about maintaining proper temperature for your brew here). It may or may not get fizzy. The SCOBY may rise to the top or sink to the bottom, doesn’t matter, the new culture will always form at the top (more information about the 5 Signs of a Healthy Brew here).
- After 7 days, or when you are ready to taste your KT, gently insert a straw beneath the SCOBY and take a sip. If too tart, then reduce your brewing cycle next time. If too sweet, allow to brew for a few more days. Continue to taste every day or so until you reach your optimum flavor preference. Your own Kombucha Recipe may vary.
- Set aside your SCOBY(s) and starter liquid (2 cups if possible) for the next batch from the top of the current brew. You may put them in any vessel or a SCOBY Hotel.
- Decant & flavor your kombucha (optional). Learn about Flavoring Kombucha here.
Kombucha Recipe Notes & Tips
- Drink as desired! Start off with 4-8oz (100-200ml) on an empty stomach in the morning, then with meals to help with digestion or as your body tells you it would like some more! Drink plenty of water as it is a natural detoxifier and you want to flush the newly released toxins out.
- Kombucha in the bottle never “goes bad” as long as no mold is present. However, it may eventually be too sour to enjoy. Refrigeration slows this process.
- To dechlorinate tap water, allow to sit out overnight uncovered or boil for 10 minutes, then cool to needed temp.
- Small variations in tea or sugar used are not a concern. Increase or decrease the amounts to find the Kombucha recipe you prefer, but never use less than ¾ cup (150g) sugar or 3 bags/tsp of tea per gallon.
- Airflow is key, therefore find an open area for your Kombucha Tea. A typical empty cupboard or pantry is fine but one jammed with other food items or without any airspace may not work as well.
- Always use cotton cloth covers to allow oxygen to reach the brew. Only cloth with a tight weave should be used. Clean used t-shirts or sheets are a great option. Avoid cheesecloth as the holes are too large and will allow fruit flies and contaminants.
- Soap is not needed when rinsing the brewing vessel between batches, unless there was mold or some other brewing issue. If the brew was successful, all that is needed is a clean water rinse.
- Should mold or other brewing issues occur, clean with hot water and soap, then rinse very well with clean water. If the jar has a spigot, remove it and soak in soapy water or bleach to kill any spores, then rinse clean. All items can be cured in distilled (pasteurized) white vinegar. Never use raw vinegar with Kombucha to avoid spoiling the brew.
- To make larger batches, scale the amount of SCOBY and starter liquid with the other ingredients. For a larger Kombucha recipe, one large SCOBY and 1-2 cups starter liquid is recommended per gallon of sweet tea. Batches over 5 gallons in size can experience issues of uneven fermentation.
- Kombucha is a LIVING organism, so many believe the energy in the room will directly influence your culture.
- More Kombucha Brewing Safety Tips here.
Thanks for a great recipe Kombucha Kamp! The main thing to remember is to have fun and experiment! Let us know how your recipe goes!