By Jacquelin Huang
As a home brewer myself, here's a simple guide on how to get started. Seeing expensive bottles of kombucha, I always thought making kombucha was intimidating and difficult. Kombucha is actually really so easy to make and I actually think it tastes better when you make it at home, because you can customise it with all the ingredients you love.I started loving kombucha and got inspired to make my own after a hall mate of mine introduced it to me. It really surprised me how something so delicious can be healthy as well. You can get a starter kit like the one here to get all the ingredients and equipment you need. You don't even need to buy a kit if you already have most of the equipment here.
Check your cupboards for:
1. a large glass vessel (somewhere between 1 - 2 L is good enough)
2. black tea bags and white cane sugar
3. Plain unflavoured raw kombucha and some SCOBY (a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, it looks like a glob of jelly!)
4. Fermentation grade glass bottles (thick glass bottles with a tight seal that can withstand high gas pressure)
First, brew 1L of tea with 3 black tea bags. Add in a quarter cup of sugar and mix well. Ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved.
To your sweetened tea that is completely cooled, add in 200ml of raw kombucha and SCOBY if you have some. Cover with a breathable material like a cloth and seal with a rubber band so random pieces of dirt won't get in. I use coffee filters and a old hair tie :) Works great. Don't seal the vessel, your kombucha is a living thing and needs to breath. Also it might explode because CO2 is produced while your kombucha ferments. I also like to label my jar with the date I made it, helps me keep track how many days have passed.
Wait 4-7 days until your kombucha is ready! It should taste tangy and a little vinegary. Taste it everyday! The weather is so hot in Singapore the kombucha ferments super fast.
Now your kombucha is ready to drink if you don't mind it unflavoured and uncarbonated. For me, I go ahead and carry out my second fermentation which will make the kombucha a lot more delicious.
Before the second fermentation, remember to set aside your SCOBY and reserve 200 ml of your newly made kombucha so you can make even more kombucha.
For the remainder 1 L of kombucha, you may flavour it with different fruits and spices. My favourite flavour combinations are mango + passionfruit and cinnamon + ginger + apple (can you tell I like apple pie). You can use whatever fruits you have, just crush them or blend them up, its up to your preference. Crushing them gives you little bits of fruit in the final product that adds some texture to your kombucha.
To a thick glass bottle, add some of your fruit mix (I just eyeball the amount) and fill it up with kombucha, then seal it tightly. Make sure that this bottle is made of thick, good quality glass (or it might explode!!).
This is actually a re-purposed bottle that used to contain sparkling water. If you want to re-use a glass bottle, a good rule of thumb is that if it contained a carbonated drink previously, it should be fine! Liquor bottles are pretty good too.
After 1/2 days, you will see bubbles when you gently swirl this bottle. At this point, just refrigerate and its ready once its fully chilled!
After you get the hang of it, you can start experimenting with different tea leaves, spices and fruits, there are no rules here.
I hope this post has been helpful in helping you get started on brewing kombucha at home!
If you don't have SCOBY it's okay! You can get some from kombucha brewing friends if you have some. Some homebrewers also sell their SCOBY on Carousell or facebook groups (obtain at your own discretion...). Even without SCOBY, you can make kombucha with only starter tea and sweetened tea, and a layer of SCOBY will grow on its own. Don't throw this away and keep it growing for more rounds of kombucha that you brew. Your kombucha will simply take longer to ferment when your SCOBY is small. Still delicious though!
If you have any questions, You Brew Kombucha is an excellent youtube channel dedicated to guiding home brewers all about kombucha! Sometimes, your scoby may also look funny and give you a 'mould scare', where your scoby looks suspiciously like mould which means you have to throw away that batch of kombucha ): I love referring to this website which collects different pictures of kombucha to help u distinguish between actual mould and wonky looking scoby.