From the Vitality Food Feature ‘Preserve Your Harvest the Old Fashioned Way‘.
If you’ve never heard of ‘scoby,’ you’ve probably never indulged in a healthy glass of kombucha – a super, healthy ‘living’ tonic. I call it ‘living’ because it’s like sourdough starter, something that grows from batch to batch! I prefer oolong tea as a starter, but you can use any good quality black tea leaves or loose tea with good results. I wouldn’t recommend herbal teas or those with special flavours or oils as they may not produce good results, especially for those just getting into the hobby of kombucha brewing. And you should only use organic white sugar for this brew.
The tricky part is having a “mother” to help you get the kombucha started! Of course, I am not talking about your mom but rather a magical little gelatinous-like glob known as “scoby” or, as some people call it, a kombucha mushroom which is the starter culture needed for brewing kombucha. If you have a friend who’ll share their established scoby with you, you’re off to a great start. If not, buy a kombucha starter culture kit from a reputable source and follow their directions for use.
- 3 quarts of water
- 5 tea bags (I prefer oolong tea as a starter, but you can use any good quality black tea leaves or loose tea)
- 1 cup organic white sugar
1) Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Remove from heat.
2) Add 5 tea bags and stir in organic white sugar until dissolved. Cover with cloth and allow tea to steep until cool.
3) Wash a gallon jug and scald with boiling water.
4) Pour cooled tea into the jar and add 1 cup of starter tea.
5) Gently slip the scoby into the tea.
6) Cover the jar lid with several layers of folded cheesecloth to allow gases to escape while keeping fruit flies out. Secure with a rubber band.
7) Set jar in warm, dark place and leave undisturbed for one week, after which time you can taste it. If tea is very sweet it needs more time for the culture to absorb the sugar.
8) When the tea tastes tart to your liking, gently remove the mother and baby cultures and place them in a clean bowl. Cover with kombucha to keep them protected.
9) Bottle your finished kombucha in clean bottles, filling them to the top. Cap them to allow carbonation and let sit for 3 to 5 days at room temperature before storing in cold dark place.
10) Don’t forget to leave about one cup of old kombucha in a glass jar as your starter tea for the next batch of brew. Since you only need one layer of culture for your next new batch of kombucha, you can share the ‘new mother’ or ‘the baby’ scoby with a friend who might like to try a batch.