Over the last year or so I’ve been making Kombucha (about a gallon per week) and I’ve enjoyed the process along the way. I began doing this to avoid the $2.34 per liter cost of kombucha when buying in bulk at costco. Now my cost is about 50 cents per gallon (for sugar and tea). I first tried ordering a scoby online but it was too hot here in September (in Phoenix, AZ) and I think it died in the mailbox on a 118 degree day. Then I found someone nearby on craigslist who I could buy a live scoby from.
I actually had to buy a scoby twice because the first time I was trying to use raw sugar and the molasses contained in it caused the kombucha to smell like puke, especially after a few weeks. Since then I’ve been strictly using white sugar and haven’t had trouble.
My weekly process goes something like this:
- Make about a gallon of black tea (I use 4 bags) with 2 cups of white sugar mixed in
- Wait until tea cools or put ice in it to cool it to room temperature
- Get 6 glass quart jars out, and a bowl for holding the scooby while harvesting kombucha
- Take the scoby out into the bowl from one of the gallon jars of kombucha, and peel off any old layers of scoby. I used to throw this away, though I had thought of making a foot scrub as described in Kombucha Revolution. But this time I fed the extra scoby to my worms.
- Pour the Kombucha into smaller jars and seal them
- Rinse out the gallon jar before filling it about halfway with sweet black tea
- Add about half a quart of kombucha back in before gently placing a scoby on top.
- Cover the lid with a dry paper towel secured by a rubber band. This allows the kombucha to breathe while keeping flies (and kids) out.
The small jars contain kombucha which is becoming carbonated in the second phase of the process. I usually leave them on the counter a day or two before putting 1-2 jars in the fridge at a time. I like mine cold, but you could drink it without refrigeration.
You can open it up and stick a straw in it to taste it every couple days to tell when it’s done, but I noticed that it always tasted sweeter after being in the fridge so I stopped doing that and just try to keep to a schedule (+/- a day or two).
When you procure a scoby from craigslist or from amazon, the first batch will be smaller based on the size of the scoby and how much kombucha starter you get. But a healthy scoby can double in size over a week or two depending on the temperature (In the summer it grows faster than the winter at my house).