How do you make kombucha?

Our passion for brewing kombucha started at home, and our process today is not much different. We can talk to homebrewers endlessly about their kombucha, and are happy to help them get started. You can use our Natural Beauty as a kombucha starter, with one bottle you can make over 3 liters at home. Below we explain in detail how to make kombucha, which tea and sugar you use, and how you can add a flavor. You will also find a simple recipe for 1 liter of kombucha. You can use the same kombucha recipe to make as much as you like.

What tea do you use for kombucha?

As a tea you can only use real tea, from the tea plant Camellia Sinensis. So green tea, black tea, white tea or oolong tea. This contains the building materials that your kombucha needs. You will not find this in herbal teas such as rooibos and chamomile. Organic tea is preferred, as pesticides may interfere with the fermentation process. Only use pure tea, so nothing with a flavor such as fruit teas and therefore no earl grey. Don't buy the most exclusive or expensive tea either, because you won't find many of these refined flavors after fermentation. At Untamed Kombucha we use loose tea, because the quality is generally much better, and often not even more expensive.

What sugar do you use for kombucha?

At Untamed Kombucha we use organic, raw cane sugar. This contains more minerals, vitamins and other building materials compared to refined sugar. That is good for the fermentation process. Other simple sugars also work fine, so if you have some white granulated sugar you don't have to go to the store specifically for cane sugar. Honey, agave, coconut, maple and palm sugar can also be used, but be careful. The flavor of your kombucha will be much different, and the fermentation process will be more unpredictable. If you want to try these forms of sugar, it's best to put it in a separate jar. The recipe below provides a guideline for how much sugar to use to make kombucha. Depending on whether you have a sweet tooth, you can decide that for yourself.

A kombucha SCOBY

SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. In children's language we explain it as a collaboration between yeasts and bacteria. The slippery mat that grows on top of your kombucha is often referred to as the SCOBY. This is partly true, because the same bacteria and yeasts also grow in it. However, you will find much more of this in the liquid. So you can easily make a first kombucha without that kombucha 'mushroom', by using only the liquid. In fact, it is cellulose, the same material that plants are made of.

SCOBY floating on kombucha

What is kombucha starter?

By kombucha starter we actually just mean a bit more sour kombucha. At Untamed Kombucha we always use between 10% and 20% kombucha starter to make a new batch. And if we can reuse a SCOBY mat, we will. These ratios are also good to keep at home. The main reason not only to use a SCOBY mat, but also the liquid, is to get the acidity down. Malicious bacteria and fungi will not grow in an environment with a PH value of 4.6 or lower. By using 10% to 20% kombucha starter you can ensure this acidity. If you use younger kombucha as a starter, it is better to use a little more. You can use our Natural Beauty as a kombucha starter, you can make over 3 liters of your own kombucha with one bottle.

Which jar to use to make kombucha?

Kombucha needs oxygen, just like humans do. So use a wide pot, so you get a larger surface for your kombucha. Simply put, the greater the surface area relative to the content, the better. Glass jars are the best for the home, you will find them in sizes from 2 to 9 litres. If you want to make more kombucha, you also have food grade plastic buckets that you can find in brew shops. Don't just use any type of plastic of course, it must be safe. If you want to approach it professionally, there is also stainless steel, but in our view that is a waste of money.

Kombucha recipe for 1 liter

  • 3 to 5 grams of tea
  • 45 to 70 grams of sugar
  • water
  • 10cL kombucha starter ( Natural Beauty )
  • a wide jar (glass, food grade plastic or stainless steel)
  • a tea towel or coffee filter
  • a rubber band

Make kombucha in a few steps

The first step of making kombucha is always cleaning. Everything you use, your countertop, your hands, the pot, everything must be clean. Then you pull the tea for 10-30 minutes at 80-85°C. By steeping it longer than your normal cup of tea, you get more nutrients from the tea.

Remove the tea and add the sugar while your brewed tea is still warm. Make sure everything dissolves nicely by stirring well. Making kombucha is pretty easy, so you've already covered most of the process. The next step is to ensure that the temperature of the sweet tea is below 35°C. You can simply wait a while, but a smarter way is to use only a small portion, about 20%, of the water at the beginning of the process. This way you can add the rest of the water to cool it completely so you don't have to wait.

Pour the sweet tea into the clean jar, and then you're ready to add the kombucha starter. You can simply pour this in, and then stir for a while. If you have a SCOBY mat, you can now add it. If you don't have one, a new one will grow automatically!

Kombucha in a glass jar with a tea towel on top. You can see the SCOBY floating well

How do you ferment kombucha?

And fin, all you have to do is put your kombucha away properly. This is in a warm place, without direct sunlight. For many people this means a kitchen cupboard or a place in the living room. In winter, it can also be a bit cold indoors, and your kombucha ferments a bit slower. You may have electric heat mats for this.

Cover your jar with a tea towel and rubber band to keep fruit flies, dust and anything else unwanted out. You can also replace your tea towel with a coffee filter or something else that breathes, but doesn't let anything through. A cheesecloth is sometimes not fine enough, so fruit flies can still get through it. Don't put a sealed lid on it anyway, because your kombucha is carbonating so it will build up pressure.

When will my kombucha be ready?

After a week you can taste the kombucha. Too sweet, not sour enough? Then you leave him alone. Kombucha is ready when you think it is. You can drink the kombucha little by little as it continues to ferment, or you can refrigerate it to pause the fermentation process. Don't drink it all so you can use a little as a kombucha starter for your next batch.

If you like a lot of flavor, or want to experiment, you can now pull out all the stops! You can bottle your kombucha and add herbal teas, fruits, hot peppers, herbs or spices. You can't think of it that crazy or someone has already made such kombucha.

Kombucha with bubbles

Carbon dioxide is produced during fermentation. Because there is a cloth over your kombucha, this carbon dioxide can escape. By putting your kombucha in a sealed bottle, you can trap this carbon dioxide, so you get a taste of your kombucha. Use sturdy bottles and refrigerate your kombucha after 2-7 days. If you keep it outside the fridge for too long, too much carbon dioxide can build up. Many a kombucha has ended up on the ceiling, and in the worst case a bottle can pop. Tip: fill one in a plastic bottle, then you can see the pressure build up.

When you add fruit when bottling, you also add extra sugars. The more sugars in your kombucha, the more carbon dioxide it can build up. And often fruit juice also goes a lot faster, sometimes you have the desired effect after a day or two. On the other hand, it can also take a very long time if you do not add extra sugars. So do you want kombucha without a taste, but with a sting? Then bottle your kombucha when it's just a little too sweet for your taste.

Untamed Kombucha brewer Joris van den Broek looks at tea

Continuous brewing method

We all have busy lives, and sometimes convenience is what we look for. There is a method we call continuous brewing . This takes much less time, and is therefore easier to keep track of. The idea is that you use an extra large pot of at least 8 liters with a stainless steel tap, and that you replace the kombucha you take out with sweet tea. So you don't have to make a new batch every time, which saves you a lot of pots, pans and cleaning. You could supplement it daily or, for example, weekly. Or you can refill in one go if you have drunk up to 30%. Additional benefits are a constant taste and no fear of mould.

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