I have read A LOT of blogs on kombucha before I started making it. You know, to prevent any horrible series of events. But one thing I wish I had seen was a picture of the weird phases the SCOBY goes through. Sometimes, I was wondering if I was even doing it right!
So this blog will be going through the steps to grow your own SCOBY, picture of the scoby all the way up to the second ferment of flavoring your kombucha!
If none of this makes any sense, let me quickly explain. This isn't a full tutorial but there are plenty out there! In short, Kombucha is a fermented tea. During the fermentation process, the GOOD bacteria and yeasts eat up most the sugars so you are left with this antioxidant rich, probiotic rich, carbonated drink! I was hooked the moment I tasted it! I drink some daily, though the amount varies. Some days I will drink 16oz, other days I drink 4oz. Just depends on what my body needs!
Now on to how to grow the SCOBY! I knew no one that had a SCOBY baby for me to take home... Didn't want to buy one online because I knew well and good with a little patience, I could make my own!
I started with my own brew of Black tea. I will be posting a VEGAN version of Jun as soon as it's done, that uses green tea! SCOBY do not like flavors or herbs, so let that rest until the second fermentation. Also, tannin is needed for the fermentation process! So black, green and Oolong I have had success with, going to test white tea and let you know but I think the levels of tannin will be too low. If you aren't familiar with making this, black tea is the norm!
Anyway, I did 1 bag of tea, 4 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar PLUS half a cup of tea from the left over store bought.
If you go this route, make sure to get the sediment of the other tea! Stick with the kombucha in the fridge section for this, original, no flavor. You will thank yourself! Let your tea cool down to room temp making sure the sugar is well dissolved before adding the Kombucha.
Find a warm place in your home! My first attempt was in a cold area and 2 gallons of kombucha starter... That takes a LONG time to make a huge SCOBY but as you can tell... I'm seriously addicted to my kombucha. Average grow time is one month! Fermentation of the tea with a mature SCOBY doesn't take as long, but you want to make sure your SCOBY is nice and strong. Heat helps! Not you catching your house a flame or anything drastic but a warm area. Too much heat can and will hurt your baby Scoby. In about a month you will have grown your own SCOBY! If you set it in a cold area it will take longer, warmer less. I have had one grow and finish in 2 1/2weeks with this latest heat wave! It DOES take time!
So now, pictures!
First thing that will happen is BUBBLES! That's awesome! Look at you little bubbles, all bubbling... Nothing you can do now. Just DON'T move it!!! I'll show you why later...
Second phase, white film. This is normal! It's beginning to form! Notice the larger white underneath? Yup that's a full grown SCOBY... When you shake the jar, the SCOBY can sometimes sink. You will begin to form ANOTHER on the top! No worries!
This is why you don't shake it. I had a week developed baby SCOBY and moved it too roughly. It is all messy and yuck looking now but forming another new baby on top because my SCOBY loved me and forgave me! Kombucha is very forgiving! As long as there is sugar, tea and starter it will usually get back to business!
This is of my huge 2 gallon batch kombucha I had to grow. Not quite done yet but firming up nicely and I think a few more weeks and it will be done! The problem with making a SCOBY of this size is the tea is worthless for drinking. It takes a month+ for a SCOBY this size so by then the kombucha is VERY vinegary and I'll just use it in stuff and dressings instead of as a drink. Still amazing for you so don't let that go to waste! It is white but not moldy. Mold is powdery and textured, generalOh start as spots! That's the best way to tell! If you have any doubts by all means toss it and start over. I'm not the boss of you! NEVER use the vinegar or reuse a moldy SCOBY! Here is a more in depth discussion of healthy SCOBY! Don't freak and toss a good SCOBY! It will feel firm and tough!
Once you are all done here is what a healthy, self grown SCOBY looks like! Start making tea because you leave his poor baby without a tea and it will die! This is an older SCOBY with her baby! Put them both into new tea and they will thrive!
To store them between batches, I leave them in tea and just add sugar weekly. It’s like a vacation spot!
Now on to flavoring!
You may decide you do not like flavored kombucha based on store bought flavors you have tried... Which was me. I knew I liked original, regular, plain kombucha so I was relucant to try after a few yuck ones from the store... But test I did Because I get bored and wanted to play! My favorites are Earl Grey, cantaloupe and chamomile and Peach Ginger! So good, especially the fresh chamomile from the garden! The kombucha really brings the chamomile flavor out!
Basically all you do to flavor it is wait until it's done with the initial fermenting. If you have an established SCOBY, this takes between 3-7 days to ferment to your liking, the FIRST FERMENTATION. Taste it! Too sweet? Keep on keeping on. Too sour? Well next time, don't go as long to taste test and you can still use this in place of apple cider vinegar in cleaning! I kid you not, I did it!!
Moving on to the second ferment, this is when you get the bubbly awesome. Warning, Be careful on second ferment. I have heard bottles can blow if you wait too long! I have had a lid fly off and multiple eruptions. What really gives the fizzy is added sugar drom
fruits, natural sweeteners and syrups. I find that for 16oz of kombucha, 3-4 small cubes of fruit does it. If you add too much, expect flying lids or fizzy eruptions!
Normally 2-4 days on second ferment is normal. Just plop your fruit, herbs or juice right in and put it back in the dark cave of warmth for the next 1-4 days. Don't check for carbonation too often. Problem is if you open it often, you lose your carbonation! So just be very careful!!!! Be sure to check your jars and bottles for any cracks to make sure your jar won't explode. I use 32oz mason jars and reused swing top bottles!
In the hottter areas, your tea will ferment faster. Colder areas, longer ferment time.
I hope you enjoy this new journey of making your own kombucha! It’s so rewarding and an art! It’s easy enough for us busy people as well! I love it!
And here are some cute labels for you! To say thank you for reading! I print these, apply tape over the label and write on it with a regular marker or dry erase so I can rub it off/wash off and start over!
AND please check out my Kombucha Toner and Kombucha Conditioner! Both have been AMAZING for me! I hope fellow Kombucha addicts will enjoy!
May your SCOBY grow strong!
Love and tea,
The Smart Girl in Pants
The Smart Girl in Pants