Our Best Tips for Brewing Kombucha at Home

Brewing kombucha is a fun and rewarding process, but it can go wrong quickly if you aren’t careful. If you are looking for a recipe for high alcohol kombucha, head over to our blog. Here we will go over our top tips for brewing kombucha on your own successfully. After all, before the Boochcraft brewery was built, our booch had humble beginnings fermenting right at home in our co-founders' garage.

Always Use Glass When Brewing

Using plastic containers to store your kombucha can introduce bad bacteria into your brew and may ruin the whole batch quickly. Glass, ceramic or high grade stainless steel are preferred options. For small home brew batches, we would recommend glass or ceramic containers.  

SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast)

An often unknown fact is that a SCOBY is actually not required to make kombucha, but rather a product resulting from the process of making kombucha. The best way to start your kombucha is to get 12 ounces of raw unflavored kombucha as starter liquid. If you also have a piece of SCOBY, that is great but unnecessary. If you are purchasing a SCOBY to start your kombucha, avoid buying them wrapped in plastic ‒‒ the SCOBY can actually absorb chemicals from plastic, and Mother Earth will thank you for reducing your plastic waste. If you are collecting starter cultures from your SCOBY for your next batch of kombucha, be sure to only take the top layer from your last batch. The bottom part of the SCOBY is where all the yeast have gone dormant, and using that part will mess up your bacteria-to-yeast ratios.  

Best Tea for Kombucha

One easy way to ruin your home brewed kombucha is by using the wrong tea. Black tea is the best option because the SCOBY likes the tannins in the tea. At Boochcraft, we source our single-origin organic black tea from a family-run tea farm in South Yunnan Province, China. They are growing and producing some of the best tea in the world, all by hand. Some other important things to keep in mind when picking the tea for your kombucha is to stick to loose leaf teas and be sure to brew it in glass because tea is acidic and will leach the taste and chemicals from whatever you brew it in. The tea is a big factor in the overall taste of your kombucha, so use the right brewing temperature and measure out your tea properly for the best booch base. Water Temperature Try to maintain 80 degrees at all times. One way to do this is with a sprouting heat pad typically used for starting seeds. Sunlight Keep the culture covered completely with no light penetrating the vessel if possible. Temperature is a Factor Try to maintain 80 degrees at all times. One way to do this is with a sprouting heat pad typically used for starting seeds. Always Let Your Tea Cool A quick way to ruin your kombucha is by not allowing your brewed tea to completely cool before combining it with the SCOBY and sugar. Be patient and give it time to cool down first.  Allow Your Booch to Breathe Once you combine your SCOBY, brewed tea, and sugar, you want to store your mixture in a glass jar and cover it with a cheesecloth secured with a tight rubber band. The cheesecloth allows your kombucha to ventilate while keeping out bugs and other contaminants. If your mixture cannot breathe, it won’t ferment. Flavoring After your base kombucha is finished you may want to add flavors and carbonation. The best method without force carbonating is to add organic 100% juice and bottle the flavored kombucha in a swing top bottle. Then leave it out on the heat pad at 80 degrees for a day or two, making sure to check it every so often by slowly opening the top to see if it has good carbonation. Once you have the carbonation, put it in the fridge. WARNING: Leaving it out and sealed for too long may cause the bottle to explode or product to gush out when opening. Make sure to test it over the sink or outside. Keep Your Sugar Simple In order to best feed your SCOBY, we recommend using fair trade, certified organic cane sugar (for a happy SCOBY and a happy planet) ― something you will find in every batch of our booch. The yeast and bacteria can easily digest white sugar. Don’t worry though, most of the sugar will be eaten up by your SCOBY by the time your brew is ready to drink. Keep it Clean It is incredibly important not to introduce any contaminants to your kombucha because it is a fermented and living product. You have to be especially careful and clean when handling anything that will come in contact with your brew. Make sure the glass jar you are going to brew your kombucha in is spotless and sanitized along with the individual bottles and funnels you use to store it in afterwards. Mold on your SCOBY is a sign that bad bacteria got into your kombucha mix or that the SCOBY was overhandled during the process. If you see any mold on your SCOBY during any part of the brewing process, unfortunately, you just have to toss it and start the process over. Trial and error is a huge part in mastering the kombucha brewing process; learn from every mistake, and make sure to keep your tools clean every step of the way.  Embrace the Bubbles If you see your kombucha bubbling up, that’s a great sign and means the fermentation process is working. The bubbles show the carbonation buildup and some movement in your kombucha brew is a good sign. Step-by-Step Recipe: Tools - Large pot - 1 or 2-gallon container - Stick-on or floating thermometer - Cheesecloth and rubber band - Glass, sealable bottles Ingredients - 1 kombucha SCOBY - 1 gallon water - organic black tea blac - 1 cup organic cane sugar - 1 cup 100% fruit juice (fresh-pressed recommended!) Step 1: Brew the Tea In a large pot, heat the gallon of water until boiling, remove from heat and add the tea. Steep for 15 minutes and remove the bags. Add the sugar and stir well. Step 2: Add the SCOBY After your tea is done steeping and has cooled to 80 degrees, transfer to a glass container and add the SCOBY that's now grown. Place the thermometer in the container, cover with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Step 3: Allow to Ferment Place the jug in a dark, slightly warm environment (like a closet) and allow to brew for 7-10 days. The ideal temperature is 80 degrees; any higher and you risk developing mold. After 7-10 days, your kombucha is complete—the longer you let it brew, the stronger the taste. Step 4: Remove the SCOBY Now that your kombucha is done, slice the SCOBY off and place in a glass container with enough kombucha to barely cover it, then cover with cheesecloth. Let the SCOBY sit until you are ready to make another batch. If you like the taste as is, pour the kombucha into sealed glass bottles and place in the refrigerator until ready to drink. A batch typically lasts 3-5 days once the seal is broken. Step 5: Fresh Fruit Juice Flavoring If you'd like to add more flavor to your kombucha, pour into a mixing bowl and add one cup of fruit juice, such as grapefruit, apple, or watermelon. Stir, then divide into glass sealable bottles. Place in the dark room where you grew your SCOBY and leave for three days. Step 6: Strain and Serve After three days of fermentation, strain out any additional pieces of SCOBY that grew. Pour kombucha into sealed bottles and place in fridge until ready to drink. Be careful upon opening—the carbonation builds pressure in the bottles similar to shaken soda. Final note: While brewing your own kombucha isn’t the simplest thing, it pays off tremendously. Make sure you are patient through the process and remember that this is about trial and error. Before you know it, you will be a master kombucha brewer and will reap the amazing benefits for years to come. Happy brewing!