Friday, September 18, 2009

Tutorial: How to make Kombucha Tea

There are plenty of tutorials out there for making Kombucha, and now there's one more. Someday I'll do a video one for YouTube, but for now the written word will have to suffice. My main complaint for most of the tutorials I have read, is that they don't have enough pictures and don't follow through to the bottling process. If you've never cultured something before it can be a bit mysterious. Fortunately, Kombucha is really easy!

What is Kombucha? Well, Kombucha is a fermented tea made with a particular strain of beneficial bacteria. This bacteria produces a spongy mass commonly referred to the Kombucha mushroom, although strictly speaking, it's not a mushroom. The mushroom is where the bacteria lives and grows.

A lot has been said about the beneficial effects of drinking Kombucha. According to the Synergy web site, Kombucha helps the health "mostly through its influence on the liver, the blood and the digestive system, where it normalizes the acidity or pH. Metabolic balancing and detoxification is perhaps the most important function of Kombucha."

Lord knows I need more of that.

Personally, I love the stuff and feel more energized on the days when I drink it. You can drink 1-3 cups a day, but any more won't increase the benefit.

What you'll need:
  • 8 green tea bags. I used Lipton, but your local health food store has some good organic ones. I also used 1 Numi organic iced tea bag in the Citrus Black flavor. Yum!
  • a 1 gallon glass jar or sun tea jar
  • 1 coffee filter - to fit over the mouth of your jar - 10 to 12 cup size
  • 1 rubber band - to fit around the mouth of the sun tea jar
  • 1 C. white sugar (you can use turbinado or organic too)
  • 1 bottle of Synergy Kombucha and/or a Kombucha mushroom (I'm using both). You don't need a mushroom to start the culture. The Synergy Kombucha tea is enough.
  • 1/4th C. apple cider vinegar (if you're making your first batch)
  • a 1 C. measuring cup
  • a wooden spoon
  • 1 gallon of filtered water (you won't need all of it)
A few things to remember:
  • Kombuch is alive and needs to be handled with clean instruments. Please wash your spoons, cups and jars with MILD soap and rinse thoroughly. Residues of soap will hurt your culture. Please wash your hands too.
  • Prolonged contact with metals other than stainless steel will injure Kombucha as well. My Kombucha mushroom above is in a stainless steel bowl.
  • Filtered water must be used because chlorine will kill the Kombuch culture.
Let's make tea!
  • Put 6 C. of filtered water into a pot and bring it to a boil.
  • Drop your tea bags into the boiling water, cover and turn off the heat. It's very important to turn the heat off, or you'll lose too much of your liquid and damage the flavor of the tea.
  • Leave covered for 20 minutes.
  • While the tea is steeping, put filtered water in your sun tea jar. I put 4 inches of water in the jar. This is to keep the jar from cracking when I add the hot tea. I'm too impatient to wait for the tea to cool so I use this method and haven't cracked a jar jet.
  • Add 1 C. of sugar to the water in the jar and stir with your wooden spoon till it's dissolved.
  • Uncover your tea and take out the spent tea bags. Let the tea cool for a few minutes more.
  • Pour your tea into the sun tea jar and stir with the wooden spoon. Put your hand on the jar to see how warm it is. If it feels hot, wait a bit to put in the live Kombucha culture. The jar should be room temperature or slightly warm to the touch or the heat may kill the Kombucha.
  • Once the tea is cool enough, add 1 C. of the Synergy Kombucha drink and stir a bit
  • Add your Kombucha mushroom, if you have one. There should be room at the top of the jar for the mushroom to grow, so you don't want the liquid to go higher than the bend in the glass. If the tea seems low, you can add more filtered water.
  • Add 1/4th C. of apple cider vinegar (if you're making it for the 1st time)
  • Cover the mouth of the jar with the coffee filter and secure it with the rubber band. The Kombucha mushroom will rise to the top eventually and start making a baby mushroom on top of the mother.
  • Put the jar in a warm spot (I have mine outside, in the shade of my orchid plants). The temperature should be between 72 and 90 degrees Farenheit. The warmer it is, the faster your culture will grow. No direct sunlight though, or it will die...
  • Wait 7 days and then taste your Kombucha. It should have a pleasant sweet and sour taste and be fizzy. I've allowed my tea to brew for up to 2 weeks (it will become more vinegar-like with age) with no ill effects.
Don't despair if the top of your first Kombucha looks like something the cat barfed up. The culture takes a full week to get going and your first mushroom will be thin and a bit patchy looking. It may have some dark stringy stuff hanging down on the underside as well. No problem. That's a natural part of the culture.

  • When your Kombucha is done, you can bottle it up with fresh strained juices. You will want to strain any fresh juice as the little pieces are unappetizing. Citrus fruits and berries are my favorite combination. You can put in whole berries and citrus peels too. The Kombucha will continue to ferment once it's in a bottle, just not as much once the lid is on. Be careful of Kombucha that has been bottled with fresh juice, as it will become VERY carbonated. Refrigerate it to keep it under control.
  • Bottle only in glass bottles or jars with a tight lid. I just use old Synergy bottles and lids that I've run through the dish washer. It's not like the canning process where you have to sterilize everything. Clean and dry should be good enough. Just make sure you don't get your fingers in everything. Hands are really dirty!
  • I have kept my bottled Kombucha for up to a year, unrefrigerated with no problems. If you have any doubts, just keep it in the fridge.
Voila! You've made Kombucha. Easy stuff too and sooooooo good for you. I highly recommend trying out the Synergy brand Kombucha tea. They make many flavors and all are delicious. My favorite is Trilogy. Even though I make it at home, I still buy bottles of Synergy. Yum-O!

Some day I hope to make as good a tea as they do!

Whole Foods Market carries Synergy as well as many health food stores across the nation. The Synergy web side can help you find a store in your area.


  1. Wow, what a nice, healthy kombucha mushroom you have there. I've been looking for a glass sun tea jar in my area but have only seen plastic so far :( I usually do a continuously fermenting batch where I bottle some every other day and just top off my jar so having a sun tea jar would make this process that much easier! My favorite fruit to add is pineapple! Yum!

  2. Hi MikKnits! I found my sun tea jars at WalMart. I got 3 a couple weeks ago because all the summer stuff is on sale down here in Florida. My favorite fruits to add are lemon and ginger. Very refreshing...