I’m trying my hand at Kombucha again – if you don’t know, Kombucha is a fermented/cultured tea, and though fermented, does not contain any alcohol volume other than trace amounts as a byproduct of the yeast. The starter for Kombucha can be initialized by utilizing an existing store bought Kombucha, which is a whole lot cheaper than buying a specialty kit! Last time I made one of these I got as far as growing the culture, or SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast), but then proceeded to leave it in the back of my fridge for the next year. It didn’t help that I made this about a week before we started packing to move, so making food and drinks was at the back of my mind.
The process for making this is quite simple, and depending on your vessel size, you will start two cultures using this recipe (that I can’t remember where I stole it from) to scale using quart mason jars. You start by making a sweet tea – utilizing about 3-4 black tea bags in 7 cups of water. When making the tea, add ½ cup of sugar to the water once it begins to boil. Kill the heat, and drop in your tea bags, steeping until cool. Once it has reached room temperature, remove the tea bags, and transfer to your clean and sanitized vessel(s) evenly. Like I said, for my purposes, I utilized two, quart sized mason jars, but if you have a large enough container you are comfortable culturing in, you can transfer it to one. Then take one measured cup of premade Kombucha and mix it in – if using two jars, divide into ½ cup per jar.
Unlike brewing, you do not want to use an airtight container, you want to allow the jar to breathe, but do not want anything to fall in it, so cover with something that allows oxygen to flow such as a coffee filter, or paper towel, and secure – if using a mason jar, utilize the ring to secure your cover in place, but do not use the actual lid.
I’ll post a few updates along the way, but this is where you should stand if you follow the above directions! Below is an image after 24 hours, not too different from the start, but you do start to see some separation, and formation of the yeast culture starting!
It’s important to note that this starter won’t really be drinkable unless you want a very strong, vinegary flavor – once you have your SCOBY (yeast cake is about the only way I can describe it), you separate that from your liquid, and place it in your next batch!