Kombucha: The First Brew
Once you have everything purchased, it is time to start your first brew!
When I started my first brew, I was ready, I had everything together, I took a deep breath, and . . . remembered that I forgot . . . Step #1.
Step #1: Prep the new container and spigot
- Remove the spigot. Wash spigot in hot water. Secure spigot back into the container. Make sure it is snug and tight.
- Wash and rinse the inside of the container. Fill it with water. Let it sit for a few hours to make sure there are no leaks.
- Empty the water from the container.
- Pour ½ cup of vinegar into the container. Swoosh the vinegar around the inside of the container to coat it. Pour the vinegar out.
Now you are ready to start the brew.
8 ounces = 1 cup 4 cups = 1 quart
4 quarts = 1 gallon 16 cups = 1 gallon
Supplies and Ingredients
One gallon brewing container
Pot for heating water (3 quarts)
1 or 2 cup measuring cup
One Tablespoon measuring spoon
Large reusable tea bag
Large spoon for stirring
Thermometer for brewing container
Digital thermometer (optional)
Wrap-around heat wrap (optional)
Flexible cutting board (optional)
1.5 gallons room temperature filtered water
1.5 cups organic evaporated cane sugar
3 Tablespoons Organic Gunpowder Green Tea
2 to 4 cups starter liquid for 2 gal container
10 ounce SCOBY
Measuring the Tea and Water
1. Measure 3 Tablespoons of looseleaf tea into tea brewing bag. Loosely tie the bag.
2. Measure 6 cups of water into the pot for heating water.
3. Heat the water to about 165°F.
- Use a digital thermometer to measure the temperature.
- If you do not have a thermometer, watch the water and remove from the heat just as small bubbles start to form on the bottom of the pot.
- Temperatures will vary based on the type of tea used.
Steeping the Tea
4. Remove the pot from the heat source once temp reaches 165°F
5. Place the tea brewing bag into the 165°F water.
6. Set a timer for 15 minutes and steep (soak the tea bag in the water).
- Steeping times may vary based on the type of tea used.
- Be sure to put the entire tea bag into the water.
- If the bag hangs over the side of the pot, the tea will wick up the bag and you will have tea everywhere! Take it from one who knows!!
7. While the tea steeps, fill the 2 gallon brewing container with 1 gallon of room temperature filtered water.
8. When the timer goes off, remove the tea bag from the water and place in the sink for later disposal.
Combining the Sugar, Tea and Water
9. Stir 1.5 cups of sugar into the 6 cups of water.
10. When the sugar is dissolved, pour 2 cup(s) of the filtered water into the pot to cool the liquid.
11. Pour the cooled sugar/tea/water mixture into the brewing container.
12. Stir the mixture with a large spoon to combine the sugar, tea and water.
There will be 1 and ½ gallons of liquid in the 2 gallon brewing container.
Adding the SCOBY
13. Gently place the SCOBY into the container.
- Remember this is the mother of your Kombucha.
- Handle it with care and positive energy.
14. Gently pour the starter liquid (2 to 4 cups) into the container over the SCOBY.
- The SCOBY may sink to the middle or the bottom of the container and that is OK. Eventually it will rise to the top and create a new baby SCOBY.
Attach the Vessel Thermometer
15. Attach the thermometer in a place where it is easy to see and read.
- The thermometer usually has a sticky back.
- Peel off the paper backing and secure to the container.
- Be sure it is visible above the heat wrap which is placed over the thermometer.
Attach the Heat Wrap
16. Attach the heat wrap to the brewing container.
- Follow the instructions for the application which usually includes a Velcro strap.
17. Cover the container with a tight weave cloth like a cloth napkin and secure with a rubber band to keep dust, dirt and the fruit flies out of your Kombucha. (Do not use an open weave like cheesecloth.)
18. Place the brewing container out of the sun in a warm spot.
- Keep out of direct sunlight and away from high heat, grease and other elements which could affect the taste of the brew.
- The kitchen is an excellent spot if you have room. It makes it easy to taste the brew as it ferments.
- Next to the refrigerator works really well.
- I place my brew container on a thin flexible cutting board.
- It makes it easy to slide out for tasting and filling bottles.
19. Plug in the heating element and set to high.
- Perfect brewing temps range from about 75°F to 82°F.
- Keep an eye on the temperature to make sure the temperature stays within range.
Honoring Your New Brew
The final and perhaps the most relaxing step is to take a moment, sit back, look at your new brew, and witness the positive energy you have instilled into this culture of living organisms.
In ancient times, people blessed and cared for the food they created and served. Today, as we hurry through life and even through making our Kombucha, we sometimes miss the small things.
Namaste is a word that has many translations. To me it means, “the light in me honors the light in you.” Use whatever words have meaning to you and commune with this beautiful vessel of living positive energy.
When Will My Booch Be Ready?
Your first brew can take anywhere from 10 days to 21 days to mature. After about 7 days or even from the beginning, take a sip from the spigot so that you can witness the change as the booch ferments.
When it reaches a flavor that you enjoy, it is time to drink or bottle your brew.
One way to test the brew is to use pH strips.
- A pH of 2.8 to 3.5 is an acceptable reading.
- The lower the pH the less sugar remaining in the brew.
- You may drink it right from the tap or dispense it into bottles.
How Much Do I Dispense?
For the first couple of brews, dispense (either by filling bottles or drinking directly from the tap) no more than ½ of the booch or about 1 gallon.
When the level is down to about ½ full, prepare a top-off batch (click here for directions for second brew or top off batch) and fill the container back to full.
Leave about an inch at the top of the vessel so the booch can breathe.