This method is for a simple, natural kombucha which is not flavoured with anything. Use this as a base for the other recipes in the chapter.
15g/1tbsploose tea or 5teabags
250g/9ozorganic white granulated sugar
250ml/9fl oz previous batch of kombucha – or 30ml/2tbsp of raw apple cider vinegar if it is your first batch
Heat up your measured filtered water in a pan to a good brewing temperature. As explained previously, this temperature depends on what tea you are using. Take the pan off the heat and add the tea, then leave to steep for 15 minutes. The basic proportions are 2 litres/3½ pints of water to 15g/1tbsp loose tea leaf or about 3–5 tea bags – some teas are very strong and some are very weak so it is difficult be exact, but in my experience this ratio works with most teas. However the better the quality of tea, the less you probably need to use.
When brewing is finished, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea.
Dissolve the sugar in the tea. I find it does not matter so much when this is done but it is easier to dissolve whilst the tea is warm rather than cold.
Let the sweet tea cool down to no warmer than 35°C/95°F. It is best to use a thermometer but generally this is no warmer than finger-warm. Next, pour the brewed sweetened tea into your fermentation container.
Now add some of your previous kombucha batch, about 250ml/9fl oz. Or if this is the first time you are making the kombucha, you can add about 30ml/2tbsp raw apple cider vinegar instead. To be sure you have the right kind of apple cider vinegar, it should say ‘raw’ or ‘unpasteurised’ and ‘with the mother’ on the bottle. Or you could buy a commercial kombucha and use this as your ‘previous batch’ – you’d only need to do this once.
Next, carefully add the scoby to the tea. Your scoby might float or sink initially, but eventually it will float on top of the liquid and take the shape of the fermentation jar you are using. If your scoby does not float this might be a sign that your scoby is inactive or dead. (If your first scoby is very small use a smaller jar and reduce the recipe to suit. Your scoby will grow quickly.)
Tie a cotton cloth over the jar and fasten it with an elastic band. Do not use a lid on your kombucha as it needs a little oxygen to come in.
Put the brew somewhere it will not be disturbed. It likes to ferment in a warm place so room temperature is good, out of direct sunlight.
Now, kombucha professionals say you should ferment your brew for 21 days to get all the amazing health benefits it can offer. However, I find it sometimes takes much less time. Start tasting the brew after 5–7 days; if it is too sweet for you, then ferment it for a bit longer. Personally my kombucha is normally done between 2–3 weeks but if you find it is good after 1 week then that’s fine too. Some brewers will take the scoby out after a few days and let the brew continue to ferment without it. I keep the scoby in for the duration of the first fermentation.
When your kombucha is ready, take out the scoby, together with 250ml/9fl oz of the liquid to keep and use in your next batch.
You can now choose to do a second fermentation. How to do this is explained in the next recipe. This is done without the scoby and involves adding fruits or berries or fruit juice to the kombucha and then letting it ferment for a few more days to add sweetness, flavours and fizz.