First, you fill up glass (only glass) jars with filtered water. I like strong tea, so I use 6 to 8 tea bags per 1/2 gallon jar. Only use black, white or green tea. No herbal or flavored. Set it in the sun for several hours, as the sun will energize the water, and it is easy.
Second, you take out the finished Kombucha from your first fermentation jar ( only glass) and put it into glass bottles or jars which have tight fitting lids. Take out 3/4 of the liquid and leave the scobys and 1/4 Kombucha for your new batch.
Third, you will flavor your Kombucha. Here I have fresh strawberries in one jar, fresh peaches in another, fresh cherries in another and fresh ginger with organic lemons in another. If you are going to use citrus with the rind, use organic, if you don’t have organic citrus, then just squeeze the juice into the Kombucha and throw away the rind.
Fourth, after your fruit is in, you need to add some sweetener. You can use honey, maple syrup, sugar… At Middle Eastern markets you can find amazing fruit syrups that are only sugar and fruit. I usually put a teaspoon to a tablespoon of sweetener in this second fermentation, depending how sweet the plain Kombucha was. Put the lid on very tight and keep out of the refrigerator for three days or so. Do not open, or you will let out all of the fizz. Refrigerate after three days and enjoy. Do NOT shake, and sometimes it will be so fizzy you have to open it over a glass. Other flavorings for the second fermentation are fragrant rose petals, lavender, any herbs mixes like hibiscus…., green chilies, any other fruit…
Fifth. Now you have your scobys and 1/4 of your Kombucha. You should not rinse your scoby, but can pull them apart and share with others, or have multiple batches going if you don’t have a big jar. I wash the jar on every other batch. I also keep all of my scobys together because it brews faster and we like strong Kombucha. The scoby may sink or float, but the brown yeasty side should be facing down. Now you add sugar. My proportions are 1/2 cup per 1/2 gallon of suntea. I took two gallons of Kombucha out of this jar, so I add two cups sugar.
Now add your strong sun tea.
Brown yeasty side of scoby goes down. You can stir a bit, but don’t worry that there is sugar at the bottom of the jar. The scoby will eat that, and it is so much easier than making tea on the stove. Absolutely never heat your water in a microwave to make your tea (or anything else for that matter.)
Most instructions tell you to now place a cloth over your first fermentation of Kombucha. I like to have a lid on mine, for obvious reasons for those who have visited our farm, and it stays clean and I just do not put the lid on tight. If your lid is unlined metal, put wax paper or a ziplock bag under the lid. Now the first fermentation jar will ferment for about a week, at room temperature, or until it tastes good, not too sweet and not too vinegary. If it is not strong enough, and no longer sweet, add more sugar and wait a few more days.
If it is way too vinegary, don’t throw it away. It makes an awesome barbecue sauce, salad dressing, or hair rinse. You can make your own kombucha scoby with raw, plain kombucha and a little time. You can get raw, plain kombucha from the health food store, or from a friend and you can add sugar and sun tea and wait until scobys form. This jar makes scobys all by itself. It was from a batch that I let get way too vinegary. I periodically put the baby scobys in my big batch. I like to keep this jar going so I can use it for the things listed above. Note to self: do not bring kombucha into the shower for a hair rinse in a small mason jar. Been there, done that, cut feet. 🙂
Update: I am switching to a continuous method of making Kombucha instead of feast and famine batches. This way we do not run out of kombucha, nor do i have to wonder how I am going to get five half gallon jars of kombucha in my refrigerator when the second brewing process is complete.
Here is the method.
Remove one half gallon of finished kombucha from your large first fermentation batch. Add your fruit or other flavorings and one teaspoon to one tablespoon of sweetener and screw the lid on tight, or then pour this mixture into smaller bottles or jars with tight fitting lids for individual servings. Place in room temperature for about 3 days and then put in refrigerator.
The same proportions apply to replenish your first fermentation batch: Since you have removed one half gallon of finished kombucha from your first fermentation batch you are going to replace it with one half gallon of filtered water with eight tea bags (or equivalent amounts of loose tea) placed in the sun for six to eight hours. Strain out the loose tea, or remove the tea bags and pour the tea into the first fermentation kombucha continuous container. Pour in one half cup of sugar and stir well. If your scoby sinks for a while that is ok, just try and have the smooth whitish side facing up and the brown yeasty side facing down.
Now you will be making smaller batches a few times a week, or whenever you run out, and the first fermentation will ferment faster.
Does this make sense? Let me know if you have any questions or kombucha experiences of your own.