Sunday, August 4, 2013


new 10 day old Kombucha scoby, after mature Kombucha was drained
I love GT Dave's Trilogy Kombucha. Its pretty much the only one I ever buy. Ginger/ lemon/ raspberry perfection. I don't really buy it often these days but there was a time when I did. There also was a time about 4 or 5 years ago, when I made my own Kombucha for a little while. It was never great but I was never too methodical about it either and it was always drinkable.
mother scoby

Recently a friend gave me a new kombucha scoby. (symbiotic. culture. of. bacteria. & yeast.) There are many traditional ferments that are scoby based. Kombucha thrives in an acidic environment made of sweet tea. Weird, right? When its done fermenting its fizzy and sour and sometimes a little sweet still. The culture eats up the sugars and converts them into lactic acid, carbon dioxide, probiotic bacterias and more.

 The first time I made it years ago, I based my recipe off of Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation book. This time I based it off of his Art of Fermentation. He's the best. While his style is not my style by any means, I really enjoy reading everything he does. Its really accessible. He gives really rough recipes/ encouragements in paragraph form. This is what I took away from it:


12 tea bags, steeped 4 mins
6 C boiled water, rested for about 2 mins before steeping
1 1/2 C sugar, stirred into tea after tea bags removed
6 C boiled and then cooled water
1/4 C mature Kombucha
Kombucha mother
3 Tbl raw cider vinegar

new scoby beginning to form
Boiling water is essential to remove chlorine, which lots of fermentation projects dislike. If you have boiled and cooled water to begin with, you can proceed faster. If not, make tea with the full 12 C and then let it cool forever. Make sure it is room temperature before adding mature Kombucha or scoby or you might kill it. I didn't have enough mature kombucha with my scoby, its supposed to be about 10% of total volume, so I added vinegar to raise the ph and add more raw culture support. You then leave it to ferment for about a week. Ideally it sits in a big open mouth crock or jar, with a covering to dissuade flies but still allow airflow. This fermentation is aerobic and requires fresh air to work properly. I used an old cookie jar, of which i had dropped the lid on my head and shattered it, making it useless for cookies any more, covered in a paper towel and sealed with a rubber band... 

mama scoby creepin up to the new jawn
crazy air bubble island in the scoby
It worked exceptionally well. Generally new layers form onto the mother scoby and as it gets super thick, you can peel away layers and give them to people. For some reason, when I did it, the mama scoby fell to the bottom and sort of floated lackluster near the bottom of the jar. However, a brand new, beast-thick scoby formed at the top. After about 8 days, the mama was creeping up towards the baby but it never connected. I waited 10 days (averaging in the low 80's the whole time) before bottling it, which was this afternoon. I bottled up four Grolsch swing top pints and a plastic bottle to test the carbonation. (you can tell how carbonated its getting by squeezing, something you cannot do with glass) If it carbonated too much they will explode, so the tester is nice to have. I think it will be a few days until I move them to the fridge. Fermentation slows dramatically in the refrigerator but doesn't quite stop.

I made 2 new batches of sweet tea before I attempted to bottle up the finished Kombucha. I have a smaller crock that I'm putting the original mother in, to see if it makes a new baby or just gets bigger.  And I'm putting the baby but already huge scoby into the same big jar again, because it fits it perfectly. 

next round
Hopefully they will carbonate nicely and taste delicious. I expect 10 more days until the next cycle is ready. If this first round tastes decent and doesn't need tweaking to get a nice balance of sweet and sour and carbonates nicely, then I will start trying to do a secondary fermentation to add more flavors in the next round.

I should have lots of scobys to give out in the next month for any Philly friends. Ill probably have Kombucha for everyone I know to drink soon also...


  1. awesome! i make it!!! i made it different than this, but i'm interested in your recipe. ... does it come out carbonated??

  2. It is definitely carbonating. Today will be 3 days of sitting at room temperature, bottled under pressure. The plastic bottle is getting super firm, showing that it is almost as carbonated as it can handle. I didn't want to test any until it was totally tight. I plan on putting them in the fridge and testing tomorrow...

  3. Hi Mike! I have made Kombucha in the past but I recently got started again - my housemates and i got a kit and scoby to make another batch. Unfortunately mold started to appear on the top - I think it got contaminated. I am trying to find another scoby in Philly. Anyway I can buy one off you? Let me know please - cheers!