Recipes for batch brewing most commonly provide measurements and directions for a 1-gallon batch, which happens to be a size that works well for home brewers. Unlike some ferments that are ready in just a couple of days, kombucha requires time to mature. So making at least a gallon at a time ensures there is enough (maybe!) to drink while waiting for the next batch.
This basic recipe reflects centuries of consensus developed through experiments and research by brewers of all types from around the world.
Heat 1 quart of the water to just below boiling. Combine the tea and hot water in the pot, a separate bowl, or in the brewing vessel. Let steep for 5 to 15 minutes, then remove the tea leaves.
Add the sugar to the hot tea, and stir until completely dissolved.
Pour the remaining 3 quarts of cool water into the brewing vessel. If prepared separately, add the sweet tea. Dip a clean finger into the mixture to gauge its temperature.If warmer than body temperature(about 100°F [38°C]), cover with a clean cloth and set aside until lukewarm.
With clean hands, place the SCOBY in the sweet tea solution. Pour the starter liquid on top of the SCOBY; this acidifies the pH of the tea near the top of the vessel, where the culture is most vulnerable, offering a layer of protection from potential pathogens.
Cover the vessel with breathable cloth,secured with a rubber band if necessary.Set it in a warm location (ideally 75–85°F[24–29°C]), out of direct sunlight, unless brewing in an opaque vessel. (At this stage you have the option to say a prayer,send good vibes, or otherwise commune with your new brew. It is a culture of living organisms and responds to energy —positive and negative.)
Allow the sweet tea to ferment for 7 to 21 days. After 5 days (or sooner, if you’re curious), it’s okay to begin tasting once a day. To taste, remove the cloth cover,gently insert a straw beneath the SCOBY,and take a sip. Or dip a shot glass or other small cup past the new layer of SCOBY into the brew.
Once the brew reaches the flavor you prefer, it is ready to harvest. Before bottling or flavoring, collect at least 1 cup of starter liquid for the next batch from the top of the brew (2 cups if you can spare itor if the brew is young) and pour it into a clean bowl. Then remove the SCOBYs to the bowl, cover with a clean towel, and set aside. (We take the liquid first because removing the cultures can kick the yeast off the bottom, which is fine for drinking but not for starter liquid.)
The rest of the kombucha is now available for drinking, either straight from the vessel or, more commonly, after bottling with or without flavors. For tips on flavoring,filtering, bottle-aging (to further develop the flavor and carbonation), and other advanced techniques, see chapter 8.
To start the next batch, use one or both of the SCOBYs, either the original and/or the new one from the previous batch, with the starter liquid. The extra culture may be used to start another batch or placed in a SCOBY Hotel. Enjoy the first batch while the second brew is in progress!