Kombucha is a delicious fermented drink. Try making it with green tea for another variation.
Make sure you follow the instructions that come with your scoby. Please note that kombucha contains a tiny amount of alcohol.
For this recipe you will need a 2 litre/3½ pint wide-mouthed clip-top jar, a very jug or bowl, a large measuring jug or bowl, a clean tightly woven muslin, a rubber band or string, a funnel and clip-top round glass bottles for decanting.
First wash your jar, jug or bowl and funnel thoroughly in hot soapy water. Rinse well under very hot water and leave to air dry.
Put the tea bags and sugar in a very large measuring jug or heatproof bowl and pour over the just-boiled filtered water. Give the tea a good stir and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Lift out the tea bags and discard, then leave the tea to cool for a further 30-45 minutes or until lukewarm.
Pour the cooled tea into the prepared jar (you may need to use a funnel if you haven’t steeped the tea in a jug). Place the kombucha scoby into the tea along with the starter liquid it has been stored with.
Place a piece of clean muslin over the top of the kombucha and secure with string or a rubber band. Leave at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. The kombucha will take from a few days to 2 weeks to brew. You will notice it changing colour and becoming a little cloudier as the days pass. After 5 days, spoon a little out and taste. If it tastes more like apple juice than tea, with a pleasant, slight tartness and a little fizz, it should be ready. If not, leave for another day or so and taste again. Some people like a stronger taste, so will leave longer (about 7–10 days), but to start with, you may want to drink when it is a little milder.
Transfer the scoby and approximately 150ml/5fl oz of the tea to a clean bowl, ready to make the next batch. Use as a starter liquid to make the next brew or cover and store in a cool, dark place for up to 5 days if you plan to use it again. Strain the rest of the brew through a fine sieve into clean, lidded bottles. Secure the lids and place in the fridge to chill. Drink within a week.
The kombucha will begin to become slightly fizzy at this point, and will get more fizzy the longer it is stored. This is caused by the bacteria within the liquid naturally producing carbon dioxide. Make sure you ’burp’ the bottle(s) every day or so to release the build-up of gas. If you leave your bottled kombucha at room temperature for a day or two before putting in the fridge, it will become fizzier more quickly.
You can begin drinking the kombucha straight away, but it's best to start with small amounts (to avoid any digestive upset as your system gets used to the bacteria).
If your scoby is new, you will need to reduce the amount of kombucha you make for the first few times in order to have the best chance of success. Try using 1–1.5 litres/1¾–3 pints pints of just-boiled water with 3–4 teabags and 75g/2½oz sugar.
The scoby will produce its own gelatinous ‘baby’ as it ferments and later the mother and baby can be separated and the baby used to start a new fermentation. If there is a batch that smells rotten or becomes mouldy it should be discarded.
Filtered water is necessary for this recipe because tap water often contains a small amount of chlorine, which will inhibit the fermentation process. Either use a filter jug or bottled water.