Real Food

Single Batch Kombucha

After learning about gut health, I became intrigued with ways to repopulate my family’s guts with healthy bacteria. I didn’t really trust probiotics from a pill bottle because you never know what’s really in there. Every company claims to be the best, so which one actually IS the best? How many of the BILLIONS of probiotics in these capsules actually make it to your gut alive? Some die while they’re still on the shelf in the store and more die when they hit your stomach acid. I know some people find probiotics very useful, but for the price, I was skeptical.

That is when I learned about fermentation. Fermentation takes everyday foods like veggies, sweet tea and raw dairy and turns them into probiotic foods! How cool is that?! Since learning about homemade probiotic foods like sauerkraut, raw milk kefir, raw yogurt, water kefir and kombucha, it’s pretty rare for me NOT to have a jar of something fermenting on my counter.

My kids LOVE fermented foods (I started them young, that’s the best way to get them to like it!), but kombucha is one of their favorites!

Kombucha (referred to by our kids as “Boocha”) is a staple at lunch time! It’s made by fermenting sweet tea. I prefer the taste if I use half black tea and half green tea. It does contain some caffeine, that’s the reason it’s a staple at lunch and not dinner. I have read that the bacteria eats some of the caffeine, but I’d rather not give my kids ANY caffeine that close to bedtime! It hasn’t been a problem yet, but this Momma needs her beauty sleep, so I’d rather not chance it. 😉

Like the majority of my recipes, it’s super simple to make!

You basically add a starter culture (which is a little bit of kombucha from a previous batch) to sweet tea. You’ll also need a scoby. A What-E?? A scoby is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.

S-symbiotic

C-colony

O-of

B-bacteria

Y-yeast

It looks like a slimy, pale colored, flat mushroom. That’s the best way I can explain it! The scoby is where the bacteria and yeast ‘hang out’. I’ve read about people growing a scoby from a bottle of plain GT kombucha, but I actually purchased my scoby over 2 years ago from a woman on Ebay. It is quite literally ‘the gift that keeps giving!’ With each batch of kombucha, the scoby gets bigger and bigger!

A note about the water: It’s highly recommended to use water free of chlorine and fluoride. These two chemicals will kill the scoby over time, making your kombucha making efforts non-sustainable.

To make a half gallon batch of kombucha, you will need:

  • 6 1/2 cups water (non-chlorinated and fluoride free)
  • 1 tbsp loose leaf tea OR 4 tea bags (I use half black and half green tea)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup starter tea (already fermented kombucha from a previous batch or plain GT kombucha from the store)
  • 1 small scoby
  • half gallon glass container (I use a mason jar)
  • fine mesh strainer (if using loose leaf tea, not needed for tea bags)
  • cheesecloth, muslin cloth, or paper towel to fit the top of the mason jar
  • rubber band OR band for mason jar

Instructions

  • Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat, add tea and cover for 10 minutes.
I use half black and half green tea. If you are looking to avoid ALL caffeine, rooibos and hibiscus are great options.

  • Add half cup sugar to half gallon mason jar. Don’t skimp on the sugar, its not for you anyway! The process of fermenting involves bacteria and yeast breaking down the sugar. If you don’t feed them properly, they’ll die. The final product will NOT have all this sugar in it.

    Just try not to make a big mess like I did 😉
  • After the 10 minutes are up for the tea, strain it into a glass cup and then pour into the mason jar with the sugar. Alternatively, you could strain the tea directly into the mason jar with the sugar. Either way, this strong brewed tea needs to end up in the sugar 🙂
Since I spilled a bunch of the sugar, I chose to pour the tea into a measuring cup just in case I ended up spilling the whole thing (tea leaves and all) into the mason jar. It’s always better to err on the side of caution!
  • Swirl the jar a bit until the sugar is dissolved in the warm tea. Use a wooden spoon if swirling isn’t your thing 😉
  • Add water to the sweet tea until it reaches about 6 1/2 cups. By diluting the hot sweet tea with this much water, the temperature will be down to a safe degree for the starter culture. If the tea is too hot, it will kill the bacteria and yeast in the starter and scoby. DON’T COOK THE FRIENDLIES!

    I know, this only shows 5 1/2 cups. I messed up 😉
  • Add your starter culture. If you purchase a scoby online, or receive one as a gift from a friend, your scoby should come in a decent amount of kombucha. Dehydrated scobies do NOT come with starter culture. Just follow the instructions on how to reactivate your dehydrated scoby. Usually, you use white vinegar in place of the starter culture.

    Bubbly kombucha! Just the way we like it! I know this shows 2 cups of starter and this recipe only calls for 1. I got a little confused with the pictures because I was simultaneously making a 1 gallon batch for my continuous brew. I’ll have a separate post on that process soon!
  • Once you add your starter, you can add your scoby.
These scobies came from my 2 1/2 gallon jug of continuous brew kombucha. Obviously, I don’t need a scoby that big. I just tore a piece off to fit the top of the jar.

  • Put a breathable cloth on top and fasten with a rubber band or mason jar band. This is to keep the bugs out!
I took my sons old cotton, muslin baby blankets and cut them into squares for my ferments. If you do something similar, just make sure it’s cotton and has never been treated with bleach or fabric softener. Cheesecloth or even paper towels would work here although the bleach in the paper towels may kill the scoby over time.

  • Leave on the counter out of direct sunlight for 1 to 2 weeks. Start tasting (without contaminating the ferments) after about 1 week. It’s done when you say it’s done! Fermenting times will depend on the temperature of your home, so it may take longer in the winter and less time in the summer. It should have a slight fizziness and be slightly sweet.
  • Remove the scoby and reserve 1 cup of the finished kombucha to start anther batch.
  • Now you can either refrigerate the kombucha as is, or you can do a second ferment for a flavored beverage.

Single Batch Kombucha

This recipe makes a half gallon of kombucha tea. 

Author MommaDarlin

Ingredients

  • 6 1/2 cups water non-chlorinated and fluoride free
  • 1 tbsp loose leaf tea OR 4 tea bags I use half black and half green tea
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup starter tea this is already fermented kombucha from a previous batch or plain GT kombucha from the store
  • 1 small scoby

Equipment

  • half gallon glass container I use a mason jar
  • fine mesh strainer if using loose leaf tea, not needed for tea bags
  • cheesecloth muslin cloth, or paper towel to fit the top of the mason jar
  • rubber band OR band for mason jar

Instructions

  1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat, add tea and cover for 10 minutes.
  2. Add half cup sugar to half gallon mason jar.
  3. Strain tea (after steeping for 10 minutes) into the half gallon jar with sugar and stir.

  4. Add enough water to the jar to reach 6.5 cups of total liquid.
  5. Add 1 cup starter tea and a small scoby.

  6. Cover with breathable cloth and let sit for a week or two until desired taste is reached.

  7. After fermentation, reserve the scoby with 1 cup of tea (which will be used to make another batch) and refrigerate the rest. 

Recipe Notes

When the tea is finished fermenting, you could either drink as is, or do a second ferment with some fruit juice. Check out my post on that here!

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