The enjoyment of continuing to be successful with bacteria. As the subtitle states, this is a blog about being cultured (get it? Bacteria?), and not mature (get it? Bacteria?). This is Kombucha and that mucus layer you see is a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). SCOBY is a beast that subsists on a process of fermentation, which means it eats sugar and makes a delicious product. It is a fermentation process, but the product is less than 0.01% alcohol. The liquid product is commonly called Kombucha and can range from a sweet fizzy drink to cleaning vinegar.

Once you have the culture healthy and happy, it is incredible easy to brew constantly. I keep mine in the kitchen (it likes the room temperature range and indirect light). I found this two gallon jug at TJMaxx for $20 and I bottle the stuff in old Grolsch bottles, because of the flip tops. I also will add fruit to Kombucha for a secondary fermentation in the smaller bottles for added flavor (e.g. pears, apples, pineapples).

To start your batch of Kombucha:
1. Boil ~1 Gallon of water/
2. While very hot, add 2 cups of sugar and dissolve.
3. Add tea and let steep.
4. Allow the sweet tea to cool to room temperature and pour into the Kombucha jar you selected.
5. Add lukewarm water until Kombucha jar is fairly full.
6. Gently place the SCOBY in the jar.
7. Cover with a cloth towel and rubberband to hold it in place.

The first brew may take longer than subsequent ones to mature to taste, as the SCOBY will be focused on growing a new layer over the open liquid in the jar at first. Try the brew after 10-14 days. It will likely still be quite sweet. Let it continue to brew until it has reached the taste you prefer, then remove and bottle three quarters of your brew, and start a new one if you desire. The SCOBY does not need a full jar to continue subsisting and will kick into gear again once you give it more sugar.

  • When bottling your Kombucha, be sure to fill the bottles to the brim, leaving as little air space as possible. Leaving your bottles in a dark, room temperature place will cause the bacterial process to cease, and the flavor will stabilize. The yeast will continue to produce additional carbonation until you refrigerate the bottles.
  • Your SCOBY will grow with every batch you brew. It may sink at some point and a new SCOBY will start to form on the surface. This is normal. If you find yourself with a SCOBY that is too big, simply peel some of the layers off to thin it down again. The peeled layers can start a new jar, or can be used as a compost additive. 
  • Two cups of sugar per one Gallon of tea (I have been using black teas, the flavor of the tea doesn't really translate to the Kombucha (black tea seems to be a heavier, stronger taste; while green tea is lighter). It is alright if it is not exact every time, the colony may even thrive on variety. 
  • The SCOBY will move about the jar; it may flip, sink, rise, and grow strange looking appendages. This is natural, keep in mind it's a bacterial and yeast colony, it will look strange and do strange things. You will know it has gone bad if there is other types of fungus growing on the colony: Link for reference.
  • Always wash your hands before handling the SCOBY and disinfect the bottles/jars that you use with hot water and elbow grease. Don't use harsh chemicals to clean your bottles, in fact vinegar is the best cleaning agent for the containers you will use.
  • NEVER USE PLASTIC! Never. Only use glass.
  • The longer the SCOBY processes the Kombucha the more vinegar like it will become. 
  • The longer the Kombucha is bottled (not with the SCOBY) the fizzier it gets. Putting it in the fridge will slow this process.
  • Disclaimer: If at anytime you experience adverse effects when consuming or working with SCOBY and Kombucha, stop immediately. Consult a doctor if you feel the need or if symptoms persist. If handled incorrectly SCOBY can go bad, same with Kombucha. Please do the research, this post only skims the surface and is a very basic guide. Be responsible and informed and have fun brewing!