Bottling Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented drink, made of sweet tea and brewed over a period of a week or more. Some people drink kombucha for its’ health benefits. If you buy bottled kombucha, you should expect to pay $4 for a half liter. If you’re interested in having it on a regular basis, you will want to start brewing it yourself. The equipment for brewing your own kombucha consists of common items, and the process is not very difficult. You can buy brewing kits, but you can make your own out of things that are likely already in your kitchen. To get your first culture, you may be able to get one from a friend who is already brewing, buy one online, or make your own by adding a bottle or two of store bought, unpasteurized kombucha to your first batch.

Here is a process that has been working effectively for several cycles:

  • Cook a bit less than a gallon of water.
  • Add half a dozen or so tea bags and a few cups of sugar.
  • Cool the sweet tea until it is room temperature so you don’t cook the culture.
  • Rinse the gallon bottle (pickle jar, fruit salad jar is good, since it has a big opening) with some distiller vinegar, but don’t clean it with antibacterial soap.
  • Put the tea and sugar mix in the bottle with some kombucha culture.
  • Cover with a cotton cloth or paper towel and hold it in place with a rubber band.
  • Wait a week or two. You can add a reptile heater and insulate the bottle with a folded cloth to speed things up in the winter.
  • When it smells like vinegar, it’s pretty much done, but test the flavor with a straw to confirm that it is ready.
  • Pour into glass bottles and refrigerate. Pouring the kombucha from the gallon jar into a half gallon pitcher is easier than pouring directly into the storage bottles.
  • Start the cycle again with a fresh batch of tea.
  • After a few brewing cycles, you will get spare cultures to give away so others can start up.
  • You can put the spare cultures in plastic zip bags with a bit of vinegar. They can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

There are photos of this project.

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About Chris Connors

Making things is the best way to learn about our world.
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2 Responses to Bottling Kombucha

  1. Arthur says:

    Interesting – any links to reasons why one might want to be drinking the stuff?

    A couple other questions –
    1. Would it work to use honey instead of sugar? (I think local honey is healthier than processed sugar)
    2. How critical is the timing – can one let it sit longer without having it go bad?

  2. Chris Connors says:

    Hey Arthur!
    I’ve added some links to pages that explain kombucha’s positive qualities.
    1. Honey has some antibacterial qualities that apparently kill off the culture. I’ve used brown sugar, white sugar, and maple syrup. All of these seem to work fine at feeding the culture.
    2. As to timing, you can let it sit longer, and the drink will become more like a vinegar. One thing that I’ve noticed is a dramatic dropoff in the bubble production in the liquid as the sugars are depleted. If you let it go all the way to no more sugar in the mix, you have a gallon or so of vinegar. At that point, it tastes a lot like apple cider vinegar.

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