Kombucha is made with a SCOBY (Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast). Once established, it makes a mass that looks a lot like a mushroom. Since it is a microbial community, everyone's culture tastes a bit different.
Getting a starter SCOBY from a fellow brewer is great, but likely not an option for most (including me). I simply bought a bottle of kombucha I liked and dumped it in for the first round. Once established, you have kombucha forever!
The great thing about kombucha is that you make a gallon, bottle half, and make another gallon on top of the old. You can do this forever without much investment of time!
1. Start with a 2 gallon porcelain demijohn with a spigot. You also need cheese cloth and rubber band to cover it.
2. Add the following:
-1 cup sugar or honey
-2 cups of SCOBY starter or commercial kombucha. I used GT's Trilogy kombucha.
-Water to 1 gallon
-4 tea bags. I use 2x vanilla roobios & 2x chamomile. Any tea works though, I just like this combo. You can use loose tea, but it's harder to filter out and can clog your spigot.
3. Ferment 7-30 days at room temperature. It ferments faster once established.
4. Remove fermented kombucha by straining through a fine mesh sieve and mix with a flavoring of your choice (below).
5. Bottle in a carbonation friendly container.
6. Allow to carb 3-7 days.
7. Refrigerate and enjoy!
Over time, you will see a SCOBY mushroom grow in your demijohn. You can give this to someone to start a new batch or you can split it. I occasionally trash mine because it gets too big. Enough microbes exist in the liquid to keep the kombucha going.
My current favorite is to mix 20% pomegranate juice with 80% kombucha. It makes a nice morning juice replacement! Flavorings are limitless, but here are a few good rules to follow:
-Use 10-30% fruit juice.
-Steep with herbs. Mint is great!
-Extracts: 1/4 tsp per cup of kombucha.
-Basil Honey Ginger
-Basil infusion 1:50 dil (10 ml/liter)
Of course, you can also use kombucha as starting material for mead.
This recipe makes a slightly fruity and tart mead that is nice and refreshing. I really enjoy it carbonated.
WARNING!!!: Kombucha cultures contain Acetobacter! Since this is a mixed ferment, keep your kombucha equipment separate from your standard brewing gear to avoid cross contamination.
Kombucha BOMM - 1 gallon
1. Add 2.5 lbs of Orange Blossom honey to carboy (SG ~1.100).
2. Add 0.4 tsp Fermaid K, 0.25 tsp K2CO3, and 0.7 tsp Fermaid O.
-Add Fermaid 0 again at 1.076 & 1.043.
3. Add 1 quart of pomegranate kombucha.
4. Add water to half a gallon and mix until honey is dissolved.
4. Add water to 1/2 cup shy of gallon.
5. Add a smack pack of Wyeast 1388.
6. Bottle with carbonation tabs (optional) and allow to carbonate 2 weeks.
The idea here is to provide the flavor of the kombucha first, then overwhelm the SCOBY with massive culture of yeast to kickstart alcoholic fermentation. Once the ABV hits around 4-5%, the SCOBY is arrested and your added yeast takes over. You can try adding more kombucha instead of water, but it can be difficult for the yeast to overcome the SCOBY.
As always, experiment!