The following beer recipe is featured in the September/October 2021 issue of Zymurgy magazine. Access this issue along with the archives with Zymurgy Online!
Recipe courtesy of Amahl Turczyn
Kombucha: A sweet/tart sparkling fermented beverage made from sweetened tea and fermented yeast and bacteria. Store-bought is much more common these days, but making your own allows for unlimited creative liberty and can save a little money!
- 200 g (7 oz.) sucrose (table sugar)
- 20 g (0.7 oz.) tea leaves (bagged or loose)
- 1 fully hydrated, active kombucha SCOBY
- OTHER INGREDIENTS
- 4 liters (1.06 gal.) filtered, chlorine-free water
- distilled white vinegar as needed to adjust pre-ferment pH
- other flavorings to add at bottling: fruit purees, spices, herbs, etc. (optional)
- pH meter or test strips in the 2.8 to 4.4 range
- wide-mouth 1.5-gallon (5.7-liter) jar or bucket to use as a fermenter
- coffee filter or tight-weave cloth and rubber band to cover fermenter
- pressure-ready PET bottles
Yield: 4 L (1.06 US gal.)
Boil water and add tea leaves. Steep 1–5 minutes, depending upon tea variety. Remove tea leaves and stir in sugar until it dissolves. Cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap and allow to come to room temperature (70–80°F or 21–27°C). Add sweetened tea to sanitized fermenter, then add SCOBY and 2 cups of starter kombucha (or ¼–½ cup distilled vinegar). Stir well, then remove a small sample and test pH. If below 4.5, cover fermenter with screen material and secure with rubber band. Keep fermenter in the correct temperature range for 7 days.
Take a small sample, smell, and taste. If you are happy with the flavor and acid balance, use a sanitized funnel to fill your bottles. Don’t worry about splashing—Acetobacter likes air. Leave about an inch (2.5 cm) of head space in each bottle. If your tea is still too sweet, ferment a few days more and taste again.
To carbonate, there’s no need to add additional priming sugar—your tea should still have plenty of sucrose. Just keep the bottles at the same temperature for 3–7 days, squeezing them gently every day or two to gauge the level of condition. When fully carbonated, transfer to the fridge and enjoy cold.
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