Adam from JARR Kombucha gives us his perfect recipe for making Kombucha. His recipe is below with my Mei Leaf riffs for bringing the Booch to Teahead levels.
RECIPE FOR 1L OF BOOCH
(multiply quantities for larger brews)
It is up to you if you would like to use pinnacle teas for your base and you will taste the difference but it will be a very expensive booch. I have made Eastern Beauty single batch booch and it was glorious but you can get similar results by using a more 'transparent' tasting base Green tea and blending with the more expensive stuff. My advice is to make 70% of your tea base a decent but affordable blend of teas and then add your signature pinnacle teas as the remaining 30%.
The amount of tea that you use depends on how luxurious you would like your booch to be - higher ratios of leaf to water with shorter brewing times will always produce better booch but this can get quite expensive. JARR recommends 4g per 1L of booch. In my experience, using about a quarter of the Gong Fu brewing amounts is a good balance (feel free to use more of course). That means that if a tea is usually around 4g/100ml for Gong Fu Brewing then I recommend you use 1g/100ml or 10g for every litre.
WATER - Good, filtered water.
60g SUGAR - Simple refined sugar or blond caster sugar - nothing too complex as the SCOBY tends not to like dark, unrefined sugars as much as the simple stuff.
SCOBY - Either a cellulose pellicle SCOBY bought online or gifted by a friend or some of the booch from your previous brew (which has all of the SCOBY components suspended in the booch anyway).
Brew your tea in the correct temperature water (about 80c or 175F for Green teas and 90-95c or 195-205F for most other teas). I recommend brewing your tea in about a third of the amount of water of your final brew quantity. So, if you are planning to make 1 litre of booch then brew the leaves in about 300ml of hot water. In this way, once the tea has been brewed you can dilute the tea with cold water so that you can immediately introduce the SCOBY (without fear of the SCOBY becoming damaged by heat). The SCOBY needs to be kept below 38c or 100F. If you brew the tea in the full quantity of water then you will have to wait for the tea to cool down which will change the flavour of the tea.
Brewing times vary and depend on tastes but I recommend about 2-3 minutes using my tea ratios. If you are using JARR's ratios (4g per litre) then they recommend 3-5 minutes. Remember that the tea will taste very strong since you are brewing in a third of the finished volume of water so it should taste way over-extracted until it is diluted with cold water. In my experience it is better to over-brew than under-brew and eventually, you will find the times that work for you.
DO NOT THROW THOSE LEAVES AWAY! You can throw them into a bottle of cold water for cold brewing or even use some for some hot brews.
Add sugar and stir to dissolve in the hot tea.
If you are using a cellulose SCOBY with a small amount of starter booch then dilute with cold water close to the 1 litre mark and throw in your SCOBY and starter. If you are using a liquid starter without any cellulose then dilute up to 3/4 of a litre and top up the final quarter with the liquid starter. You always want to use about 25% liquid starter if you do not want to use a cellulose SCOBY.
ADD SCOBY AND COVER
Add your SCOBY and then place some sort of breathable, clean fabric over the opening of your container then seal the sides with a rubber band or a lid with a hole used in many mason jars.
Keep the booch in a clean and warm place at around 24-25c or 72-77F and away from strong odours. After about two weeks you can start testing the booch. The cheapest way to do this is by using litmus paper to measure the pH (acidity) levels. Use a teaspoon to get some of the booch from under the newly formed SCOBY, taste and dip the litmus paper into some of the liquid. We like our Kombucha at about 2.8-3pH but if you prefer sweeter booch then you may want to stop fermentation at around 3-3.4pH.
Once your Kombucha is at the right acidity for you (it will get more acidic over time if you do not drink it within the first few weeks) then pour the Kombucha through a fine mesh filter or cheesecloth (the finer the filter the more of the yeasts you will remove making a more stable kombucha). Transfer to a bottle or container with an airtight lid reserving a quarter of the booch for your next brew or saving your cellulose SCOBY with enough booch to cover the SCOBY in a sealed container until your next brew. Clean all of your brewing containers with boiling water or vinegar (no anti-bacterial detergents).
You are now ready to make another batch of Kombucha.
The finished Kombucha will be flat without any noticeable carbonation - this is raw, naked Kombucha and can be kept in the fridge and consumed as is. If you would like this naked, pure Kombucha to be fizzy then the easiest way to achieve this is using a carbonation device like a SodaStream.
FLAVOURING AND SECONDARY FERMENTATION (OPTIONAL)
If you would like to add additional flavourings such as fruit juices or ginger then you can mix the raw booch with any juices or steep fruits and herbs in the booch (sealed) at around room temperature for a few hours up to a day. If any of your additions contain any sugar then this will start secondary fermentation which will make natural fizz but could add a little alcohol to your final Kombucha. To slow down the secondary fermentation you can create your flavoured booch quickly (for example add fruit juice or grated ginger juice) and then refrigerate and carbonate as you desire.
If you want to encourage secondary fermentation and develop natural carbonation then leave the Kombucha sealed tightly with the chopped fruits/juices at 24-25c or 72-77F (leave some air space at the top of the container for CO2 build up). MAKE SURE THAT YOU BURP THE CONTAINER EVERY DAY. Once a day you can briefly open the container to release excess CO2 and taste the booch for fizziness and flavour. When you think the natural carbonation is perfect then strain off any pieces of fruits and herbs and refrigerate in a sealed container. Please be aware that secondary fermentation will increase the alcohol content to maybe even above 1%.
1. Using metal spoons and sieves is ok but do not brew Kombucha in steel unless it is fermentation grade.
2. If you want to take a pause from brewing then you can keep your cellulose SCOBY or liquid SCOBY in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 9 months. You can keep multiple SCOBY's together as long as they are covered in either Kombucha or vinegar and kept sealed in the fridge.
3. We do not personally like continuous brew Kombucha - this is when you draw off your finished Kombucha and then add more sweetened tea without cleaning the containers. I find that this produces booch that tastes too yeasty and funky and it just looks a bit murky in your kitchen - keep it clean people!