Happy Culture

The Best Kombucha Recipe Ever

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How to make kombucha

So you want to try your hand at making kombucha from scratch? We love to hear it! Read on for detailed steps and our tips and tricks for producing the perfect fizzy refreshment, the Happy Culture way! 

Did you know? Because our kombucha is fully alive (non-pasteurised), each bottle contains a generous serving of the live cultures created by our Mother Culture. This means you can use our ready-to-drink kombucha as a starter liquid for your home brew. 

PART ONE – FIRST FERMENTATION

What you’ll need:

  • 3L+ vessel (a large glass jar works well)
  • Cheese cloth + elastic/string
  • Starter culture: 600ml Happy Culture Kombucha (any flavour) or 400ml starter liquid & SCOBY (if you can get your hands on one)
  • 1,500ml mineral or spring water (don’t use unfiltered tap water, as the chlorine will kill off the bacteria – good quality water is key)
  • 80g sugar (white or raw brown sugar)
  • 16g of loose tea/8 teabags*

*Green, black and oolong tea from the Camellia sinensis plant is traditionally used and yields the best results. Flavoured teas can also be used but we prefer to infuse the kombucha with natural ingredients (see part twos). Your choice of tea will depend on your preferred end style. Black tea and oolong tea will yield richer, bolder flavours and a slightly higher caffeine content. Green tea will yield a lighter, crisper flavour with lower caffeine, and is the tea used for the Happy Culture style! Organic is always best, if you have access to it. 

PROCESS:

Step 1: Heat water to 60°C in a pot, then add tea and steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea/teabags and stir in sugar. It’s important to let the tea cool to room temperature before moving forward, as hot water could kill your SCOBY. 

Step 2: Clean your fermentation vessel with vinegar (any kind) to make sure it is free of pathogens, then rinse. Add your starter liquid (either Happy Culture kombucha or your otherwise sourced starter liquid/SCOBY) to the vessel. 

Step 3: Add sweet tea mixture from step 1 to the starter liquid in the fermentation vessel. 

Step 4: Cover the jar with cheesecloth, tie with elastic/string and leave in a dark room/cupboard for 7 to 14 days. The length of the fermentation will be dependent on a few factors, particularly temperature. The ideal temperature for a smooth and speedy fermentation is 23-27°C. The warmer the space, the quicker the fermentation. If the room is cold, the fermentation will be much slower. Over this period, if you used our kombucha as your starter liquid, you should see a SCOBY starting to form on top. To make sure your SCOBY grows strong and happy, avoid agitating the liquid. You aren’t required to do anything during this time, except witness the magic happen!

How to tell when kombucha is ready? Without the use of pH and Brix measuring instruments, your best option is simply to taste. As the fermentation takes place, organic acids will form, reducing sugar and increasing acidity. Your assessment of when to end fermentation will be dependent on the style you are looking for. If you want a very acidic/vinegary kombucha, then you can let it ferment for longer. If you like to keep it easy drinking and refreshing like our signature style, you can end the fermentation when the acidity is evidently present but not too strong. It’s all about finding that perfect balance between sweetness  and acidity, and it may take a few rounds for you to find your sweet spot.

 

PART TWO – SECOND FERMENTATION

What you’ll need:

  • Your choice of fruit juice/extract to infuse the kombucha
  • Your kombucha from the first fermentation
  • Glass or PET bottles with an airtight seal
  • This is when you get to infuse your favourite flavour into your kombucha and see the sparkles come to life! 

 

Step 1: Remove kombucha from fermentation vessel, funnelling it into sanitised, airtight bottles and leaving some room for the infusions.

Note: Leave 20% of the kombucha and SCOBY in the vessel. You will use it as the starter liquid for your next batch. 

Step 2: Add your favourite fruit juice/herbs to the bottled kombucha. As a benchmark, you can use about 5% fruit juice as the infusion. Freshly pressed, natural juices work best. You can also add whole fruits and herbs. Again, this is a game of experimentation and play, so be adventurous and have fun! Some will work better than others, and you will have to keep playing until you find your personal favourite infusions. 

Step 3: Close the lids and leave the bottles in a dark place for +/- 7 days. Over this period, the fermentation alchemy will continue to take place, with the yeast consuming the residual sugars, and bubbles will form (now that they are in a closed container, they will remain in the liquid and result in a sparkling delight). To test when ready, simply squeeze the container (if in a plastic bottle) or open it up and taste/listen (if in glass).

Step 4: Once the bubbles are to your satisfaction, transfer to the fridge.

 

And there you have it! Your very own kombucha, made right at home! What you do next is entirely up to you – chill it in the fridge for a refreshing summer drink, take it to work with you for a midday pick-me-up, or even create your own cocktail recipe with it. We’d love to hear how your kombucha turns out – let us know in the comments below!

8 Responses

  1. Best instructions I’ve seen yet after 5 searches so I’m off now to start my first batch with a scoby.
    Anyone experimented with adding chillies?

  2. HI James ! Happy to hear this was a helpful article for you – thank you for the feedback 🙂 We tried a pineapple and chilli kombucha once – it was delicious. But maybe best in Winter when the heating properties of chilli are most called for ?

  3. I Cleaned my bottle with old combucha. I don’t have Starting liquid. I only have a big fat scoby, which I cleaned in filtered water. How can I start the process without it? Thanks
    Linda

  4. Hi Linda,

    If you don’t have starter liquid, you can try with just the SCOBY and a smaller about a sweet tea liquid to start a new starter (i.e use a third of the sweet tea amount from this recipe). Let the sweet tea and SCOBY ferment together (make sure it is warm enough, 20 C +). Once this liquid has become acidic, you can use it as your started, and add more sweet tea 🙂 Have fun !

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