CLONE IT: KOMBUCHA
» Wide-mouthed glass jar
» Kombucha culture
» Black or green tea bags ( 5 to 7)
» Water ( 3 quarts to 1 gallon)
» Sugar ( 1 cup, brown or white)
» Clean paper napkin or tea towel
» Rubber band or string
» Old soda bottles, cleaned
of the tea. The starter will grow to the diameter of
your jar, so make sure the mouth is wide enough to
remove it easily when you are done.
4. Ferment and bottle.
Cover your jar with a clean towel and seal around the
rim with a rubber band. Store in a spot out of direct
sunlight for 7-14 days. The longer you leave your tea,
the more sour it will become. Start tasting it after 5
or 6 days, and decant into clean plastic or glass soda
bottles when you like the taste.
5. Give it some fizz.
To give it some bubble, tightly cap bottles and store
in a warm place for another day or so until the plastic
bottle hardens from pressure. Be aware that as the
kombucha continues to ferment, the pressure inside
the bottle is growing and can cause it to explode if
left too long (this is more of a concern with glass
bottles). If you’re worried, leave the cap a little loose,
but this will prevent the tea from fizzing properly.
6. Drink and make more.
Always set aside 10% of the liquid to help start future
3. Add kombucha culture. www.kombu.de
1. Get kombucha starter culture. batches. Then you can start all over again! If you want a
You can buy kombucha culture on the web, but it’s steady flow of “the tea of immortality,” then it probably
probably easier to get it from a friend or someone makes sense to stagger your batches. Most experts
in your neighborhood (try craigslist.org or bulletin warn against drinking too much of the stuff; it is a
boards at your local health food store). I even saw detoxifier, so you don’t want to stress out your body.
some for sale at a flea market in Russia (see above).
The starter replicates itself in each batch, so one is NOTE: As with all foods, be careful when preparing
enough for your lifetime. Soon you’ll have a culture and storing kombucha. While I personally have never
for everyone you know! heard of anyone getting sick, it is theoretically possible,
so make sure everything is clean while preparing; if you
2. Make regular tea and sweeten. see mold, toss the entire batch, including the starter,
Make 3 quarts to 1 gallon of tea (if you have loose just to be on the safe side (it happened to me once,
tea you can make a tea bag out of a piece of an old and only once, probably due to lack of air circulation
sheet and some string) and let cool to room tem- or a bad starter). But don’t let this warning scare you:
perature. Remove tea bags and add sugar. Don’t even my mom drinks my kombucha, and Google’s chef
worry if it seems too sweet — the culture feeds on whips up huge batches to serve in its cafeterias.
sugar and caffeine, so the final drink will not be as
sweet as the original. Online resources:
If your culture came with some liquid, add the starter craftzine.com/go/kombucha
liquid to the tea. Pour the sweet tea into your jar and
add the culture. If it floats on top, it will grow another
layer, which can be peeled off and used for another
batch when the kombucha is ready. If it settles to the
bottom, that’s fine — a new culture will form on top Arwen O’Reilly is staff editor at MAKE and CRAFT magazines.