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Brewing kombucha tea: instructions & referance guide for brewing kombucha tea cultures

~ Brewing Hygiene ~~ Getting Started ~~ Brewing Steps ~~ Culturing Steps ~~ Storing Tea ~
Brewing kombucha tea, or Manchurian tea, is an easy process which only requires a minimal amount of time, some common
kitchen utensils, and some basic knowledge about cultures and good hygiene.  If you look after your mushroom culture and
care for it properly it should last you a lifetime!
Brewing the kombucha tea is a simple process of boiling water and sugar solution, adding and steeping the green or black tea.  
Then allowing this mixture to cool to room temperature before adding the kombucha cultures.  Once you have tried it a few
times it will be a very easy process to remember.
So Let's Get Started Brewing Your First Batch Of Kombucha Tea!
What you'll need to get started brewing kombucha tea...

There will be a few items that you will need to gather before starting:
- A pot to heat the water/sugar solution. This can be metal for this step.
-
Distilled water (the best choice) or well water, never city water
-
Cane sugar or other natural sugar, we suggest organic cane sugar
- Tea (Camellia Sinensis) - This may be green,white, or black tea, or a mixture
thereof, we again suggest
organic tea.  Fruit tea and herbal tea will not work as
they do not provide the proper nutrients for the growing cultures.  However, feel
free to add these to your finished product for added health benefits.
-
A glass container for fermenting the tea solution (an old gallon pickle jar works
great!)  Here some people use plastic, if you do, make sure it is
food grade plastic with a 1 or 2 symbol on the bottom.  We always use glass
container for safety reasons.  Never use lead crystal, ceramic, or metal containers
to ferment kombucha cultures unless they have been tested to be lead free!.
-
Clean cheese cloth (you can double this up if it seems to thin) or clean T-shirt
First gather all the equipment you'll need
before starting the tea brewing process
STEP 1
Boiling thw water for the kombucha tea soultion
BUY KOMBUCHA KITS
Bring the filtered water just to a
boil before adding the sugar.
STEP 2
Brewing Kombucha Tea...
The Brewing Process:
Adding the sugar to the water. Caution:  Make sure to watch out for boil over
Step 1 - The actual process of brewing kombucha tea is really very simple.  In this
example, we will be brewing a 1 gallon batch of tea.   You start the brewing process by
bringing to boil just over 1 gal of filtered or distilled water.  Just as with any equipment
you use, you'll want your water to be clean, too.  Never use city water as it contains
chlorine and other additives from the treatment plant which could kill some of the cultures
in the kombucha.  

Step 2 -  Once the water comes to a boil add 1 1/4 to 11/2 cups of sweetener.
Caution: When brewing kombucha tea, make sure to add the sugar slowly as the hot water
will want to boil over if the cold sugar is added to fast!
Simmer the sweetened solution for
another 10 min or until the sugar is completely dissolved.
We recommend using organic cane sugar for the best results. Other natural sugars may be
used, however result may vary and could change the structure of the cultures within the
kombucha.
We suggest using a back up/extra mushroom culture if experimenting with other sugars or
sweeteners.  Honey or maple sugar should never be used as this will kill some of the
cultures, as honey is anti-bacterial.

Step 3 -  After the sweetener has dissolved, turn off heat, and add 6 tea bags or 6
teaspoons of loose tea in a tea ball, cover, and steep for ten minutes.  Green or black tea
are most commonly used or you may use a combination of both.  Feel free to try
other teas and some limited
herbal teas.  Herbal teas may contain oils that may inhibit
the growth of the kombucha cultures.  If you wish to add the benefits of herbal teas
you may brew them separate and add them after the fermentation process is complete
and you have drawn the tea for consumption.  
HINT: Always keep a pure kombucha mushroom culture for purity.

This may seem like a long time to steep the tea but you'll want to pull out all the
constitutes from the tea.  These constitutes will be part of the nutrients that the culture
will grow from and provide benefits, such as anti-oxidants, when you drink the tea.

Step 4 - After 10 minutes remove the tea bags or tea ball.

Step 5 - Now you'll have to allow the brewed tea solution to cool to room temperature
before adding the kombucha cultures.  If the temperature is to high, the cultures can be
killed!  Once the tea solution is cooled we are ready for the culturing process!
Add the sugar once the water is
coming to a boil.  
Add the cool sugar slowly to the hot
water to prevent boil over!
STEP 3
Steeping the tea mixture into the sugar/distilled water solution
BREWING TIPS

- To help avoid contamination always keep
the culture covered with a clean covering even
if it is just for a minute or so.  The culture
needs oxygen to ferment but you want to
keep everything else out.

- Save 5-10% of your previous batch as
starter for the next batch

- Don't store your brewing cultures in the
kitchen as smoke, cooking smells, and food
particles are unfriendly to the kombucha
cultures.  Plus, the kitchen has much more
mold and bacteria than other places in the
house.  Also, keep away from cigarette
smoke.

- Allow your cultures to brew in a nice warm
and dark place, between 70 and 85 deg.  No
direct sunlight and keep away from dust and
mold.

- Keep a mother culture or SCOBY as a
backup in case your batch is contaminated.  
You can simply leave a culture growing
undistributed allowing the culture to go
dormant.  Simply add some fresh sweetened
tea solution to this backup once in a while to
give it nutrients.
Once the sugar is dissolved, turn off
heat & add proper amount of tea.  
Steep for 10 mins.
STEP 4
Removing the tea ball from the steeped sugar/tea solution

Brewing kombucha tea is an easy process which only cost a few cents a day yet provides you with a great pro-biotic health tonic

After 10 minutes remove the tea
bags/tea ball from tea solution.
Hygiene and sanitation
when BREWING
KOMBUCHA...

Whenever you are going to brew a
batch of tea, it is necessary to clean
all items that you plan to use.  This
can be done with hot soapy water.  
Wash all containers that the
kombucha will be
brewing in, too.  
Glass is recommended for storing and
fermenting all kombucha products.  
Also, wash the pot and any utensils
that you will use to boil the water,
sugar and tea.  Next is to rinse all
containers very well to remove any
soap residues.  Although it is not a
necessary step, you may also do a
final rinse of everything in vinegar.  
This will help remove any residue or
molds that may of been missed during
the cleaning process.

The tea and sugar mixture is a great
source of nourishment for all kinds of
bacteria and molds, so the cleaner the
working area the less chance of
contamination.   So, wiping down
your working area is also
recommended.  Keeping the area and
utensils clean is important, because,
you do not want to contaminate the
culture or it will be unsafe to drink.  If
your culture becomes contaminated
you will have to start over with a new
culture and/or brewing cycle.


Make sure to wash your hands
thoroughly, with soap and water,
before handling the culture or reaching
inside any containers that the culture
is stored in.  You must remove any
food and oils that may be on your
hands.  The kombucha has a natural
ability to fight or compete with
invaders, however, the cleaner you
keep things, the stronger your
cultures will be.
STEP 5
Cooling the tea sugar solution before adding kombucha mushroom
Brewing Kombucha Tea...
The Culturing of Your Fresh Tea Solution...
Now that the sweetened tea solution has sufficiently cooled to room temperature,
you are ready to inoculate it with the kombucha cultures.  
This step is very easy and will only take a few minutes to perform.
With each new batch you will want to save your best SCOBY or "mushroom" along with 5-10% of
the old tea as a starter or inculum.  For a gallon size batch use about 1/4 cup or more of starter tea.  
You may also check the pH at this time to insure that enough starter tea has been used.  
The pH for the start of the brewing cycle needs to be below 4.6 pH.  This is your safety factor and
insures that the cultures will be able to compete with any foreign yeast or molds that may
be present.  This lower pH also abates the growth of pathogens that could be
dangerous for human consumption.  

Step 6 - Add both the starter tea and mother culture/SCOBY to the sweetened tea solution.    
If you did not save any left over tea or received just a SCOBY, from say a friend, you may
use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar as a replace/ substitute starter for your first batch.
You have now inoculated the tea solution with the tea cultures!

Step 7 - The last step is to allow the inoculated tea solution to set in a warm place, out of direct light
and undistributed.  It will take 2 to 3 days to see the start of the formation of the new kombucha
culture.  Which appears as a translucent jelly-type layer forming on the surface of the tea solution.  
At 5 to 14 days the fermentation process is complete.  This time will very depending on the
environment & temperature, for optimal growth keep the temperature between 75 and 85 degrees.

Having the incorrect temperature, especially in winter time,
seems to be where most people go wrong.

After the 5 to 10 days, you'll want to start checking if the tea is ready to drink.   
You may buy pH strips for testing acid content, however, this is not necessary.  The easiest way to
tell if your tea is ready is by smell and taste.  You may use a straw to pull a small sample from the
side of the jar, trying not to disturb the new culture growing on top of the tea solution.
After brewing a few batches of kombucha tea you'll know when your tea is finished and ready to
drink!  If using pH test strips, the
pH reading should be between 2.5 - 3.2.  This range tells us
that the organic acids, pro-biotics, and nutritional benefits have been fully produced
and that the culturing process is complete.
The finished tea should have a slight vinegar smell, not to strong, and have carbonation.  If your tea
still smells sweet and/or is flat, then most likely it needs to set a few more days.  After 5 to 10 days,
the taste should be fizzy, semi-sweet, and similar to apple cider in appearance.  Allowing it to brew
longer (8-14 days) produces a sharper vinegar taste and contains a higher amount of beneficial
medicinal properties.  Now you can simply bottle any extra tea into clean glass containers or jugs.
Allow the finished tea/sugar solution
to cool to room temperature.  
Keep covered.
STEP 6
Healthy baby mushroom culture ready for new batch
Cultures added to cooled freshly brewed tea & sugar solution
Inoculating the tea/sugar solution
with the kombucha cultures.
Brewing Kombucha Tea...
Storing Your Fermented Tea Culture:

After the tea has fermented, you may either drink the tea directly or bottle any extra tea you may have.  If you do not bottle the extra tea it will continue to ferment and turn
very vinegar in taste and will not be pleasant to drink. To bottle your tea you'll need clean glass bottles and caps (no unprotected metal caps).  Beer bottles from a beer and
wine making supply house works well for bottling your finished tea.
Strain the cultured tea through a cheese cloth to remove the slimy culture pieces and any dead yeast or bacteria (the brown 'stuff' that sinks to the bottom) filling the bottles
completely to the top.  When bottling you may also add a raisin or slice of ginger to create more fizz if desired.  Leaving air space in the bottle will allow the cultures to
continue fermenting.  After filling, cap the bottles tightly and store in the refrigerator.  This will allow the tea to keep better than if stored at room temperature.   
You can store you bottled kombucha tea in the fridge for about a month or two.
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Brewing kombuhca tea, or Manchurian tea, and proper caring of cultures or scobys in the proper method will allow your culture to last a lifetime. It's easy to brew kombuch tea!