"Remember when Lindsay Lohan got away with claiming her blood alcohol level was too high when she was under house arrest because of the kombucha she was drinking? It is a very small amount, but alcohol is present. Be advised."
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 2 weeks
first fermentation stage:
1 gallon|3785 ml water
1 cup granulated sugar
5 bags of your favorite tea
SCOBY starter liquid
second fermentation stage:
1 ½ cups|355 ml juice (not acid-based; I love Cel-Ray soda!) or herbs (I used tomato leaves and hyssop from the garden)
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high, bring 4 cups|946 ml water to a boil. Add the sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add in the tea bags. Steep the tea for 10 minutes and mix well to combine.
- Remove the tea bags and in a large, non-reactive container (such as a glass jar), combine the tea with the remaining 12 cups|2839 ml water and cool thoroughly. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the SCOBY and SCOBY starter liquid to combine.
- Place a clean kitchen towel over your container and secure it with kitchen twine; move it to a dark, undisturbed area for 1 to 2 weeks to ferment. Depending on the weather outside and how warm it is, it could be done sooner. Don't be afraid to taste your brew during the fermentation process. If you like your kombucha more tart, you might want to go longer; or if you like it sweeter, pull the tea earlier.
- At this point, your kombucha is ready to flavor or drink! Some people, like my friend Rene Redzepi, prefer a still kombucha. I, on the other hand, love the fizziness, so I always continue to the second stage of fermentation.
- Second fermentation stage: Pour about 1 to 2 ounces of juice or 3 to 4 leaves in the bottom of 12 (12-ounce) sterilized glass bottles with caps. (I use beer bottles—they work perfectly!) Top each bottle with kombucha, taking care to leave about 2 inches of space from the top. (Gases will build up, and you don't want a huge explosion or mess on your hands!) Cap your bottles and wipe them clean if needed. Place them back in your dark, undisturbed area to ferment for another 1 to 2 weeks.
- Every couple of days, pull a bottle and taste to see if the kombucha is fizzy enough for you. If you'd like to ferment longer, simply recap the bottle you tasted. When the kombucha is at the level of fizziness that is sufficient to you, refrigerate the bottles and enjoy cold.
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