Finally I get to share something I've been happy and excited about: homemade kombucha! My friend Abi has been making her own and gave me a scoby mushroom so I can join in the adventure! Here's how I did mine (based off this tutorial)
First, I got my glass (glass is by far the best for kombucha) brewing container. After much research and price/shipping comparisons, I settled on this 2.5 gallon container, because it was the best-sized and priced container I could find that I could immediately buy in person as opposed to waiting for an online purchase to be shipped (I'm impatient like that!)
Since I had chosen such a large jar, I decided I would brew 2 gallons kombucha, therefor I got 2 gallons worth of ingredients. Halve these ingredients (besides the scoby) if you are only doing 1 gallon.
-scoby with one cup previously brewed kombucha (whether you buy or inherit from a friend, your scoby will come with this liquid)
-2 cups sugar
-16 black (or green) tea bags
-2 gallons filtered water
-white vinegar for cleaning
-fruit or juice for flavoring, if desired (after batch is done fermenting)
-stainless steel stockpot
-wood stirring spoon
-clean kitchen towel and rubber band
-large bowl or plate for the scoby (after batch is done)
-containers for storing and flavoring (I used 16oz mason jars)
-stainless steel ladle (unless you're strong enough to pour a 2 gallon jar gracefully!)
Next, I cleaned my supplies. Keeping everything sanitary is important in kombucha brewing. I chose not to wash my brewing jar with soap, and only used plain white vinegar to clean it inside and out. I ran all my other supplies through the dishwasher, and submerged each piece in white vinegar. Once I started the brewing process, I made sure my hands were always freshly cleaned with white vinegar (I only used soap for an initial hand-washing, rinsed well, and then vinegar only afterward.) Since you don't need the mason jars until the batch has fermented, I didn't wash/vinegar them until the day I was ready to use them. Helpful tip: if you do use anything with a metal lid, dry the lids with a clean cloth to prevent rust.
Now for the fun! Boil 1/2 a gallon of filtered water in the stockpot. Once it boils, take it off the heat, and brew the 16 tea bags for 5-10 min. Remove tea bags when done. Stir in 2 cups sugar.
Pour this mixture into the jar, and add the remaining 1 1/2 gallons of water. Let this mixture cool completely, at least 1 hour. A hot tea will kill your poor scoby!
Once cool, add your scoby and the kombucha it came with. Cover jar with towel, secure with rubber band. Now you wait (peek all you want, but don't move the container around or bother with it) until a new scoby forms on the top of the tea, and your tea becomes a sour-slightly-sweet concoction, usually 7-10 days. My magic day is 8; it produces a tasty tea reminiscent of hard cider. You can experiment with the flavor you like best. The longer it sits, the more sour it gets. I had to let mine sit for about 10 days this last time, but it tasted great.
Once your tea is finished, wash your hands with white vinegar, remove scobys (you will have two, the original and the new 'baby,' I then reserve one scoby in a mason jar filled with kombucha and covered with a towel/rubber band. This becomes my reserve scoby that I can save in case something happens, or I can give it away.. Then I place the baby on a plate or in a bowl and cover with some kombucha. I set this aside, along with about 1 cup of freshly brewed kombucha in order to start my next batch.
To bottle your finished tea, pour the kombucha into storage jars using a ladle (or free pour if you are brave) and seal. Helpful tip: if using mason jars with metal lids, after pouring in the kombucha, dry the outer rim of the glass with a towel before sealing to prevent rust. Refrigerate and enjoy.
To make flavored kombucha, pour some frozen or fresh fruit or juice into the storage jar (just a few tbsp fruit, or 1/2 inch juice) before adding the kombucha. Then seal and leave on the counter an extra 2-3 days. After that, move them to the fridge and enjoy!
The flavors I have done (I used frozen fruit); strawberry basil, blueberry rosemary, plain strawberry, plain blueberry, mixed berry, and mango. This is so much fun to make, and saves a lot of money, if you frequently enjoy store-bought kombucha. It was so much easier than I thought it would be, and I quickly got the hang of the process, and found it to be quick and easy, even with November running amok. Have fun brewing yours!