How to Make a Big Batch of Kombucha
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage popular in Russia, China, and elsewhere.
The culture forms a leathery skin called the "mother" that floats on top.
This week’s Instructables TV episode shows how to wrangle the jellyfish-like "Mother" and make Kombucha 5 gallons at a time. This method produces a fizzy carbonated kombucha that tastes very much like hard apple cider.
For background on this bizarre beverage, read Arwen’s Making Kombucha Instructable and the Wikipedia Kombucha article. Some confusion arises from the existence of a Japanese kelp tea also called "kombucha".
Back to the blob:
For me it all started when my friend Anne Harley went to Russia, made herself fluent in the language, joined a band of gypsy musicians, and went on tour with them.
Did you know Russian Gypsies have a caste system that dates back to their origins in India?
That was news to me. So was the fact that Kombucha exists. Anne brought a very fine Kombucha culture back with her and taught me how to make it.
Since then I’ve made hundreds of gallons of Kombucha for my friends and myself. I’ve done a great deal of experimentation and had some serious mishaps. I’ve killed the culture several times, coaxed it back when it got out of balance, and had a couple of explosions that splattered kombucha far and wide and could have seriously injured someone.
Between the mistakes, mishaps and disasters, actual Russians and new-age fruitcakes have tasted my Kombucha and told me it’s the best they’ve ever had. I work with my culture until I get it tasting like apple cider. So much so that you’ll try to figure out what varieties of apples it’s from. But there’s really nothing in it but tea, sugar, and a festering mass of microbes.
We’ll be going step-by step through the process later, but for reference, here is how to make the sweet tea to be fermented.
6 tsp tea
6 cups h2o = 1.5 quarts
1 cup sugar
same recipe for 4 gallons
64 tsp tea = 1.3 cups
4 gallons h2o = 64 cups
10.66 cups sugar
same recipe for 5 gallons
Just under 5lbs sugar
5 gallons water
1.5 cups dry tea
Here is part 1 of the Kombucha making video – tea brewing and mixing in the mother
And here is part 2 of the video – fermentation and bottling
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More: continued here