Step I: Finding a Funguar
If you’ve ever made sourdough bread, funguar tea is similar in that you’ll need a starter, or scoby. You can get one from a friend or make your own.
Step II: First Fermentation
- Keep your new scoby in a container of kombucha until you’re ready to use it, so it doesn’t dry out. Everything that touches the scoby should be clean and rinsed with white vinegar—the container, your hands, and any utensils you use. The utensils should be plastic or wood, not metal. Never refrigerate the scoby! It should always be kept at room temperature.
- You’ll also need a glass jar that holds at least a gallon of liquid, paper towels, and a rubber band large enough to fit snugly around the opening of the jar. The jar I use is 1.5 gallons (6 quarts).
- Boil 4 cups of spring or filtered water (not tap water) in a saucepan.
- Remove from heat and drop in 5 bags of black tea. You can use 3 bags of black tea and 2 bags of green tea for a milder taste, but there should always be more black tea in the ratio. Let the tea steep for about 30 minutes.
- While the tea is steeping, wash the jar and rinse well with water, then rinse again with white vinegar.
- Squeeze and discard the tea bags. Stir in 1 cup white granulated sugar with a plastic or wooden spoon until dissolved.
- Transfer the tea and sugar to the glass jar. Add 12 cups of spring or filtered water.
- Wash and rinse your hands well, then rinse with white vinegar. Transfer the new scoby from its container of kombucha into the glass jar.
- Cover the jar with a paper towel and seal tightly with a rubber band. Write the date on the paper towel so you remember when you made it.
- Keep the jar at room temperature out of direct sunlight for about two weeks. During the summer, fruit flies will tend to gather on top of the paper towel. Don’t worry, that’s normal.
Step III: Second Fermentation
- After 2–3 weeks, your kombucha is ready for the second fermentation. For this step, you’ll need two 4-quart glass jars, more paper towels, and more rubber bands that fit the jars. Wash the jars, rinse well with water, and rinse again with white vinegar before using.
- Experiment! This is the step where you’ll infuse the kombucha with flavor. You can also go ahead and drink the kombucha now in its unflavored state, but it’s fun to play around with different fruits and vegetables. My favorites are ginger, raspberries, and in the summer, fresh peaches. You can also add mint, Persian cucumbers, and anything else that strikes your fancy. Whatever combination you choose, always add a few slices of lemon. I prefer Meyer lemons because they have more sugar than regular lemons, which the kombucha needs at this step to continue fermenting. If you choose to use a regular lemon, add a few orange or tangerine slices as well.
- I usually like to make two different varieties from each batch. So, for example, you could add a few slices of ginger to one jar, and a handful of smashed raspberries to the other jar. Slice up a Meyer lemon and divide it between the two jars. Whatever you decide to include, the fruit and vegetables should take up about 10 percent of the new jars.
- Rinse a clean container, and your hands, with white vinegar. Transfer the scoby from the old jar into the container. Rinse a plastic or wooden ladle with white vinegar and ladle in about a cup of kombucha to cover the scoby so it doesn’t dry out. Remember, never refrigerate the scoby! It should always be kept at room temperature.
- After about four fermentations, the bottom layer of the scoby will get old and darker brown. Peel it off and compost it, or add it to your garden. You’ll also notice the scoby creating new, fresh layers that you can give to a friend.
- Ladle the kombucha into the two jars evenly. Cover each jar with a paper towel and seal tightly with a rubber band. Place the jars out of direct sunlight at room temperature.
- Start a first fermentation and transfer the scoby back to the old container with the oldest layer facing down. Repeat every two weeks and you’ll have plenty of kombucha and a scoby in excellent health! If you start seeing black or green mold on the scoby, toss it—something’s gone wrong.
Step IV: Finishing Up
- About three to five days after the second fermentation, your kombucha is ready to drink. You’ll need eight 16-ounce containers with lids that seal tightly.
- Place a fine mesh colander over a bowl and strain the first jar of kombucha into the bowl. (If you can find a bowl with a spout, it makes the next step a lot easier; you won’t need a funnel.) Divide the strained kombucha between four of the new containers. Repeat with the second jar of kombucha.
- Seal the eight bottles tightly, refrigerate, and drink within two weeks.