Kombucha brewing in Upstate New York!

IMG_1854My husband and I returned home to upstate NY from NC last Saturday, stopping overnight in Frederick, MD spending the night with friends.  We live in a small village called Johnson City, located about an hour south of Syracuse, 3 hours East of NYC, and a few minutes drive from Binghamton.

When we left NC last Friday it was about 40 degrees and was expected to be cooling. We drove into NYS Saturday around 1 pm, viewing almost 10 inches of snow which we discovered came the previous Friday night.  This is a picture out our back door where our deck is covered and guess we will not be setting out anytime soon!

Its good to be back home where all my supplies are, so making my Kombucha again.  While in NC, I shared how I made my brew without my crock and now am sharing how I generally make my fermented tea at home.

For anyone who does not yet know about Kombucha, here is a brief introduction to this delicious tasting fermented tea product, which is easy and fun to make!

Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage brewed since ancient times. Although the exact origins are relatively unknown, the process has remained unchanged. A Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY) ferments a sweet tea mixture to produce a refreshing, yet tart, tea beverage.

The first stage of fermenting tea is call 1F and the second stage (2F) is the process where you use flavoring in allowing the already fermented tea to take on any flavor you choose using fruit, spices, herbs, flowers, or any combination of your favorites!


This picture shows my sweet tea already poured in with sugar added and I will pour it into my crock which has my SCOBY and some already fermented tea I brought back from our trip south.

This above picture is my gallon mason jar I use to brew the hot tea in as the glass is heat proof and secured to not break, although it has happened to others.

In fermenting tea, you need a SCOBY in which I bought my first one online, making sure to purchase an organic one to align with my own preferences in using all organic Non-GMO ingredients.

Here is a picture of sweet tea with my SCOBY in it that I brought back from the south.


Here is the recipe I use to make 1 gallon of Kombucha.  You can adjust for size vessel you use.

I first clean all items including pan, utensils, measuring cups, used for this process, in a mixture of white vinegar and filtered water to sterilize making sure I use already washed items.  Make sure to use stainless steel, plastic, or wood when stirring or using ingredients as these will not contaminate the product from finishing with the balanced of yeast and bacteria.

1 Gallon mason jar
4-5 Tablespoons loose leaf tea
8 cups filtered water
1 Cup organic sugar

Process used to make Kombucha
1. Filtered water – as chlorinated and minerals contaminate the process of growing the right bacteria and yeast combinations needed to avow oneself of taking in all the nutrients available in this finished product.

2. Pour 4 cups of filtered water into a non-leaching stainless steel pan and heat until it bubbles on the bottom of the pan, (just prior to reaching the boiling state), then pour this into the mason jar already having the tea bags in it, cover the jar with a coffee filter, wrap a rubber band around it, and allow it to brew for about 15 minutes.


3. I then take out the tea bag(s) with a plastic or wooden spoon, squeezing the excess tea and fluids, then stir in organic sugar, adding filtered water to fill up the jar.  Then I allow it to cool to room temperature before pouring into my crock.


Below is a picture of one of my crocks (2 1/2 gallon) before I put the heat tape around it as in the winter months it needs to ferment at around 75 degrees.  It will still ferment without a heating unit, but will do so at a much slower pace.  After adding the sugar and stirring until dissolved, you can fill up the jar to the brim with more filtered water that has not been heated.


Here is the heating unit I bought wrapped around the container. I wrap it around my crock, secure it in place, then put the handmade cloth over it, which is elasticized on both ends to allow it to fit snugly to the container while holding the heating unit securely on the crock.  This one has a display on it and it will maintain the temperature I place it on at around 75 degrees F, so I have no need to monitor it, which I like.



This picture above is after filling my crock up to the top from my two gallon batches of sweet tea I just made. You can see the healthy SCOBY floating in this tea. I will leave this for about 5-7 days to ferment, before doing any 2F for flavoring, but will keep an eye on it by tasting to see when it reaches my desired taste.  Remember I have some already fermented tea in this, so this is called a continual brew, which ferments faster than doing in individual gallon or half gallon batches.


You can see how comfortable my little fermentation crock looks in the corner. I also have a cloth made bonnet to secure over the top which also has elastic making it securely fit around the top.

My crock is a 2 1/2 gallon one, so I made 2 gallons of the sweet tea and what I have left will be stored in my refrigerator.  As I use the tea, I can just add the sweet tea from my supply to my crock, thus avoiding having to make a fresh batch each time I drain from my brewing vessel.


For this batch I used a combination of this Black Tea and this Pu-Erh Tea which is a delicate combination of green and white teas.   I used 2 Tablespoons of each, scooping the loose tea into muslin tea bags which I rinse out after each use so I can reuse.  I prefer the finished product using a combination of black and green teas.  It is best to use non flavored teas, but people have experimented using all types, so feel free to enjoy creating different ferments.


Enjoy looking for more creations from Lorraine’s Kitchen in the future!


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