I’m a bad brewer, I left my kombucha on my counter for about six months. Much like everything else, I got busy and forgot about it. I’m not going to lie to you, I really thought I was going to have to scrap the whole thing and start over. While it’s not vinegar, it’s a little too tangy for my liking. But apparently forgetting about your kombucha over winter isn’t that bad, especially when your kitchen regularly sits at 65* or lower. Today, I want to go over bringing back your kombucha.
PS: the best place I have found for kombucha SCOBY is Cultures For Health. They have a ton of different cultures and I’ll go over how to start their dehydrated kombucha SCOBY in depth below.
Kombucha Is Pretty Forgiving
Lucky for most of us super forgetful people, kombucha is very forgiving…. for the most part. As long as your first ferment isn’t an odd one, like you’ve only added sweet tea in the first place, you can pretty much leave it alone for months on end. In fact that’s how SCOBY hotels got started. But it’s not a great idea to just let it sit without taking the steps to let it go dormant. The longer your SCOBY sits, the more likely it is to get moldy, especially if the environment that it’s in isn’t super clean. Think kitchens with open produce, flies, etc.
I’m not saying your kitchen is dirty, quite the opposite. But I know that no matter how clean my kitchen is, I’ve got fruit flies thanks to the amount of produce my garden is giving me. No matter how often I clean my kitchen or process my produce, it’s still going to have flying critters around it.
How To Bring Your Booch Back?
To start you need to wash your hands and dig that SCOBY out and put it in a CLEAN bowl or on a plate. Make sure to place it somewhere were flies, children or a cat (yes, that almost happened) will get to it. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast and I use this one from Cultures for Health.
This recipe will make approximate 1-1.5 gallons of booch. If you don’t want that much booch, just half or quarter the recipe.
If you order this from Cultures for Health, you will get a small jerky looking SCOBY and you will need several days-weeks to get it started. It’s not hard, just not exactly what I was expecting when I ordered mine. However, it has been a strong starter for me and I would gladly buy another if I did actually end up killing mine. Stick around and I will explain how to start their SCOBY at the end. They do have a live culture that I would recommend if you are looking for a faster start with your booch.
Next, take a cup or two of old kombucha out of the vessel and set aside as your starter.
Next, brew your new sweet tea. I like my tea a little stronger and sweeter so I use 6 teaspoons of half black/ half green tea. While I have a kettle going for water, I add a cold brew filter to a wide mouth, half gallon mason jar and add my tea to the filter. Once the water is boiling, I pour over the filter and let it sit for about 10 minutes or until I remember I have it steeping. I could set a timer, but I usually don’t remember I even have one.
***** Very important! Use dechlorinated water!!!!! If you are on city water or are unsure if you have chlorinated water, use bottled spring water or leave a gallon of water out on the counter for 24 hours. If you use chlorinated water you will kill all the good bacteria we are trying to grow!******
While the tea is steeping I add about a quart of cold water to my vessel. I also use ice to get the water nice and cold so that I can keep the process to a minimum time wise. I use a vessel very similar to this, but mine is a thrift store find. The biggest thing to remember is that any spigot that you use will get clogged with debris from the SCOBY so make sure you are cleaning it whenever you make a new batch of booch. Rinse REALLY well because we do want GOOD bacteria to grow, not the bad kind.
Once the tea is done steeping, I remove the filter and compost the tea. Then I stir in about 1 1/4 cup of plain sugar into the mason jar with the tea. I stir until the sugar is almost completely dissolved. Then I add the tea to the vessel and add about another 2.5-3 quarts of cold water. I usually just use the half gallon mason jar so I can get any tea or sugar that is left behind. Before adding your SCOBY and starter tea, make sure that none of it is more than about 70*. If it is, add more ice or cold water if necessary to hit that 70*. A little colder is fine, too hot and it will cook your SCOBY and probably kill it.
Once your sweet tea is cool and in the vessel, add your starter and then finally your SCOBY. It’s worth repeating though, you don’t want to add your starter or SCOBY to tea that is too warm because it will kill your SCOBY. Anything over 75* will start to cook the good bacteria and yeast that makes up your SCOBY.
This is all called your first brew. This takes the longest time but gives you just under a gallon of booch for pennies compared to the store. The 2nd brew is where we get to have all the fun! I will be posting that one when this batch of booch is ready to be bottled.
Bringing your kombucha back is not difficult. In fact, it’s really no different from brewing a brand new batch. As long as there is no mold on your SCOBY, you are pretty much good to go.
I hope you will at least take the chance on kombucha. I first drank it at the urging of a coworker after I had complained for the umpteenth time about the amount of times I had gone to the bathroom. Within a few hours my stomach cramps went away and I was fine. Now, I drink it several times a week and it really helps with regularity. In hopes of saving some cash, I have revived my booch and hope to start experimenting with flavors very soon!
Using Cultures For Health Dehydrated SCOBY
Cultures for Health has 3 SCOBY’s that you can purchase. The first one is dehydrated, the second is for black tea and the third is for green tea. If you are in a hurry get either the second or third one. Now, when I ordered my first one, I wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention and ordered the dehydrated SCOBY. It has been a fantastic SCOBY but does present a lot of challenges if you are not ready for it.
When using this SCOBY for the first time you have to create a starter for it. Since we are just starting a SCOBY and not actually making Kombucha, just use a wide mouth, quart mason jar to start. You will also be using:
2-3 cups hot water for tea
.25 cup white sugar
2 tea bags or 1-1.5 teaspoons of loose tea. (I prefer loose tea)
Simply use the steps above to make your sweet tea. Make sure everything is cool and then add to your vessel. Next, add the .5 cup vinegar to your vessel. Add your SCOBY and then dampen a coffee filter with a little vinegar and cover your mason jar. Secure with a rubber band or even the ring for the mason jar. Allow it to sit out of direct sunlight for about 30 days.
Your SCOBY may not look any different, mine did, but it is ready to go. You can either dump the first batch (saving 1-2cups) or use in in whatever vinegar recipes you may want.
Now you are ready to make another batch of Kombucha. Just repeat the steps in the main blog post, adjusting for your vessel size. And remember don’t use chlorinated tap water!