Kombucha is a fermented tea. A culture containing bacterial and fungal components is placed in sweetened black tea and allowed to “work”. The fermented product is quite acidic, similar to apple cider vinegar. This makes this product safe to keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator as its acidic nature helps it resist contamination by environmental spores.
There are many claims about kombucha’s effectiveness in helping maintain good health and treating illness. It is not well documented exactly how kombucha works, but many people worldwide us it as a tonic, a detoxifying agent and a refreshing drink. It can also be used in the household it the same ways one would use vinegar, particularly if it is allowed to ferment to the point that the acetobacter organism takes over and produces K-vinegar. At some points kombucha can be mildly alcoholic. I would not recommend it in this stage for anyone who should not be consuming alcohol. Once it begins to smell very vinegary, the alcohol has begun to be broken down and destroyed by the Acetobactor organisms. Also, check with your doctor if you are immunosuppressed as kombucha does have live cultures.
To brew your Kombucha, place your starter and the liquid with it in a clean quart mason jar. Make a tea with 2 typical black tea bags and 1 scant quart of water. Let the tea steep until it is quite strong. Squeeze and remove the tea bags. Add ¼ cup sugar, brown sugar, or honey. Mix well and after cooling to room temperature, add to the jar with your starter.
Leave the jar at room temperature with a clean cloth tied or rubber banded over the top. Leave the culture undisturbed at least 7 days except to tilt the jar to bathe the top of the culture with liquid once per day to prevent mold contamination. At this time strain some into a glass and taste it. It should be very slightly sweet, effervescent and tart. If it is still flat or sweet, leave it a little longer. When the kombucha has “arrived” after 7 to 10 days, strain all but about 10% of the liquid into another clean jar and cap tightly for the refrigerator. This liquid can be drunk neat or added to other drinks such as fruit juices, water or tea. It is recommended that you start with only 2 oz. per day and gradually increase as you see how your body reacts. Never use a culture that has mold spots (just like the ones that grow on bread or cheese). The mold might be toxic and the fact that it can grow may indicate that your culture has been neglected and has become weakened. After a time you will find that your culture is growing and will make Kombucha in a shorter amount of time. At that point you can either move up to a ½ gallon container and double the tea recipe, or you can stay with the same recipe and divide your culture by peeling it apart and discarding part or sharing with your neighbor.
There are many internet sites devoted to Kombucha, as well as my blog, Counter Culture at
God bless you!