I remember when we first started brewing kombucha at home. A few quart jars became a few half-gallon jars became nearly a dozen half-gallon jars. It gets out of hand quickly and all of those smaller jars can take up a great deal of horizontal space. But we love our kombucha – so much so that my husband often takes over the brewing just to ensure that it both gets made in large quantities and with delicious flavorings during the second fermentation. So we’ve settled on four-gallon batches for now and with only two vessels and a low-maintenance procedure it’s simply a matter of bottling and adding more sweet tea to the mix. Here’s our current setup.
We start with a couple of two-gallon glass jars. We brew the tea and dissolve the sugar in just enough hot water to do the job. After removing the tea bags and stirring up the sugar, we add enough water to come up about 3/4 of the way. Then, after we’ve made sure the mixture is now at room temperature, we add the kombucha SCOBY and starter tea from the batch we started in smaller jars. This gets a gently mix and is then covered with clean kitchen towels tied to the vessel with whatever string we have lying around. Then we repeat for the second vessel. We’ve currently got this batch sitting on top of our wood stove which we won’t be using again until November. With the house reaching somewhere in the 90s every day, the first fermentation is complete in about 1-2 weeks. I like it to be good and tangy but with a hint of sweetness to ensure a good carbonation during the second fermentation.
We then decant it into airtight bottles using a glass measuring cup and a funnel. These bottles get loaded up with an organic juice or hunks of fresh fruit like lemons, limes, apples, oranges, or mango. After being sealed up for another 5-7 days it’s usually carbonated and delicious on a hot summer day. We then leave the SCOBY and enough kombucha for the next batch while preparing tea and sugar in smaller jars. After that cools down we add it in with enough water to make up the difference and start all over. I have to wash a couple of quart or half-gallon jars that we prepared the tea in, but that is much easier than wrestling with these big boys in the sink. To bridge the gap between batches, we like the fast-fermenting waterkefir. I make it in half-gallon batches these days and from start to fizzy finish it’s about one week’s time. That gives us a little something carbonated and probiotic for when we run out of our beloved kombucha.