We just bottled and consumed our first successful batch of kombucha - it was our second attempt to make this delicious fermented live culture tea elixir that has a long list of reputed health benefits. This time we got a large starter "mother" culture (i.e. a gelatinous mass of bacteria and yeast) from a helpful neighbour (thanks Mike!). It seems that finding this "mother" is the hardest part of making kombucha. After a week of steeping our tea with the starter culture and mother floating on top, it had turned into what we think to be just as tasty a kombucha as any we've been purchasing from the health food store. I think we might be hooked.
Once we have the starter we can keep brewing, sort of the way you keep a small portion of live culture yogurt or sourdough from each batch to start the following batch. We used a wonderful favourite wild blueberry rooibos (called the "Manitoba Blend", a gift from this tea shop in Winnipeg) blended with black tea - here is our method:
1 litre water
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp loose black tea
other herbal blend to flavour (if desired - e.g. blueberry, lemon, ginger, etc)
1/2 cup mature acidic kombucha from last batch
Make tea, steep with sugar for 15 minutes. Strain, let cool, the pour into large wide-mouth clean glass jar. Add mature kombucha (save a portion of each batch for the next starter). Place mother in the liquid with firm side up. Cover with fine meshed cheese cloth or cotton muslin cloth, let sit in warm room for 7-10 days. Taste to see when your preferred acidic flavour is ready. Then store in refrigerator.