When you first start making kombucha, it can be a daunting process. You'll look at your jar and freak out. "Is it meant to look this ugly?" Kombucha is not known for it's picture perfect appearance. In fact, it will be so ugly (the uglier, the better!) that you'll feel like a mad scientist with a brain specimen jar.
Don't worry! It may look like a mini Frankenstein, but it's going to taste great. Once you start drinking it, you'll be hooked. You may never want to go back to regular soft drinks again.
How do you know when your kombucha is ready?
Good things come to those who wait. Brewing kombucha takes between one week to a month to brew, depending on the climate. Your brew will take longer in cooler climates than in summer. If the weather is too cold, then the yeast and bacteria will start snoozing. You'll need a brewing belt in cold weather. This handy tool will keep your little baby warm (you wrap it around your jar and it will keep it warmed to the right temp).
The ideal brewing temperature is between 20-30 degrees celsius. Here in Brisbane, Queensland, it doesn't get too cold. I find that a week is about right.
Tip: Kombucha needs a minimum of a week to brew.
After a week, Your brew should change from having a sweet to slightly vinegar taste. The acidic (but not too acidic) flavour will tell you that your brew is ready.
The taste should be similar to apple cider vinegar - a little bit sweet with a tart, vinegary flavour. You can leave your kombucha to brew longer, but it will get a stronger vinegar taste. The pH should be in the range of 2.5 - 3.5.
Your kombucha should smell like vinegar. Once it has a sharp smell then it's ready to go. If your brew still smells like sugar, then keep waiting. Hopefully, it won't be too much longer.
What's a SCOBY? It's a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. Kind of weird. Very creepy, but it's a probiotic powerhouse. It's that wondrous thing that turns the black tea and sugar into a healthy and delicious drink.
I've been brewing a batch of kombucha for about a week. At first, it had a few yeasty little bubbles on top of the liquid. You may freak out when you first see these bubbles. Don't mistake it for mould. It's a new SCOBY forming.
Eventually, the entire surface will be filled with the SCOBY. Yeah, it looks like a brain specimen, but the batch is healthy and ready for bottling.
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