Making Kombucha in Hong Kong | DIY tips to making kombucha
After making kombucha for half a year, here are some top tips to making kombucha! We will also share a basic recipe and ways to spruce up your original flavoured kombucha! We will share some ingredient and tools options for making kombucha internationally and also some Hong Kong options!
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Tip 1: Keep your ingredients simple
Use the most basic red tea/black tea you can find, and your basic white table sugar. Save the fancy flavourings for your second fermentation (stage without the scoby)
Use simple oolong or black tea:
Tip 2: Let your tea cool
Let your tea cool to room temperature before you add in your scoby and starter tea (plain store bought kombucha or kombucha from your previous batch)
Tip 3: Use a cotton/linen towel
Use a cotton/linen towel to let your scoby and kombucha breathe in the first fermentation! Don’t use kitchen towels or other materials where there can be falling debris/particles that get into your kombucha brew!
Muslin Cloth/Cheese Cloth:
Tip 4: Use glass containers/jars
Use glass containers/jars for your kombucha for the first and second fermentation. Plastic containers may react badly to your brew and introduce bad bacteria, causing it to spoil and ruin your batch.
Tip 5: Your kombucha reacts to temperature
If it’s summer/a warmer weather, your brew may only need a shorter time to brew (around 7 days). For cooler weather, you may need around 7-14 days for your first fermentation to complete. Always good to keep an eye on it and taste test after 7-10 days!
Tip 6: Don't mess with your kombucha
Don’t move your kombucha and swish the liquid within the first 6-7 days! Let your baby scoby grow and it’ll form a layer on top of your kombucha, which helps to give the first round of fizziness!
Tip 7: Keep it away from sunlight
Keep your kombucha away from sunlight for the first fermentation. Keep it in a kitchen cupboard/somewhere you won’t have to keep moving and disturbing the scoby formation: perhaps a dark wadrobe may be a good idea? Take care to not spill it 😛
Tip 8: Keep your kombucha tools clean
Keep your kombucha containers and utensils clean – sterilize it with hot boiling water. Before you bottle your kombucha for the second fermentation, be sure to sterilize your bottles with boiling water.
Tip 9: Open your kombucha bottles AFTER refrigeration
Popping your bottle before refrigeration means you’ll lose the fizziness and it may explode everywhere! Pop it in the fridge after the second fermentation and enjoy once it’s cold. If it’s not fizzy enough you can always pop it back to room temperature for another 1-3 days to resume the fermentation process.
Where to get a scoby in Hong Kong?
- Ask you friend for one! Every time they make kombucha, there will be a new baby scoby. Get it from one of Our Home Kong editors
- Buy it in store: Livezero or other zero waste stores in Hong Kong sells scobies from time to time (call them up to check if they still do!)
- Get it from Amazon or carousell:
Basic kombucha recipe
- 8 cups water/ 1900ml water
- 6 tea bags (red tea to start off with)
- 150g sugar
- Your kombucha scoby and 1 cup starter tea (double starter tea if you wish to make double the recipe and so forth): keep the scoby in room temperature (do not put in the fridge)
- In your pot/kettle boil half the amount of water.
- When it boils add your tea and let it brew off the boil for about 20 minutes
- Add your sugar to the tea and stir until dissolved
- Pour it in your glass container/jar and add in the other half of your water and let the temp settle to around room temperature
- Add your scoby to the tea along with 1 cup of Kombucha or Starter tea
- Cover your container with a cotton/linen kitchen cloth and secure with a rubber-band.
- Place your container somewhere dark/in a cupboard
- Let it ferment for 7-14 days (start taste testing on day 7)
- The liquid should be light golden brown in colour after it ferments. You can now enjoy a glass of your kombucha but a second fermentation is recommended for better fizz and to spruce up with other flavours
- Stir your kombucha and bottle it in clean airtight bottles for 3-4 days and refrigerate it
- Enjoy it when its cold 🙂 (Don’t pop the bottle at room temperature to avoid a fizzy mess!)
Kombucha recipe ideas: second fermentation
- Rose buds (my favourite!)
- Fruit and honey combinations:
- Lemon and ginger slices
- Dragon fruit
- Passion fruit
Kombucha recipe ideas: coffee kombucha
If you love kombucha and coffee, you should definitely try coffee kombucha. Just like the tea to sugar ratio, replace the tea with coffee. For the starter tea, you can add double the amount to start with, to kick start the process. Let it ferment for 4-7 days, bottle it and ferment for 1-4 days. Taste test during the first fermentation to see how tangy you like it 🙂
How can I make my kombucha consistent?
Start off with a smaller batch and use the same tea a couple of times before experimenting with other teas. Use a 75% ratio of the original tea and introduce in new teas slowly (75% to 50% to 25% etc). (Pro tip: you can keep a spare scoby if you’re experimenting with new teas, just in case they fail!)
Stir the kombucha before you bottle to get a consistent fizziness throughout all your bottles.
What can you not do when making kombucha?
Most common mistakes:
- Using too little sugar: your scoby needs to feed off the sugar to make kombucha
- Using too little tea: your scoby needs to feed off the caffeine
- Using kitchen paper as a cover: there can be fallen particles/inorganic materials that fall into your kombucha and contaminate it
- Adding the scoby and starter tea when the liquid is too hot: this kills off your scoby and all the good bacteria and yeast needed for your brew
Should you stir kombucha while brewing?
While it’s brewing, don’t move your kombucha and swish the liquid within the first 6-7 days! Let your baby scoby grow on top of the previous scoby.
Before bottling, you should stir the kombucha to evenly distribute the yeast that helps make the fizz in kombucha! Not doing so may result in some bottles being fizzier than others
How long should kombucha ferment?
7-14 days for the first fermentation (this may be adjusted if the temperature is cooler, so that fermentation takes longer). Tip: start tasting your brew from the 7th day onwards. The longer the brew, the more acidic it becomes.
Where to store my scoby if I'm not brewing?
Scobies can survive for 2-6 months in a jar of kombucha if you’re not actively brewing. If possible, you can add some fresh sweet tea to it every 2-3 months to continue feeding the scoby and keeping it healthy.
It is NOT recommended to store the scoby in the fridge as it may not become active again. Scobies like warm temperatures so cold temperatures may negatively affect your living culture.
Scobies are best stored at room temperature as you would normally brew them or in a scoby hotel with several scobies. The acidity of your kombucha/kombucha vinegar will help keep the scoby safe!