The Austin Underground Kombucha Network (or, How to Make Kombucha).

So, remember a couple of weeks ago when we were talking about all the missing kombucha in Austin?

In the absence of our beloved drink, I move to start our own Austin Underground Kombucha Network!

Now to be fair, there actually IS still plenty of kombucha in the city. Buddha’s Brew for example. But making your own kombucha at home is durn cheap, and lots of you asked for the recipe. Membership for the Austin Underground Kombucha Network currently stands at one (me), but if you follow this recipe, BOOM. You in da club.

One more word of caution. Actually, two.

First, if you are squeamish to the taste of vinegar, you probably won’t like kombucha. It’s not terribly strong, but as this is a fermented beverage, vinegar taste is definitely present. If this is you I completely understand and won’t make fun of you; I am the uptight snob at parties who doesn’t like beer, after all.

Second, the culture you use to make kombucha looks like a spleen or something. It’s terrifying. But don’t worry, that’s what it’s supposed to look like.

Now let’s get this party started!

* how to make kombucha *

Ingredients / Tools:

-Medium to large stainless steel pot
-A one-gallon glass jar (you can find them at Hobby Lobby)
-Paper towles, coffee filters, or any other clean “breathable” covering
-Water (three qts)
-White sugar (one cup)
-Tea (four bags. I like green tea, but you can use whatever)
-A kombucha culture, often referred to as a “mother”

step one:
Boil your three quarts of water. Distilled or purified is best. While it’s boiling, measure out your cup of sugar.

step two:
Add your cup of sugar to the water when a rolling boil is reached. The sugar is added to feed the bacteria and yeast in the Mother, because she eats it!

Boil the water and sugar together for five minutes.

step three:
Turn off heat, and add your four tea bags. I like playing around with different kinds, although I always use at least a couple of green tea bags. Just my preference. The last time I did it, I used a couple of “Women’s Relaxation” herbal tea bags, and it yielded this spicy sweet, cinnamon-y flavor. Mmm.
Steep 10-15 minutes, then for God’s sake LET THE TEA COOL. I skipped that part the first time, added the Mother in while the tea was still hot, and accidentally killed her! Don’t do that.
step four: 
Once your tea/sugar water mixture is cooled, pour it inside your gallon glass jar, and add in the Mother.

Cover the glass jar with a paper towel / coffee filter / whatever breathable covering, secure with a rubber band, and let it sit in an undisturbed, room temperature area for 7-14 days. Keep it out of direct sunlight, and don’t let people smoke or cook lots of greasy foods in the same room as your little kombucha. She doesn’t like that.

Fresh air is important too, so remember to open a window every so often in the room where your kombucha is growing.

Here’s a guide to help you with timing. I used to think that kombucha took at least two weeks; as it turns out it’s typically a little less than that.

4 to 6 days: Too sweet. All the sugar hasn’t converted yet.
7 to 9 days: May taste like sparkling apple cider.
10+ days: Vinegary taste starts to get stronger. If it gets too strong for you, dilute it with fruit juice.

A few more things. When you are making kombucha, the Mother creates a “baby,” i.e., another culture that someone else can turn around and use as THEIR Mother. Isn’t that cool? It’s one of the reasons kombucha lends itself well to a network, because you can share it with other people.

Mothers vary in their awesomeness, though. The first one I made was completely wimpy, like a falling-apart tissue. But the second one I made was a freaking beast.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison.

Now, I have a jar of fresh kombucha that I’m almost finished drinking! It’s so yummy. It’s earned an honored place on our kitchen counter.

Don’t you like how it’s hanging out with our liquor? Almost as if to say, “Stand back, fellas. There’s a NEW sheriff in town.”

happy kombucha making!