Thanks to Mark's Daily Apple I found a method to make fermented tea (Kombucha) that works perfectly almost every time. Yes, I've had to toss a couple of batches, but over 1 1/2 years that's not too shabby.
Today I made two batches using $1 jars from the Science and Surplus store in WI.
Just 1/4 cup of sugar in each jar is plenty for the organisms to feast on during the fermentation process.
2 tea bags per batch. Oolong works the best--I've tried several. Still I like Green Tea, so I'm making one of each. Add 2 1/2 cups of hot water to steep the tea and dissolve the sugar--thus the wooden spoon you see to stir the sugar into the warm water.
I cover it with a cloth to keep dust or bugs out because the next step it to let it cool to room temperature. I don't think the cloth is needed yet, but I use it anyway.
Once the sugary tea is cooled, add 1/2 cup of kombucha--you can buy this at the store and pick the most stringy looking one. I know, I know, sounds gross, but think of all the yummy nutrition you'll be getting!
Also, add one S.C.O.B.Y. (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast).
The real trick is finding or making a S.C.O.B.Y. to add. I made my own (growing it from store bought kombucha), but most folks get one to start from a friend or even craig's list. If you live near me, I'm happy to share.
Here's my collection of S.C.O.B.Y.s. the top one is folded over so you can see it better.
Now all you do is let the magic happen. Cover the jar with a cloth and place it in a dark place, warmer is better. In about 5 days this tasty healthy drink is ready to go.
When I started doing this, I used pH strips to verify the mix was acidic, shooting for lower than 4.0. A sign that it's ready is a second S.C.O.B.Y. will have formed just above the original.
If you're new to this, it'll look odd. Compare to pictures on the internet (or the ones above). If it turns gray on top--definitely mold and that's when it goes down the drain--the whole thing.
Just take the S.C.O.B.Y.s out (with washed hands) and store covered with a little kombucha in the fridge or start another batch right away.
The remaining liquid should taste a bit tart, like vinegar. You can stop the fermenting sooner by removing the S.C.O.B.Y. and refrigerating the liquid for a milder sweeter flavor. I, on the other hand, drink this in part to aid the microbiome in my gut and thus drink it quite strong and acidic.
Storing it in a refrigerated covered jar it'll last for months.
Enjoy and drink up!