Sterilize gallon jar (fermentation jar) with boiling water.
Bring 13 cups of water to a boil and add tea. Allow to steep throughout cooling.
Dissolve 1 cup sugar into the tea.
Allow sweet tea mixture to cool to room temperature (68-70 degrees F).
Remove tea and transfer from saucepan to fermentation jar.
With clean hands, add the SCOBY and 2 cups of kombucha vinegar, store bought kombucha or kombucha from a previous home brew batch.
Cover the top of the jar with the cheesecloth or coffee filter and secure with the rubber band.
Store in a dark place with an average temperature of 70 degrees F.
Wait… the sweet tea will enter the fermentation phase with the SCOBY eating up sugar the kombucha will begin to turn more tart and vinegary.
After about 7 days pour a bit of the kombucha out to taste, if it is too sweet for your taste, allow the fermentation to continue, tasting each day. Once it has reached your ideal ratio of sweet to tart, it’s time to bottle.
At this stage the kombucha is ready to drink, but if you prefer bubbles you will want to bottle. This is also a fun time to add ginger syrup or fruit purees to experiment with flavors. (Filling one plastic bottle and capping it will allow you to see how far along the carbonation process is coming as it will expand and become hard, it is not 100% necessary but helpful).
Using the funnel, fill the sterilized bottles with kombucha. Do not leave a large air gap as it will inhibit carbonation. Reserve 2 cups of kombucha for your SCOBY to hang out while you brew another batch of sweet tea. If you are not prepared to brew a second batch you may store the SCOBY in 2 cups of kombucha in the refrigerator for up to two months.
If you feel inspired to add flavors, small amounts of fruit juices can be added at this time.
Seal the bottles and store them in a dark room temperature place (70 degrees) .
Check on them every day as the pressure is building in the bottles. Once the plastic bottle has become hard, transfer all bottles to the refrigerator. Enjoy within a month for best results!
*Note on black tea varieties. English, Irish, Scottish breakfast teas are suitable as well as orange pekoe despite the name. Green teas (dragonwell, gun powder, jasmine, matcha), oolong, white teas (peony) yerba mate and herbal flower teas can be experimented with for a variety of flavors! Take care not to exceed a 50:50 ratio of black tea to whatever variety you choose experiment with.