Small strainer, large (1 gallon) jar, swing top bottles & your starter. I use the Gaia organic certified starter shown below.
Water, black tea and 1/2 cup of sugar.
Bring a quart of water to boil and add 2 black tea bags. Any tea will do but it must be a black tea. Herbal teas will not work on the first fermentation.
Make your tea in the jar. After 30-45 minutes remove the tea bags and allow it to cool. DO NOT add the starter yet. If you put your starter (also known as a 'pedicle') in the hot tea it will kill it. Stir in the sugar so it dissolves as the tea is cooling.
In an hour or so when the tea is completely cooled, gently slip your starter and any fluid in the package, into your gallon jar. You won't be using the plastic lid that came with the jar. Similar to sourdough bread, your kombucha needs to breathe as it ferments. You want to cover the opening with a tea towel and a tight rubber band. Cheesecloth is too thin. A cotton kitchen towel works perfect or even a scrap of old T-shirt just be sure it's clean and secure it around the rim with a sturdy rubber band. You want air in and bugs out. Place your jar in a place where it won't be disturbed and out of direct sunlight. Mine sits in my craft room closet on a shelf with doll making supplies. You can let it brew for 2 or 3 weeks. Give it a taste test. It's difficult to describe the taste but it should not be bitter or too much like vinegar. Don't leave it too much past 3 weeks.
You are ready to bottle for the second fermentation. Now is when you add flavors from fruit or mint or herbs.
Take your little funnel and strainer positioned over each swing top bottle and gently pour your kombucha tea in. Stop at the bottles shoulder to allow room for fermentation bubbles. Your starter should remain in the large jar. You will make your next batch with it and 1/2 cup of the remaining kombucha tea. Add any crushed fruit or mint. About 1/2 teaspoon of fruit or 1-2 muddled leaves. Do not add honey. 1/2 teaspoon of pure cane sugar can boost the second ferment if you want it more fizzy. Experiment with fruit and herbs, whether or not you need a bit more sugar to feed the fermentation process etc. as you brew more batches. I used strawberries in my first batch. It was delicious. The little strainer will be useful for straining out bits of fruit when you are ready to drink the brew after it's second fermentation (about a week).
Ok. You have filled your swing top bottles and added a little fruit or fresh ground ginger, herbs etc. raspberries and blueberries are a delicious combination too!
Take your second 1 gallon jar (be sure it's been washed with soap and water, rinsed thoroughly and dried) and start over. Cool your next tea before slipping the pedicle and the 1/2 cup of first kombucha brew into it. Cover and let it ferment.
Set your swing top bottles on a counter out of direct sunlight for 24-36 hours. Don't forget them! After 24 - 36 hours place them in your refrigerator to stop the fermenting process. In 3-5 days they are ready to enjoy!
The first time you open Kombucha cover the swing top bottle with a cloth just to be sure if it spews out it doesn't go all over your kitchen. This may have happened a few times to me. My marble backsplash has slight raspberry stains in the grout thanks to a very fizzy batch of booch on my first attempt! I allowed the second ferment to go 4 days because I was out of town. What a mess!
I add a drop or two of Lemon essential oil to mine for limonene.
One drop of lemon essential oil gives a nice citrus flavor to my kombucha. I tried adding plain lemon juice but it turns out too tart or bitter. Plain lemon juice would not provide the immunity boosting power of limonene I get from the plants essential oil.