How to Make Kombucha

A couple years ago my friend and I were at the local Natural Grocers, and she bought a Kombucha. “What is that?” I asked. She explained that Kombucha is a probiotic drink, made from something like a mushroom. I’m a huge believer in probiotics, homemade yogurt, and cultured veggies, so I bought one too, and I liked it.

(Read about the health benefits of Kombucha and why Ronald Reagan drank it.)

Then a week later I bought another one. Then another one. And so on. I was hooked. Like I crave my homemade yogurt and cultured veggies, I now also crave Kombucha.

But this stuff really adds up. They cost about three dollars per drink in the store. Yikes.

I heard about making Kombucha at home, but I thought it would gross me out too much. With time I came around to the idea.

So when another friend told me that she made her own Kombucha, I was so excited. She told me to start collecting my equipment, and offered to give me a SCOBY. That’s how it happened.

First I got organic sugar at Costco. That was weird for me. I wondered if anyone would see me buying the sugar. So if you did, then now you know why :-)

My husband had organic black tea already, so that was done.

Next I bought a huge pitcher with a spout, which can hold two gallons at a time.

I’m not using the base so I can keep my Kombucha on the counter, under the cabinets, where it’s warm (the pantry or the basement would be too cold). I’m not using the lid, because you have to let the Kombucha breathe by covering it with a cloth and rubber band.

Above: Making Kombucha, Day 1
If you don’t have a friend who can give you a SCOBY you can make one yourself. Learn how by clicking HERE.
Here is what you need to make your own Kombucha:
—a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast)
—reverse osmosis water (I’m told RO water is best, because there is chlorine, fluoride, etc in tap water)
—organic black or green tea, without added oils (Earl Grey, for example, contains bergamot oil), because the oils can cause mold
—organic evaporated cane juice, not bleached (This is what it eats.)
—a glass container (they’re really common now, I see them at Target all the time)
How to make your Kombucha:
 
Using a medium sized pot, bring a gallon of water to a boil. Turn off the heat.
 
Add a cup of organic sugar and 8 bags of organic black or green tea the water.
 
Steep the tea for about 15 minutes, then remove the bags with clean tongs.
 
Put the lid on the pot of sweetened tea and let it cool overnight. (It must be room temperature to continue.)
 
Make sure your glass container is nice and clean.
 
Carefully pour the room temperature sweet tea into the container.
 
Add one cup of Kombucha either from the previous batch or plain store-bought Kombucha (not flavored).
 
Add your SCOBY. (make sure your hands are clean if you use them)
 
Cover the container with a cloth and rubber band.
 
Keep your brew somewhere warm (around 70 degrees F), out of direct sunlight, and at least several feet from anything else you’re culturing, like yogurt of sauerkraut.
 
Brew for 7 to 30 days.
 
A new culture will form on top. The longer it sits the thicker it will become.
kombucha2low
kombuchaoverhead
Above: After the culture has formed on top.
 
Brown wispy yeast tails are normal. They are a byproduct of the fermentation. If you ever see green mold you must throw everything out.
 
The longer you brew your Kombucha the less sugar it has, so go ahead and keep brewing until you get the flavor you like.

When your Kombucha tastes to your liking you can put it in canning jars or a glass pitcher. Remove the culture and strain those yeast tails out if you want.

Always use clean hands and clean equipment. Remember to save some Kombucha for your next batch before adding fruit juice or ginger.

At this point you can put it in your refrigerator and begin drinking it, OR do a second fermentation to make it bubbly. Even though the culture is removed, the natural bacteria and yeast will continue to eat the sugar and create gas in an airtight container. This gives Kombucha a soda-like fizz.

If you choose to do the second fermentation, keep your Kombucha in a glass airtight container at room temperature for another 2 to 5 days. Open the lid once a day during this time so that the pressure doesn’t build up too much. When you open a Kombucha that has done a second fermentation you can cover the lid with a towel and release it very slowly just in case.

There will be very little sugar left in your Kombucha after this process is complete.

Refrigerate your Kombucha after the second fermentation (which lasts 2 to 5 days).

Every few batches the SCOBY will “have a baby,” that can be used as compost or given to a friend.

Thanks so much to all of you readers who taught me so much about making Kombucha on My Facebook page!

UPDATE: Some great questions in the comments now. Make sure to check them out! :-)

♥, Kelly

Comments

  1. says

    Love, love, love Kombucha! My husband is not too thrilled with the smell ether, so I make new batches when he’s at work and air the house well. It doesn’t smell when it’s brewing in the cupboard.

  2. says

    Thank you!

    I’ve heard that black or green tea (Caffeine-free works too) and evaporated cane juice are the best for tea and sugar because they keep the pH at the right level to prevent mold.

    I don’t know how to describe the taste. Some people say it’s similar to hard cider or beer. To me it tastes like a carbonated probiotic drink :-)

  3. says

    I think it tastes a bit like apple cider vinegar, which I love, so I was immediately a fan of kombucha!

    I have a friend who bought the large jars of pickles for about $3.50 each at Costco to make her kombucha in. Even without eating the pickles, the jars were cheaper than the special ones.

  4. Anonymous says

    Great idea on the pickle jars at Costco, Kathy.
    Kelly I totally know what you’re saying about that same big bag of sugar from Costco, it feels like you’re buying contraban…ha! I had mine when I was on a Kefir water kick but ended up throwing half the bag away when we moved to FL. Thanks for posting the recipe and I may have to get to Costco here in Jacksonville to buy another bag, luckily, nobody knows me here in FL. :o) Hope

  5. says

    I buy that same bag of sugar for my water kefir and kombucha. :) Maybe even at the same Costco as you, since I live in Boulder. It’s always funny putting it in the cart, since it’s surrounded by super healthy stuff like wild salmon, grass-fed butter and organic veggies. I think it makes it look like I have a major sugar addiction – but in truth I only use it for my ferments!

  6. says

    Hi, has anyone tried this with agave nectar? and I’m a little confused about the SCOBY -do I just buy the raw Kombucha and add it to my tea and I’m ready to go or do I need to grow the film thing on top for a few weeks before transferring that and making my actual Kombucha? I love this blog. I stood in the isle of Martin’s in front of the Kombucha and told three different women about the “Spunky Coconut” (no, no “c” in the spunky…”

  7. says

    Thanks so much for posting this- it’s like you read my mind. I am making my first batch of cultured veggies right now and wanted to make my own kombucha since I buy it all the time. I can’t wait to try this!!!

  8. says

    great post. to GF Gidget.. ha ha yes when I first got started it was hard to have people come over to my house because they didn’t like the smell.. BUT when they drank my kombucha tea, I couldnt get them to stop coming over :)

    Great job Spunky Coconut, the sugar you use is the exact brand we partnered with for our
    kombucha starter kits.

    Let me know if you ever want to write a guest post on our blog as we allways love great quality content by real people!

    Happy Brewin’
    Dave

  9. says

    Girl in Green,

    Yes, you have to grow a SCOBY first. Follow the instructions in the link above the ingredients :-)

    Thanks everyone!

  10. says

    I have read multiple sources that say using organic ingredients in kombucha making increases chances for mold and bacteria growth. i sometimes make mine with organic sugar because that what i usually have, but wondering your opinion/experience with this?
    Also, I love to use Jasmine Green tea…I think it creates a wonderful end product!

  11. says

    Great article. I make mine in a large glass jar and have been looking for a container with a spout for awhile — do you have any concerns with the metal spout?

  12. says

    Is it important to have a metal spout on the glass jar, as opposed to a plastic, or “chrome” coated plastic one? Thanks!

  13. says

    That is the one I use. I took off the base so it would fit on my counter under the cabinets. It works great if you want to make two gallons at a time. Haven’t had any trouble with the spout clogging either : )

  14. Anonymous says

    Can containers with spigots be used for continuous brew? What is the difference in the continuous brew vessels sold by Kombucha Mamma?

  15. Anonymous says

    Can containers with spigots be used for continuous brew? What is the difference in the continuous brew vessels sold by Kombucha Mamma?

  16. Anonymous says

    Can containers with spigots be used for continuous brew? What is the difference in the continuous brew vessels sold by Kombucha Mamma?

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