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How to Make Fermented Kombucha Tea

Updated on May 11, 2017
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Science graduate and business advisor, health educator and author, Beth writes articles on a wide variety of subjects.

A Jar of Homemade Kombucha with Berries


Step by Step Instructions to Make Kambucha Tea

Kombucha is the Western name for a fermented sweetened tea made with yeasts and bacteria. An essential part of the process is the starter culture, sometimes called the mushroom or mother culture. It is not a mushroom or fungi, it is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts (better known by the acronym SCOBY).

Symbiosis in biology is when two organisms (in this case bacteria and yeasts) live together in close proximity, often (but not always) in a mutually beneficial relationship.

SCOBY: Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast

1. Start by getting a Kombucha starter culture (known as a SCOBY). You can either buy one or find a friend who will give you part of theirs.

2. Next, pour the sugar into your glass jar and dissolve it in some hot water.

3. Then fill the jar(s) three quarters full with the remaining hot water. Add the teabags to the sweet liquid. Allow the tea to steep (brew) for about 10 minutes or until the water has cooled down. Then remove the teabags.

4. Into the sugared tea mixture you now add half a cup of vinegar (or use some Kombucha tea from an earlier batch).

5. Add the SCOBY culture. Remember, this is a live yeast product, so treat it carefully.

6. Cover the jar with a cloth cap and leave in a warm place for 7 to 30 days for fermentation to take place. The longer you leave it the less sweet tasting and the more acidic the brew will become. This is because the yeast gradually converts the sugar into carbon dioxide via aerobic digestion. The acidic vinegary taste means that the pH level of the mixture discourages unwanted bacterial growth.

7. Finally, remove the SCOBY from the tea. Now you can sit back, drink and enjoy this healthy tea.

8. The SCOBY culture is like a "cut-and-come-again cake". You use some to start another batch of Kombucha. You can also divide it up and share it with friends so that they can enjoy Kombucha too.

The SCOBY "Mushroom" For Making Kombucha Tea


How to Make Your Own Fermented Kombucha

To make a quart of Kombucha tea, you need the following.

A large glass jar, ¼ cup white sugar, 2-3 teabags (plain black or green tea), ½ cup vinegar (or Kombucha tea from a previous batch), a quart of hot water.

The video below shows how easy it is to make your own Kombucha tea.

How to Make Kombucha Tea

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Is Kombucha the New Health Drink?

Kombucha tea is the latest health trend to excite Westerners. However, it is not a “new” drink; it has been brewed for at least 2,000 years in Far Eastern cultures. During the Chinese Tsin dynasty it was known as the “tea of immortality” and its use is recorded as early as 221 BC. There is also documentary evidence that Kombucha tea was used in 414 BC to cure the Japanese Emperor Inyoko of an unspecified ailment. Throughout its long use, herbalists and practitioners in natural medicine have extolled the tea’s health giving properties.

The word Kombucha is Japanese and refers to a sweet fermented tea. The fermentation process occurs through yeast metabolizing sugar and releasing carbon dioxide and alcohol as by-products. The brew is kept enclosed so that the gas is retained within the drink to give it effervescence (or bubbles). The process is similar to that by which sparkling wine is produced.

The origin of the word Kombucha is thought to be an elision of the physician’s name who treated Emperor Inyoko (Kombu) and the word for tea (cha).

Kombucha is Food as Natural Medicine

The video below gives Dr. Josh Axe’s views on the health benefits of drinking Kombucha tea. He is a certified doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist who promotes digestive health by using food as medicine. He recommends that Kombucha tea consumed in moderation is a healthy replacement for soda, fruit juice, and other sugar-filled, carbonated beverages.

In summary, he claims the following health benefits for Kombucha.

1. It supports detoxification and cleansing.

2. It improves overall joint health.

3. It helps improve digestion.

4. It improves immune health.

5. It contains natural energy boosting compounds.

He says - Consume; but in moderation!

Is Kombucha Healthy?

Health Benefits from Drinking Fermented Tea

There are many health claims made about Kombucha tea. It is said that drinking it regularly improves health however there is no scientific basis for these claims. The tea is made from a mixture of water, black or green tea, sugar and yeast. The principal benefit claimed for drinking this tea is cleansing and detoxification. In my view, a similar effect could be obtained by drinking a similar amount of water of herbal tea instead. There are also claims that Kambucha boosts energy levels, but this is most likely the effect of the high levels of sugar and caffeine in the drink.

Some people claim that that drinking Kombucha can help prevent cancer as it contains antioxidants, but there are no scientific trials that support this. Kombucha tea contains glucosamine and hyaluronic acid which is said to help relieve arthritis and joint pain. Again this claim has not been scientifically proven.

On the plus side, drinking Kambucha tea is unlikely to do you much harm unless you drink it in excessive quantities. Remember that Kambucha tea has a lot of sugar in it, so only drink it in moderation and make sure you rinse your teeth afterwards to prevent later dental problems.

Warnings, Side Effects and Contraindications Associated with Kombucha

Kombucha tea is a popular drink and most people will enjoy it with no side effects. However, several health risks have been linked to drinking Kompucha tea. These fall into two main categories. The first is bacterial contamination during the fermentation process, particularly in homemade Kompucha and these “bad” bacteria have caused food poisoning (diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting). The second is where a patient has drunk excessive amounts of Kompucha and they have experienced side-effects from the acidity of the drink.

Where a patient is already in a vulnerable group, such as very young, very old or pregnant, Kombucha may upset the delicate balance of an already compromised immune system.

The American Centre for Communicable Diseases (CDC) has linked Kombucha with metabolic acidosis. A patient drank four ounces of Kombucha tea daily for two months before becoming ill with this debilitating condition.

The American Cancer Society advises pregnant women against drinking Kompucha tea because of the risk of bacterial contamination. They say the risk of endangering the unborn child is greater than any possible health benefits of the drink to the mother.

People Try Kombucha


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    • connieow profile image

      Connie S Owens 17 months ago from El Cajon, CA

      I have at least three jars going each week. I love my kombucha. I use it in juice, herbal teas and coffee. When I have too much scobi the top layers go to my garden.

    • rpalulis profile image

      rpalulis 17 months ago from NY

      Love Kombucha, well at first I didn't care for it much but then I really began to like it once we started making it. We add ginger in ours to add a little flavor. When we have left over Scobi and no takers -the chickens get a treat- they love it!

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