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How to Make Kombucha At Home - A Simple Homemade Recipe

Updated on November 25, 2015

Brewing your own Kombucha is easy.

Homebrewing kombucha tea is so simple and inexpensive that when I first started brewing my own, all I could think was "Why didn't I try this sooner?!"

In this article I'll share: my recipe for homemade kombucha, the basics of brewing a plain kombucha, making flavored kombucha, growing your own kombucha SCOBY from a store bought bottle, bottling and a method for making your kombucha fizzier with a secondary bottle fermentation. You can even buy a kombucha scoby and all the supplies you might need right here.

photo: home-brew kombucha by tracyshaun

Grow your own SCOBY from a bottle of Kombucha - Ingredients:

A bottle of raw, unpastuerized Kombucha - plain flavored works best although in theory, any kind will do.

2 tablespoons white sugar

A quart jar

Black or green tea bags - plain only

  1. In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of water to a boil.
  2. Add two tablespoons white sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and add 1 bag of plain black tea or 2 bags of plain green tea.

    Let this steep until the tea is completely cool. Liquid that's too hot will kill your culture so play it safe.

    When the tea is cool, remove the tea bag and pour into your quart jar.

  4. Next, open your bottled kombucha. You can drink a bit of it, if you like.

    Gently swirl the bottle to ensure any sediment on the bottom is loose and then pour it all into the quart jar.

    (Stringy bits, particulates and sediment from the bottle will become your mother so don't leave any behind!)

  5. Cover the jar with a paper towel or a piece of cloth and secure with a tight rubber band.

    Set the jar aside somewhere warm and out of direct sunlight where it won't be disturbed.

  6. By the end of a week, there should be a milky film forming across the top of the liquid.

    This is the beginning of your SCOBY. Don't disturb the SCOBY or it might sink and you'll have to wait for a new layer to form.

    After 2 weeks you should have a fairly thick, creamy white disc. A long as there's no fuzzy or hairy mold, dirt or contaminants on your new SCOBY, you're ready to gather your materials and brew your first batch!

Order a SCOBY online

You can buy a scoby online and have it sent to you, either on its own or as part of a complete kit. If you get everything you need at once, you can start brewing as soon as it arrives!

Materials You'll Need

A glass jar between 1 and 2.5 gallons

A clean cloth

A big rubberband

Glass bottles - swing top are best

A great jar for brewing Kombucha Tea

Home Essentials & Beyond Mason Jar Drink Beverage Dispenser With Easy Flow Spigot Clear For Iced Coffee, Tea, Lemonade, Water For Picnics Parties Bbq 3 Gallon Clear Glass
Home Essentials & Beyond Mason Jar Drink Beverage Dispenser With Easy Flow Spigot Clear For Iced Coffee, Tea, Lemonade, Water For Picnics Parties Bbq 3 Gallon Clear Glass

A jar with a spigot is great for taste-testing and bottling. I use a pretty boring jar, but this one is lovely and has the best overall rating I could find. It's also 2.6 gallons so you can make a 2 gallon batch and leave some room at the top. Don't worry if your scoby seems too small - it will culture a large or small batch just fine.

 

Brew only in glass containers!

Never brew kombucha tea in plastic containers.The acidic tea can react with plastic, causing it to leach chemicals that could make you sick and harm your culture.

Basic Tea.
Basic Tea.

My Basic Kombucha Tea Recipe

This is enough to fill my 1.5 gallon jars. If you're using a 2.6 gallon jar, double the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 Gallon water

1 1/4 cup white sugar

6 plain tea bags - black or green tea or a mixture of both.

1 cup "starter liquid" - (the tea that your SCOBY grew or was shipped in)

Bring the water to a boil and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved.

Add tea bags and let steep 15-25 minutes.

Remove tea bags and set aside to cool, at least a few hours.

When tea has cooled completely, pour into your fermenation jar. Add your SCOBY and the starter liquid.

Cover the jar with a cloth and secure with a tight rubberband. Let jar sit undisturbed in a warm place out of direct sunlight.

After 1 week has passed, you can start taste-testing your kombucha. If your jar doesn't have a spigot, you can use a straw or a clean spoon to carefully sample without disturbing the SCOBY too much. Never put anything that was in your mouth back in the jar to avoid contamination.

The longer you ferment, the more acidic the tea will become as the culture eats the sugar. If your brew comes out too sour, you can add a small amount of sugar when you bottle. Brewing times vary based on the ambient temperature of your house and are generally 7-10 days in the warmer months and 10-14 in the cooler months.

When the taste is where you like it, you're ready to bottle and enjoy!

photo: inkdroid

Kombucha isn't fizzy enough?

Many people love the highly carbonated varieties of kombucha and are dissapointed by the comparatively soft fizz in their homebrew.

There are a few ways to increase carbonation but the most effective and simplest is by doing a secondary bottle fermentation with your finished tea.

When your tea is finished, funnel into recycled glass bottles with tight fitting lids OR swing-tops, let sit undisturbed for 3-5 days at room temperature, then move to the refrigerator.

You can flavor your kombucha with a small amount of juice, fresh/dried fruit, sliced ginger or other spices right in the bottle. This will also increase carbonation so use a small amount - 1 tsp for a 16oz bottle is plenty.

If you're not using a swing top bottle, kombucha tea stored at room temperature for long periods of time should be checked for excess pressure buildup; it can cause the bottles burst or leak.

Periodically, carefully open the lid and let some of the CO2 out to prevent mishaps. It's a good idea to keep the bottles in a box, freezer chest or similar container to control the liquid and glass if a bottle does explode.

photo: JuditK

The perfect bottle for home made kombucha:

CASE OF 12 - 16 oz. EZ Cap Beer Bottles - AMBER
CASE OF 12 - 16 oz. EZ Cap Beer Bottles - AMBER

These swing-top bottles are perfect for storing finished kombucha. They're also great for secondary fermentation as the lid releases excess pressure, preventing explosions. If you have a bottle that's been sitting a long time, be extremely careful opening it. I have seen the entire cap assembly blow off with incredible force, reaching the ceiling. Had it hit me in the face or eye, I would have certainly been injured.

This particular bottle had been sitting for close to 1 year. It was delicious, but dangerous, not to mention messy. Kombucha sprayed all over my ceiling, the chandelier and my table.

Be sure to clean your bottles well between brewings. When empty, store them with the cap open to preserve the rubber.

 

See how kombucha is made - it really is this easy.

I followed Neil's instructions to great success my first time. Check out his excellent video:

Too much work? Grab a complete kit instead!

I enjoyed doing everything for myself, but this kit is totally awesome and makes home brewed kombucha even easier. It comes with everything you need to make your own kombucha tea, including a started that's well regarded among NY brewers.

Kombucha Brooklyn Home Brew Super Kit - 1 Gallon
Kombucha Brooklyn Home Brew Super Kit - 1 Gallon

This kit includes a 1 gallon glass jar, a cotton cover, a rubberband,1 brew's worth of blended fair trade, organic tea, 1 brew's worth of organic, fair trade cane sugar and detailed instructions.

 

You can recycle swing-top beer bottles to hold your Kombucha, (as if you needed an excuse to buy fancy beer!)

Please, leave a comment!

Got a question or advice for other homebrewers? Feedback on my article?

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    • Coffee-Break profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 

      4 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      All fermented foods and drinks have great health benefits, and people forget how easy it is to cook, brew, and prepare foods. But the reality is that you can't get fermented foods in stores.

      Thanks for sharing this.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      5 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      g+ and pinned and emailed to all my friends who drink Kombucha

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      5 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      wow, how great to make your own! I will try this, as I love Kombucha!!!

    • Tom Maybrier profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Maybrier 

      5 years ago

      @markkeeler: San Pellegrino bottles! Brilliant!

    • Tom Maybrier profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Maybrier 

      5 years ago

      @lesliesinclair: I think everyone should try it! I'd love to make my own kefir - I think I'm going to order some cultures =]

    • Tom Maybrier profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Maybrier 

      5 years ago

      @Gypzeerose: As safe as making anything else at home, I suppose. You can always pasteurize it, although you'd be killing any potentially beneficial cultures.

    • Wbisbill LM profile image

      Barbara Isbill 

      5 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      Interesting and I learned something new. Thanks!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 

      5 years ago

      I'm interested in doing this myself. A couple years ago I bought kefir culture and made my own kefir and this process reminds me of that project. I really enjoyed the kefir but then I let the last batch ferment too long and it turned hard. Thanks.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      5 years ago

      But is it safe? We really want to do this but we are worried about food safety issues. Pinned to my beverages board. We spend a fortune on Kombucha every week, so it would really help if we could make our own. Kombucha is extremely good for you.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      5 years ago

      But is it safe? We really want to do this but we are worried about food safety issues. Pinned to my beverages board. We spend a fortune on Kombucha every week, so it would really help if we could make our own. Kombucha is extremely good for you.

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 

      5 years ago

      I've been making Kombucha on and off over the past 20 years, but didn't know that you could use raw kombucha tea to grow a scobie starter. Love this tea and have been thinking of making some recently.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      @Tom Maybrier: i wonder if folks also know that kombucha is also alcoholic? i found that out when i drank too much of it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      This is all news to me, Tom. I'm not real big on tea, but one that has FIZ sounds delightful.

      Cheers!

    • peterb6001 profile image

      Peter Badham 

      5 years ago from England

      This is interesting, I've never heard of this before but am very intrigued now.

    • markkeeler profile image

      markkeeler 

      5 years ago

      I like my kombucha fizzy. Second fermentation works best. I have left it bottled for as long as a month in San Peligrino bottles and it was fizzier than champagne.

    • Tom Maybrier profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Maybrier 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: That's what they say! I don't know about that but I love the taste!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Vry interesting- I understand it's very good for your health.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      5 years ago from Canada

      I was drawn in by the 'kombucha' name. I have never heard that term before so was surprised to see that it is a tea like drink. Amazing what a person learns cruising the pages of Squidoo.

    • Tom Maybrier profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Maybrier 

      5 years ago

      @sebo246: I make mine tart, very carbonated and only a little sweet. It's similar to iced tea, but instead of being crisp and tannic, the tea flavor is mellow and soft.

    • sebo246 profile image

      sebo246 

      5 years ago

      I've heard about kombucha - what does it taste like?

    • Tom Maybrier profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Maybrier 

      5 years ago

      @Ardyn25: It's totally worth a try, it's really quite simple!

    • Ardyn25 profile image

      Ardyn25 

      5 years ago

      That is a lot easier than I would have thought, well worth a try. I like that you can make it fizzier. And that you can also buy it in a kit...thanks.

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