How to Make Kombucha At Home - A Simple Homemade Recipe
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.
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
- In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of water to a boil.
- Add two tablespoons white sugar and stir until dissolved.
- 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.
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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
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.
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.
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!
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.
The perfect bottle for home made kombucha:
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.
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!