how to make kombucha

Kombucha is a healthy drink filled with probiotics and good bacteria. This drink has become increasingly popular due to its various benefits for digestion and overall health.

If you love kombucha, you might be wondering how to create your own kombucha within the comfort of your own home. 

You might think store bought kombucha is too expensive, or you may simply love making your own drinks at home. Either way, in this article we will help you understand the ins and outs of how to make kombucha. 

Making homemade kombucha is easy for anyone, as it is simply done by fermenting sweetened tea.

But before we get started, here is what you will need to make a 2 gallon batch of kombucha. If you want to brew a smaller amount, simply adjust the measurements accordingly:

As you can see, these homemade kombucha instructions require you to have a starter SCOBY. If you don’t already have your own SCOBY, get a SCOBY before following the rest of these instructions. 

You can find SCOBY within the health food store kombucha or on Amazon. 

Since you don’t necessarily need a fresh SCOBY, you may also consider getting it from a friend or relative who is already brewing kombucha. Since SCOBY creates layers, someone you know will likely be happy to give you a section of their SCOBY to start with. 

Your SCOBY should also already be soaking in raw, unflavored kombucha before you use it to make your homemade kombucha. 

Step 1: Infuse the Tea

Boil half of your filtered water (8 cups) in a tea kettle or in a pot on the stove. Pour the other 8 cups of filtered water into a big glass vessel and set it aside for later. 

Once your water is boiled, turn off the kettle and stove and place all of your tea (12 tea bags or 24 grams of loose tea) in the water to steep for around 10 minutes. 

If you are wondering which type of tea to use, I recommend infusing black tea. 

You can use green tea, oolong tea, or white tea as well. All of these teas can work to create kombucha. However, we recommend black tea because the high caffeinating content will hold up better against hot water than green or fruity teas.

This is important because you are steeping your tea for 10 minutes, longer than the normal steeping time for a regular cup of tea. Green tea and other teas might become too bitter when brewed for this long. 

We also recommend avoiding any decaf tea when you make kombucha or any flavored teas with oils or fruit flavoring. 

These alternatives could throw off the dynamic of the yeast and bacteria of the SCOBY. And herbal teas, of course, will not contain the caffeine necessary for the kombucha ferment.

If you want your kombucha to be flavored, wait until the second stage of fermentation to add flavor with fruit juice. 

After the 10 minutes is up, pour your tea into the big glass vessel that contains your room temperature water. It’s helpful to keep some water at room temperature to help the tea start cooling down. 

Step 2: Dissolve White Sugar in the Tea (and Nothing Else)

While your large vessel of tea is still hot, pour your sugar (1.5 cups) into the glass vessel. Most of this sugar will not end up in your resulting kombucha tea, as the SCOBY will feed off of it. 

Make sure to use white cane sugar. Anything else — flavored sugars, brown sugars, coconut sugar, synthetic sugars, etc. — will throw off the symbiosis of your SCOBY. You need the chemicals of real cane sugar for your SCOBY to eat and convert the sugars into acids. 

Additionally, do not add vinegar to this sweet tea. Although you might have heard (and tasted) that kombucha has a vinegary taste, you should not put vinegar into this starter kombucha tea. You will end up introducing acids that are not meant to be there. 

Leave that to the SCOBY. If not, the result will be converting your SCOBY into a vinegar SCOBY. This means that it won’t brew kombucha. Instead, you’ll be brewing vinegar in the long run.

Step 3: Transfer the Kombucha SCOBY to the Starter Tea

Before moving on to this step, you need to let the starter tea fully cool down to room temperature. 

Once the kombucha tea has cooled, transfer the SCOBY from the already fermented kombucha to the sweetened tea.

If you didn’t know, SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Due to its bacteria and yeast makeup, the SCOBY will ultimately take the caffeine and sugar from the sweet tea and convert them into different types of acids.

In order to raise the acidity and help with this brewing process, it is important to pour 1 cup of pre-made unflavored starter kombucha into this tea mixture as well, along with the SCOBY. If you skip this step, your SCOBY might die off before starting to brew your tea.

You can use the kombucha brew your SCOBY was soaking in. Otherwise, if it is not enough, simply buy a plain kombucha from your local health food store. 

Step 4: Cover Your Brewing Kombucha Container and Let It Sit

The next step is to cover your kombucha brewing with a clean, tightly woven cloth.

You want your SCOBY to breathe, but you don’t want any dirt, dust, or other particulars to get into your batch. 

Let it sit for 7 – 10 days at a nice room temperature (between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit). You also want to store the mixture in a dark area, such as a cabinet or a closet. You want to avoid leaving it in direct sunlight. 

Seven days is a reasonable time for beginners. Leave it for closer to 10 days if you want the flavor to be more acidic. 

The kombucha ferments for these few days, and throughout this process, your kombucha SCOBY is actively converting caffeine and sugar into different acids, which is the fermentation process.  

The best thing to do now is just to leave it alone. Don’t fuss around with the bottle or check in on it. The kombucha SCOBY is working on fermenting correctly, and moving it around or messing with it in any way will disturb the natural process. 

Also, do not store your container in the fridge, as many beginners often do. If the surroundings are too cold, the SCOBY cannot properly acidify the contents, which means it cannot correctly make the kombucha.

Step 5: Look, Smell, and Taste Your Homemade Kombucha

After the 7-10 days are up, check your kombucha to see if it fermented properly.

Everyone familiar with making kombucha knows that it might look weird after healthy fermentation, and that’s okay. But if you see any bright colors or fuzzy areas, this means that your kombucha has gone bad. 

If you have a ph strip, check to see that your kombucha has a ph of around 2.5 – 3.5. 

Finally, it’s time to begin tasting your kombucha. It should taste vinegary, and it is drinkable at this point. However, we recommend doing a second fermentation for the best taste.  

Step 6: Bottle Your Kombucha Tea for Second Fermentation

Now you are ready to bottle your fermented tea kombucha, without the SCOBY, for a second fermentation process. This second fermentation is useful for adding carbonation and flavor. 

Before bottling, be sure to store the glass brewing vessel very well. Yeast might have settled at the bottom in order to distribute the yeast evenly throughout the brew. 

The carbonation will happen on its own simply by bottling the kombucha and letting it sit for several more days. 

However, if you want to add flavor, you can add fruit juice to the kombucha as you are bottling it. All you have to do is put the fermented kombucha into a glass bottle, about ⅘ full. 

Then, pour your desired juice into the rest of the bottle. Let the bottle sit, tightly closed, in a cool, dark area for five more days. We recommend using a juice that contains no preservatives. People love making raspberry, peach, ginger kombucha, and more.

Step 7: Chill Your Kombucha – Then Enjoy!

Now that you have finished the first fermentation and second fermentation, put your bottles of finished kombucha in the fridge. 

You want to make sure this bottle of kombucha chills before opening them up. Otherwise, the fizzy fermented tea developed during the second process might find its way all over your kitchen floor!

And there you go. Now you know how to make homemade kombucha, and you can tell others that making kombucha isn’t so difficult. Happy drinking, and remember to save some raw kombucha for your next batch!

PRO TIP: If you make a new batch when this one is finished, you’ll soon have more SCOBY than you can handle. I wrote a post about what to do with extra SCOBY and talk about using it in a worm farm. Check it out!

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