How to Make Homemade Kombucha

A Recipe to Try

 Basic Kombucha – 1 GALLON

•   Tea of your choice—8-16 teaspoons loose leaf, or 4-8 bags (use green or white tea, and/or at a lower rate for a lower caffeine content)

•   1-2 cups sugar (white, brown, honey, etc.) to taste

•   Filtered water



Key Points for Key Kombucha

•   Glass (or stainless steel) only. Experts recommend glass and/or stainless steel for fermentation, agitation, and packaging of kombucha, both for sanitizability and nonreactivity.

•   Getting a SCOBY. Getting a slice or layer of SCOBY from another brewer is the best way to get a fresh, viable culture of your—ask your friends, homebrew club, and social media network. Mail order SCOBYs are available online. If you can find a very fresh bottle of kombucha at a co-op or health food store, you may be able to culture it up in a “SCOBY starter.”

•   Mold bad, yeast & bacteria good. Eliminate the risk of mold through low pH (pre-acidify the brew with a bit of finished kombucha or vinegar—see next page), keep equipment clean & sanitized, and keep the fermentation within a temp range of roughly 75°-85°F. Mold grows on the surface, looks fuzzy, and tends to be green, blue, or black in color.  A SCOBY will be brownish-white to gray and look filmy or ropy. Don’t drink kombucha you suspect may be contaminated with mold. Consult with an experienced kombucha brewer first, and if in doubt, dump it and start fresh—don’t reuse a mold-contaminated SCOBY.

•   Additional resources! For further info, check out and The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz.

To the Homebrewery

Brew Day

1.  Brew a strong tea-sugar concentrate. In a saucepan, heat one quart of filtered water to boiling. Turn off heat and steep the tea for 10-30 minutes. A longer steep time = a more caffeinated kombucha. For less caffeine, steep shorter and/or at a lower temp.

2.  Remove tea and dissolve sugar to taste. Start small and scale up—remember, it’s going to be diluted next.

3.  Sanitize the fermenting jar and fill with 3 quarts cold filtered water.

4.  Add tea-sugar concentrate to fermenting jar and stir with a sanitized spoon to mix.

5.  Acidify the brew. Add one scant cup of finished kombucha or a scant ½ cup of vinegar. This step helps reduce the risk of unwanted microbes colonizing the kombucha.

6.  Check temperature and inoculate. When the outside of the glass is cool to the touch (lower than body temp), inoculate with the SCOBY—just plop it in.

7.  Cover the fermenting jar and place it in a warm spot out of the sunlight. Rubber-band the cloth cover into place over the open mouth of the jar. The top of your refrigerator makes a nice, warm spot for fermentation. Aim for a fermentation temp between 75°-85°F.


Fermentation and Beyond

1.   Acidify to your liking. Taste the kombucha every day to evaluate it—at this time of year, and depending on your SCOBY, fermentation temp, and personal preference, it could be ready to roll in as little as one week. For those who like it quite sour, or are fermenting cooler, it may take several weeks to get it where you want it.

2.   Decant into sanitized bottles, cap, and refrigerate. My better half, who does like it quite sour, has been known to forgo bottling entirely and use a sanitized stainless dipper to ladle out fresh kombucha on demand; it grows more acetic as we drink it, until it gets topped up with the next brew.

3.   Save the SCOBY, share the SCOBY, brew again and repeat as needed. In between brews, your SCOBY can be kept alive for months in a sanitized, sealed container in the fridge.

Thanks to my lovely wife Joanna for her help with this article. Until next time: drink it like your significant other brewed it.


For more fermentation recipes check out True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home, by Emma Christensen2011-10-28-Kombucha4

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  1. […] The whole process can take up to a month and a half to complete. (Check out this month’s Growler Magazine on D.I.Y. kombucha to get a good sense of how it […]

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