Are you tired of buying store-bought kombucha? This tutorial will walk you through How to Make Kombucha-- all the way from the scoby to the bottling!

How to Make Kombucha

Are you tired of buying store-bought kombucha? This tutorial will walk you through How to Make Kombucha-- all the way from the scoby to the bottling!

How to Make Kombucha

Are you tired of buying store-bought kombucha?  This tutorial will walk you through How to Make Kombucha– all the way from the scoby to the bottling!

Have you ever bought something at the grocery store totally by accident?  Did you misread a label, or just not understand, even a little bit, what you were buying?  I have– and that, my friends, is how my love affair with kombucha began.  Maybe I was in a hurry, maybe I was faint from hunger, or maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me– but I thought I was buying a sparkling juice (or sparkling tea, or SOMETHING ELSE– I forget).  One sip, however, clued me in that I was not drinking what I expected to be drinking.

Kombucha can be an acquired taste, but by the time I finished my first bottle, I was sold!  Have you fallen in love with kombucha too?  Are you tired of paying $3+ a bottle, when you clearly MUST drink this every day???  Here’s what to do about it.

In a hurry?  Jump straight to the  scoby tutorial OR to the  kombucha tutorial! 

Are you tired of buying store-bought kombucha? This tutorial will walk you through How to Make Kombucha-- all the way from the scoby to the bottling!

How to Make Kombucha

What is kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented black tea.  It’s made by placing a scoby in black tea with a little sugar, and then letting it ferment for around a week.  Next, the tea is bottled, allowed to carbonate, and then it’s ready to drink!  The whole process should take about a week and a half to two weeks.

Why drink it?  For one thing, I like the taste!  You should also know that, just as with wheatgrass, some people claim kombucha is a ‘miracle cure’ for a whole range of health problems.  Is it?  I have no idea.  It has, however, been shown to be a natural source of probiotics.

What does it taste like?  It tastes like… tea, and yet… not tea.  It does, admittedly, have a faint vinegar-ish taste, but in a fermented and delicious way.  Think of it as a cross between a sparkling alcoholic cider and a nice, big glass of iced tea.

If you’re not sure whether or not you’ll like it– pick up a bottle or two at the store and try it out!  You can find flavored and unflavored kombucha– try both!  Not sure where to look?  I’ve found pre-made kombucha at Walmart, Trader Joe’s, and my local health food store.  I’ve even seen it show up at Aldi.  It’ll be refrigerated, and is usually near the produce.  Next, once you’ve fallen in love, and become tired of paying for the pre-made kind– come back here and ferment tea with me!

Note: Kombucha DOES contain trace amounts of alcohol, because alcohol is a natural result of yeast consuming sugar and being left to ferment.  However, in general it should have less than 0.5% ABV– a low enough amount that it can legally be sold as a non-alcoholic drink.  So no– your kombucha should not make you tipsy.

Are you tired of buying store-bought kombucha? This tutorial will walk you through How to Make Kombucha-- all the way from the scoby to the bottling!

Mature Scoby (left) and Young Scoby (right)

The Scoby

To make kombucha, you must have a scoby.  What’s a scoby?  Scoby stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.  It’s important.  It’s weird.  It’s freaky.  It’s ALIVE!  This strange gel-like disk is what keeps your kombucha safe to drink, and helps the tea develop its unique and delicious flavor.  It floats in the tea while it ferments, and keeps the tea healthy.  The scoby is similar to a vinegar mother (the thing you see floating around in some bottles of apple cider vinegar), and will grow and reproduce as you continue fermenting your kombucha.

How do you get your hands on a scoby?  You can buy them online, at some health food stores, a kombucha-growing friend most likely has extras, or you can grow your own!

 (Are you buying your scoby? Skip to the Kombucha tutorial!)

Are you tired of buying store-bought kombucha? This tutorial will walk you through How to Make Kombucha-- all the way from the scoby to the bottling!
5 from 14 votes
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How to Grow Your Own Kombucha Scoby

Author Champagne Tastes

Ingredients

  • 7 cups water
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar (do not substitute raw sugar)
  • 4 bags black tea (or 1 TB loose black tea)
  • 1 cup store-bought raw kombucha (unflavored, unpasteurized)

Equipment Needed:

  • large pot to boil water / steep tea
  • 2 quart glass jar OR 2 1-quart glass jars
  • paper towel or napkin (avoid using cheesecloth if you have a problem with fruit-flies)
  • rubber band

Instructions

  1. Bring water to a boil, and add tea leaves and sugar.  Allow tea to steep until sugar has dissolved and water has cooled to room temperature.  Remove the tea bags (or strain out loose tea).  Do not proceed to the next step until the tea has completely cooled, or you risk killing the good bacteria in the kombucha.

  2. Add store-bought kombucha and stir.  Pour into the glass jar (or divide among 2 glass jars).  Cover the jar(s) with a napkin or paper towel, and secure with the rubber band.  

  3. Set the jar(s) out of direct sunlight (sunlight can keep the tea from fermenting), at room temperature (around 70ºF), and avoid bumping or jostling the jar(s).

  4. The scoby will take 1 - 4 weeks to form.  Check on it often-- you should see the tea begin to bubble and ferment after a few days, and then a small translucent disk will appear.  Eventually, that layer will thicken and become opaque.  When it is about 1/4" thick, you're ready to make kombucha! 

Troubleshooting:

  1. This is normal:  The scoby has bubbles, is bumpy, has dark brown spots, or stringy pieces hanging off it.

    This is not normal: The scoby has mold or smells rotten.  Throw away your scoby and start over.

Recipe Notes

Note: Avoid prolonged contact with metal once the scoby fermentation process begins.

Also Note: The scoby will most likely grow on the TOP of the jar-- so if you don't see anything happening, look under your napkin!

Are you tired of buying store-bought kombucha? This tutorial will walk you through How to Make Kombucha-- all the way from the scoby to the bottling!

Bottling Kombucha

The lifespan of a scoby

Once you’ve grown, bought, or been gifted your very own kombucha scoby, it’s time for the real fun to begin.  It’s time to brew tea, let it ferment, and play around with the flavors!

Keep in mind that as you ferment your kombucha, your scoby will thicken.  Once it doubles or triples in size, you’ll be able to peel it in half, and voila!  Now you have two scoby!  You may also find yourself with partially formed, baby scoby that are too small to use on their own.  I usually put these in with an adult scoby during the fermenting process, until they’ve grown to at least 1/4 inch thick, but these could also be discarded.

Also remember that your scoby is alive, and it needs a healthy environment to stay healthy.  Avoid using flavored teas, and don’t leave the scoby in your tea after you add fruit or spices for flavoring.  If your scoby gets dark all over, it may have died.  You can either try fermenting one more batch, and see if it ferments your tea, or toss it and use a new scoby for your next batch.

This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. 

Are you tired of buying store-bought kombucha? This tutorial will walk you through How to Make Kombucha-- all the way from the scoby to the bottling!

Bottling Kombucha

Kombucha tips

  1. Keep it clean!  Always wash your hands before handling the scoby, and use clean jars and equipment.  Do not, however use antibacterial soap to clean your supplies.
  2. Label everything!  A lot of this process is trial and error, so it’s helpful to know exactly what you did.  (Did you add 5 dried chilis to your last batch?  Was that too hot, or could you not taste the heat at all?  Experiment!)
  3. DO NOT USE DECORATIVE GLASS BOTTLES- They will EXPLODE!  I really don’t think I can emphasize this part enough– Once you finish fermenting your tea with the scoby, you’ll bottle the tea and allow it to carbonate.  Not all bottles can handle carbonation!  Skip the decorative bottles– You want a pop-top beer bottle, or a beer growler, or simply a recycled plastic soda bottle.  (I’m hesitant to recommend reusing a cheap plastic soda bottle over and over again, but it’s better than having glass explode near you, or all over your pantry or fridge.)  I use these bottles.
  4. Remove the scoby BEFORE adding flavoring. When you ferment a batch with the scoby, and before you add any flavoring, place the scoby in the plain kombucha that you’ve set aside for the next batch.  The scoby doesn’t like it when the environment changes.
  5. Going out of town?  If it’s for 2-3 weeks or less, simply leave your scoby in a batch of kombucha.  That batch might be too vinegary to use, but the scoby will be fine, and you can start over after your trip.  If it’s for a longer time-period, either have someone babysit your kombucha, or start over when you get back in town.
  6. Have fun!  Ultimately, this is a learning process from start to finish.  Experiment with new flavors, gush about your kombucha fermentation station to your friends, and share your baby scoby with them!
Are you tired of buying store-bought kombucha? This tutorial will walk you through How to Make Kombucha-- all the way from the scoby to the bottling!

How to Make Kombucha

Are you tired of buying store-bought kombucha? This tutorial will walk you through How to Make Kombucha-- all the way from the scoby to the bottling!
5 from 14 votes
Print

How to Make Kombucha

Course Drinks
Author Champagne Tastes

Ingredients

Basic Kombucha Recipe:

  • 14 cups water
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar (do not substitute raw sugar)
  • 8 bags black tea (or 2 TB loose black tea)
  • 2 cups started tea from last batch OR store-bought raw kombucha (unflavored, unpasteurized)
  • 1 scoby per fermentation jar

Optional Flavoring Add-Ins:

  • fruit, spices

Equipment Needed While Fermenting:

  • large pot to boil water / steep tea
  • 1 gallon glass jar OR multiple smaller jars (make sure to have 1 scoby per jar)
  • paper towels or napkins (avoid using cheesecloth if you have a problem with fruit-flies)
  • rubber bands

Equipment Needed While Carbonating / Storing:

  • funnel
  • Additional gallon jar OR multiple smaller jars
  • paper towels or napkins (avoid using cheesecloth if you have a problem with fruit-flies)
  • rubber bands
  • 2 2-liter soda bottles OR 6 16-oz bottles, PLASTIC or PRESSURE-RESISTANT swing top glass bottles
  • mesh sieve or strainer (for flavored kombucha)

Instructions

Fermenting:

  1. Bring water to a boil, and add tea leaves and sugar. Allow tea to steep until sugar has dissolved and water has cooled to room temperature. Remove the tea bags (or strain out loose tea). Do not proceed to the next step until the tea has completely cooled, or you risk killing the good bacteria in the kombucha.

  2. Add store-bought kombucha and stir. Pour into the glass jar (or divide among multiple glass jars). Cover the jar(s) with a napkin or paper towel, and secure with the rubber band.

  3. Set the jar(s) out of direct sunlight (sunlight can keep the tea from fermenting), at room temperature (around 70ºF), and avoid bumping or jostling the jar(s).

  4. Allow tea to ferment for 7 - 10 days.  The longer tea ferments, the stronger the flavor will be, but fermentation is also affected by the temperature where you live.  Smell the tea after 7 days, and let it ferment longer if desired.

  5. Next, pour 2 cups of the fermented tea into a container and set aside.  This is your starter for the next batch.  Place your scoby inside this 'starter' kombucha until your next batch of tea is ready.

Carbonating Non-Flavored Kombucha:

  1. Use a funnel to pour the remaining kombucha into bottles.  Seal the bottles, and let them sit at room temperature for 1 - 3 days, until fully carbonated.  If using plastic bottles, your kombucha is ready when the bottle feels rock-hard.  If using glass bottles, "burp" the bottles twice a day to release air. 

    It is highly recommended to use at least one plastic bottle when you're learning how to make kombucha, because it's harder to tell when kombucha in glass bottles has finished carbonating.  Optionally, you can use one plastic bottle and the remaining can be glass.  The kombucha has finished carbonating when the plastic bottle is hard.  Store kombucha in the fridge to slow fermentation, and drink within a month.

    Note: NEVER use glass bottles that are not rated for pressure.  Glass bottles not meant for pressure can (and likely will) EXPLODE.  If you don't have bottles that can handle the pressure, stick with plastic bottles.

Carbonating Flavored Kombucha:

  1. Pour tea into another jar (or jars).  Add whatever flavoring you want-- like fruit, hot peppers, herbs-- and then recover the jars with napkins and rubber bands.  Store jars at room temperature for another 2-3 days.  

  2. Strain out all of the added flavorings from the tea.  Proceed to the bottling steps listed above.

Troubleshooting:

  1. This is normal: A new, transparent scoby disk appearing on the top of the kombucha batch; stringy pieces of scoby floating in the drink (like with a vinegar mother); the scoby floating on top, on the side, on the bottom-- It doesn't matter where it is, it's working.

    This is not normal: The tea has mold or smells rotten. Throw away your scoby and tea and start over.

Recipe Notes

Note: Avoid prolonged contact with metal once the fermentation process begins.

Have you tried making kombucha?  Do you still have questions?  Feel free to ask questions in the comment section!
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. 

Want to learn more about kombucha?  Here are some resources that I found helpful when I was getting started:

True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, 2nd Edition

32 thoughts on “How to Make Kombucha

  1. Silvia @ Garden in the Kitchen says:

    Had to pin this fantastic recipe to try soon!! I also love kombucha but don’t exactly love the store prices or having to get to it in order to drink one. I really love your tutorial and the way you explain what everything is, including the gel-like live thing that is so weird but necessary ha?? Thanks so much, love this kombucha recipe!!

  2. Lynn | The Road to Honey says:

    I am a big tea fanatic but can you believe that I have never had kombucha? I’ve always been fascinated by it but I also must admit that the scoby creeps me out a bit. That said your kombucha looks so refreshing and I think I would feel more comfortable if I made my own versus buying.

  3. Just Jo says:

    Whoa, I am a little bit scared by the appearance of the scoby to be honest lol! Freaky is right! But the final colour of the tea looks amazing. I’ve never had kombucha so I think I should buy a bottle to get a n idea of the taste before giving this a go at home myself. I do love making homemade versions of things which are usually just commercially produced so I may well have to give your recipe a go!

    • champagne-tastes says:

      Let me know if you give it a try! If it helps, the scoby stages takes a few weeks so you’ve got time to get the kombucha stuff together 😁

  4. sara | belly rumbles says:

    That was an interesting read and I am now up with what kombucha actually is. I’ve never tried it before, never had the desire to. But I did’t realise it was tea based! That does change things a little as I thought it was vegetable based, why, I have no idea, LOL!

    • champagne-tastes says:

      Aw well yay! Maybe you saw one that was mixed with greens- for the record, I didn’t like that flavor. Lol

  5. Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine says:

    What a great overview– this is such a wildly popular trend right now. They got really trendy after I had already moved to Asia, and it’s just starting to pop up around here, but when I am in the States visiting, ITS EVERYWHERE! Brewing your own would be a great way to save money– I know its so healthy.

  6. Laura says:

    Interesting article. I hope I can find the kombucha here in France. It sounds like a perfect healthy replacement to tea.

    • champagne-tastes says:

      Yes try it!!! But I’d definitely taste some store-bought before you go through all the effort, just to make sure you like it 😀

  7. Leah says:

    This is definitely a project I want to undertake! It’s been on my “list” to make for a while, and I just have been a little leery of doing it! Your tips are fantastic, and now I am not as worried about it! Thanks for this fantastic post and inspiration!

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