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!
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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!
Yields appox. 1 gallon, or 6 20oz bottles.
Course Drinks
Cuisine American, Chinese
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 7 days
Total Time 7 days 30 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 75kcal
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:

  • 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.
  • Pour into the glass jar (or divide among multiple glass jars).   
    Add store-bought kombucha (or starter kombucha from a previous batch) and the SCOBY and stir. 
    Cover the jar(s) with a napkin or paper towel, and secure with the rubber band.
    Tip: If using multiple jars, make sure to have 1 SCOBY per jar.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Tip: Don't forget to set aside the started kombucha and the SCOBY before moving onto the next steps.

Making Flavored Kombucha: (Optional)

  • Technique 1 (2nd Fermentation):
    Add whatever flavoring you want to the jars-- such as fruit, hot peppers, herbs-- and then recover the jars with napkins and rubber bands.  Store jars at room temperature for another 2-3 days.  
    Strain out all of the added flavorings from the tea. Proceed to the bottling or carbonation steps.
  • Technique 2 (Flavor Added to Final Bottling):
    Add desired amount of juice to the kombucha.

Bottling Kombucha:

  • Use a funnel to pour the remaining kombucha into bottles.
    Refrigerate immediately, or move onto the carbonation steps.

Carbonating Kombucha: (Optional)

  • 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. 
    Tip: 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.  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.

Video

Notes

Tips: 
  • 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.
  • 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!)
  • DO NOT USE DECORATIVE GLASS BOTTLES- They will EXPLODE! 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.)
  • 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.
  • Going out of town? 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.
  • 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!
Troubleshooting:
  • 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.
Note: Avoid prolonged contact with metal once the fermentation process begins.
Calorie count is based on 1 20oz bottle, and is an estimation based on unflavored, store-bought GT kombucha.  Actual calorie count will vary based on time fermented and flavoring ingredients added.

Nutrition

Calories: 75kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Sodium: 25mg | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2500IU