How to Make Kombucha

Making your own Kombucha may seem a little scary at first, but I assure you it’s quite easy. Just follow these easy steps, and you’ll be brewing your own Kombucha tea in no time!

The key ingredient you’ll need to start brewing Kombucha is a SCOBY and some starter tea. You can purchase these in my store.

Kombucha
Scroll through all my pictures, and take a look at the day-by-day slideshow on step 11. Check out my timelapse video too!~Donna
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Materials
  • Gallon Jaror non lead-based crock
  • Linen or cloth napkinthat will fit completely over top of jar or crock
  • Rubber bandto go around neck of jug or crock
  • 16 oz Bottles
  • Heating Strip(Optional, but highly recommended)
Ingredients
Servings: Quarts
Units:
Instructions
  1. Wash all utensils with hot sudsy water and rinse well.
    Wash all utensils with hot sudsy water and rinse well.
  2. Bring three quarts of water to a boil.
    Bring three quarts of water to a boil.
  3. Add 1 cup sugar ( you can use raw, white, or sucanat) to water when a rolling boil is reached. Boil water and sugar until dissolved.
    Add 1 cup sugar ( you can use raw, white, or sucanat) to water when a rolling boil is reached. Boil water and sugar until dissolved.
  4. Turn off heat and add 4-5 tea bags of black or green tea.
    Turn off heat and add 4-5 tea bags of black or green tea.
  5. Steep 10-15 minutes and remove tea leaves or bags and let tea cool (it doesn't hurt to steep the tea longer).
    Steep 10-15 minutes and remove tea leaves or bags and let tea cool (it doesn't hurt to steep the tea longer).
  6. Pour cooled tea into gallon size glass container.
    Pour cooled tea into gallon size glass container.
  7. Add your Kombucha culture, placing it so that the smooth shiny surface lies up.
    Place your scoby in the tea
    Add your Kombucha culture, placing it so that the smooth shiny surface lies up.
    Place your scoby in the tea
  8. Add 1 cup of fermented Kombucha Tea from a previous batch.
    Add 1 cup of fermented Kombucha Tea from a previous batch.
  9. Place a cloth over the opening of the jar and secure with a rubber band. This keeps dust, mold, spores and vinegar flies out of the fermenting tea.
    Place a cloth over the opening of the jar and secure with a rubber band. This keeps dust, mold, spores and vinegar flies out of the fermenting tea.
  10. Place a heating strip around your jar. (optional, but highly recommended) Allow to sit undisturbed in a well ventilated place away from direct sunlight (temp. 65-85 degrees F.) for 6 - 15 days.
    Place a heating strip around your jar. (optional, but highly recommended) Allow to sit undisturbed in a well ventilated place away from direct sunlight (temp. 65-85 degrees F.) for 6 - 15 days.
  11. You will notice that a new culture, or "scoby" will begin to form. Scroll through all my pictures, and take a look at the day-by-day slideshow!

  12. Time for for a taste test! Stick a straw along the inside of your jar. You can do this without disturbing the scoby too much, just keep in the straw along the side, Then put your finger over the top of the straw.

    (If you're using a jar with a spigot, just use the spigot instead)
    Time for for a taste test! Stick a straw along the inside of your jar. You can do this without disturbing the scoby too much, just keep in the straw along the side, Then put your finger over the top of the straw.

    (If you're using a jar with a spigot, just use the spigot instead)
  13. Draw out some kombucha and have a taste.

    You may expect results like this:

    • 4-6 Days - Too sweet, not all sugar converted.
    • 7-9 Days - Tastes like sparkling apple cider.
    • 10+ Days - Vinegar taste becoming prominent.
    Draw out some kombucha and have a taste.

    You may expect results like this:

    • 4-6 Days - Too sweet, not all sugar converted.
    • 7-9 Days - Tastes like sparkling apple cider.
    • 10+ Days - Vinegar taste becoming prominent.
  14. When the tea is brewed to your taste, pour the tea into glass bottles and cap. Then place in the refrigerator. This can now be second fermented with juices, but is still delicious as is.
    When the tea is brewed to your taste, pour the tea into glass bottles and cap. Then place in the refrigerator. This can now be second fermented with juices, but is still delicious as is.
Recipe Notes

Kombucha starterAlways leave enough starter tea from your last batch to make another batch of tea. You can remove the two cultures or leave them in the pot to make another batch.

Make another pot of tea with sugar and add this to your starter and culture to start the process again.

CulturedFoodLife.com
246 Responses to "How to Make Kombucha"
  1. I’ve been batch brewing for over 2 years using cane sugar and have had great success. On a whim (and due to a missed trip to the store) I decided to experiment using unrefined coconut sugar. Now, I’m reading that this could be a poor choice. The brew is fizzing like it never has and has much more sediment than usual. It smells fine and the scoby looks healthy. Am I ok to continue brewing?

  2. Another popular website about cultured foods, recommends adding white vinegar to the cooled tea, in place of the starter tea that you recommend. Is the kombucha made this way just as healthful?

  3. Hi Donna –
    I love the natural carbonation in my kombucha but in the last several months it has so much carbonation that I have to keep releasing the gas before I can pour it and even then it overflows out of the bottle. I have tried burping the bottles each day but that doesn’t help. I even had a bottle explode. I keep the bottles in the coolest room in the house. I think refrigeration would make the carbonation drop but I have 2-3 crates of bottles on hand at any given time. Any ideas?
    Thank you…Kate

      • Okay..I didn’t even think of that. I use fruit to second ferment so I’ll put less fruit. Thanks so much!

        Kate

  4. When I started my last batch of Kombucha I forgot to add the sugar! Is scoby dead? What should I do?

  5. I just received a scoby from a friend via the mail, but it does not have much liquid with it. Is there something I can use as the starter liquid? Would my homemade cider vinegar work (it has a mother floating in it)? Or do I need to go buy a bottle of Kombucha at the store?

    • Warmth is the biggest factor but you should be seeing something forming or your starter tea is not strong enough or your house isn’t warm enough or you not letting it ferment long enough.

  6. Hello,

    I have an inquiry for you. I had a few scobys sitting in jars for a few months and I have just made fresh kombucha batches with those scobys. The process is 4 days in now, do you think it will turn out? Should I throw out this batch after 6 days and do a new one or will it be ok to drink?

  7. Hi Donna,

    You have a wonderful and informative website here…thank you for the great info!

    I have been making my own kombucha for 4 months now. At first it was quite bubbly but now I have only flat brews. I’m eager to try your recipe and bottle the brew at around the 7th day since I have a brewing belt…it usually is vinegary at 10 days.

    My question – for a gallon sized glass container, how much water, sugar, and tea bags would you recommend?

    Take care for now,
    Diana

  8. I have some kombucha that’s been sitting on my counter in one of those HUGE glass canisters. I think it’s actually been at least one year. I didn’t touch it for that long. Believe it or not, it only recently developed mold on the top of the mother. Is it possible to simply discard the top mother and still use the babies underneath?

  9. If I used a metal slotted spoon did I harm the scoby? It seems to be thriving, but I want it nice and fizzy what’s the secret?

  10. Hi Donna,
    Thanks for such a wonderful and informative web page!
    I got my first scoby about a month ago and it has been brewing for at least 4 weeks in my cool kitchen (Canadian winter). It has taken a long time for a new scoby to grow so about 2 weeks ago I put it in a box over a floor heating vent and that seems to have at least speeded it up a little …. now I have a thin slimy looking new one it would seem. Having had to leave it so long for the liquid has turned rather vinegary and probably not good for drinking. I did see a posting somewhere that suggested that it could be used as the vinegar in salad dressings along with some cider vinegar. My questions are:
    1. Is this vinegar made by my scoby suitable for salads or is there anything else that it can be used for?
    2. If so, does it need to be kept in the fridge or fed?
    3. How long will it keep?
    4. Should I keep it brewing in the vinegar it has created to make a new scoby as the original one is there with some new slimy one starting. Or could this be something other than a scoby?
    5. If I could keep it brewing should I feed it? Today I added about a cup of jasmine tea with sugar dissolved in it.
    Thanks so much for your time to answer my questions!
    Cheers,
    Wendy

    • 1. You can use it just like you would any vinegar and it does not need to be stored in the fridge it can be stored in a glass bottle in the cupboard. It will last just like regular vinegar. The new slimy one is a new scoby forming and if the kombucha taste tart it is ready start a new batch.

  11. can I use green tea with ginger, or does it have to be plain green or black? my tea box says green tea with ginger.

  12. Hi Donna, I started brewing a batch of Kombucha on Tuesday the 4th. I forgot to add the cup of Kombucha to the brew. It’s now Friday the 7th, can I just add a cup of Kombucha to the brew or do I need to start a new batch?

    Thanks!

  13. Donna,
    When using a heating pad, is there a danger of getting it too hot and ruining the scoby? How long can you use a heating pad?

  14. Hi Donna,

    I’m trying to get started on my Kombucha. Can I use a gallon container that has a spout on it (the kind that are normally used for making sun tea and have a spout) or would it be best to go buy a new one.

    Thanks!

  15. Our home is about 62 – 64 degrees, in the winter, occasionally the temperature dips to 58 degrees at night. The kombucha brews in about 7-10 days to a taste that is almost tangy. After we bottle it, we leave it on the counter. Even though our house is cool, should we put the kombucha in the fridge? I have noticed that any scoby residue that is left in the bottle on the counter starts to grow. We often up up drinking the scoby residue. Is that a problem?

    Thanks for the wonderful site with many good tips, and a wonderful book.

    • It shouldn’t taste sweet at all and this is the perfect time to bottle it. You can leave it on the counter if your house is cool but check it often because it can explode if fermented too long, and yes left on the counter it will start to grow another scoby but that is ok and you can remove it or drink it which ever you prefer.

  16. my kombucha is getting pretty vinegar tasting after just 3 days. its bubbly and looks fine but is 3 days long enough to get the culture benefits?

    • Did you use a lot of starter liquid? If it is starting to taste vinegary it is done. The taste is how you tell if its done. If its sweet not quite but tart it is done.

  17. I am going to try to make this… it sounds good. But, I do not use Chemically processed White sugar. I do use Raw Unfiltered, Organic Honey to make (non-dairy/lactose) Almond Yogurt, and it turns out very good. Question #1: Can I use al natural Honey, Agava Nectar, etc, as the Sugar Content, to make the Kombucha? — Question #2: I never use treated city/tap water, containing hydro-florisic acid (floride/chlorine) in it; I normally use only 100% Pure Distilled Water in all cooking….. Will the Distilled Water not work for your Recipe, or do you have another suggestion in this regard? Thank You for your Kind Response.. David Holt dmholt@aol.com

    • You can use honey although I have never used either one of these agave or honey so I am not as familiar with how it does but others have. Distilled water does not have minerals which fermented foods love and need so I don’t recommend it.You could had minerals if you wanted to use distilled water.

      • I have bees so honey is my sweetener of choice. I use 1/3 cup because honey is a little sweeter.

  18. We purchased a scoby on your site a few weeks ago and prepared it as directed. However after two weeks it still tastes sweet. A new scoby formed on the top and is quite thin, less than 1/4 inch and has not gotten any bigger over the past week. The temperature has been controlled between 68 and 73F. It is our first time and not sure what we did wrong. Is the tea the scoby came with enough for a starter or did we need to have more starter? If we let it go will it eventually convert or can we add more starter now?

        • Well that is pretty cold it likes it at a bout 80 degrees which is hard to do unless you have a heating pad or brew belt. If you have one place it on the heating pad and keep letting it ferment and it should speed the process up rather quickly.

          • We are using a cabinet over our refrigerator which runs about 5 degrees above our house temperature and I have a heat lamp in the space to keep the area about 70F. We have been making kiefer in the same cabinet with great success for the past few weeks. I will try and raise the min temp to above 80F and see if things change.

  19. Hi dear, this is my fourth time of doing Kombucha tea, all came out very good not too sweet not too vinegary, but last batch i made is still sweet what have i done wrong , i left it for 10 days as usual, could it be that maybe i had a lower temperature in the kitchen than the usual temperature since the weather isn’t that hot now Is it good to drink and does it have the same benefits.

    Thanks for all the great info.

    • Yes it is probably the temperature. You can drink it but it is best to let it ferment longer so it removes more of the sugar. Still it has a lot of benifits but will have even more if you let it ferment till the sweet taste is removed. Vinegary tasting is not better in case you are wondering.

  20. Hi Donna! How long will a SCOBY last? I’ve had one in a jar on my counter for at least 9 months! It actually still smells good. Is it dead?

    Thanks! ~Tammy

  21. I made a double batch of tea today and poured it in to make kombucha-after I did it, I couldnt remember if I put in 1 cup of sugar or 2. I should have put in two. I can’t tell by tasting. Will this kill the scobys? Do you have any suggestions what to do now?

  22. Hi Donna,
    We got a SCOBY from a friend. It is in a 700g glass jar filled with ready Kombucha tea. We opened it up and covered with a cloth and put a rubber band around it. I am wondering how long will it be ok like this. We won’t get a chance to start a batch for a few days.

  23. Hi Donna

    I have been experimenting making Kombucha at home for a couple of months with reasonable success however my last batch that fermented for 7-8 days still tastes a bit sweet – reading your blog tonight I am now wondering if drinking this batch over the last few days might be the source of my increased fatigue and achiness? Would this correlate with any of your experience over the years? I will be paying more attention to my taste tests in future. I am loving Kombucha.

    Thank you.

    • Do you mean to ferment them together? I would change the structure of the drink it would work differently and possibly alter its ability to keep fermenting. It is best to keep them separate.

      • No, not ferment them together, but after each are fermented and in the fridge seperately, I sometimes like to pour about 3/4 glass kombucha and then add 1/4 water kefir. Sometimes my kombucha is a little on the tangy side and the kefir adds the perfect sweetness. I’m just not sure that is the best thing to do.

  24. what if u dont have one cup of kombucha and this is your first batch will just the starter be fine ?

    • You need the starter liquid its the most important thing to making kombucha. You can buy an original bottle of Gts kombucha and use that if you’d like, just make sure it is the original and not fruit flavored.

  25. Hi Donna. Someone gave me a scoby in starter a few months back and being a bit wary of it as I had never had it before and I am diabetic (concerned about the sugar) I put it in the fridge. After reading your blog post I thought it might a good idea to get some going. Is it likely still to work ok after being in the fridge so long? Also, I wondered whether I could use Redbush (Rooibos) tea instead of green or black because I prefer the taste?

    • You can use Rooibos tea. The only way to see if they starter is still good is to make it and if it turns bubbly and loseses its sweet taste it is still good. Make sure it is not sweet when you drink it then you will know the sugar is gone.

  26. Hi Donna,

    Thank you for the great information. I’m working on my first batch of kombucha, got the scoby/starter from Kombucha Camp. Its been on the counter for a week now and the old scoby is still in there and a very thin, lacy layer on top starting. I want to do the continuous brew and I don’t want the old scobys building up. How do I get them out of the jar? Won’t I ruin the new scoby on top? and will it just disintegrate if I try to scoop it with a slotted spoon, or will it come out in one piece?

  27. I have had 6 scobys in a scoby-hotel on the floor of my dark pantry for 5 weeks. I would like to start another batch. Are they still good?

  28. I have a bunch of glass apple juice jugs (from Whole Foods) but the mouth is very small. Is it possible to use these to make kombucha? Thanks!

  29. Zi was given a very large, very thick scoby. I set out to find the shiny surface, but I couldn’t quite tell the difference. What are the implications if I put the wrong side up? I’ve had it going for about 7 days and don’t see a new scoby, nor does the original seem to be growing. Your thoughts?

    • How much starter liquid did you use? Should be shiny side up but it will be fine if you didn’t. The size doesn’t matter either it is the starter liquid that is most important.

      • About a cup. Pretty much as much as was sent along with it. Saved a very small amount to store the rest of the large scoby given me for future use.

  30. Hi Donna, love your site & enthusiasm! I recently started making Kombucha. The first time I didn’t have any starter liquid, but was given a scoby from a friend in a little plastic bag. I brewed up my tea with the sugar & added in some plain apple cider vinegar. I tore the scoby in 1/2 to do 2 batches at once. I’m in Florida & both batches grew fast! (my A/C was off so it’s between 80-85 degrees inside). I tasted it at day 3 & it had fizz to it, but waited to about day 4. I let a couple cups go longer with the scoby & noticed it more vinegar tasting. I used this to add to my next batches.

    My questions are in reference to you mentioning a “scoby hotel”.

    1) Do I just continuously keep adding them back into the next batch?
    2) Could I refrigerate some extra scobies in a baggie to give to a friend later (wasn’t sure how long they keep)?
    3) Does the scoby ever lose it potence or eventually die?

    Thanks much!
    Cindy

    • 1. You can add the new one back or you can leave all of them. It doesn’t matter. They do take up room in your pot though.
      2. You can leave some scobys in the kombucha tea on your counter is the best way to store them. They will keep about a month.
      3. You should always use the new scoby because it can lose it’s potency.

  31. So…I’ve been letting my first batch of kombucha sit for 3 weeks…a week ago I checked it. The scoby on top was super thin-it looked like a single layer of cheesecloth. It was see-through and had holes in it. So I’ve left it for another week…I just checked it again and it looks exactly the same. THe house has been between 70-73 for the past week. Is it dead? Do I need to start over?

      • Yeah…I just tasted it. It was sweet, but had a weird tang to it too…does it make sense for it to be sweet and vinegary at the same time? It doesn’t taste like the stuff I have bought.

          • I actually just poured it into jars 🙂 Call me impatient 🙂 When I took it out, the top new Scoby was like slime, and the old one was brown and didn’t look all that great. Is what I have drinkable? I have a friend who I might get a new scoby and just try again, unless you think what I have will still work. If so, should I use the brown one, or the ‘slime’ I skimmed off the top? and Is the liquid I have adequate to put in a new batch, or should I get some differnt?

            • It won’t work to culture because it isn’t strong enough yet. It’s safe to drink but is not really kombucha yet. You can use either scoby but I would pour it back and let it ferment some more or you won’t be able to make more kombucha because your liquid isn’t strong enough yet.

  32. I have a lot of scobies. Any suggestions what I can do with all the extra? Would it be better to give up the mother or the baby?

    I’m learning through reading, that I can give Kombucha to my older dogs. The one has been a diabetic for 2yrs. now. Is there anything you know of about diabetics and Kombucha I should be aware of before putting on his food?

    I’m hoping the kombucha might help with the kefir for my diabetic/pancreatic 10yo dog as well as his sister who has a UTI or so they think… 2 different strengths of antibiotics don’t seem to help. ugh (I’ve been giving her the kefir cheese for about 4-5 days now)

    • Kefir is more effective that kombucha for all the things you are listing. The kefir with the whey in it is even stronger than kefir cheese and I would recommend that too. Kombucha in small doses maybe a spoonful if they will take it would be great. Most dog don’t like it.

      You should always use and save the newest scoby fr your next batch of kombucha. You can leave the other older scoby’s in the brew it doesn’t hurt anything. They call this a scoby hotel when you have a bunch of scoby’s stacked up together. You can also throw your extra scoby’s in your garden. They work great as fertilizer in your garden.

      • Last sentence above, a word was left out – could you clarify what’s best to do with the mother and the baby? (save one as extra and keep re-using the other?) Thanks.

  33. Donna,

    Can you second ferment your kombucha in a mason jar? Would I seal the jar for the second fermentation or leave it covered loosely by a cloth (coffee filter, in my case). I am only making a quart at a time according to some other instructions that I received–do you think that I can do smaller amounts, but the fermentation will just occur quicker? the instructions that I have said to only set out for 5-7 days for a quart of Kombucha and my SCOBY looks like it’s pretty regular-sized.

    Thank you!

    Sharla

  34. Donna,

    i need your advice. i brew my kombucha for 9 days (trying to get rid of most of sugar since i am pre-diabetic).

    however it has the buzz of alcohol to it, which i do not feel from drinking gt kombucha from the grocery store.

    how can i avoid getting this alcoholic buzz? should i be fermenting for less days? if i brew for 10 days it tastes like vinegar.

    thank you so very much,
    tina

    • It shouldn’t give you a buzz of alcohol because there is no fruit juice in it. Most often people who experience this are having a detox effect. It can mimic this because of the powerful liver detox in it. It turns to vinegar and is done aerobically and alcohol ferments need to be done without air in sealed off vessels and extra sugar like fruit juice.

      • I have felt that “buzz” from a grocery-store bought Kombucha too! That’s really good to know…I was feeling guilty consuming it while driving 😉

        • GT’S ACTUALLY GOT PULLED FROM GROCERY SHELVES B/C OF TOO MUCH ALCOHOL IN IT FOR MANY MONTHS LAST YEAR. (SORRY FOR THE CAPS, IF I DON’T HAVE CAPS LOCK ON, IT AUTOMATICALLY CAPS THE FIRST LETTER OF EACH WORD. DON’T KNOW WHY.) I HAVE THE SAME ISSUE GOING ON WITH MINE & DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT. I WANT TO GIVE IT TO MY KIDS BUT WON’T BECAUSE IT TRULY IS ALCOHOLIC.

          • First of all there is about 2 ounces or less of fruit juice in kombucha which is what all the fuss is about. Kombucha turns to vinegar the longer it sits because it is made aerobically. There is a lot more than meets the eye here with kombucha. It is causing quite a stir in the beverage business because of its climbing success. I drink a ton of kombucha and have never had these effects. Follow the money. My kids and many other people kids drink it all the time and no problems.

          • It’s about as “alcoholic” as vinegar, and you and your kids can have have vinegar without problems. I would not be worried about that.

      • Hi Donna, I believe I told you that I am a recovering alcoholic so I went a step further for all my brothers and sisters. I went to a beer and wine supply store with a cup of tea with sugar and the finished kombucha. You use the tea as the base line for the Specific Gravity test. It came in @1.22%, the kombucha( which came in beautifully by the way) tested @1.20%. I got a big smile when the man said, that it had 2 tenths of 1 percent alcohol. He said there is gum that has more that. Hope that helps, Gods Speed

  35. Donna,

    I followed your recipe to make the basic kombucha, and i left it to ferment with the scoby for 1 week.

    i have now bottled it and it is in the refrigerator some bottles with mango, some plums, some raisins.

    however it is tasting quite like vinegar and is bubbling even in the fridge.

    any ideas on hot to make the taste more drinkable like a gt kombucha, or is it too late for that?

    thanks in advance,
    t

    • Did you let it sit out and second ferment before you put it in the fridge? You probably let it go to sour when you first made it. You can try and add more juice to the bottles and let them ferment a little longer. It is really best after you make kombucha to get it before it gets really vinegary. Not sweet but not overly sour. Then add you juice and let it ferment in bottles again. If it gets to vinegary it’s hard to bring it back.

  36. Should the scoby be a certain thickness when finished? Mine is at 8 days with a very thin layer. Does the size of the container affect the thickness?

    • It is the temperature that changes the scoby. The warmer your house the thicker the scoby. It is ok if it is thin. Just make sure your kombucha is not to sweet or tart.

  37. I noticed that 1 cup of kombucha is needed from a previous batch. What if this is your first time making?

    • You need a starter from your first batch and if you don’t have any you can buy a bottle of GTS synergy kombucha make sure it is the original one and use this as your starter. It will take a lot longer but will still work.

      • What is GTS synergy kombucha, and where would I find it? And can you be more specific about “it will take a lot longer”? Which part, and how much longer?

        • You can find GTS at health food stores and some grocery stores. It’s in the refrigerator section. The time it takes depends on how warm you house is and how strong your culture is. 7 to 15 days. the warmer the faster it brews

          • Hi Donna! I was told that I should not used GT’s Synergy KT to make a scoby because it contains an added probiotic and so doesn’t really make good kombucha. Do you agree with this? I don’t have a scoby and wanted to make one with GT’s Synergy (plain, raw) KT.
            Thanks for your input!

            • I have made Kombucha for about a year. I did not have a scoby to start, so I bought a bottle of original GT Kombucha. I bought the bottle that had the most gunk in the bottom. No actual scoby growth. I poured the whole bottle in a wide glass jar and it was about two inched deep. It took a month, but it finally grew a 1/4th inch scoby, I made a half gallon of Kombucha the first time using the scoby and all the liquid left from making the scoby. I have been making Kombucha from this original scoby ever since. I have had dozens of scoby’s grow from the original. Despite what you may read, you CAN grow a wonderful scoby from a bottle of original GT Kombucha. You just have to be patient to give it time to grow.