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The Simple Guide to Kickass Kombucha

It’s a big day everyone! The day your intestinal microbiota have been begging you for. The day you say goodbye to expensive store bought kombucha. The day you become a brewmaster as I impart on you the secrets of homemade kombucha!

The goal of this guide is to be your one stop shop for homemade kombucha brewage, from SCOBY-less to fermented perfection. No hopping around the interwebs. No fuss. No confusion. Because making homemade kombucha is so simple (albeit a bit slow), and I hope after reading this you’ll give it a whirl! Let’s hop right to it.

How to make homemade kombucha recipe with kombucha in a mason jar

How to Make Homemade Kombucha: Overview

This post will go into detail about each step in the process of making kombucha. For succinct instructions, scroll to the bottom where a recipe card lays out the basics of making homemade kombucha. The general order of things goes something like this (you can jump around this tutorial by clicking the links below):

  1. Make SCOBY (1 to 4 weeks) – to make the “mother”
  2. First Fermentation (6 to 10 days) – to make the actual kombucha
  3. Second Fermentation (3 to 10 days) – to carbonate the kombucha

You can also click to jump to a few useful resources:

How to Make Kombucha Video

Before we start, here are some general notes that are consistent throughout the whole homemade kombucha process.

  • No metal or plastic containers. Metal can react with the acidic kombucha and hurt your SCOBY, while plastic can house nasty bacteria that you don’t want sneaking in.
  • Clean is key. A recurring theme in kombucha brewing is that EVERYTHING must be CLEAN! We’re creating the perfect environment for good bacterial growth, but if a bad bacteria slips in, it could ruin your batch (and make you pretty sick).
  • Temperature plays a role. Fermentation goes a bit quicker in warmer temperatures, and a bit slower in colder.
  • No mold zone. If you see any mold growing on your SCOBY or in the tea (which I understand can be difficult to discern from the hideous SCOBY, but will generally be green, white, or black), then toss your whole batch.

Print the Homemade Kombucha Guide

By popular demand, I’ve created a printable PDF with all the instructions from this post. Enter your email below and I’ll send it to ya!

How to make homemade kombucha recipe flavored with kombucha flip top bottle

1. How to make a homemade kombucha SCOBY

The SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is the mother of the kombucha, providing bacteria and yeast to ferment the sweet tea, protecting the tea from outside contaminants, and providing a loose seal to keep a bit of the carbonation in. Yes, it’s scary and alien looking and Buzzfeed did a whole article about how ugly this mama is…but it’s the very essence of kombucha! It brings the love and flavor and magic!

How to make homemade kombucha recipe holding a kombucha SCOBY mother

Making a SCOBY Ingredients:

  • 7 cups (1.6 L) clean water
  • ½ cup (100 g) white sugar
  • 4 bags black tea (or 1 Tbsp loose tea)
  • 1 cup (235 mL) unpasteurized, unflavored store bought kombucha
  • A large glass or ceramic container (two jars holding at least ½ gallon (1.9 L) each, or one jug holding at least 1 gallon (3.7 L)). Alternatively, use a glass jug with a built in spigot to make pouring the kombucha out easier!
  • Tightly woven cloth (coffee filters, paper towels, napkins, cheese cloth)
  • Rubberbands

Making a SCOBY Instructions:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a clean pot. Remove from heat and dissolve sugar into it.
  2. Add the tea and allow to steep while water cools to room temperature (a few hours). Only when water is at room temperature is it ready to work with (test by drawing out some water with a paper straw, using your finger to keep the ‘buch in the straw).
  3. Pour the sweetened tea into your jar(s), then pour store-bought kombucha in (if you’re using two jars, pour ½ of the storebought kombucha into each), making sure to include any little gunkies that may be at the bottom. These are good!
  4. Cover with a few layers of the tightly woven cloth (keeps out bugs and debris) and secure with a rubber band.
  5. Set somewhere dark, still, and room temperature (70-75 degrees F, 21-24 C), like a cupboard, for 1 to 4 weeks, until a ¼ inch (½ cm) SCOBY has formed.
  6. Keep SCOBY in its original tea until you’re ready to brew your first batch. The SCOBY should live and grow for years if treated with love. The tea you used to make the SCOBY, however, is very vinegary and should be tossed. Don’t use this tea as the starter to your first fermentation!

Things to note when making your SCOBY:

  • No decaf. The SCOBY doesn’t like decaf tea and will not grow as well if fed it (SCOBY = my spirit animal)
  • Only black tea. Similarly, the SCOBY doesn’t grow as well with green or fruity teas. By all means, once your SCOBY is big and strong you can use green tea, but for now stick with black.
  • No honey. Honey can contain botulism bacteria that, when grown exponentially as bacteria and yeast tend to do in kombucha, can be dangerous. You can use honey in the second fermentation, once there are a higher number of good bacteria to fight off the bad, but for now, stick to sugar.
  • Don’t mess with it! You won’t see anything but a few bubbles in the first few days. But then one day a thin, translucent layer will form, eventually thickening into a full on SCOBY. If it floats sideways or sinks, leave it! It’s just doing it’s SCOBY thang.
  • It’s all in the proportions. As I mentioned, I made two SCOBYs with this recipe, and you could probably make more. As long as you keep the proportions in check (7 c water : 1 c starter : 4 bags tea : 1/2 c sugar), you’ll be fine. Also note that this is the same proportion we’ll use in the first fermentation, but on a larger scale to make more ‘buch!
  • Got leftovers? Never throw your SCOBY away! Share the kombucha love by gifting it to a friend, or make it into a delicious gummy candy!
How to make kombucha
How to make homemade kombucha recipe with kombucha and SCOBY in a large jar

2. Homemade kombucha: The first fermentation

So you’ve got a newbie SCOBY and you’re ready to get this komboo-choo train rollin’. This first fermentation is where you actually make the kombucha.

First Fermentation Ingredients:

  • 14 cups (3.5 quarts, 3.3 L) clean water
  • 1 cup (200 g) white sugar
  • 8 bags black or green tea (or 2 Tbsp loose leaf)
  • 2 cups (470 mL) unflavored kombucha (either from a previous batch or unpasteurized, unflavored store bought kombucha
  • 1 or 2 SCOBYs (depending on how many containers you’re using, 1 per container)
  • A large glass or ceramic container (two jars holding at least ½ gallon (1.9 L) each, or one jug holding at least 1 gallon (3.7 L)). Alternatively, use a glass jug with a built in spigot to make pouring the kombucha out easier!
  • Tightly woven cloth (coffee filters, paper towels, napkins, cheese cloth)
  • Rubberbands

First Fermentation Instructions:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a clean pot. Remove from heat and dissolve sugar into it.
  2. Add the tea and allow to steep while water cools to room temperature (a few hours). Again, MUST be room temperature. Don’t risk killing your SCOBY in hot water.
  3. With hands AS CLEAN AS A SURGEON’S (really clean), gently remove your SCOBY from the tea and place on an equally as clean plate. You can rinse out the jar if you want (without soap), but it’s not necessary.
  4. Pour the sweetened tea into your jar(s), then pour in unflavored starter kombucha (if you’re using two jars, pour ½ of the starter kombucha into each).
  5. Gently place SCOBY into jar then cover with a few layers of the tightly woven cloth and secure with a rubber band.
  6. Set the jar(s) somewhere dark, still, and room temperature (70-75 degrees F, 21-24 C) for anywhere from 6 to 10 days. Begin tasting the tea at about 6 days by gently drawing out some of the tea with a paper straw (using your finger to hold the tea in the straw, don’t use your mouth). It should be mildly sweet and slightly vinegary.  The warmer the air temperature, the faster the kombucha will ferment. The longer the tea ferments, the more sugar molecules will be eaten up, the less sweet it will be.
  7. Reserve 2 cups from this batch to use as starter kombucha for your next batch (just leave it in the jar with SCOBY(s)). The rest can move into the second and final fermentation.

Things to note about the first fermentation:

  • In this step, unlike in the making of the SCOBY, you can use other teas besides black. Feel free to experiment with green, white, oolong, or combinations of them. Fruit teas should be mixed with a few black tea bags to ensure the SCOBY mama gets what she needs to thrive.
  • Once the SCOBY gets to be about an inch (2.5 cm) thick, peel off a few layers to create a second SCOBY (you can share the love and gift this to a friend!)
How to make homemade kombucha recipe with kombucha and SCOBY in a large jar

3. Homemade kombucha: The second fermentation

The final step and negotiably the best part of the process! The second fermentation is where the real magic happens. It’s where you can play around with sweet, fruity flavors that will not only make your homemade kombucha taste better than store-bought, but will give those good bacteria the power to kick it into high carbonation gear, bringing everything together into effervescent bliss. Let’s finish this.

Second Fermentation Ingredients:

  • Homemade kombucha from the first fermentation
  • Sweetener (fruit, honey, or sugar). Here are a few ideas per 1 cup kombucha:  
    • 1 to 2 Tbsp mashed fruit or fruit juice
    • A slice of orange
    • 1 to 2 tsp honey
    • a piece of peppermint candy
    • a piece of candied ginger
    • *to add chia seeds, see below under “things to note”
  • A few flip top fermentation bottles (bottles meant for fermentation have an airtight seal, which will prevent carbonation from escaping. If you don’t have these, canning jars will do an alright job, though they aren’t truly airtight.)

Second Fermentation Instructions:

  1. Strain kombucha and funnel into bottles, leaving about 1 1/2 inches at the top (3.8 cm).
  2. Add your chosen sweetener and seal tightly with lid.
  3. Let ferment somewhere dark and room temperature for 3 to 10 days.
  4. If desired, strain out fruit before serving. Place in fridge to slow the carbonation process.

Things to note about the second fermentation:

  • Your jars can explode if the pressure becomes too high! For your first few batches while you’re still getting the hang of how kombucha reacts to your environment, bottle a portion of it in a plastic bottle. This will act as a gauge for how the others are doing. When the plastic bottle is rock solid, the rest are probably done. “Burp” them by opening each to release some pressure, then place them in the refrigerator to slow fermentation.
  • Carefully open bottles over the sink with a towel in hand.
  • The more sugar/fruit you add, the faster the kombucha will ferment and become carbonated.
  • Chia seeds are my favorite addition to kombucha. Rather than adding these to the ‘buch when we add the sweetener, we’ll stir these in at the very end after the kombucha has been carbonated. Use 1 Tbsp of chia seeds per 1 cup of kombucha. Stir in the seeds and allow them to do their absorbing thang for a few hours, stirring every once in a while to keep them from clumping.
How to make homemade kombucha recipe flavored with kombucha flip top bottle and mason jars

Favorite Kombucha Flavors

I’m always experimenting with new flavors of kombucha. I’m always adding new kombucha flavors to this list, but here are a few of my favorites:

Mango Kombucha
Blueberry Kombucha

Ginger Pepper Kombucha
Pineapple Basil Kombucha
Strawberry Kombucha (perfect for a Kombucha Ice Cream Float)
Peach Pie Kombucha
Mojito Kombucha
Lemon Ginger Kombucha (great in a Kombucha Radler)
Apple Cinnamon Kombucha
Pumpkin Spice Kombucha

How to make homemade kombucha recipe flavored with kombucha flip top bottle

Supplies Needed for Making Kombucha

Below is a list of the supplies needed to make kombucha. The links are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase (I’ve only included products I know and trust).

  • Black tea: Plain black tea lays the base for your kombucha.
  • Store bought starter tea: You’ll need a starter tea to get things going (but can use your home brewed kombucha to start the following batches).
  • Large glass or ceramic container: Aim for one that’s at least 1 gallon, but two 1/2 gallon jars will also work! I’ve also been using a large jar with a plastic spigot recently, and it makes pouring the kombucha so much easier.
  • Cheese cloth: Allows your kombucha to breathe while keeping dust and critters out.
  • Flip top fermentation bottles: These bottles have a tight seal specifically designed to keep the carbonation in (hellooo fizz!)
  • Starter kit: Want kombucha sooner than later? This bundle includes most of the equipment you need plus it comes with a ready-made SCOBY.
Hot to make kombucha

The Simple Guide to Kickass Kombucha

These instructions outline how to make homemade kombucha. For more in-depth instructions and tips, see the article above this recipe card.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Beverages (Non-Alcoholic)
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade kombucha, how to make a scoby, how to make kombucha, kombucha
Diet: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian
Time: 60 minutes or more
Servings: 16 cups
Calories: 50kcal
Author: Sarah Bond
4.84 from 83 votes

INGREDIENTS

Making a SCOBY
First Fermentation
  • 14 cups clean water 3.5 quarts, 3.3 L
  • 1 cup white sugar 200 g
  • 8 bags black or green tea or 2 Tbsp loose leaf
  • 2 cups unflavored kombucha (from previous batch or store-bought kombucha) 470 mL
  • 1 or 2 SCOBYs 1 per container
Second Fermentation
  • Homemade kombucha from the first fermentation
  • Sweetener

INSTRUCTIONS

Making a SCOBY

  • Make Tea: Bring water to a boil in a clean pot. Remove from heat and dissolve sugar into it. Add the tea and allow to steep while water cools to room temperature. Only when water is at room temperature (test by drawing out some water with a straw), is it ready to work with!
  • Add Starter: Pour the sweetened tea into your jar(s), then pour store-bought kombucha in (if you’re using two jars, pour ½ of the store bought kombucha into each).
  • Ferment: Cover with a few layers of the tightly woven cloth and secure with a rubber band. Set somewhere dark and room temperature (70-75 degrees F, 21-24 C) for 1 to 4 weeks, until a ¼ inch (½ cm) SCOBY has formed.

First Fermentation

  • Make Tea: Bring water to a boil in a clean pot. Remove from heat and dissolve sugar into it. Add the tea and allow to steep while water cools to room temperature. 
  • Add Starter: With really clean hands, gently remove your SCOBY from the tea and place on a clean plate. Rinse out jar(s). Pour the sweetened tea into your jar(s), then pour in starter kombucha.
  • Ferment: Gently place SCOBY into jar then cover with a few layers of the tightly woven cloth and secure with a rubber band. Set the jar(s) somewhere dark and room temperature (70-75 degrees F, 21-24 C) for anywhere from 6 to 10 days. Begin tasting the tea at about 6 days by gently drawing out some of the tea with a straw.  The longer the tea ferments, the more sugar molecules will be eaten up, the less sweet it will be.
  • And Repeat: Reserve 2 cups from this batch to use as starter kombucha for your next batch (just leave it in the jar with the SCOBY(s)). The rest can move into the second fermentation.

Second Fermentation

  • Flavor: Strain kombucha and funnel into bottles, leaving about 1 1/2 inches at the top (3.8 cm). Add your chosen sweetener and seal tightly with lid.
  • Ferment: Let ferment somewhere dark and room temperature for 3 to 10 days.
  • Serve: If desired, strain out fruit before serving. Place in fridge to slow the carbonation process.

NUTRITION

Serving: 1cup (depends on fermentation length) | Calories: 50kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Sodium: 13mg | Sugar: 12g
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Homemade Kombucha FAQs

Can you get drunk off of kombucha? Most kombucha contains less than 0.5% ABV (for reference, beer has about 5% ABV), so it is not likely that you will get drunk from kombucha.

What are the side effects of kombucha? The high amount of probiotics in kombucha mean that drinking too much can lead to GI discomfort (bloating and in some cases diarrhea). Kombucha also contains caffeine and sugar, which may also effect you.

What are the health benefits of kombucha? Kombucha contains probiotics, which contribute to a healthy gut microbiome (and in turn, help regulate weight and obesity). It also contains antioxidants and polyphenols.

Can you put kombucha in the refrigerator? When you put kombucha in the refrigerator, fermentation slows down dramatically. You can therefore store it in the fridge if you need to take a break from fermenting, or to chill it prior to serving.

Can you use no-calorie sugars (like Stevia, Splenda etc.)? This is one of few recipes where you really cannot use sugar substitutes. BUT you won’t actually be consuming that whole 1 cup of sugar. The sugar is food for the bacteria and yeast. They’ll basically eat it all up and produce wonderful things like acidity and carbonation, and the finished kombucha will be much lower in sugar as a result.

My SCOBY sank to the bottom! Is it okay? Yes! Your kombucha SCOBY may sink or float around the container. This is totally normal and nothing to worry about. It will likely float back to the top eventually, or a second SCOBY may form on top (which is also okay).

How to make easy homemade kombucha, the fizzy fermented tea, with just 4 ingredients! All you need is black tea, sugar, water, and starter tea.

Homemade Kombucha: Bringing it all together

I drew this way professional depiction of the whole process for the visual learners. If you have any questions or hesitations about brewing homemade kombucha, don’t hesitate to comment below and I’ll help ya out! Happy brewing!

How to make homemade kombucha recipe diagram

Print the Homemade Kombucha Guide

By popular demand, I’ve created a printable PDF with all the instructions from this post. Enter your email below and it will be sent to you!

Hi, I’m Sarah!

Showing you how to make easy vegetarian recipes, one ingredient at a time.

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Comments (767)

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  1. Chamberlin says:

    I put in my email but did not get the PDF? Can you send it to me please??

    1. Sarah says:

      Just emailed you! 😀

  2. Bianca says:

    Hi, Sarah!

    I am a first-time Kombucha maker (brewer?) and I’m in the middle of my first fermentation. I’m noticing a second scoby layer has formed at the top of my container– is this bad? Should I remove it?

    I really love your guide! Cheers!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Bianca! Nope that’s totally fine, just leave that second SCOBY there 😀

  3. Deana Jones says:

    I am soon to be a first time kombucha maker. I am in the process of assembling all the necessary equipment to start. I generally keep my home 74° in the summer months because I am prone to frequent hot flashes. Would it be advisable to purchase a warming belt for creating more favorable temperatures for kombucha?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Deana! 74 F should be just fine for brewing kombucha 😀 That’s about what my house is at too.

  4. Krishna says:

    normally I don’t leave comments on any blogs no matter how well written the blog is because I am too lazy. But this blog, this is SIMPLE, PERFECT and CONCISE. Thanks for writing it

    1. Sarah says:

      Aw this makes me so happy to hear, Krishna! 😀

  5. Javier says:

    Hi

    Great guide thanks! In the first fermentation part, step 7 you said, “Reserve 2 cups from this batch to use as starter kombucha for your next batch (just leave it in the jar with SCOBY(s))”. How long can the Scoby stay in the 2 cups of kombucha?

    Thanks!

    Javier

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Javier! You can keep it in the liquid for a couple days if needed, but it’s best to just add a fresh batch into the SCOBY right away so it has plenty of “food” to continue growing 😀

  6. Ibuomi Abibo says:

    Good day. I’m at the first fermentation and wanted to know if wine bottles with the cork can be used after the second fermentation?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Ibuomi! I don’t think this would work well. The cork won’t be able to withstand the pressure of the carbonated kombucha. Flip top or screw lids will be your best bet!

  7. Lie says:

    Awesome instructions !
    Thank you Sarah 😃
    Anw, can I just tossed the sugar with the room temperature water and let them boil then tossed the tea leaf in ? No hot messy stirring..
    Please let me know your thoughts…

    1. Sarah says:

      That should work! 🙂 Happy brewing!

  8. Alex says:

    THANK YOU! I followed this recipe and couldn’t be happier. I started up my first and second fermentation and have definitely found a new hobby. I would like to make my first ferment a little strong and less sweet, but I am assuming this will come with time by reusing the starter batch?

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy you’re liking it, Alex! You can make the 1st fermentation stronger/less sweet by just letting it ferment for a few days longer 🙂

  9. michelle raia says:

    Hi. Thanks for the great instructions. I have two questions, number 1, what do you use to clean the bottles and brew jug? Number 2, you mention storing your mother in 2 cups of tea for the next batch. Does it matter how long the mother has been stored ? Can you use the tea she was stored in no matter how long she was stored? Should she be stored inside or outside of the refrigerator and do you just keep changing out her water everything you have a new brew, throwing away the old tea she was sitting in?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Michelle!
      1. I usually just add hot water and shake to clean it out. You can also get bottle cleaners that are a bit like pipe cleaners. I don’t usually use soap, and if I do I rinse very well afterwards!
      2. I usually start the next batch right away with that 2 cups of liquid. If you are going to store the mother for any length of time, I would add a fresh batch of sweet tea so she had enough “food” to live on. And you should store it outside of the fridge 🙂

  10. Sarah says:

    Can I please have a PDF

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Sarah! If you enter your email in the box at the top of this post (here), the printable guide will be sent right to ya 😀 Have fun brewing!!

  11. Michelle Osborn says:

    WHY do you have to leave 2 cups of the “old” mixture to use while adding new brewed tea? If you already have the scoby, then just adding tea/sugar mixture should be enough but no where can I find the WHY you have to leave the two cups. Is there any explanation? When I do kefir, we use it all when we strain it and then we just add the kefir grains to all new milk. No reason to leave some fermented kefir liquid to add to the next batch, and it basically is the doing the same thing as the scoby in Kombucha. Just stands to reason, for me, that the 2 cups leftover is not necessary but I may be missing something…….

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Michelle! The 2 cups of starter liquid keep the acidity levels in check to prevent bad bacteria from growing, as well as helping the SCOBY to transform the next batch 🙂

  12. Sheila DIngwell says:

    Your directions are great. I am on my third batch now and one question I have is why does mine fizz so much when I ‘burp’ it during the second fermentation/carbonization. I had 4 bottles and after burping it twice I now only have 3 because so much sprayed out. I do cover it with a dish towel but am disappointed that I lose so much. Any suggestions?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Sheila! What a tasty problem to have – so much fizz! You could try opening the bottle over a large bowl. Any that spills out will go into the bowl and you can pour it right back in 😀

  13. Stephanie says:

    Hi – After you get the finished product, how long do you have to consume it? Thank you!

    1. Sarah says:

      It will store for a few months in bottles in the fridge 🙂

  14. Victoria says:

    Heey! Can you double the recipe for the first fermentation? Using almost 6 litres of water and only one scoby?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hey Victoria! I haven’t personally tried this so it’s hard to say. If you keep all the other proportions the same (tea : starter : water) then it could work, but may take longer. I would love to hear how it goes if you try it out!

  15. Jennie says:

    Excited to get cracking on your “Kickass Kombucha”. Many thanks for sharing. Kind regards, Jennie. 👍🏻😊

    1. Sarah says:

      Happy brewing, Jennie! 😀

  16. Laura says:

    Hi Sarah, I just finished growing my scoby and am on my first fermentation. Is the second fermentation necessary if you don’t want to add any flavors and are fine with a non-fizzy drink? Could I bottle it and stick it directly into the fridge instead of doing the second fermentation?

    1. Sarah says:

      Yes absolutely! If you don’t want the carbonation it’s totally fine to drink after the 1st fermentation.

  17. Misty says:

    I started mine on Sunday. Is it normal to have seperated globules (they are beige) with what looks like orangey colored streamer looking dangling things? Think backwash in a toddler cup…I know that’s gross but I’m trying to be descriptive.5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hahah, very descriptive! Yep, this is normal 😀

  18. Tiara says:

    Just to be clear, if I want to make 2 SCOBYS with this recipe. I would put 3 1/2 cups of the tea in each jar and 1/2 of the unflavored kombucha in each? Thank You!!

    1. Sarah says:

      Yep, exactly! 😀

  19. Susie says:

    This really does make kickass kombucha! Thanks for sharing the second fermentation secret … that’s really where things turn from “pretty good” to “hotdamn!”5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hahah, second ferm is where everything fun happens! Enjoy!! 😀

  20. Jane says:

    I’m just starting my first batch of buch and am excited to see the results!.
    I have a question what do you do with the soby – does it stay in the jar with the saved tea for the next batch? Or does it stay on its own with some of the tea?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Jane! Yep, the SCOBY stays in the jar with the saved tea, and you can just brew the next batch in there. Happy brewing!

  21. Judith says:

    I have been making Kombucha for a year or more. I usually don’t flavor it since I am diabetic and have to restrict my sugar. It is slightly fizzy (enough for me) after a single 7-10 day fermentation. Since we live in the north, I put a small nightlight in the cabinet where I process the kombucha, keeping it at about 76 degrees.
    Just a note about “drawing it up through a straw” to taste test: would that not allow your mouth bacteria to enter the kombucha? (plus, straws are a real hazard to our environment).

    I like your recipe for ginger pepper flavored kombucha! Thanks.4 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Judith! Thanks for pointing that out – I actually hold the other end of the straw with my finger to pull the kombucha out. Thanks for noting that it wasn’t clear. Changing it now! Happy brewing!

  22. Ed says:

    Thanks for all the great information. After reading all you have provided, what do you do when traveling a month or so with the Scooby?4 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      If you’re just going for 4 to 6 weeks, put a fresh batch of sweet tea in with the SCOBY right before you go. It will likely be vinegar once you get home, but the SCOBY will have enough to eat during that time. Also, put it in the coolest part of your house to slow down the process!

  23. Luke says:

    Thanks for the great guide. One question though, where should I put the starter liquid if I don’t want to brew a new batch of kombucha right away? Out on the counter or in the fridge?
    Also, I currently have a really hot house – 29°C (around 84-85F) should I shorten the fermentation period?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Luke! You can put the starter liquid in the fridge, but make sure your SCOBY has some tea to “eat” while you take your break (the SCOBY shouldn’t go in the fridge). And yep, your fermentation time will be shorter while your house is warm!

  24. Christine says:

    My final fermentation of Kombucha is not as fizzy as I thought it would be. I’m afraid of the bottle exploding, so I used a plastic bottle as a gauge. The plastic bottle was rock hard, but not much fizz in the glass bottle. The glass bottle is larger than the plastic bottle. Would that have an affect? Thanks!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Christine! The size of the bottle will indeed have an effect, and a smaller plastic bottle will be rock hard before the bigger glass bottles are carbonated. Your glass bottles can handle a good bit of pressure, so give it a few days before burping them next time. It’s all about experimenting with the fermentation time (especially given how different in temperature everyone’s houses can be!) You’ll get there! 😀

  25. Susan says:

    How much kombucha should I drink? I would like a pdf please.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Susan! It depends on how much you’re used to probiotics and drinks like this. I would start with 1/2 to 1 cup per day and work your way up 🙂 And if you enter your email in the box at the top of the post (where it says “get printable”) the PDF will be emailed right to you!

  26. Allyn says:

    so my first brew and the 9 SCOBY i created in 1/2 G, 1 G, and 3G in a 5 G spigot container went GREAT!!!! …. but … got vinegar task I did not get to the 2nd fermentation fast enough due to travel – correct ? … Sign so “first fermentation ” a second time today. Do i need the starter booch from the store or can that first “first” fermentation be okay. It has been a few weeks, my home is HVAC free most of the time. SCOBY’s have an entire resort / spa going on vs just a hotel.

    1. Sarah says:

      Sounds like a great setup! Yep it is vinegary from simply fermenting too long. You can use that vinegary tea from the first fermentation to start over, should still be good (and strong!) Have fun!

  27. Christine says:

    Me again… If I’m nervous about the glass exploding, can I burp the bottles along the way? Will that affect how quickly and how much the kombucha will carbonate?

    I just bottled my third batch using 3 of your recipes – blueberry, peppered ginger and mango! My second batch (ginger) is still fermenting… slowly…

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Christine! I would encourage you to wait a day longer than you’re comfortable with. Burping will reduce the carbonation if you do it too much. Try to just do it once or twice per bottle. How warm is your house? Mine has been 75-80 F and I generally do not burp (and they are finished with the second fermentation in 3-5 days).

      As far as spouts go, I just have a high quality plastic spout and haven’t had problems! I watch it closely for signs of mold but haven’t had problems yet.

  28. Christine says:

    And… I’m thinking of investing in a container with a spout. I read about avoiding plastic when brewing Kombucha, but all of the containers I find have plastic around the spout. What are your thoughts? What do you use?
    Thanks!

  29. christine says:

    Me again! My house is around 75 degrees. I bottled the last batch on Saturday. I think I’ll refrigerate the batch on Tuesday after work… Fingers crossed!

  30. Mike says:

    Hi, Great article. I have quart jars and wondered if there is a way to start in a couple of them. Hate to buy things for a trial (cheap). Thanks, Mike

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Mike! Yep you could make it in those, but if you start brewing long term I would definitely suggest getting some bigger jars to make things easier. But as long as the ingredient ratios are the same you could use any size container! 😀

  31. Louise McDougall says:

    Hi there, thanks so much for the easy instructions. My bottled booch has grown a scoby. Is it OK to use?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Louise! That’s fine and totally normal. Just strain (or pick) it out before drinking (although it is edible if you want to try it, haha!)

  32. ainsley bodman says:

    hey Sarah! i just added a blackberry/ginger mash to a large jar, then filled with first ferment kombucha ….this is an experiment since I’ve been previously bottling when flavoring for second brewing. is there an advantage one way or another?? I thought I would let it “brew” for a day or two, then bottle it and let it “brew” one more day….just curious about your thoughts on this.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Ainsley! Interesting, I haven’t tried this before. Sounds like a fun way to add some flavor and acidity without adding carbonation (if that’s what you’re going for). Would love to hear how it turns out!

  33. patti says:

    My SCOBY turned brown after first fermentation is that normal?
    Also, can I drink it after the first fermntation or does it have to sit a day? It does taste good

    1. Sarah says:

      Your SCOBY may be brown or tan, that’s totally normal. And yep, you can drink it after the first fermentation if you don’t want it to be carbonated! 😀

  34. Deborah says:

    Thank you. I love store bought and I am excited to make my own!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Yay! Happy brewing, Deborah! 😀

  35. Mary R Sweeney says:

    I used brown sugar for the first time and I’m concerned maybe there wasn’t enough of it for the scoby to be healthy. I had 16 cups of tea and about 1.3 cups of brown sugar. That’s all the sugar I had at the time. I had run out of white sugar. I picked up more white sugar so I am wondering now if I should add another third of a cup or so of plain white sugar? Can I do that after I’ve already let the first fermentation go for 2 days? What do you think? I don’t want my kombucha to be too acidic. I like a little sweetness. This time I had not added anything additional like fruit. Should I maybe add that now, instead of more sugar?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Mary, that should be more than enough sugar (for 16 cups of tea we do 1 cup of white sugar in the first fermentation). I would let it brew for the full time as is. You can add more sugar (or fruit) when you transfer to your fermentation bottles (you don’t want to add fruit to the same jar as the SCOBY). Happy brewing!

  36. Sine says:

    Hi Sarah, I followed the instructions. It turned out great but there is a baby scoby forming in my glass bottles after second fermentation. What do you do for that?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Sine! That’s totally normal 🙂 You can just strain out those little SCOBYs before you drink it.

  37. Sheri says:

    After bottling my fist batch and saving the scooby and 2 cups of the liquid do you just start with the 1 st fermentation again exactly the same ?

    1. Sarah says:

      Yep, exactly! Then it just cycles on forever and ever ❤️

  38. Krista Morgan says:

    How do you make sure your glass jar/containers are “surgically” clean? Do you have a sterilization process you follow?

    Also, can I use muslin?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      I don’t follow a strict process, but usually rinse with very hot water. If needed I’ll use soap (but then rinse very well afterwards to remove traces of it). Some people also sterilize with vinegar! And muslin would work 🙂 Happy brewing!

  39. Anastasia says:

    Thanks so much for such a comprehensive set of instructions, especially love the visual guide! Homemade kombucha is so much tastier than store bought.
    I’m onto my third batch of making kombucha and the same thing is happening as the other times. After I prepare the tea and add the SCOBY, it floats to the bottom and a baby forms on top. The two don’t combine by the time the batch is ready to decant. Which SCOBY is added to the next batch? The thin new one that was on top or the previous one which was floating on the bottom? Or do I add both?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Great question! You can just add both 😀 They may merge at some point, or you may just grow two SCOBYs. It shouldn’t be a problem. Happy brewing!

  40. KATHRYN says:

    I have been making Kombucha for a few months and have ran into a little problem. When I bottle the kombucha, with or without flavouring and when i go to drink it there is a lot of a jelly type liquid in the bottle which is a little gross. Are you meant to sive it before drinking?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Kathryn! That’s not a problem at all, just strain them out before drinking. Enjoy!

  41. Ashley A says:

    How do you know if you’ve killed your scoby? I have left mine on the countertop with only a cup or two of liquid for a couple months. The kombucha was a gift from somebody else, but now that I see I have a scoby I’d like to try and continue making kombucha

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Ashley! If it’s moldy or black then it’s dead. If it looks the roughly the same, it should be fine still! Give it a good mold inspection before using it again.

  42. Joselyn Garcia says:

    Great article5 stars

  43. Lindsay says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe, I have just brewed my first batch of tea to make my scoby. I was wondering if I can use the lid on my jar (like a kilner) rather than the cloth? I do have a cloth but just wondered if, for ease, I could use the lid or if it’s harmful at all in any stage of the process? Thanks in advance.

    1. Sarah says:

      Great question! It’s best to use a cloth, which will allow the brew to breath. The lid would restrict oxygen too much. Happy brewing!

  44. Hellen says:

    Hi Sarah
    I agree with everyone who has said that your instructions are tops!
    I have brewed kombucha once before – still have 2 bottles to down.
    My scoby looked “dodgy” – or rather I was a bit afraid that it was bad and discarded it after the second ferment. The brew is quite mild but tasty although I just flavoured it with ground ginger.
    I had some babies in the bottles, which I have kept and want to know if I can feed and grow them as you do when first making a scoby and then use them to make a fresh brew of buch?
    Also : I used brown sugar – is this an issue?

    1. Sarah says:

      Aw thanks so much, Helen! Yep, those could probably be grown into a bigger SCOBY (so long as the kombucha wasn’t strongly flavored). Brown sugar generally isn’t recommended as it can be hard on the SCOBY. Aim for white, or at least a mixture of brown and white.

  45. Lydia says:

    Hi Sarah!

    Thanks for the helpful and clear instructions. I’ve been brewing for two years, and I’m running into some puzzles I hope you can help me figure out.

    1. I have been using decaf green tea as I noticed the caffeine in an all black tea batch was giving me heart palpitations. Should I be using caffeinated green tea for the health of the scobie?

    2. No matter what I try lately, I can’t get the second ferment to become fizzy. I usually brew a 1.5 gallon batch for 2 – 2.5 weeks and then bottle it for another ferment of 4-6 days. I add blended blueberries, honey, ginger and lemon. It has been fizzy in the past, but recently I haven’t been able to achieve that.

    Thanks for your help!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Lydia! I haven’t experimented much with reducing caffeine content in kombucha. Until I do, this article has some good tidbits you might checkout.

      For the fizziness problem, I would first try just letting it ferment longer. Don’t burp it much and just let it go for 7 to 10 days (mine sometimes needs that long to get fizzy, depending on the weather). It could also be your bottles. I have some cheap ones from IKEA and noticed they aren’t as good at trapping carbonation as my fermentation-grade bottles.

      Happy brewing!

  46. Ineke says:

    Great information- especially all the questions !! I found the same questions and got the answers I needed from reading through the comments.

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear, Ineke! 😀

  47. Karen says:

    Just starting my first kombucha wtih a scoby from a friend. My question is, while tea is steeping and coming to room temperature, should lid be on pot or off? Thank you5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Doesn’t really matter! I usually do lid on so nothing falls in 🙂

  48. Emily says:

    For the first fermentation, after letting the tea cool to room temperature, I’ve found that a good amount of sugar ends up sticking to the bottom of the pot during the cooling process (even though it seems totally dissolved when it was hot). Would this affect the fermentation?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hmm strange! It could affect fermentation in that all the sugar isn’t getting into the kombucha. Perhaps stir a few times during the cooling process!

  49. Michelle says:

    I have unpasturized, but flavored, local kombucha…can I use this to create a SCOBY?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Michelle! Unflavored is the most consistent in producing SCOBYs, so I would try to get your hands on that if possible. But you can always try to give it a go with the flavored buch! If a SCOBY forms you’re in luck!

  50. James says:

    HI!!

    First of all, really awesome video. Secondly my question, why did you discard the first batch? I am a novice at this, literally only made my 2nd batch today.

    I’m just a bit confused, because from what I’ve read is that the white thing is not the scoby, it’s just a membrane that forms from the yeast a bacteria feeding on the tea and off of each other. The first batch would have been a perfect starter for the second batch.

    Or is this just a different way of doing it?

    Ciao!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi James! I prefer to toss out that first batch because it’s usually just very strong. I’ve been reading even deeper into it lately though and have also seen a few people who 1) use that SCOBY growing liquid as a starter, and 2) call the “SCOBY” the membrane. I’m actually in the process of experimenting with “SCOBY”-less kombucha, so stay tuned 😉

      With all that said, the instructions here are the way that I’ve found works most consistently and easily. Happy brewing!

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