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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
4.82 from 74 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. Read more

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  1. Karen says:

    Thank for all your information. My question is I have found a bottle in the cupboard that had ginger added at the 2nd stage. I left it in the cupboard for a month and have just found it at the back of the cupboard. It has a lovely thick scoby on the top. Is this ok to drink and what should I do with the scoby that has grown in the ginger flavored kombucha? Thanks.

    1. Sarah says:

      It should be okay to drink (though it may be a bit vinegar tasting now). Lucky that it didn’t explode! I don’t usually recommend making kombucha from a SCOBY that was mixed with fruit or flavors, but you could give it a go and see what happens! I usually just toss the SCOBYs that form in bottles though.

  2. Petra says:

    I think I got a little excited and didn’t let my SCOBY grow for long enough, however I have already used it for the first fermentation stage (currently day 2). Does this mean that potentially this batch won’t work but the SCOBY will keep growing?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Petra! This batch should work fine, just give it some time and begin tasting after 7 days to see if the fermentation has created a nice tasting bucha 😀

  3. Rita says:

    How do you keep the fruit purée from floating to the top of the bottle and remaining there during 2bd ferment? Does it matter? I turn my bottles upside down on 1st day to get it mixed, but after that day I don’t want to shake it up at all.

    1. Sarah says:

      It shouldn’t matter much! You do exactly what I do – flip it once to get things moving then let it ferment. Sometimes I’ll give it one more gentle flip after a day or two, but it usually isn’t needed.

  4. Ester Aalto says:

    Thank you SO much for writing this!
    I’ve recently picked up a beautiful scoby from a relative, all fed and on day 5 of first ferment but i was totally expecting to spend MONTHS finding the right recipes and ratios for a yummy second ferment, yours however sound absolutely delicious and i can not wait to try them! Thanks so much!!!

    1. Sarah says:

      YAY! So happy to hear it, Ester! 😀 Awesome that you were gifted a SCOBY, you can jump straight to the fun stuff. Happy brewing!

  5. Rob Jordan says:

    I am a newby. I was given a “sleeping” SCOBY. I am using a 2.5 gallon jar with a tap. I have had first fermentation going for about 10 days. I’ve tasted it and it’s actually pretty good now. I’m ready to start bottling it in resealable 16 oz bottles. I have two questions. Do I need to add sugar and fruit to second fermentation? How do I replenish the liquid I draw out of the first fermentation jug? Plain water or does it need to be tea (I used green tea and local honey).

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Rob! Great questions:
      1. You should add a little sugar or fruit to the 2nd ferm. This will give the bacteria something to “eat” in order to produce carbonation.
      2. Replenish the jar by following the steps for 1st fermentation (so 14 cups water, 1 cup sugar, 8 bags black or green tea, 2 cups kombucha). I wouldn’t recommend using honey in the 1st ferm, but it’s totally fine in the 2nd ferm! 😀

  6. Arel Odi says:

    I’m looking through these comments and it looks like it’s a live feed. Are you going to answer them forever? I hope so. you’re amazing

    I’m making it for the first time, the first fermentation has gone for 8 days and I’m about to do secondary. I’m wondering if I can bottle it without adding sweeteners and expect it to ferment from the remaining sweetness.5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      HA! As long as there are questions 😀

      You can do the second ferm without sugar, but it will be a bit more sour in the end. To counter that, you could stop the first ferm when it is still a little sweet, and let that sweetness be what carbonates the buch. But a pinch of sugar is always easiest 😉 Happy brewing!

  7. Miriam says:

    I have my first scooby ready!! just wondering, white sugar is a must or can I use brown sugar? Thank you!!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Miriam! Brown sugar is a little harder for the yeast to breakdown, so I prefer white sugar. If you want to experiment, I would wait until your SCOBY is thick enough to split into two (so you don’t jeopardize your whole bucha operation_, then do a brew with 1/2 white sugar and 1/2 brown. Would love to hear how it goes!

  8. Cordelia says:

    Hi – thank you for this detailed recipe!! I was wondering if I can do the first fermentation with 7 C water, 4 tea bags, 1/2 C sugar or will this not work? I don’t have a jar large enough for the full recipe.

    Thanks!
    Cordelia

    1. Sarah says:

      Yep that would work! As long as the ration is the same, you can make the batch as large or small as needed (well, within reason! haha)

  9. Sarah Glaser says:

    Thank you for your great site and instructions! I’ve just successfully finished my third brew – can’t wait to try it. And thanks for turning me on to the peppermint candy flavor – awesome. My question (I searched for awhile but didn’t see it – although you have 613 comments!) Some sites say not to use a plastic or metal spigot in the fermentation jug, but you do and it certainly makes it easy to bottle. Any thoughts on whether there is confusion over that or controversy?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Sarah! Indeed this is a bit of a controversy. Spigots can make kombucha brewing much easier, but you need to 1) keep an eye on the surrounding area for any sign of contamination/mold, and 2) make sure your spigot is made of either brew-safe plastic or stainless steel.

      From my understanding, the risk of plastic spigots is porous material where bacteria/mold can form, and the risk of metal is corrosion into the brew. I’m personally using a plastic spigot that seemed pretty good quality (came with the jar), but I will probably be replacing it soon with stainless steel to prevent any bad bugs from developing.

  10. Mary R Sweeney says:

    Hi, Sarah = because of your great site, I am brewing like crazy these days. I give away a lot of kombucha to family and friends and my nice flip top bottles are not making it back to me. I am finding these bottles expensive even buying them in bulk on Amazon. What else can I use to bottle that is less expensive? I have been given some free bottles, and I have been using glass jars, like spaghetti sauce jars, in a pinch. I put a piece of waxed paper underneath the jar lid before screwing the lid on. Is that okay? Any other ideas for inexpensive containers?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Mary! Your friends must love having all this homemade ‘buch, but it’s a bummer you’re losing bottles! You could ferment the kombucha in your nice fermentation bottles, then transfer the finished kombucha into spare glass jars (like spaghetti jars, mason jars, whatever is cheap) to be given away in those. We also save the glass bottles from store bought kombucha and use those for individual portions (though you probably aren’t buying much kombucha these days, huh?) Happy brewing!

  11. Cesaera says:

    Trader Joe’s has ginger beer and Pumpkin Ginger beer in clamp down bottles. You could ask them to save them for you when they sample out those drinks or when people return them for their deposit. I just picked up a few cases of empty bottles that will be perfect. Wish me luck!

    1. Sarah says:

      That’s so brilliant! Thanks for the tip and happy brewing! 😀

  12. Cesaera says:

    It appears that my SCOBY has split. Can I safely split it? the second one is attached but flowy and not as tightly shaped as the mother. Do I wait until I brew a second batch? I got the original from a friend who has been brewing for awhile now do I know it is a strong mother.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Cesaera! It should be fine to spilt into two as long as each are relatively thick. Just wait until your next batch and use it to create two batches 😀

  13. Cesaera says:

    Aaack!! I just added some juice for the second fermentation this am and I put the jars in the fridge😳. I just reread the directions that it should stay out for the second ferment. Did I ruin it?

    1. Sarah says:

      No problem! Just pull them out of the fridge and let them ferment until fizzy, a few days or so. The refrigeration will have temporarily slowed down the fermentation, but it will pick back up once the kombucha warms up again.

  14. Maylina says:

    Hello and thank you for the info!! Trying to make a scooby but can only find a store bought kombucha with ginger added. Will this still work? Was also wondering if kombucha can be made with green tea? Thanks! Excited to get started but have to be patient for my scoby 😂5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Maylina! While plain kombucha is best, ginger is probably the best alternative. Try to get one that has little “stringies” floating in it, which will give you a better shot at SCOBY success. You can make it with green tea once your SCOBY has grown to be a bit thicker. Start by adding just 1 green tea bag, leaving the rest black. Then slowly work your way up until you reach a 50/50 blend (I haven’t tried it with more green tea than this).

  15. Nick says:

    Hey there! I am just getting ready to start my own homemade kombucha journey and I have what might be a silly question:

    Is there something that can be used as a replacement for the starter tea? I purchased a starter SCOBY and and I am getting ready to do my first fermentation, but for the life of me I can not find plain raw kombucha at any of the stores near me to use as starter tea. Can I just use 2 cups of white distilled vinegar instead?

    Thank you so much for this tutorial, I can not wait to try all of your flavor combinations!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Nick! Did the SCOBY come in any sort of liquid? Because you could use that! Otherwise white vinegar should do the job for this first batch.

  16. Danielle shaw says:

    Hi Sarah! I am new at kombucha brewing, i have ruined 2 batches by letting them ferment too long making them much too vinegary to drink. Following some experienced friends instructions unsuccessfully I have decided to seek other recipes online and love the detailed step by step you give! One question I have that they skip in their process is adding the starter tea (already fermented and ready to drink kombucha?) Im wondering why you add this and what happens if left out (seeing as how the batch i made in my fridge isnt very good)? Thanks alot for the help!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Danielle! We add the starter tea to introduce the bacteria and yeast to the whole process, which then divide and multiply and create your kombucha. Is that what you are asking?

      And did you make kombucha in the fridge, or just store it there? I’ve never heard of making it in the fridge (and don’t think it would work, as kombucha needs to be at room temperature to ferment). Let me know if I’m not understanding your question quite right! 😀

  17. nancy bond says:

    ThankThank you so mcuhh for this!!

  18. Joan says:

    Thanks for your great instructions!! I purchased a SCOBY from a local health food store and I am ready to brew thanks to your blog.

    My only confusion is the sugar. I have organic sugar from Costco and it is tan, not white. Is this sugar acceptable?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So exciting that you’re getting started! Plain, granulated white sugar is best for kombucha (easiest for the bacteria and yeasts to breakdown). The tan sugar should work, but to be safe I would probably use white sugar.

  19. leah says:

    Thanks to your clear instructions, Im going to make my first SCOBY. Do you know how I can find a community of SCOBY grower in my area? I would like to have a shared experiences.

    1. Sarah says:

      That’s a good question! You could look on Craigslist or Facebook market place to see who might be selling their spare SCOBYs and connect with them that way?

  20. Meridith Beeber says:

    I’m new to Kombucha making and I tried making a couple flavors. I did the apple cinnamon and added a few cloves to it and I love it. I used fresh apple from my grandmas trees so I’m sure that even added more flavor. I also made peach basil which I could have let sit longer but it was still good. Lastly I made pear, rosemary, and lavender. I haven’t tried it yet but it smells very flower but it definitely needs to be ran through a coffee filter or cheese cloth. I tried to use produce I could get at the farmers market to have the best flavor.5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      I love how much you’re experimenting with the flavors! I haven’t tried rosemary or lavender, adding it to my list to try!

  21. cathy says:

    Thank you for all this wonderful info…ALL SO YUMMY!!!

  22. Cecile van Woensel says:

    Hi Sarah, thank you so much for this kick ass kombucha recipe! Since July I am brewing my own kombucha. The first few batches were awesome and very delicious. Since a month, the kombucha is going to taste quite acidic. I am shortening the second fermentation time and I am adding a little more sugar, but nothing helped so far. Could you give me a recommendation how to fix the acidity? Thank you so much! Cecile

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Cecile! I would not recommend changing the sugar; the ratio of tea to sugar needs to be as listed for the bacteria and yeast to ferment properly. I would personally just reduce the amount of time of the 1st fermentation, which is when most of the acidity develops. An easy fix! 😀

  23. Heather Smith says:

    Well i think i got too excited to make my scoby ….I accidently used the raw organic multi green koumbucha for my starter is this going to work?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Heather! While unflavored kombucha is really best for starting, you might as well just let it ferment and see what happens! If the multi green kombucha is watered down with any juices, it could influence the fermentation. I would start a second batch with unflavored to be sure, but leave this one just to see what develops! 😀

  24. Tia Jackson says:

    Thanks for sharing! I was intimidated by a starter. I have had 3 excellent batches of tea now.5 stars

  25. Fredy says:

    Thank you very much for the instructions. So i followed your instructions and successfully made my scoby. Now I am about to start making my first fermentation but i have a question regarding your instructions shown below:

    * cups (470 mL) unflavored starter tea (either from a previous batch or unpasteurized, unflavored store-bought kombucha)

    for my starter tea, can i use the liquid that was left over after making my scoby?

    Thank you5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Fredy! I used to believe that you couldn’t but I recently learned that this liquid might actually be usable. Doing some research of my own to come up with a solid answer. My official suggestion is still to use store bought for that first batch, but if you feel like experimenting it might just work (and I would love to hear how it goes for you!)

  26. Dubhessa says:

    Hi, I am making an 18 litre batch of kombucha and I was wondering how many SCOBYs I should pop in. It’s all in one big container so I thought that maybe one SCOBY wouldn’t be enough…

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Dubhessa! Phew, 18L is a lot! Perhaps just throw in what you have? 2 or 3 should do (although it will grow its own SCOBY soon enough too).

  27. Amy says:

    Thanks for the detailed step by step! I’m excited to try it out. I’m sorry if you already mentioned it somewhere and I missed it, but if you are only periodically making kombucha how long can the SCOBY live in the reserve liquid of the first fermentation?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So exciting that you’re giving it a go! It depends on the temperature of your house (warmer = less time, cooler = more). I wouldn’t leave it for more than a month without adding a little extra tea in there for it to “feed” on!

  28. Laurie says:

    What brand of kombucha do you use as a starter. I can’t find an unflavoured kombucha.

    1. Sarah says:

      I was just using GT’s kombucha, but it seems to be harder and harder to fund unflavored kombucha these days. If you can’t find unflavored, aim for one with a very mild flavor, like ginger.

  29. Mary Miller says:

    I’ve been making mine for years now and had to quit when we temporarily moved/shaked up with friends. Great, clear instructions!! Because I have auto-immune disease, MS, and cannot have ANY sugar, I let mine ferment extra long, until sugar is virtually eaten up, then sweeten with a drop of stevia:)

    1. Sarah says:

      Such a smart way to sweeten it up, Mary! Thanks for the tip! 😀

  30. Laura says:

    Hi I am going to make a 2 gallon batch (okay try to make) of kombucha. I have bought a 2.95 glass container with spigot. I have 2 bottles of raw and organic 16oz bottles of kombucha plus I bought a scoby from health food store its about 3to4 inches wide. However I have been reading everywhere to use bottled distilled water. My tap water is clean wont it work?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Laura! I haven’t found it necessary to use distilled (literally used tap water for every single batch I’ve ever made). Happy brewing!

  31. Merie Weismiller Wallace says:

    I loved this clear description and am excited to start. I think my only unknown is where to buy the first unpasteurized kombucha to use as starter – you might tell people what type of store to find that at.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Merie! When I first published this guide, unflavored kombucha was actually quite easy to find in any store that sold kombucha (ex Whole Foods). It has since become a bit harder. I’ll try to come up with a guide to finding unflavored!

  32. Terry says:

    Hi Sara, thank you for your instructions love the kombucha!! We really like plain kombucha so we have been bottling it after the first fermentation. But we are finding that it is getting vinegary when it has been in the fridge for a week. Any suggestions?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Terry! I would bottle it a little sooner in the F1 stage, while it is a bit sweeter. You’re not adding any extra sugars, so the bacteria are eating the sugar present in the kombucha, turning it more into vinegar more quickly. Happy brewing!

  33. TERRI OPGENORTH says:

    I am SOOO glad I found you! I was gifted a SCOBY from a friend and have had her resting in the refrigerator for a few weeks. I want to get going! Since I have some of the liquid from my friends’ batch I don’t have to find the store bought stuff right?
    Now I just hope She is OK from being refrigerated…thoughts?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Terri! Yep, you can use the liquid that the SCOBY is in to get started. I generally don’t recommend refrigerating the SCOBY, but there’s no going back now! 😉 My guess is a few weeks in the fridge wouldn’t have hurt it too badly. Let me know if you run into any problems along the way!

  34. TERRI OPGENORTH says:

    Thanks for the speedy response Sarah! My water isn’t even boiling yet! The liquid was a bit vinegary that my SCOBY was resting in, so I guess she is still alive and was digesting any sugar left in the liquid. she is getting warmed up on the counter right now!
    I’ll let you know in a few days how it all looks.

  35. Olessia says:

    Hi Sarah, few things:
    1. Your recipes are impeccable – have had so much success with them (the brew, the flavoring, and even the candy) – thanks so much for such great content!! 🙂
    2. Scrolling through the Q&A’s, someone was asking about brewing with 100% green tea – I’ve done it, and it works wonderful! Flavor is a little different/lighter but I almost like it better than black.
    3. I’m taking a break from brewing and have filled a mason jar with fresh sweetened black tea (as per instructed ratios) and have placed my scoby in there, closed tightly with a lid and put in the fridge. Should it be good like that now? And if so, for how long? Do I need to feed it again (with fresh tea) in a few weeks? And when I go back to brewing, I just use the tea it’s in as starter?
    Thanks again!!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Olessia! I’m so happy you’re liking the recipes! 😀 Glad to hear it works for you with green tea – I’ll be giving it a try soon!

      I generally don’t recommend to store SCOBYs in the fridge if you can help it. You can let ti sit out at room temperature and just feed it every month or so (there’s a great article about it here).

      Happy brewing!

  36. Cesaera says:

    Hi. It’s me again. Last time I thought my tea was not dark enough so I doubled it. My kombucha is very cloudy- almost opaque . Do you think that indicates that something is wrong? I still bottled it for a second ferment, but I am brewing my next batch. Please let me know your thoughts when you get a chance. Thank You

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Cesaera! This doesn’t sound like a problem. I would be sure to stick to the ratios I list here, as the kombucha ferments best at a specific ratio of sugar to tea to water. Did you taste it before bottling? That’s usually the best indicator!

  37. Jason says:

    I read at the top that you can make a chewy treat from the excess SCOBY? Can you please expand on this?

    Thanks

    1. Sarah says:

      Yep, you can make candy! Here’s my recipe for it. Would love to hear how it goes! 😀

  38. darolyn says:

    these directions are so confusing I had to find another recipe2 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Sorry to hear it, Darolyn! If you let me know what’s confusing for you I can help clarify. 🙂

  39. ann says:

    Hello, I bought a scoby online and made my tea; after 7 days a new small scoby developed; then I followed someone else’s recipe that used honey not sugar (with lemon and ginger) but just regular bottles with lids. Should I now add some sugar? I’ll try to get better closing bottles but my question is, what do I do now with the original scoby? It’s still sitting in a few inches of tea.
    I want to keep making kombucha, so do I just do the same thing over again (hot water + sugar)? Would I throw out the bit of remaining liquid (original tea) before starting a new batch?
    Sorry I am confused—thanks for your help!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Ann! Are you talking about using honey in the first or the second fermentation? You should never use honey in the first (in other words, your main SCOBY should never come into contact with honey). Sorry if I’m misunderstanding.

      As far as what to do with your SCOBY, you just use it to create your next batch! It becomes a cycle where you always have some kombucha brewing with that SCOBY. I created a diagram on my new kombucha website here that will hopefully help clarify a bit. Let me know if you still have questions after you check it out!

  40. Terri says:

    Hi Sarah, thank you for your awesome instructions. Awhile ago you had a post about making peppermint kombucha with peppermint candy. Can you repost it ? Tia

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Terri! Good memory 🙂 I made mention in this post of simply adding a piece of peppermint candy to your bottles. Thanks for the reminder though, I’ll nail down specifics and create a flavor with precise ingredients when my next batch is ready!

  41. Cesaera says:

    I have a few questions. I’m only on my second and third batch of kombucha but my mixture is very murky. I used too much tea I’m sure of it. I’m thinking that I should take my Scoby and brew new tea and add some plain store-bought organic raw kombucha instead of starter from my last batch. I figure if I do this for a couple of batches I should get back to ground zero And have good kombucha results. I’m not getting much gas in mine and it seems to take a long time to get Vinegary. what are your thoughts? I don’t Have easy access to a new SCOBYs and would like to rescue the ones I have.

    1. Sarah says:

      You can definitely supplement it with some store bought kombucha to get the levels of bacteria and yeast to a good level! I’ve also done this when getting started with a brand new culture as a way of kick starting the fermentation.

      In terms of fizziness, is your house pretty cold? This would keep it from getting fizzy. And are you adding any fruit/sugar in the second fermentation?

      Happy brewing!

  42. Patricia Nero says:

    Just been introduced to K, and love it. Am moving to central highlands of MX so would like to know high altitude suggestions, if any.

    Thanks
    Patricia

    1. Sarah Bond says:

      Hi Patricia! While I haven’t had the chance to try brewing at altitude (I live squarely at sea level here in the Netherlands), I did a bit of digging and it looks like your fermentation times might simply be a bit longer. Use taste and fizz as measurements! 😀

  43. Stephanie says:

    I’m a little confused with the process. What do you do with the liquid from starting the scoby? Do you continue to feed it or toss it out? Thank you!

    1. Sarah Bond says:

      Hi Stephanie! I just toss out all of that liquid (which is quite vinegary), though you can add a little bit of it to your first fermentation (as the “unflavored starter tea”) to kick off the fermentation. Happy brewing!

  44. Kerry says:

    Hi Sarah, I love this post. So clear and I’m excited to give it a go. A quick question about sugar though… You say to use white sugar. Is there a reason why it has to be white sugar? I thought I had everything, but just re-read that bit and it’s the one thing I don’t have (I only have brown sugar in the house). Thanks, Kerry

    1. Sarah Bond says:

      Hi Kerry! Brown sugar is a little harder for the yeast to breakdown, so I prefer white sugar. If you want to experiment, I would wait until your SCOBY is thick enough to split into two (so you don’t jeopardize your whole bucha operation), then do a brew with 1/2 white sugar and 1/2 brown. Would love to hear how it goes!

  45. Esme says:

    Hello! I am about to start brewing my first batch of kombucha and I’ve read other websites that say you can use the tea from your SCOBY as starter tea from your own fermentation? I just don’t want to waste it and was wondering your thoughts on doing so?5 stars

    1. Sarah Bond says:

      Hi Esme! That has been my advice but I’ve also been reading more about using that SCOBY liquid and have a batch going now to see how it turns out. It seems to be turning working and I’ll probably be changing the recommendation soon. So I would tentatively say that yes, you can use that liquid 😀

  46. Terry says:

    Hi Sarah. Been using your instructions for making kombucha. Love it. But we have gotten too many bottles of kombucha in our fridge, even though we are drinking it daily and even giving friends and family some. How do we slow the process down. I’m sure you have given instructions on how to do this but not sure how to do it without spoiling our scoby. Thank you

    1. Sarah Bond says:

      What a wonderful problem to have! While it’s a little tricky to slow it down, you could just make less per batch (being sure to use the same ratios of tea / sugar / starter). This is what I do occasionally when kombucha is coming out of my ears 😅

  47. Sarah says:

    I’m a little confused by the SCOBY making part! So, am I supposed to make watery tea? (4 tea bags/7 cups water) Thanks in advance!

    1. Sarah Bond says:

      Yep, that’s correct! 😀

  48. TERRI OPGENORTH says:

    Hi Sarah! Me again…so that refrigerated SCOBY started to sink in my gallon jar. I read that that wasn’t a problem and it would right itself. I started the batch on Nov. 5th according to my last post.
    I tried the K a few weeks ago when everything was sunken and the liquid was VERY sweet! I figured that the refrigeration must have killed her… 🙁
    Well, I got busy and didn’t get back to that cabinet until now…had a taste today and the sweetness is nearly gone, a thin SCOBY is on top (another thicker one sunk in the bottom). The liquid is clear.
    Does this mean it WORKED? Did I grow a new SCOBY? Am I ready to do a 2nd ferment? Aack…so many questions!!! (thanks) TerriO

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Terri! Yep, it sounds like your brew is going just fine and a new SCOBY is also forming on top (normal!). I actually wrote an article on sunken SCOBYs and if it matters here.

      In short, if your kombucha tastes good to you, then it’s ready for the 2nd fermentation. That easy! Happy brewing 🙂

  49. Rabecca Williamson says:

    I have a white layer that formed on my mother. I have never seen this before. It had been sitting 9 days and I got ready to add the fruit to it and then put it in the bottles. I usually bottle the kombucha after about 6 days so this was longest I have waited to bottle the kombucha. It is mostly connected to the mother. There is one area where it is separated. Is it a problem? I do not see a way to send you a picture. on this site. If you email me i can email you the pictures i have of it.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Rabecca! Feel free to email me a photo ([email protected]).

  50. Dana Stewart says:

    Hi! Thank you for this great website i reference to it all of the time! Question.. my 2nd fermentation batches come out with what almost looks like a scoby at the top of the bottle. Is this normal?

    1. Sarah says:

      Yep that’s totally normal! Just a normal bi-product of the fermentation. You can strain it out before drinking (though they are edible if you’re curious 😉 haha)

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