JOIN THE EATMAIL for exclusive recipes & meal ideas

logo logo

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
4.88 from 137 votes


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


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.


Serving: 1cup (depends on fermentation length) | Calories: 50kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Sodium: 13mg | Sugar: 12g
Hungry for more?
Join our Eatmail newsletter for weekly new recipes and a complimentary copy of our vegetarian dinners cookbook!
This post may contain affiliate links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links may benefit Live Eat Learn. Read more about our affiliate linking.

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

Read more

Dinner Opt-in

Comments (1,095)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

  1. Joey says:

    Great post! Very easy to understand and follow! Just had one question… how CLEAN is clean? Hahah 😅 like sterilized or just soap and water? Thank you in advanced!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      😅 Great question! I use boiling water and white vinegar to clean everything. Wrote all about cleaning kombucha equipment/hands here (on our new kombucha site!).

  2. Kerry says:

    Hi Sarah, I’m about 2 weeks in with making my first scoby (thanks for the earlier advice:)). It seems to be showing all the right signs, but it’s quite cold where I am, so I’m suspecting it’s likely to take closer to 4 weeks til it’s ready to do the first fermentation. I miscalculated slightly, and just realised I’m going to be away right when the 4 week mark hits. How long beyond 4 weeks do you think I could safely leave it to keep growing (without risking the scoby) and/or do you think I could make another batch of tea and ‘feed it’ that somehow at this point to keep it happy for a couple of extra weeks before I do the first fermentation? Thanks so much, Kerry

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Kerry! It could probably go 6 or 7 weeks at cold temps (though the resulting kombucha probably won’t taste great, the SCOBY should be okay). You can mix in some sweet tea (same ratios of sugar : tea as in the recipe) to “feed” it a bit before you go.

  3. Kate Bouton says:

    Great recipe! I have a bottle of “green kombucha”, which has spirulina and chlorella in it. Could I use this? I couldn’t find any “original” kombucha. It’s unpasteurized and organic. Thank you!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Kate! You should really start with unflavored kombucha to grow the SCOBY (or a very mild flavor, like ginger). The green kombucha has added ingredients which could open up your brew to the possibility of contamination (like mold). Sorry I couldn’t have an easier answer, I know how difficult to find plain kombucha is becoming and am currently doing some research on how to fix the issue!

  4. Mike says:

    Very well written! You put the excitement of making ‘buch into me. I’m thinking a slightly sweet cinnamon blueberry buch?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Aw, thanks so much Mike! Happy to hear I could help 😀 Blueberry cinnamon would be delish! I would probably just add a pinch of cinnamon to our Blueberry Kombucha recipe.

  5. Amy Grenoble says:

    I used GTs Trilogy because I could not find anything more “unflavored”. Will this work, or did I ruin it all??

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Amy! While unflavored (or mildly flavored) is best, I understand it’s getting pretty hard to find these days. Trilogy could work – give it a few weeks and just see what happens! 😀 If it doesn’t work, I might suggest getting a bottle online (or checking a health foods store).

  6. Becky says:

    Is it okay to just scoop out the kombucha to bottle for the second fermenting and then add fresh sweetened tea to the jar that still has the Scoby and some kombucha liquid in it? In other words I’m not washing the fermentation glassware between batches. Also is it okay to not strain out the little black stuff? Thank you!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Becky! Yep that should be fine. Just ensure whatever you’re using to scoop out kombucha is very clean. Happy brewing! 🙂

  7. Becky says:

    OH I forgot one more question! We are quite frugal and keep our house is relatively cool; it stays 60-65 F most of the time. How long should my fermentations take?

    1. Sarah says:

      It really depends, but probably close to 2 weeks! You might consider getting a heading pad. They’re energy efficient and keep the kombucha at a safe temp (too low and you run a higher risk for mold). I wrote a bit on kombucha temperatures here!

  8. john morgan says:

    I haven’t made any yet but would love to!

  9. Teresa says:

    So on the 2ed fermentation i don’t have a Mother in the bottle’s. Just fruit to flavor my drink

    1. Sarah says:

      Yep that’s correct! 😀

  10. Terri says:

    Hi Sarah, making lots and lots of delicious kombucha!! Thank you. We have a question, we made a double batch and the second fermentation was delicious. We made two different kinds, now about a week later when we open the bottle to drink they fizz up and fizz out of the bottle. Not sure why ? We never had this issue before. Is it because it has been sitting for a week ? Any suggestions?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Terri! It’s just extra fizzy, that’s normal 😀 You might try putting them in the fridge for a day before opening them. The cold temperature helps the carbonation go into the liquid, and in my experience prevents the bottles from fizzing out as much. If it keeps happening, just open the bottles over a large bowl to catch the kombucha that fizzes out.

  11. David says:

    Aloha Sarah,
    Can you please explain why the SCOBY is taken out of the pot to put the new tea and starter in it for the 1st fermentation? You say you don’t need to rinse out the pot so I’m wondering why not just dump the newly brewed tea and starter Kombucha in on top of the SCOBY. This would seem to protect it more from potential contamination.

    I appreciate you experience on this,

    1. Sarah says:

      You can also do it that way, David! If you can pour the finished 1F kombucha out while keeping the SCOBY in the jar, then just go ahead and pour the next batch of sweet tea in on top of the SCOBY 😀

  12. JAYNE says:

    How long will Scoby last and how should it be stored?

    1. Sarah says:

      It should last indefinitely (years!). Just store it in sweet tea (at the same ratios as listed above), where it can sit for about 2 months. After that, you’ll just need to add more sweet tea as “food”.

  13. Laurie says:

    I’ve managed to grow a scoby using organic, raw, green tea kombucha (couldn’t find unflavoured). I’m on my second fermentation. After I’ve bottled my kombucha, should my scoby, in its two cups of kombucha, be kept in the fridge before making another batch?

    1. Sarah says:

      You should store it at room temperature, and aim to make your next batch within a few days (I usually make the next batch at the same time as bottling).

  14. Ellen says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for all the excellent directions! I’m about to start second ferment to make mango kombucha. So excited! I’m just a little confused about one point. You suggested putting some into a clean water bottle to let it solidify and that would help determine when the rest was ready to be vented prior to refrigerating. Should I assume you meant to leave to water bottle open to air? Thanks for clarifying. Ellen

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Ellen! The second fermentation bottles should all be sealed with a lid (water bottle included). The water bottle will help you gauge when pressure has built up in the rest of the bottles because it will become hard like a tennis ball 🙂

  15. Jeremy says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for the great article! I’ve started brewing and my first few batches have been delicious! I’m starting to try additional flavors (cherry and apple have been a hit so far!) and was wondering about adding more acidic fruit slices/juices (e.g. lemon, orange, etc.) for the second fermentation. I have some really fresh and delicious fruit locally that I’d love to try out. Will that run the risk of messing up the second fermentation and spoiling the booch? And, if not, would you recommend putting piece of the fruit or just adding fresh-squeezed juice? Thanks!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Citrus is great in kombucha! You can add either slices, puree, or juice. One of my recent favorites is Orange Creamsicle 😀

  16. Hanna says:

    Hi! I am excited to see how it turns out. I followed all the directions to a tee for making a SCOBY. However after I split the sweet tea into two jars, I accidentally added 1 cup of store bought starter to EACH jar instead of 1/2 cup each. Should I add more sugar to the batch, or just let it go as normal now?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Hanna! That’s fine, just leave it as is. Your kombucha will probably brew a little faster than the fermentation length listed here because there are more bacteria and yeasts working away at it 🙂

  17. N says:

    Hey Sarah,

    I was given a batch of kombucha (around 1.5inch liquid) with SCOBY already in it and was told to make the tea and sugar for a fresh batch which I did and now I have the original SCOBY at the bottom and a huge new SCOBY at the top. Is that normal? Also, I had to use a metal sieve to strain the black loose tea leaves during the new batch – is that ok? Last question is how to top up my current kombucha with tea when it already has two SCOBYS? I’d like to have more tea but don’t want to grow a third SCOBY in there 😉

    Sorry for all the questions and thanks in advance!

    1. Sarah says:

      It’s totally fine if the SCOBY sinks and a new one forms on top (more on why that happens here). Metal sieve is fine for brief contact like what you did. Finally, just top it up! The SCOBYs will probably all come together eventually as the bottom one rises back up. 🙂

  18. Zoe D'Cunha says:

    Hi Sarah, Thank you for the information. I am trying to make my own scoby. But I used around 400ml of store bought kombucha instead of 250ml. Is that ok. Or should
    I pitch it out and and remake a new batch – Z

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Zoe, that’s should be fine! Your SCOBY may grow a little faster 🙂 You can use tap water but may need to filter, depending on where you are. I wrote about it in this article!

  19. Zoe D'Cunha says:

    Also do you use normal tap water or filtered water

  20. N says:

    Thanks so much!! Cant wait to get started on the next batch! <35 stars

  21. Asteria says:

    Very good instructions and tips. Good to read and understand. Nice pictures and Illustration.5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Happy to hear you liked them Asteria! 😀

  22. Ian says:

    Question: why do you need more starter kombucha for the first ferment after you’ve already created a SCOBY?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Ian! The starter liquid will kickstart the fermentation faster because it permeates through the entire batch, while the SCOBY just rests on top. I tease out the differences in what the SCOBY does vs starter liquid in this article if you’re interested!

  23. Ilene says:

    Great article. Thanks!! I just bought a new bigger container. Do I have to make a new scoby for it so it covers the top or can I just put my 2 x smaller scobies inside and carry on as normal? X

    1. Sarah says:

      You can just add your small SCOBYs to the big jar! They will eventually grow to fit the size of the new jar 😀

  24. Parvin says:

    🙏🙏🕊your instructors are very good Thank you

  25. Amy Grenoble says:

    I thank you for responding to my earlier question regarding using Trilogy instead of unflavored kombucha to make the SCOBY. I did that nearly 2 months ago, but I haven’t had time to move onto the first fermentation. It looks like a SCOBY has formed, but it’s not very thick, and I’m not sure if I need to start over. Would you be able to look at photos of what I have and give your input? Thank you very much for your time!

    1. Sarah says:

      Sure thing! Feel free to email me your photos, [email protected].

  26. Marguerite says:

    Great post. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m ready to make my second batch. I left the Scoby in 2 cups of tea from my previous “first” fermentation in a jar as per instructions. The Scoby has since thickened quite a bit and it looks like the liquid has reduced somewhat. Is it ok to use the tea and Scoby that I left in the jar as is and just pour the sweet tea on top of it?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Marquerite! See how much starter liquid is left. If it’s less than 2 cups, either add some more starter, or just make a smaller batch this time. You want to make sure there’s enough starter in there to reduce the chance of mold. Then you can just pour the (cooled) sweet tea on top and give it a swirl to combine!

  27. Margie Davenport says:

    Hi Sarah, I’m starting my first fermentation, Is it ok to use Earl Grey tea, it is a black tea but has bergamot?

    1. Sarah says:

      Great question Margie! Avoid Earl Grey because of the added bergamot. English breakfast will work well! More on tea types here:

  28. Esmeralda says:

    hi sarah! i made my first batch per ur instructions a couple months back and it came out perfectly! ive been storing my SCOBY in the refrigerator since those months and i was about to start my second batch but i just read a refrigerator SCOBY can no longer be used? is this true? In addition, can i use the kombucha that my SCOBY has been resting in as the starter tea in my new batch? THANK you so much for all the help!

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear it, Esmerelda! The fridge indeed isn’t great for the SCOBY, but it could still be alive. Check it out thoroughly for mold and give it some time to “wake back up”. If your batch doesn’t acidify as usual, that would indicate the SCOBY has lost its power. (But mold is the major concern with the fridge, so be on alert for that).

      You can use the kombucha the SCOBY was in as starter (previously recommended against this, but have come to learn it’s a great starter!)

      Happy brewing 😀

  29. Harper says:

    I would love to know how the holiday spiced bucha turned out 😊. I’m ordering my kit now

    1. Sarah says:

      I do one with pears and spices that I really like! Apple cinnamon is another favorite (and currently working on one that’s gluhwein flavored, with reduced red wine, cinnamon, and cloves!)

  30. Karen says:

    Does the jar you start in need to have a wide opening so you can peel off the Scoby for the first fermentation? I put mine in a jug with a small opening but now I’m not sure if I will have access to peel away some of the Scoby.

    1. Sarah says:

      As long as it’s large enough to reach your hand into comfortably then it should be fine. The SCOBY is quite flexible, so you could fold it to pull it out of the jar then drop it back in. 😀

  31. Jeremy says:

    Hi Sarah,

    For the 2nd fermentation, you mention leaving about 1.5″ of headspace in the bottle. I’ve had a few bottles that I’ve only filled partway with the last part of a batch and they seem to have more bubbles. Is headspace directly related to amount of carbonation and should I fill my bottles less if I want more carbonation? Thanks!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Great question, Jeremy! Usually you want less head space, because it forces the carbonation into the liquid (rather than giving it room to hangout in the air). Odd that you experienced the opposite effect!

  32. Amy Grenoble says:

    I have my first batch fermenting, and I put some in a plastic bottle to monitor, but there is a small amount of liquid in the bottle (large amount of headroom). Is this going to be a good measure of fermentation? What should I be monitoring in my bottles of kombucha to know it is ready?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Amy! Yes, this large amount of headroom will influence the results and it won’t be quite the same as the glass bottles (will probably take longer). You’ll know the kombucha is ready when you pop open one of the bottles and there is a nice level of carbonation (the amount is totally up to you). After a few batches you’ll get the hang of how long your bottles needs, but for now you may just need to test the carbonation ever day or so.

  33. Brian says:

    is there anything that can ruin or kill the scoby? is brown sugar useful?

    1. Sarah says:

      Cold temperature and the wrong ingredients! I wouldn’t suggest using brown sugar, which contains molasses and can be bad for the SCOBY. More on best sugars here, and my general FAQs.

  34. Molly Stevens says:

    Do you know how many carbs are in the end product?

    1. Sarah says:

      About 12 grams, but it can be more or less depending on how long you let your fermentation run. You can push the carb count down a bit, I wrote about how to do that here. 😀 Happy brewing!

  35. Sami A Hashem says:

    Been making Kombucha for many years. This recipe made it perfect. Thank you. Sarah.5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear it, Sami! 😀 Happy brewing!

  36. Sarah says:

    Thank you for such helpful instructions! I refer to this page often with little questions that come up! I’ve been successful so far.
    My favorite flavor has been mixed berry. I cooked down frozen berries and strained the seeds, added that for the second fermentation! Delish!!
    Question: I split my scoby and kept half of it in the fridge, but the temp was too cold and it froze a bit. Did I kill the scoby? How can I tell?
    Also, my second fermentation has been coming our great but I like it cold. So, once the second second fermentation is ready, I put it in the fridge and it looses its bubble. Any way to prevent that?
    Thanks again for all the helpful information!!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear you’re finding it useful! I recommend to never put a SCOBY in the fridge. This slows down fermentation too much and increases your chances of mold. I would just take it out and try starting a new batch with it. If the kombucha ferments as usual, then it should be good to go!

      As for the fizz-less kombucha, this is a common problem with refrigeration. Ensure you’re storing your kombucha in high quality bottles, which will help keep all that carbonation in. You might also try not burping or opening the kombucha before refrigerating. A bit more on that here. Happy brewing!

  37. Glenn says:

    Hi Sarah;

    I’ve developed a love of kambucha, partly because of how comfortable it makes my stomach feel. I don’t, however like the cost of buying pre made, and am excited to start making my own, using your techniques and recipes..
    My question is, though: Do you have a resource that you can recommend for buying the SCOBY and other items used in making the kambucha.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Glenn! I don’t recommend buying a SCOBY – they’re so easy to make 😀 As for supplies, I listed out my favorite gear here if you’re interested.

  38. Jeremy says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Another quick question. For the 2nd fermentation, I often have a little “mini-scoby” form at the top of the liquid (sometimes in and amongst the fruit). I know I could strain it out, but is there any issue with eating it (along with the fruit)?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Nope, no issue at all with eating the baby SCOBY or the fruit (some people just don’t like the texture, but I like it!)

  39. Ron says:

    During my first fermentation, while adding the “store bought” starter kombucha, should I shake the contents of the bottle mixing in the sediment or just pour in the “settled” clear contents ?

    1. Sarah says:

      The sediments are good to incorporate into the brew, so you can definitely give it a gently shake or swirl to get everything mixed in! 😀

  40. Karen says:

    Thank you, my friend gave me a scoby this morning! Can’t wait to make my kombucha!

    1. Sarah says:

      So exciting! Let me know if you run into any questions along the way. Happy brewing!

  41. Ilene says:

    Hi Sarah, thanks for the guide. I am going through my Kombucha too fast, because I love it so much and now bought a massive 2 gallon container and made a scoby. Will the first fermentation take longer, because the container is so big? I know I can just test, but I want to plan ahead so I don’t sit without Kombucha for a few days….

    1. Sarah says:

      Great question, Ilene! If you keep the proportion of starter kombucha to sweet tea the same (which you should to prevent mold), then the fermentation time should remain about the same!

  42. Ilene says:

    I’m back with more questions… I know it is not a problem for my scoby to sink to the bottom, but my scoby never seems to want to stay at the top and also folds double at the bottom. This means I never get a nice thick scoby, because during fermentation, it forms another thin scoby at the top. Is there anything I can do to get my scoby to behave itself and form the seal and a nice thick scoby?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hmm there’s not a ton you can do to make it float back up, besides resisting from moving the jar too much. The thickness of the SCOBY really shouldn’t matter a ton though, as much as we might want it to look nice and thick.

  43. Anastasia says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I have the same problem as Illene with the sinking scoby and a new thin scoby forming on top of my next kombucha batch. Is it ok that I discard the new thin scoby and keep the old sinking scoby each time or should I do the opposite? Ie/ discard the old scoby and keep the new thin one? I’ve been doing this for 8 months now.
    Many thanks5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Anastasia! There’s no need to discard either necessarily, and they will likely merge together at some point. If the small one on top becomes large, you can remove one of them and use it to start a new batch (or gift it to a friend).

  44. kate says:

    Followed your recipe and tutorial! Thanks for making it so easy. I did a second ferment and did one bottle with date, elderberry and ginger juice and after 7 days that fizzed up so much it exploded. The second bottle i did i used lemon juice, frozen pureed blueberries and ginger juice and I let that sit for 10 days and it didn’t fizz at all when I opened it; not even after I refrigerated . Is this because I possibly had less sugar ? And would it still be good to drink? Thanks!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Kate! So exciting that you managed to get such a fizzy bottle! for the non-fizzy bottle, it probably just had less sugar. Try adding a teaspoon or so of sugar or honey next time. But it is still good to drink even without the fizz! (And you can salvage it by adding some sugar now, and letting it ferment for a few days to carbonate). More on how to troubleshoot non-fizzy kombucha here.

  45. David Leaning says:

    Hi Just found your recipe for Kombucha. I have already had a go with a scoby that I got in the post and it has been a success. I now have a 6-7 inch scoby. My question is can I cut it into sections as it is quite big and can I keep the spare bits alive?

    1. Sarah says:

      You can pull the SCOBY layers apart to create a few different SCOBYs if needed! Keep the extra SCOBYs alive by keeping them in a SCOBY hotel (details at the bottom of this post). Happy brewing!

  46. Jodi says:

    Thanks for the detailed instructions! One question: I have a 1 gallon glass jar with a plastic spigot. Is this okay?

    1. Sarah says:

      Great question, Jodi! It’s best to use a fermentation safe plastic, or stainless steel meant for brewing. Plastic can harbor nasty bacteria that you don’t want in your brew. You can usually find these online and can replace your plastic one with it 😀

  47. Hello Sarah I’m doing my first batch is it normal to look like mould setting on top

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Chris! Kombucha looks weird, even on a good day. But I rounded up a few photos of what mold does/doesn’t look like here that you can check out.

  48. Joann says:

    Hi Sarah, thank you for all the useful information. I am going to make my first batch of kombucha and wondered if I could make a half batch as I don’t have enough refrigeration available. And if it is possible would I just have the ingredients.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Joann! You can definitely make a half batch – just keep the ratios all the same 😀

  49. Havana Brusselmans says:

    hi, i have a question. i´m about to start making my first scoby, i bought a glass jar but realised when i got home that it was only 2 gallons. and i dont have the chance to go out and get one more. can i split your recipe in half and just make a smaller scoby?

    1. Sarah says:

      2 gallons should be more than enough! If you need to you can definitely split the recipe, just keeping all the ratios the same 😀 Happy brewing!

  50. Georgia Magers says:

    Hi I have a question. Is it okay to use flavored kombucha to make kombucha? I just went to 2 different stores and couldn’t find anything plain!

    1. Sarah says:

      Great question, Georgia! You should aim for unflavored or very mildly flavored. I wrote a post here about where to get your hands on unflavored kombucha! 😀