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Quick and Easy Guide To Brewing Kombucha

 

Here we go, my friends. Quick and easy!

I recently posted a photo on my Instagram of the process of ‘harvesting’ my kombucha when it was done fermenting. I received so many questions about this and as I too was once digging around for a simple method, I felt it was time to offer some quick and easy directions.

Now I know there are several variations on brewing kombucha — some people brew for a few weeks, then add more sugar to further carbonate. Some like to add fruit or other flavored teas.

The ones you buy in the store are often enhanced with forced carbonation, sugar and sometimes ‘natural’ flavours.

For right now, what I’m sharing is my most basic, almost foolproof method for brewing. I say ‘almost’ because when it comes to fermentation, there are no guarantees. We’re working with living cultures, here!

Kombucha making

The hardest part about making this is actually waiting the weeks for it to be ready!

The Tools You’ll Need

  • 1 gallon glass jar (holds about 3-4 litres)
  • 1 cup measure
  • 1 pot
  • Wooden spoon
  • Cheesecloth
  • Rubber band
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Quick and Easy Kombucha Making

Easy Kombucha


  • Author: Meghan Telpner

Description

A simple guide to brewing your own kombucha.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 gallon of clean water (preferably not straight from your tap)
  • 1 cup organic white sugar
  • 8 organic caffeinated tea bags (I recommend an organic Earl Grey)
  • 1/2 cup kombucha (optional*)
  • 1 SCOBY (get one online, at your local health food store or from a health loving friend!)

Instructions

  1. Fill your gallon jug with water and then pour that into your pot. (This is an easy way to measure the volume you need.)
  2. Bring water to a boil and remove from heat. Add sugar and tea. Stir and allow to steep with the lid off. You want your water to cool to room temperature.
  3. Once water has cooled to where you can stick your finger in and it’s neither too hot nor too cold, transfer it to your clean gallon jar. Stir in the 1/2 cup of kombucha*. Use your wooden spoon to add your SCOBY.
  4. Cover with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Keep in a slightly warm spot, like beside your oven or on top of your fridge. By the window in the winter would be a bad idea as the cooler the area, the longer it will take to ferment.
  5. Be patient. Let sit for 2-4 weeks. Start tasting it after two weeks and then every few days until it’s to your desired taste.
  6. *If you don’t have a 1/2 cup of kombucha, it’s okay. This simply acts as a starter. It just might mean your kombucha will take a little longer to ferment.

Notes

I personally like to leave my kombucha for about four weeks. I want that sugar digested fully by the SCOBY so my brews are fairly strong and not that sweet. Usually 1/4 cup is all I can sip on at one time. This is truly healing kombucha.
If you like your kombucha sweeter, that’s cool too. Just know that when you’re buying the storebought kind, if it tastes super sweet, that’s because it is. I’d recommend fermenting until it’s no longer sweet and than sweetening as you like, for example, by squeezing in a little fresh orange or blueberry juice.

Additional Notes
You can add flavoured tea bags to your brew by using 4-6 black tea bags and then adding, say, 2-4 peppermint or ginger tea bags.

It’s best to keep your SCOBY away from direct contact with metal. I don’t know why, but I remember someone telling me this.

It’s best to use a plain organic white sugar. It’s the sugar the SCOBY wants, so adding a whole coconut sugar or sucanut can interfere with the process. Once you’ve done it a few times with organic sugar, I invite you to play with other sweeteners. Let me know how it goes!

  • Category: Beverage

I know that kombucha brewing can be a personal thing. If you have your own preferred methods or tips, I invite you to share them below.

Happy brewing!

 

82 responses to “Quick and Easy Guide To Brewing Kombucha”

  1. Justine says:

    I wonder what ya’ll would recommend for people trying to live a more UnDiet lifestyle in the day-to-day beverages department? sometimes green juice and kombucha is too big of a jump for someone that currently drinks Cola and Sweet Tea. Obviously the Cola needs cut and the default should always be water…but some folks want to make better decisions on a smaller scale and don’t yet own a blender or know where to find ginger and cheeseclothe at their super market. What are your recommendations for sweetening tea naturally (fruit?) or dressing up water?

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      I think kombucha is a great switch for a cola drinkers- especially the store bought ones that are sweet. You might also try soda water mixed with pure blueberry juice. That’s also a nice transition drink.

  2. Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty says:

    i’ve been brewing it for a bit – but I never know how long it lasts after bottling? I’ve ended up tossing it because I just wasn’t sure!!

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      Hi Jessica- it will last forever, essentially. It may get stronger the longer it sits but for the most part- you’re good. If it starts to taste too vinegary for you- you can use it in salad dressings.

  3. ramesh says:

    Hi , i like to make my Kombucha. But I’m not sure where i can get the starter kit , or the SCOBY. i live in Toronto.

    • Valeria says:

      Grow your SCOBY from scratch! Get a bottle of plain kombucha from a store and pour it into a quart of black sweet tea. You will see a baby SCOBY in no time :)

  4. Jennifer says:

    ramesh, you can get dehydrated ones in the mail (culturesforhealth.com) or even better, I just asked around at a local health food store…the clerk gave me 6 SCOBYs…too many actually!! Now I had to learn how to do a SCOBY hotel!

  5. Dawn says:

    Why does it need to be caffeinated? I bought a starter from Cultures for Health, but haven’t been bold enough to try it yet. Caffeine in the tea could be a complete non-starter for me, it is a medical issue, I must avoid it.

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      The SCOBY feeds on the caffeine and sugar. So technically- after the ferment, there shouldn’t be any remaining caffeine.

  6. Erika says:

    I was brewing 5 gallons at a time staggered in ripening dates with my family consuming a gallon in less than a week! I made sure that the brewing jar (a wide mouth jar) was boiled after washing each time to make sure it was sqeaky clean, then I poured the hot tea/sugar water into it to allow it to cool with the screw cap on over night on the counter. I will be checking on my first brew in over a year, next week to see how it worked out. The 5 gallons sat aside as my life got busier and I moved 3 times lol… the scobys were still in their last rotation water all that time unfed so this will be an experiment on how they do being dormant for 14 months. No mold grew over that time, the scobys got huge! I have enough scoby to fill one of the gallon jars lol. So my fingers are crossed. I LOVE kombucha, it is a great way to start the day, first thing after some plain water, to drink some and start my internal engine!

  7. Erika says:

    By the way, I started my scoby from two store-bought raw kombucha bottles and it worked great. Failed only once and from there grew to 5 gallons over a couple months.

  8. Evy Bialek says:

    How or where do I get the starter (mushroom) that sits on top.?
    I have done this before.j

  9. Lisa says:

    How often do you clean the glass jar with the SCOBY? Or do you clean it?

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      Are you referring to the jar I keep in the fridge with the SCOBYs? I don’t think I have cleaned it. Every so often I end up giving away all the baby SCOBYs so I guess that would be when, but as I rarely open it, everything stays fine.

  10. Nicole says:

    Hi Meghan,

    Regarding storage, after the Kombucha is ready – when you cap the bottle and store in the fridge, do you need to burp it so it doesn’t explode?

    Thank you!

  11. Stephen Peter Allen McRae says:

    I have been brewing the Booch for over a year now. I started brewing for my self in my personal health quest, a couple gallons a month. When all my friends and family saw the transformation they wanted in on it too. Now I have sixty gallons brewing non-stop. I sell it locally, I don’t want to get commercialized, I think that kinda diminishes the whole traditionally brewed aspect. My customers get it fresh not more than five days out of the crock. I have six different flavors to choose from, all made with organic ingredients. I happened to run across this page scanning for anything Kombucha. I love to see what others have to offer, whether experiences concerning how it effects their health, to brewing methods. My Kombucha Brewery is called, “The Booch Pharm”

  12. Brenda says:

    I make a super concentrated quart of tea so I do not have the heat up a whole gallon of water and then add 2 and 1/2 quarts of filtered water along with my reserved 2 cops of kombucha. Much faster process.
    Also, I like using unsweetened, unsulfured dried fruit for a secondary flavoring fermentation.

  13. Tempest says:

    I have been brewing kombucha and water kefir for years now….but I was under the impression that you were not supposed to use flavoured tea bags for the first ferment of kombucha. I thought the bergamot in the tea interfered with the ferment? I use green tea for mine, and then I double ferment it with organic juice or fruit puree in resealable bottles. It get so carbonated and my husband just loves it. He says it is like guilt free pop! I do the same with the water kefir. Delicious!

  14. Ed says:

    Is Evaporated Cane Juice Organic Sugar from Wholesome Sweetners a good sugar to use?

  15. yolanda says:

    I made kombucha a long time ago using tea bought in a grocery store. Now I know better and will use only organic tea. I have been cautioned about mold. And what about using a heated mat to provede an even temp.? I plan to start making Kombucha once again and don’t have a scoby. I also would like info on infusing kombucha with flavors. I really like the store bought ones that have carbonation. Mine never had this.
    My daughter sent me this site. I feel like a beginner and need lots of help. I only made about two gallons a long time ago.

  16. Easy Kimchi Recipe | Simple Fermentation says:

    […] I have begun to make all of my own ferments – whether it’s coconut kefir, saurkraut, kombucha, and now, I am proud to say, I have succeeded with […]

  17. Sylvie says:

    could we use loose tea leafs instead of tea bags ?

  18. June says:

    This is the best guide to brewing kombucha I’ve ever tried. Thank you!

  19. Maggie says:

    How long do scobys last for? I have one that I have stored away for approx 10 years, it’s in a large glass container with the fluid (fully sealed) in the pantry. How safe is it to re-use? I’m inclined to toss it out. Your views would be greatly appreciated. .I have read that some scobys can be even older and still be reuseable.

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      I think I’d be curious enough to give it a try. I’m not an expert on the matter so you may wish to contact a commercial kombucha brewer for advice.

  20. Mel says:

    Thanks for the info! I tried kombucha last night and loved it, now I want to make my own. Two (maybe silly) questions:
    1. Is organic cane sugar the same as organic white sugar?
    2. Do the tea bags stay in, or at what point should they be removed?
    Thanks!

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      In most cases yes, cane sugar and white sugar are the same. Often organic white sugar has a little more minerals removed.
      The teabags are removed before you pour it into the jars with the scoby.

      Happy brewing!

  21. Jillian says:

    It’s so fun having a pet scoby at home (we might be known to name ours). It’s also fun to trace the family line as the babies gets passed on :)

    Thanks for sharing your fb tutorial and having this reference guide. I’m curious about people that are taking immunosuppressants. There is a lot of conflicting information about whether or not they should/can consume kombucha. My gut (pun intended) tells me that it’s beneficial bc we’re promoting healthy bacteria, which will support immune function. However, there is conflicting research that states that if anything went wrong in the brew process, you could be putting someone with a suppressed immune system in the danger zone. Thoughts or research that you’ve found on this?
    Please, and thank you!
    Jillian

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      You are most welcome!
      Regarding your question- I have read similar things. Anyone with a compromised immune system will be more sensitive to most things. I don’t think it’s dangerous necessarily, but likely best to start with a few ounces at a time and see how the body responds. A home brew is going to be much stronger than a store bought one.

  22. Camila says:

    Hi Meghan!
    Thanks for the post. I’ve been drinking kombucha for while and now I wanna try to make it myself. So I was checking on Amazon to buy a SCOBY but I got kind of lost :) Do you mind to recommend me a brand?

    Thank you so much!

    En santé,

    Camila.

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      I’m not sure of brands. Most of the kits on amazon look legit. If you belong to any food groups on Facebook, you could also ask if anyone in your area has any extras. I’ve always borrowed and given mine away.

    • James says:

      Hey! There’s a company on eBay that sells live Scobys called Thanks A Million. I just ordered one for $5. They have good reviews so I’ve got high hopes!

    • Vera says:

      You don’t need to buy SCOBY! Grow it yourself! ;)
      Just get raw kombucha like GT’s, drink half of it and leave half of kombucha on your counter top. In a week you will have your very own homegrown SCOBY! Enjoy!

  23. Colleen says:

    Hi Meghan
    Just wanted to let you know the reason for keeping your kombucha and scoby away from metal is because the elements of the kombucha and scoby digest and remove heavy metals from our body, so the kombucha will eat and erode the metal utensils and containers.

  24. Bethan says:

    Hi there. I am embarking on making kombucha but generally don’t drink caffeine. You say above to use a caffeinated tea, is there a particular reason for this? Could you not use rooibos? If using black tea what are your thoughts on children consuming kombucha? Thanks, Bethan

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      Hi Bethan – The SCOBY feeds on sugar and caffeine so your finished product would have only very trace amounts after the fermentation process.

  25. Lori Gee says:

    Hi! I’ve been drinking kombucha for over a year now. My immune system is very bad. I have stemic lupus and leukemia. Just last week I got the stomach flu. And it was because I wasn’t drinking my normal amount of kombucha. Other than that, I’ve had nothing but great things to say about kombucha. It helped my stomach so much. Thanks for the recipe.

  26. Lori Gee says:

    Oh, I also have MRSA. So I believe in kombucha! And all natural things for my body! It’s always the best thing to do 😀.

  27. Amy Roberts says:

    What do you do with the scoby after the batch is done? How do you take care of that?

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      Hi Amy, you can store your SCOBY in a SCOBY Hotel. Just add a little bit of your Kombucha to a glass jar and store your SCOBY in there in the fridge.

    • Vera says:

      You can add your SCOBY to your salad or feed your chickens! Also you can put it in your flower pots, flowers love it as a fertilizer!

  28. Natalie C says:

    Hey Meghan!
    I am wondering if I take the tea bags out after the water has cooled, or if I keep them in for the full 2-4 weeks while it ferments? Let me know! I want to make this soon!

  29. Rue Matthiessen says:

    Hi Meghan: I am thinking about trying the home brew — I have a question about storage — I’ve saved a bunch of glass bottles from store bought GTS Kombucha — can I use those? Also, can I use the store bought for the “bit of Kombucha” at the beginning of the recipe? Thanks much

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      Hi Rue. Your saved glass bottles should work. You can leave out the 1/2 cup of kombucha if you’d like, it will just take a little longer to ferment. Once you have your own brew going, you can use your own kombucha as a starter. Sometimes the store-bought kinds can throw the fermentation off, so I’d recommend just leaving it out.

  30. Wendy Fraser says:

    Hi, I have made my first batch of kombucha, but am concerned that my scobi has sank to the bottom of the jar. Have i killed it? Thanks

  31. Todd Young says:

    just wondering if you filter the liquid once it has reached the fermentation level desired? You mentioned the settling of the SCOBY so i wondered if that is to be filtered out or consumed? thanks.

  32. Alastair says:

    Can the scoby be used multiple times?
    If so, how many times can it be used?
    His much scoby is needed per jar?
    Thanks

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      Yes, the scoby is meant to be used over again. How many times you can use it depends on how often you brew and what condition your scoby is in, but it should last for a while. You’ll only need one per jar – sometimes your scoby will produce a ‘baby’ scoby, which you can use as well (or give to a friend).

  33. Yamilet says:

    Hi Meghan! I just made my first batch of kombucha using organic “raspadura” sugar, a very artisanal sugar with all the molasses in it that is very easy to find in my country. I let it ferment for 10 days (I made a small batch just in case it didn’t work) and it was not sweet at all so I added it to some fresh lemon juice and made a delicious kombucha lemonade. Thanks for the inspiration!

  34. Diana Martin says:

    Hi Meghan! How do you store the SCOBY after you have made a batch of kombucha?

    Thanks!

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      I make a scoby hotel – put the scoby in a jar with a bit of kombucha and store in the fridge.

  35. Brandon says:

    How do you share a SCOBY? If I break apart the one in my crock, can I share that?

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      You can share the scoby in a few ways – peel it apart horizontally, give away the baby scoby that appears, or cut it with clean, sharp scissors. Happy sharing!

  36. Sandy pressley says:

    Can one use decaf tea to make kombucha?

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      I have found that my kombucha works better with caffeinated tea, because the scoby feeds on the sugar and caffeine. Very little caffeine remains once the scoby has done its work. However, there are people who have had success with using herbal teas.

  37. Bianca says:

    Hello, my brew has formed a layer on top. Is this normal or have I not incorporated the sugar thoroughly?

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      Hi Bianca. I’m not entirely sure what you mean by a layer – it sounds like the scoby is forming on top, but I’m not sure. You should be able to see clearly if it’s mold and not the scoby developing.

  38. Rebecca Digges says:

    Can you make a Scooby? Also does the water need to be distilled or just filtered?

  39. Fraser says:

    Hey, thanks for the recipe, but I’d really caution against using Earl Grey tea as the oils added to it are not good for the scoby.

  40. Cynthia Atkins says:

    when starting the process, is a narrow 1inch hole big enough to allow for fermentation in a 1.25 gallon jug?

    I would like to to try but need to know if 1.25 gal jug with 1 INCH hole will allow for proper fermentation

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      Hi Cynthia! For the initial ferment, you’ll want to use a wide mouth jar to fit the scoby into. See the second photo in the post – the wider jars to the right are what held the brew, and then I transferred the fermented kombucha to the flip top bottles.

  41. Maite Bou says:

    Hi Meghan!

    Can I ask you what temperature is your kombucha brewing? I let mine brew for about 8-9 weeks but still tastes a bit sweet. Thanks!

  42. Simone says:

    Hi Meghan, so we tried our hand at kombucha recently, my husband got the scoby from a co-worker. Everything was going well but we had a lot of fruit flies interested in it. We set traps but my husband found a couple that snuck in through the cheesecloth. He removed them, but last night we saw some larvae on the surface. The kombucha is actually ready but we were really bummed out. Has this ever happened to you? He removed the scoby, and it was just a few larvae on the top skin like surface. Do you think we can salvage it?

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      My motto is always, when it doubt throw it out. I know it can be a bummer to toss anything for sure, but you also don’t want to ingest something that could put you at risk. Setting fruit fly traps are a good option. You could also try double/tripling the layer of cheesecloth so the flies can’t get in, or use a tea towel – there will be enough fabric to block the flies, but still allow for air circulation.

  43. Susie says:

    Hey there!

    I have brewed in the past, but not in about 4 years. I never stuck to the caffeinated tea rule and my kombucha always turned out beautifully. I just make mine a mint tea 99% of the time. Do you know why caffeine is always recommended, if it is the sugar that the scoby feeds on?

    Thanks!

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      Hi Susie! The SCOBY will also feed on the caffeine, but you can also make great kombucha with herbal teas too. So if mint works for you, then use it!

  44. Monica says:

    Hi, Meghan! Thanks for this small but great idea of fermenting until it’s no longer sweet, and then adding sweet ingredients after. There’s definitely no need to be afraid of losing the taste!

  45. Elaine Corn says:

    Got some retail Kombucha with so much caffeine I had a bad reaction. Kombucha labeling is still in the Wild West phase. What about decaf Earl Grey for my 1st homemade batch?

  46. Katy says:

    I have been successfully making my Kombucha from Organic “Fermented Black Pu-era Tea”. I use Coconut Sugar, or Maple Syrup, you can put Molasses in either choice. Next Sweetner I want to try is Yacon Syrup (a Pre-biotic on its own) and with the process of making Kom I get the best of both together. Both Pre- & Pro-biotic *working together is what we need for optimization for Great Healthy Longevity. In my 2nd ferment I add Ceylon Cinnamon & Ginger (makes it Ultra FIZZY), one the above Sweeteners, Fruit Juice. Or many other flavor choices of a natural & everything is ALWAYS ORGANIC food. Next I’m flavoring my 2nd ferment just Ginger, Lemon ( like an ale). All my bottles of second ferments develop a Scoby on top of each bottle. I put all of my Kom in dark cool places, cabinets, or in the darkest of bottles. The longer I leave it set away the stronger Alcohol effect (needs Ginger for a FIZZY style). I’m also doing so many other flavors, example Cacao Kom Soda, Lemon-Lime. The flavor ideas is nearly endless. I’m thinking of trying veggies like Sweet Potato’s, even Tomato’s next week.

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