Making Kombucha at Home – My Easy Kombucha Recipe

What is Kombucha?

(kom·bu·cha  / kômˈbo͞oCHə/) – noun –  a beverage produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria.

I was introduced to kombuIMG_0840cha in the craziest way in the summer of 2013.  An afternoon meandering through the internet, which likely included a couple of hilarious cat videos and probably some juicing information, somehow led me to someones blog on this amazing probiotic drink that was going to be the elixir to health.  The more I read about kombucha, the more I knew that this was something that I had to have in my life. Immune booster (some say), delicious homemade healthy drink loaded with naturally occurring probiotics, and bonus!  I can learn the secrets to making kombucha at home myself.

 

Kombucha is a centuries old healthy natural tonic made from tea, that aids digestion, and promotes good gut health.  The naturally occurring healthy probiotics make this an excellent drink for overall health, to keep your head clear, give you energy (despite being less than 40 calories in an 8 oz. glass), and can boost your immune system.  Kombucha contains trace amounts of alcohol, but negligible amounts (typically less than 0.5% with home brewing)

Wikipedia describes it as “a lightly effervescent fermented drink of sweetened black and/or green tea that is used as a functional food. It is produced by fermenting the tea using a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or “SCOBY“”

What Wikipedia does not tell you, is that this delicious, light fizzy drink, often flavoured with a variety of natural berries, fruits, herbs and savories, is one of the most easy to make drinks in your home.  If you love soda but want to end your relationship with it, then kombucha is a healthy alternative that you can make for pennies a glass.  Purchased in natural food stores, it can run between $4 and $5 for a 350 ml bottle of kombucha.  Made at home, with green or black tea, white sugar and fruits and berries, or herbs, can be made for $5 a batch of 10x750ml bottles.  That works out to $.50 per 750 ml bottle!

Making kombucha at home is an easy process once you have learned the basics.

The first thing you will need (but can still make without – it’s just a longer process) is a SCOBY.

SCOBY for kombucha

My first SCOBY

Not talking about a cartoon dog that solves mysteries, this is the real deal.  A SCOBY is a symbiotic colony (or culture, I’ve seen both) of bacteria and yeast.

If you are lucky enough to have a friend who makes kombucha, they will be happy to share with you.  They will have lots.  You will understand this in a few months! If not, you can make a kombucha scoby on your own just like I did!  Full directions here.


 

To make kombucha at home, you will need:

  • A few large clean glass jars.  I find old pickle jars work best, or this one from IKEA
    Jar for brewing kombucha

    Burken IKEA jar

    is excellent.

  • Flip-top style bottles.  If you are a Grolsch or Hacker Pshorr drinker you can use these, washed carefully and rinsed very well, or look online for people selling these style bottles in a larger size.  (Sometimes called “growlers”).
  • A funnel – Helpful for the bottling process.
  • Wooden spoon (I have one with “only for kombucha” written on the side.
  • Unbleached coffee filters and rubber bands.
  • Sugar, Tea, SCOBY
  • Assorted berries, fruits, or herbs (for second step of brewing process)

VERY IMPORTANT – Ensure that all jars, bottles, wood utensils (don’t use metal utensils) and funnels are clean.  You can wash with hot soapy water, but rinse multiple times to ensure that no soap residue will be left.  Soap residue in any container or on a utensil, can harm the brewing process and ruin a batch and SCOBY.  It’s not worth it!  I wash well in hottest water I can stand, and then rinse.  My bottling bottles are initially all sterilized first and scrubbed, and then rinsed numerous times.  Between brews, I rinse out when I finish a bottle, store, and rinse in hottest water before bottling again – no need to re-sterilize each time.

 

Prepare Ingredients:
  • 2 quarts water (1.9litres or 8 cups)
  • 4 tea bags (can use green tea or plain black tea – no flavours or oils ie. Earl Grey is not recommended, organic if you wish)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (can use organic white sugar if you prefer a completely organic kombucha)
  • 1/2 cup last batch starter
  • Scoby
  • Coffee filters (unbleached for the purists – mine aren’t)
  • large jars for brewing
  • swing top bottles (for bottling step in 5 or so days after brewing)
Method:

Boil water and add tea when boiled. Turn off heat. Steep tea for 10+ minutes. Add sugar (This can be done in advance to allow tea to cool). Prepare large wide mouth jars (cleaned/sterilized). Add starter to tea. Add SCOBY to each brewing jar (sometimes I add two!).

Brewing:
All sorts of crazy SCOBYs

SCOBYs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Cover each jar with a coffee filter or cloth, tied down with a rubber band. Place in dark undisturbed space for 5-10 days (depending on sweetness desired). Temperature should be steady between 68-72 degrees.  The warmer it is, the faster your kombucha will brew.  There will be a thick layer on top of your kombucha that has formed, shaped to the jar that it is in.  This is your new SCOBY.  Beginning to see why that friend was so happy to lend you theirs?  Check after 5 days with straw inserted through side of top SCOBY to see what the taste is like. Don’t be weirded out by the SCOBY.  It will take on all sorts of interesting forms.  Many of mine have lots of stringy bits dangling underneath.  All good.  This is the yeast at work.  Depending on your preference (sweeter or with a more pronounced vinegar flavour) you can begin the bottling process, or let it brew for an additional day or two.  Your choice!

 

 

Bottling:
Making kombucha at home

Lemongrass, Ginger and Mint

When kombucha is brewed, mix all together in one pot (I use original tea brewing pot). Using clean bottles (I run hottest water through them before bottling – see “cleaning and utensils”) cut up desired flavourings (cut up nice and small, as they have to pass through the neck of the bottle when pouring) and place in bottle.  Quantities of flavourings are a personal preference, but I usually allow about 1/4 cup per 750 ml bottle.  Pour in kombucha through funnel just to the “shoulder” of the bottle and then seal. (This is important – do not overfill as they will carbonate, and often will fizz over a LOT when opening)

Bottling kombucha

Keith being the master bottler and brewer

Here is where you can get really creative!  I started with a berry mix (blackberry, raspberry and blueberry) but quickly moved to more interesting combinations (think star anise syrup or lemongrass ginger and mint).

Lots of ginger in your brew will make a divine punchy “ginger ale” that is good for you!

Some have had great success with pineapple but I find it affects my kombucha’s fizziness so I have not done it again.  I would LOVE to hear some of your ideas or what has worked or not worked in the comments below!

When your bottles are all filled and sealed place in a quiet place in your home, where the temperature will stay steady anywhere between 68 and 73 degrees.  After about 3-4 days, you can open one (OVER THE SINK FOR HEAVENS SAKE) to see if it has fizzed up!  If it is fizzy, you are finished brewing, and can put the bottles in the fridge to stop the fermenting/fizzing process. Be sure to set a reminder on your phone for this part of the process.  The kombucha is building up lots of pressure in there as it carbonates, and glass can be finicky that way.  I leave mine a maximum of 6 days for fizzing but I would check at 3.  If it does not fizz, try for another few days.

 Enjoying your kombucha:

After you have made your brew, fizzed it up, and put in the fridge to cool, you can now enjoy this amazing drink!  We typically pour over a small sieve into a glass and enjoy in the hot tub.  You can serve with frozen fruit “cubes” (we keep frozen strawberries for this purpose) and kombucha makes a divine mix, if you are so inclined to experiment with cocktails, alcoholic and non!  (This picture was kombucha with Pimm’s and some frozen strawberries – delicious!)

Kombucha cocktails

Kombucha cocktail with Strawberry Ice cubes

Once you get the hang of making your own kombucha at home, you will find that this becomes a bit of an addiction.  The properties of kombucha will leave your head feeling clearer, tummy happier, and many people report an overall wellness feeling when drinking kombucha regularly.  It is suggested when first drinking it, to limit yourself to 4 oz. at a time, no more than 12 oz. a day. When your body adjusts to the healthy probiotics and positive effects, you can increase this amount.

Think of all the money you will save, not to mention being able to try any flavour of kombucha that you want.  I’m doing a basil mint this summer that I am very excited about.  Mint grows in a big pot in my garden and this is it’s sole reason for being there!


 

I would love to hear about flavors that you have tried in your own kombucha that you have made at home.  What worked?  What hasn’t worked.  I will work on a FAQ page for kombucha and any questions that you have will be answered there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

facebookgoogle_plusmailby feather
twitterpinterestby feather

25 thoughts on “Making Kombucha at Home – My Easy Kombucha Recipe

  • March 16, 2015 at 10:56 pm
    Permalink

    Well I never thought that I would enjoy this drink, When I seen Sarah brewing her first scooby I was like what the heck is!!! today I brew my own and love it

    thanks Sarah for sharing

    Reply
    • March 16, 2015 at 11:01 pm
      Permalink

      Susan, Thanks for the note! I know, and the crazy thing is now, I LOVE taking picture of dangly scobies! The slimier the better! I’ll let you know how that maple batch turns out! :) Stay Inspired! Sarah

      Reply
  • March 16, 2015 at 11:04 pm
    Permalink

    Love my Kombucha and enjoyed taking the afternoon class with you, Sarah!
    Have made several really cool flavours at home–mango, pomegranate, wild berries, mint, ginger…all good! Thanks for sharing the recipe and process, I just need to get the rest of the brood at home to get on board–they still think I’m drinking some ‘alien-like science experiment’!! 😉 Have hibernated the scobies…ready to take them out of the fridge and make some more soon.

    Reply
    • March 16, 2015 at 11:14 pm
      Permalink

      :) It still amazes me that you can leave them in the fridge for so long, and then “wake them up” when you are ready to use. Pomegranate! Thats a flavour I want to try. It will go on my list. Hope you are having an awesome day, and looking forward to catching up with you. I can bring some alien science experiment for you if you’d like! Stay Inspired! Sarah

      Reply
  • April 14, 2015 at 3:13 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Sarah, you’ll be proud to hear that we’ve adopted a regular routine of bottling a 1st-fermented batch, brewing a new one at the same time, and drinking/sharing our kombucha in time for the new batch to be ready – just like you.
    Recently I got inspired by your lemongrass flavour and combined it with my frozen organic lemon peels (left over from juicing) – very refreshing!
    Thanks again for the insight and motivation to get into the kombucha-ness :)
    Hope you’re doing well!

    Reply
    • April 14, 2015 at 3:21 pm
      Permalink

      Happy Happy to hear that, Megan! I’m so happy to hear that you guys are enjoying it! Please keep me up to date with any new flavours you find. Lemongrass AND Lemon…wow, that would be a puckery one for sure!

      Reply
  • June 19, 2015 at 7:59 am
    Permalink

    Thank you so much for such great information! You have made me fall in love with scoby’s and really enjoy this whole kombucha making process!

    Reply
    • June 25, 2015 at 6:46 pm
      Permalink

      I appreciate your kind words, Kyla. Let me know how your new batch of kombucha comes along!

      Reply
  • June 19, 2015 at 8:58 am
    Permalink

    what a great and informative article! As you know have been drinking “buch” for many years but making and drinking your own is the best!!! Loved learning more about Kombucha from you and need to get back to making it now that I am settled in the new digs…might need a scobie or two 😉

    Reply
    • June 25, 2015 at 6:45 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks for the feedback Tina! Will have to meet up again very soon! Loved showing you how to make this amazing kombucha!

      Reply
  • June 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm
    Permalink

    Oh wow! That looks delicious. At first it sounded really difficult but I followed your instructions and I have just successfully made my very own first Kombucha. It reminds me of English Pimms in many ways and I am enjoying drinking it out in the garden for our first warm summer night of the year. Thanks soooo much for sharing. When did you first learn this skill?

    Reply
    • June 28, 2015 at 6:59 pm
      Permalink

      Funny you mention Pimm’s, I will sometimes mix my lemongrass, mint, ginger mix with a dash of pimms and throw in a frozen strawberry or two for a lovely bevvy! I started making this about 2 years ago and haven’t stopped. And it’s so good for you! Enjoy. Sarah

      Reply
  • June 29, 2015 at 4:13 am
    Permalink

    I love Kombucha! Yum Yum! My favourite flavour is ginger but there are lots of others that work too.

    As I’m living in a cooler climate now I’ve taken to brewing it in the cupboard above the hot water service. It’s just gently warm in there and the temperature doesn’t change. Found it to be “just the place.

    Reply
    • June 30, 2015 at 6:29 pm
      Permalink

      Marilyn,

      Yep, you gotta find what works for you in your home. Do you ever experiment with other flavours? In addition to my lemongrass/ginger/mint kombucha, I love it with blackberries and mint as well, or just straight mint. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

      Reply
      • July 1, 2015 at 1:15 am
        Permalink

        I must confess I haven’t tried mint yet… but I’ll put it on my “to-do” list! I have another batch almost ready to go so will add it there. Sounds yum!

        Reply
  • July 4, 2015 at 8:57 am
    Permalink

    It’s been years since I drank Kombucha! My boss had gotten some “babies” from her sister-in-law and gave one to me. I was told that you couldn’t go over “so many days” otherwise it could be bad for you. I can’t remember what exactly happened (maybe went on vacation), but I went over the “allotted” amount of days and got nervous about using it, so I threw it away. I need to get back on it again. I didn’t try a lot of different flavors. I used different juices that I bought from the store, which I know probably wasn’t good for me. Didn’t think about it at the time. My favorite though was Cherry Juicy Juice.

    Reply
    • July 5, 2015 at 3:09 pm
      Permalink

      Hey Melinda,
      Thanks for your comment! The only thing that happens when you brew for too long, is your kombucha develops a stronger “vinagry” flavour, but some people like it that way. It’s certainly healthier at that point, because the probiotic count goes through the roof! For most, though, brewing for 7-10 days gives a nice tangy flavour and it’s a great drink for the end of the day. Hope you get into it again. Sarah

      Reply
  • September 12, 2015 at 2:47 pm
    Permalink

    Hi,

    Very thorough blog post about kombucha. You did a good job breaking this topic down for beginners to clearly understand. I will be bookmarking your site to refer back to as my girlfriend and I have been looking for a resourceful site on this topic. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

    Best Regards,

    Stephen

    Reply
    • September 12, 2015 at 3:43 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks, Stephen.

      We love our kombucha, and having a simple recipe thats easy to follow really made sense. Cheers! Sarah

      Reply
  • November 29, 2015 at 3:09 pm
    Permalink

    This sounds interesting! I have recently become more interested in different types of teas and at the moment enjoy drinking green tea. I have seen the benefits of this so now am seeing what else is out there for a bit of variation. I also like to get to get creative in the kitchen when the mood takes me so this sounds right up my street. Thank you so much… will let you know how I get on 😉

    Reply
    • January 7, 2016 at 8:24 pm
      Permalink

      Holly,

      Please do let me know if you try kombucha, it’s awesome!

      Sarah

      Reply
  • May 11, 2017 at 3:21 pm
    Permalink

    This is so cool !!! I’ve done some fermenting before and man does this stuff grow fast. I was giving it away like it was Christmas so others could start some. Never had this Kombucha but it sound quite tasty! I can’t remember where do you get this Scoby? Do you make this yourself too?

    Reply
    • May 17, 2017 at 8:57 am
      Permalink

      Pam,

      You can make your own scoby for the first time you brew, by purchasing a good raw commercial brand (Like GTs) unflavoured, and allowing it to sit, covered, in a warm spot for a few weeks.

      Alternatively, you can purchase it from the affiliate link on my site that takes you to Amazon! It’s an amazing drink and I hope you try it.

      Sarah

      Reply
  • May 15, 2017 at 10:18 am
    Permalink

    Hello here. I can feel your enthusiasm when you write about kombucha. Fermented food and drinks are great for gut bacteria. Gut bacteria plays vital role because it has connection with brain activity. There are plenty to write about it, but your kombucha must be praised. What I like about it that we can use imagination when preparing kombucha. The recipe with ginger sounds worth to try. Our bodies will be thankful for the beneficial drink.
    One thing what bothers me is how long it can be stored? It is a fermented drink and in the warm temperatures can be spoiled. I am right?
    Where do you keep SCOBY? How long it can stay in one jar or container? Do we need make new one time after time?
    Many questions but it is better to ask from professional in this area.
    All the best, be healthy and wealthy, Nemira.

    Reply
    • May 17, 2017 at 8:55 am
      Permalink

      Thank you for your comments, Nemira – I do love kombucha and all it’s benefits.

      As for the scoby, mine lives in my happy little scoby hotel – dare I share the picture? Sadly, I can’t share it here. I keep all my scobies in a jar on the counter when I’m not brewing, they are covered with a coffee filter, and they are happy to sit there for a few months without being bothered. I sometimes top up with a little sweet tea to keep them happy.

      Happy Brewing!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

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