Recipes

 

Make Kombucha and Save on Your Healthy Habit

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea made with a starter culture called a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), sometimes also known as a mother. This ancient drink is tangy, sweet, and tart, with a touch of effervescence. Once the microorganisms in the SCOBY act on the sweetened tea, there really is nothing tea-like about this drink. It leaves a delicious and magical potion for you to enjoy.

To ensure a daily supply in my house, I have a 2 gallon black tea continuous brew that gives me a litre of kombucha per day. I also have a 2 gallon container of green tea kombucha, which I bottle every 2 weeks.

First things first. If you have never tried it before, I suggest you start by hitting up your local health food store, and getting yourself a bottle. Try a few different brands and flavours to see the breadth of what’s possible. The next thing I recommend doing is checking out my online program Fearless Fermentation. It’s designed to get beginners making kombucha and other ferments quickly and confidently.

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Tools of the trade

Kombucha_tools

  • SCOBY (Learn how to grow your own here or purchase this one)
  • Glass jar, I love this 1 gallon and this 2 gallon container
  • Tightly woven fabric to cover the top of the glass jar
  • Rubber band to hold the fabric in place.
  • Mason jars, like these ones
  • Funnel for bottling, I have this one
  • Canning funnel, I have this one
  • A wooden spoon or spatula like this one, reserved for your kombucha
  • Large stainless steel pot, like this one

 

Getting a SCOBY

Kombucha_SCOBY

  • People who make kombucha are typically overrun with SCOBYs, so put the word out that you are looking for one. Please note that I don’t sell SCOBYs (I get asked a LOT!).
  • Buy one online, but check reviews to determine quality. Students in my online Fearless Fermentation classes have had success with this one.
  • Grow your own. Check out my instructions on how to do this easy little project.

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Ingredients

  • 1 gallon water, preferably spring or filtered
  • 1 cup white sugar, preferably organic
  • 6 tsp of loose, or 6 tea bags of caffeinated organic black or green tea
  • 1 cup kombucha
  • 1 SCOBY

 

Download the free guide “5 Massive Mistakes to Avoid When Making Kombucha”

Making kombucha

Kombucha_taste_testing

These are the very basics of making kombucha. The more I have learned about fermentation, the more I realize you can’t learn how to ferment something based on a single recipe. Beginners and experts alike need to understand what’s going on inside that glass jar, know when it’s ready and safe to drink, and know how to avoid mold and pathogenic yeasts.

There’s more to kombucha than a SCOBY, sugar, water, and tea. There’s SO much to it, the fully illustrated kombucha guide in Fearless Fermentation is 24 pages long! Not to mention the troubleshooting guide, kombucha journal to help you perfect your brew, and the community of Fearless Fermenters to help you along the way.  

So these are my very basic instructions for making kombucha. To ferment kombucha, sauerkraut, water kefir, and brined veggies with confidence, and to harness the power of both wild fermentation and culturing (a SCOBY is an example of a “culture”) sign up for the online Fearless Fermentation program. You can check it out here.

  • Bring water to the boil in a large pot and add sugar, stirring to make sure it dissolves quickly.
  • Add the tea and steep for about 20 minutes.
  • Strain the tea, and once cool, gently add your SCOBY and cover with the cloth. Secure it with the elastic band.
  • At a typical room temperature the fermentation will take about 2 weeks. The warmer your home the quicker it will ferment, although faster is not better.                                            
  • Check it using a straw, sliding down the side of the jar, past the SCOBY to test the liquid. Take your sample from as deep in the container the length of the straw will allow. I talk about the safety side of knowing when your kombucha is done in Fearless Fermentation.
  • The longer it ferments the less sugary and the more vinegary it will get. Too sweet, and it needs more time. Just tart enough, and you bottle!
  • To bottle the kombucha, gently lift the SCOBY out or the jar and place on a plate, add a little kombucha to keep it happy, and cover.
  • Pour the kombucha into glass bottles or mason jars. I like these ones.
  • Start the brewing process again.

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Adding flavours

Kombucha_flavours

There are a variety of ways you can manipulate the flavour of your kombucha. One of them is through a second fermentation process that will also add more effervescence. In my Fearless Fermentation program I teach you how to do this, as well as several other ways you can have fun playing with the flavour of kombucha you produce.

 Continuous brew kombucha

Kombucha_continuous_brew

I recommend mastering basic kombucha before you move onto continuous brew. My online Fearless Fermentation program for beginners will get you there much faster. I get 1L of kombucha from mine on a daily basis, and of course top it up daily. Be prepared for a continuous cycle of making, and storing sweetened tea!

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PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my recommendation and/or link to any products or services from this website. Sarah Ramsden is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

Fermentation

 

Kombucha Continuous Brew Maintenance

If you’ve never made kombucha before, or are wondering about how to do continuous brew, my Fearless Fermentation classes will give you a thorough (and fun!) understanding about how to do it safely, and deliciously. Once you’ve been making kombucha for a while, and have [...]

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  • Pingback: Sarah Ramsden | Growing a Kombucha SCOBY()

  • Heidi

    This is a great explanation, thank you – I love kombucha – tried it – after you raved about it. Okay step one is to start saving glass jars. Step Two is to hit you up for a Scoby. Step One will take about a month.

    ~ heidi

  • thank you so much for this information, I am very excited to grow my own scoby from tea, I didn’t know I could do that!!

  • Pingback: Sarah Ramsden | Why Coffee Might Be Stressing You Out()

  • Michelle

    Hi – Love this article. Where did you get your jar with the spigot? Is it ok to use a one gallon jar without one?

    • The recipe is based on a 1 gallon jar without a spigot. I got my jar from a small store in Toronto. You can look at places like home hardware or brewing supply stores.

      • Danielle

        I am also from Toronto and am hoping to start brewing my own, which shop did you pick up the Large jar with spigot?

    • Mine was a gift, but you can get this particular jar from the Mercantile on Roncesvalles Ave. There are cheaper options around though at places like Homesense.

      • Elizabeth

        The tap look like metal. Is it safe to brew in that kind of jar?
        I’ve got one, almost the same with a metaltap and I would like to start continuous brewing but the kombucha vill get in contact with the metal inside the tap.
        Is it safe?

        • My spigot looks like metal, but it’s plastic. I think it depends on the quality of the metal. For the spigot it’s more a concern that the acidic nature of kombucha can be corrosive to a poor quality metal. Your SOCBY will never touch it, or at least it shouldn’t.

  • caejtekl23

    Recently I was REALLY low on money and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this!!! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – jffp

  • donya30

    Recently I was REALLY low on money and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this!!! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – jffp

  • erin_brittany@hotmail.com

    I have read online that using citrus for the second ferment can make the kombucha go off is that true? Also how much clementine did you use per canning jar?

    • Hi Erin. I hadn’t heard that about citrus, and I don’t think it’s true as I have done second ferments with orange in particular several times without issues. Lemon and ginger is another popular flavour that people do all the time. If you’re doing lemon, I might add a little extra sugar though as there isn’t a ton naturally occurring to aid in fermentation.

      I used just one clementine per 1L jar, but the idea is to experiment based on your tastes. You might want less clementine, and more time for the second ferment to give a more tart flavour for example. The fun really is in the experimentation!

  • Renee

    I have heard you might get mould in the jar- has this happened to you and how do I know if it is mould? There’s something on the bottom of my jar of kombucha but not sure what it is.

    • At the bottom of the jar, in the kombucha? That’s not mould as it requires oxygen to grow. What does it look like? Is it a brown powder like substance, or strings? If so that is yeast, and is perfectly normal.

  • Melissa

    I notice a lot of people recommend using filtered or spring water. What is the point if your boiling the water? I ask because I buy my water in big jugs and I make a lot of kombucha at a time. So it’s much cheaper for me to use tap water.

    • They recommend filtered or spring water to emphasize using the best quality water possible. Tap water is full of chemicals like chlorine and fluoride, as well as potential metals from pipes etc. None of these are ideal for our health, and arguably not good for your SCOBY either. That said, I live in a small apartment, don’t have a car, and make lots of kombucha. Buying large water jugs, or installing a filter isn’t possible for me, so I just use tap water. And it’s for this reason I don’t push the fancy water aspect, it’s a small detail and unrealistic for many of us.

      • Kylie Flaskos Jensen

        Do you boil your tap water or just use it straight from the tap?

  • Allison

    What of I wanted to use honey instead of sugar? Would it change anything? And would I use the same amount?

    • Sounds like you might be trying to use some more healthy sweeteners. Remember that the sugar isn’t for YOU, it’s for the bacteria and yeast who eat up as much as you allow them to (the longer you leave your kombucha to ferment the more tart it’ll get, and the less sugar). I would not use honey as it is anti-microbial and will start to kill off the microorganisms your SCOBY is made of. The use of things like maple syrup has not been tested, and it’s really an unknown as to how it’ll affect your SCOBY. If you try it, you must watch carefully for mold, and monitor the pH. This isn’t something I want to risk, so I don’t use it.

  • Radka Benesova

    Hi Sarah.
    I started my kombucha about 6 weeks ago. I ordered SCOBY online and used their recipe which called for 10 bags of tea and half a cup of vinegar. It’s been kept in dark at the room temperature. Up till today I’ve had two baby scoby grown in a container and everything seems fine but it still tastes just like a little off black tea and it’s not at all fizzy like with the store bought kombucha. I wonder if I could ruin the process by adding the vinegar or if it’s just too strong of a tea.

    • Sounds like you bought a SCOBY that needed rehydrating? When that’s the case their instructions are to use vinegar as an acidifying medium to protect it from mold. This liquid isn’t meant to be drunk, it’s just to rehydrate the SCOBY. Now you have a SCOBY, you make a new batch of tea (use my recipe, but do the maths for a smaller jar like a quart size). LMK if my assumption is correct or not, and I’ll see if I can help you from there 🙂

      • Radka Benesova

        Thanks. I’ll do that and will let you know.

  • Radka Benesova

    Hi Sarah, I started a new batch with the old scoby (and I also used dark sugar which is the only thing different from the recipe) and after a week the baby scoby that’s growing on top has a dark matter in the middle which resembles mould. What can I do?

    • It might just be brown yeast strings caught up in the new SCOBY. If it’s mold you’ll have to throw everything out for safety’s sake. Email me a picture and I’ll let you know!

      • Radka Benesova

        I let it be for a few days and it turned out to be just yeast. Thanks a lot for your help and your recipe. The kombucha turned out delicious!

  • Colleen

    I’m new to this and was wondering if you could help me out. Do I reuse the scoby over again for another batch? Some places say you throw them out and use the babies and others aren’t to clear. Thanks!

    • With every baby there’s a possibility to start a new batch. You don’t have to throw out every baby if you don’t want to start a new batch. Sometimes they make your original SCOBY thicker, sometimes they’re completely separate, either way I often leave it in the jar. Just know that there’s no benefit to multiple SCOBYs in your jar, it doesn’t brew any faster. When there’s too many in there I do a “spring cleaning” and throw out the oldest ones (the brown tea-stained ones). It’s always a good idea to keep a spare in another jar in case your main one gets mouldy though. Hope this helps.

  • Scoby-Do

    When doing Continuous brew kombucha, You top up daily with Sweetened Tea? Correct? Or some other procedure? Please comment. Thanks.

    • What you take out, you add back in sweetened tea. That might be daily, every other day, or even weekly (if you’re taking large amounts at once)… It really depends on how much you are taking out, and how quickly it’s brewing. You still have to check it’s ready before you take more out.

  • Christine Ball

    Hi Sarah – I just tried my first batch with a little scoby from a bottle of ginger kombucha I bought from a lady who makes her own – followed your directions, it’s been 2 weeks, I think a scoby has formed (a pancake like structure covering the top of the glass jar) – it’s clearer than the photos above, and when I drained a bit off this morning to see how it is progressing, it comes out like stringy syrup but smells fermented. I gently moved the scoby aside to check on the rest of the contents and the whole jar seems to be this syrupy fluid….does this change, or should I start again now with the formed scoby? Any help would be apreciated! 🙂

  • alee

    How long d you think the kombucha would stay good in jars in the fridge for?

    • Months/Indefinitely. A word of caution though… the fridge dramatically slows fermentation, but doesn’t stop it. So fermentation gasses will build up over time, and it will continue to get more sour albeit slower than on the counter.

      • alee

        How long are air tight jars okay for without burping? Shloud I be doing it once every couple days after I have added my flavour? I have been told before that they can eventually explode…

        • If you’re flavouring your kombucha through a second fermentation, you only need leave it on the counter for 3 days to extract the flavour. Every single story I hear of people who have exploding kombucha have actually forgotten about it!

  • Stew

    Does this tea have much caffeine?
    How many calories would a small bottle have?

    • If you use a caffeinated tea then yes it will contain some caffeine. I don’t encourage calorie counting so don’t know the values for kombucha. I suggest you go look at the label on a store bought bottle. Yours won’t be exactly the same though as it will all depend on fermentation time and how much sugar is left in your brew.

  • Stew

    I know you said it takes 2 weeks to do a gallon but mine has bee 8 days and it is quite bubbly. It does have a fairly sour effervencent taste.
    Should I wait until the 2 weeks is up?
    I made my SCOBY as per your instructions so it was not a very thick one.

  • alee

    For the continuous brew with a gallon jar, if I take one liter out a day I am adding another liter back to it, but how much sugar and how many teaspoons of tea!

  • Miguel Machin Ibarra

    In my country Kombucha is totally unknown. So, I can’t get the starter nor the scoby. I tried to buy some on the Internet, but maybe for the custom regulations I haven’t succeed a retailer. In some place I read that is possible get Kombucha without the scoby or the Kombucha tea, but that it takes more time. Do you thing, that it is possible?

    • I don’t believe it’s possible to make kombucha without a SOCBY and/or some kombucha.

      • Miguel Machin Ibarra

        Thanks Sarah. It seems unlikely that it works. Anyway, I am going to give it a try. Greetings from Mexico.

        • Fiona Deveney

          hi there Miguel, I’m making my first brew for the first time too !! Im really excited about it !! If you are interested in god heath and kind-living could I also suggest something which has helped me enormously is eating vegan food. It has helped my health so much i dont even know where to begin!! I lost lots of excess weight without even trying, my varicose vein DISAPPEARED!!! and all my coughs and colds NEVER came back and my arthritis disappeard also. Hair and skin much better too- plus more energy- all that happened by going vegan and |I hgave been vegan for 6 years now and LOVE IT!!!! please would you watch Gary Yourofsky’s Best Ever Speech on youtube to understand the whys of it all and also watch from Farm to Fridge and then google a little about cruelty and health issues in factory farms and |I think your eyes will be well and truely opened by then. And google healthy great vegan recipes online- you will be one happy mexican !!! lol- God bless you and I hope that this becomes a blessing to you as it has to growing millions of vegns in the world! 🙂 x x

          • Miguel Machin Ibarra

            Thanks for your kind comment, I will follow your piece of advice and try to live healthier. God bless you and keep your self optimistic.

          • Miguel Machin Ibarra

            Hi Fiona, thanks for your post and the sources of information. My wife and I have been trying a raw veg diet for some weeks and now I know that it is a healthier way of eating. I wish that more people like you cared helping our planet. So, be happy and good luck with your brewing:)

    • Some companies sell dehydrated scobys so that they can ship them. The scoby will come with instructions on how to rehydrate it when you get it.

      • Miguel Machin Ibarra

        Thanks Jillian, I finally found on Amazon a company that ship them. I can’t wait till I start to make Kombucha. Have a nice day.

      • Miguel Machin Ibarra

        Jillian and Sarah.- Finally, I got some bottled kombucha and I developed a SCOBY. Right now, I am brewing my second batch and I can say, that the process is fascinating. Thank you for your effort to help the newbies. Greetings.

        • There is just something very exciting about making your own Kombucha. It makes me feel like a really cool chick. lol How exciting!!! One of my best tasting was made with a rose tea and I bottled it and did a second ferment with a piece of fresh mango. Super yummy. My daughter who is 10 loved this brew. If you are not familiar with doing a second ferment you can just google it or go on youtube to watch videos explaining how to do it. I like lots of bubbles in my Kombucha and I found doing a second ferment with a fruit helped make more bubbles.

  • Lance

    How much should you drink a day?

    • It’s considered a tonic, so around a measuring cup per day.

    • Lance

      Sorry as I am new to this. After 8 days my Spogy is still on the bottom of my jar. What does this mean and what should I do. It is not black but pale in color.
      Thanks

  • Jess

    Hi why is there 2 way to grow a scoby? One is just by poring the store bought kombucha in a jar and the other one you need to add tea and sugar. What is the difference? Thanks 🙂

  • Lorna

    When you use mason jars are you able to use the lids that come with them or do you have to buy the plastic ones?

    • When making kombucha you want to use a tightly woven cloth so air can circulate. You don’t want to use either kind of lid.

      • Lorna

        I mean after the tea has set for the 7 -10 days and you bottle it for the kombucha to carbonate. It looked like you bottled it in mason jars.

        • You can use anything that seals well. I use mason jars as I have lots in my kitchen. I’ve also used apple cider vinegar bottles, kombucha bottles etc too. I just use whatever is handy 🙂

  • Lorna

    I am making kombucha tea in a large cookie jar, someone asked me if they can get a scoby when it is ready. The Scoby is really large are you able to cut it so you can use it in a smaller container?

  • Tania Gardner

    So I am using a cup of kombucha to start growing my own scoby; can this same cup be used to start the first batch, or should you use a fresh cup? And if I started my scoby today, when can I expect it to be ready to start a first batch??
    Thanks for your advice and guidance! 🙂