How you can Make Kombucha at House

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I went from questioning kombucha, to loving kombucha, to creating my very own kombucha recipe—with a couple of street bumps alongside the way in which.

Concern is born from ignorance, and earlier than I understood what kombucha is or the way it’s made, I used to be skeptical—if not terrified—not simply of creating it, however attempting it.

At over 4 {dollars} a bottle on the grocery retailer, and extra on the native nook bodega (have you learnt what number of heirloom tomatoes that may purchase?!), kombucha had by no means been one thing I used to be tempted to splurge on. I considered it as a drink that was, mysteriously, interesting to each hippies and socialites. It usually concerned chia seeds, and I used to be completely not focused on that. Furthermore, my good friend Rebecca was brewing her personal, and her SCOBY (the whiteish liver-like mass that’s the yeast and micro organism “mom” of the fermented tea) appeared extra like an exhibit in a museum of medical mysteries than one thing that belonged in a beverage.

However after I lastly determined to style kombucha, I understood the fuss: With its sharply candy vinegary taste, kombucha is all the things tart and scrumptious about shrubs, however extra sippable—and fizzy! (There are many purported probiotic well being advantages, too, however I used to be much less focused on that side and extra focused on an improved style, in saving cash, and in having a pet mission of my very own.)

I made a decision to go the DIY route and make my very own kombucha on the Food52 workplaces. I used to be scared at first. Truly—fueled by my uncertainty about what to anticipate—I used to be scared all through a lot of the course of. And since I used to be embarking on a brand new mission in entrance of my colleagues, the endeavor was significantly high-pressure. The editorial group watched me tear up after I needed to throw away a complete SCOBY resulting from fly infestation; they handled my frantic textual content messages and emails, my fixed sighing, and head scratching.

Was it price it ultimately? Sure. Not just for the bottles of kombucha within the fridge (which, for the document, style significantly better than even the fanciest store-bought varieties), however for the sensation of accomplishment. This turned “Sarah’s mission” on the workplace—my legacy. Evidenced by the size of this put up, I clearly discovered greater than I anticipated, together with an entire new lexicon of phrases and phrases like “‘booch,” “starter,” and “second fermentation.”

Should you begin looking for data on making your personal kombucha recipe, you may end up taking place a rabbit gap. Hey, perhaps you will see me down there! There are one million methods to brew kombucha and one million suggestions for get the tastiest brew attainable. I will clarify what labored (and did not work!) for me, however I am positive I will be experimenting and refining sooner or later.

  • Kombucha is fermented tea with a historical past that dates again 1000’s of years. It is made by including a SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of yeast and micro organism—much like the vinegar “mom”) to sweetened tea.
  • Be ready to spend a while and make an preliminary funding on this mission. You are in it for the lengthy haul: Relying on the size of your fermentations, your first batch of kombucha will take round 1 1/2 to 2 weeks from beginning to having fun with. And as soon as you’ve got began, you will (hopefully) have a viable SCOBY, which suggests you will need to begin a brand new batch every time you’ve got completed up the present one. Though not one of the gadgets or elements you will want for kombucha are prohibitively costly, you will want to purchase the right jars, together with tea, sugar, and tea towels.
  • And, most significantly, you will both have to acquire a SCOBY from a supply you belief—be it a respected web site or a kombucha-brewing good friend—or make your personal (directions under!). Our SCOBY, which we named “SCOBY Doo,” got here within the mail from the house of my good good friend Rebecca in Cleveland, alongside along with her directions for brewing (pictured under), which I adopted to the letter. I like to recommend brewing with a good friend, as a way to ask them as many questions as attainable in any respect hours of the day. I could be this good friend. (I’d even ship you a SCOBY!)

All through this information to creating a kombucha recipe, there are a couple of key phrases that you simply’ll generally hear.


A part of what makes kombucha so enjoyable to drink is that it’s bubbly, because of carbonation. Certainly you’re accustomed to the time period carbonation if you image gentle drinks or glowing water, however what must you count on from carbonation in kombucha? The air bubbles in kombucha are a results of the reside cultures used to make it. As sugar is added to the beverage, the cultures eat it (as a result of sugar is tasty and who doesn’t need to eat it). This causes a chemical response that produces carbon dioxide, thus creating carbonation.


Kombucha is only one of many fermented meals and beverage merchandise we devour lately: Assume yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, and different gut-beneficial edibles. “Kombucha is sugar-sweetened tea fermented by a neighborhood of organisms right into a scrumptious bitter tonic beverage, generally in comparison with glowing apple cider,” writes Sandor Ellix Katz in his ebook, The Artwork of Fermentation.


SCOBY stands for “symbiotic tradition of micro organism and yeast” and is a vital ingredient used within the fermentation course of for kombucha. The SCOBY is a key participant, however it’s not cute. Image a rubbery flat disc. That’s SCOBY. It’s dense and opaque and smells like vinegar. Even kombucha-lovers will likely be a bit of skeeved out by SCOBY, nevertheless it’s all a part of the method.

Starter Tea

Starter tea is kombucha! It’s kombucha used to make extra kombucha. So long as your kombucha has reside, lively cultures in it, it’s usable for a brand new batch. Should you drank your entire do-it-yourself kombucha (as a result of why wouldn’t you), you may as well use store-bought kombucha. In a couple of paragraphs, I discuss utilizing a mixture of SCOBY and store-bought kombucha to make my very own.

Along with a SCOBY, you will want a couple of items of apparatus for a profitable kombucha-brewing expertise.

1. A pot

You’ll want a four-quart pot to brew your starter tea.

2. Glass Jars

Massive, wide-mouth, glass jars will home your SCOBY and kombucha whereas they ferment.

3. Tea towels

Towels cowl your jars and defending them with fruit flies—whereas nonetheless giving the kombucha the air circulation it wants.

4. Rubber bands

These maintain stated tea towels in place.

5. Glass bottles

These glass bottles will home your kombucha throughout its second fermentation. Make certain to decide on ones with plastic lids that shut tightly. (Tip: You’ll be able to reuse outdated, store-bought kombucha bottles!)

6. A plastic bottle

To assist measure the carbonation ranges of your kombucha throughout its second ferment (extra on that later!).

7. A Nice mesh sieve

For straining your completed ’booch.

Should you did not purchase one on-line or inherit it from a good friend, by no means concern—you may make your personal.

1. Collect Your Elements

Here is what you will want:

  • 7 cups of water
  • ½ cup of cane sugar
  • 4 baggage of black tea (or 1 tablespoon of free leaf tea, although the teabags work finest and you will not must pressure the tea when it is performed)
  • 1 cup of plain, unpasteurized store-bought kombucha (ideally with the little tangly bits of SCOBY floating round on the backside of the bottle)
  • A big, extraordinarily clear, and dry wide-mouth canning jar; a skinny, clear, tightly-woven piece of material or tea towel (however not cheesecloth—extra on this under)
  • A number of sturdy rubber bands.

3. Make candy tea

Steep the tea baggage in boiling water for 20 minutes (or longer) and fully dissolving the sugar. Let the tea cool fully to under 90°F (or roughly room temp) and pour into a giant canning jar. In any other case, the cultures in your SCOBY to-be could be harmed or killed by the warmth.

3. Jar your SCOBY:

Pour the cup of ready kombucha (bits of SCOBY and all—that’ll assist alongside your SCOBY to-be) into the canning jar. Cowl with the piece of material, then safe with a rubber band or two.

4. Put it Away

Retailer your lined jar in a room-temperature space that is out of direct daylight. It helps to place it in a hard-to-reach kitchen cabinet that will not get a lot site visitors for a couple of weeks. You may maintain the jar there for 2 to 4 weeks, checking the SCOBY each few days till bubbles type on the floor of the tea, a skinny, whiteish, jelly-like movie types throughout the highest of the liquid, and the movie turns into nearly absolutely opaque in colour. The SCOBY is prepared when it is grown right into a ¼-inch-thick puck. Should you see bubbles forming on the prime of the liquid all through the method, particularly within the later levels of SCOBY-formation, that is a very good signal of carbon dioxide growth, indicating that your SCOBY’s a wholesome fermentor.

5. That is It!

Your SCOBY is now prepared for use in your first batch of kombucha.

The primary steps are quite simple—brewing, sweetening, and cooling tea.

1. Brew Tea

Deliver 4 cups of water to a boil in a 4-quart pot. Flip off the warmth and add 6 to eight tea baggage. Steep for 20 minutes, stirring often.

  • I did not use natural tea, and as an alternative of free tea—which could be simpler to ensure is high-quality—I went with a combination of black and inexperienced tea baggage.
  • I even used a pair baggage of Earl Gray after I was operating low on different choices. That labored, too!
  • Natural teas can’t be made into kombucha, however I’m excited to experiment with oolong and caffeine-free rooibos—each of which work as base teas—sooner or later.
  • I did not use water that had been purified in any approach and I did not see unfavorable penalties. You may see assets on-line that may advise in opposition to utilizing faucet water, however I did not discover dangerous results.

Picture by James Ransom / Bobbi Lin

2. Sweeten It

Take away the tea baggage and add 1 cup of natural cane sugar and a half-gallon (8 cups) of chilly water. Stir to dissolve the sugar granules.

  • I used natural cane sugar and turbinado sugar. Each labored, however finer sugar will dissolve extra simply into the tea.
  • If you wish to discover utilizing different sweeteners—like brown sugar, honey, or agave—I would suggest first referring to this chart, as some sugars are tougher to work with than others.

3. Switch to a Jar

Pour the cool tea right into a glass brew jar (the most important jar you will discover—a 2- to 3-gallon jar is finest), then add 1 to 2 cups of chilly water. It is vital that your tea be near room temperature by the point you add the SCOBY—heat tea may hurt it.

  • Along with glass, you may as well use ceramic, chrome steel, or wooden.
  • Many assets will inform you to not clear your jar with cleaning soap, because it may hurt the SCOBY. I did clear with cleaning soap, however I made positive to rinse very totally earlier than including the tea. If you don’t want to make use of cleaning soap, you’ll be able to sanitize the jar (and every other tools) with white vinegar and scorching water.
  • Use a wide-mouth jar: It is higher for air circulation and it’ll make it simpler to take away the SCOBY afterward.

Picture by James Ransom & Bobbi Lin

4. Add the SCOBY

When the tea is under 90°F (which it nearly certainly will likely be at this level), pour within the SCOBY and 1 ½ to 2 cups of the starter liquid that the SCOBY arrived with (or, if that is your second time round, that the SCOBY was saved in after you bottled the brew).

In case your SCOBY did not include sufficient liquid, you’ll be able to complement with plain/original-flavored, store-bought kombucha (or leftover liquid out of your do-it-yourself SCOBY). The primary time I brewed, I used the liquid that the SCOBY got here with in addition to 1 ½ cups of Well being Ade Authentic Kombucha as a result of I used to be nervous. The SCOBY appeared to develop in a short time with the assistance of the starter liquid.

5. Cowl It

Now that your SCOBY is within the tea, you must cowl the jar in order that the valuable SCOBY is neither weak to contamination nor suffocation.

  • Rule #1: Don’t, below any circumstances, use cheesecloth. With our first SCOBY, I secured two layers of high quality cheesecloth excessive of the jar with rubber bands. All the pieces appeared high quality; the SCOBY grew throughout the highest of the tea properly, forming a thick layer, and the entire jar gave off a candy, vinegary scent.
    The primary time I unwrapped the cheesecloth to style the brew, nonetheless, I seen a fruit fly flit from the route of the jar. I satisfied myself that it had simply come from someplace close by. The subsequent day, I pulled again the cheesecloth and one other fly emerged, straight from the SCOBY this time. After I examined the SCOBY floor, I noticed squirming, the indicators of fly larvae. The entire SCOBY needed to be tossed, I cried, and Rebecca despatched one other one within the mail. (We named this second SCOBY “SCOBY Doo II,” and that is the SCOBY modeling within the pictures.)
  • Fruit flies, as I discovered firsthand, are the most typical contaminants of kombucha, and also you may see them circling your brew like evil vultures, wanting to poison your SCOBY. To stop flies, use a tea towel—or an outdated (however clear!) T-shirt—held in place by a number of sturdy rubber bands. The tea towel is woven rather more tightly than cheesecloth and can subsequently be more practical at retaining out flies. Retailer your jar in an setting that is as fly-free as attainable (not close to the bowl of ripening stone fruit, for instance). I saved the kombucha on the editorial desk, the place I may act as a monitor, shooing flies away on the common.

6. Wait & Watch

As soon as your SCOBY is within the sweetened tea—shrouded comfortably with a tea towel and dwelling in a location that is below 90° F with good air circulation and little direct daylight—will probably be 1 to 4 weeks till it is able to drink.

  • You may watch the SCOBY develop right into a thick, leathery, white mass throughout the floor of the tea.
  • You additionally may discover some discolored spots (which you’ll be able to see within the top-right photograph under). After I seen these darkish spots, I had a panic assault. Mould is the second critical menace to your SCOBY.
  • Thankfully, it is not that tough to tell apart mould from pure darkish spots (which end result from regular dying yeast cultures). Mould will appear like the inexperienced, fuzzy stuff you discover on ageing bread and cheese somewhat than brown strands or plenty. Should you suspect mould, you will must throw out your SCOBY and begin once more.

Picture by James Ransom & Bobbi Lin

Picture by James Ransom & Bobbi Lin

Picture by James Ransom & Bobbi Lin

Picture by James Ransom & Bobbi Lin

7. Strive it!

After one week, gently push the SCOBY apart with a straw and take a sip of the liquid. If it is as tart as you need, you are able to proceed to the subsequent step. In order for you kombucha that’s sharper and extra vinegary, enable the tea to ferment for extra time. I discovered that I favored how our kombucha tasted after 10 days of fermentation.

8. Switch Your SCOBY

Whenever you’re pleased with the flavour, transfer the SCOBY to a different massive jar with 1 ½ to 2 cups of the brewing liquid (this would be the SCOBY’s house, and you may use that liquid to begin the subsequent batch). Cowl with a tea towel and rubber bands, simply as you probably did earlier than, and put aside.

  • Now you are questioning what to do with this SCOBY. The subsequent logical step is to begin one other brew! Make extra tea, then use that SCOBY in your second batch of kombucha—that is the one street I’ve taken to date.
  • You too can separate the SCOBY layers and provides one to a good friend. It may not be what your mates needs for his birthday, however he’ll certainly respect it, proper? You may need to just remember to reward the SCOBY with sufficient of the brewed tea so that it’s going to survive and in order that your good friend has a starter for step #4. Be sure you bug your good friend to make the kombucha as quickly as he can.
  • I haven’t got any expertise storing SCOBYs, however The Noma Information to Fermentation recommends storing the extras in an open-top jar, submerged in twice its weight of kombucha or 20 % sugar syrup (800 grams water and 200 grams sugar, dropped at a boil, then cooled), the place they may go right into a dormant state. You may have to vary the syrup or storage-kombucha each 2 to three weeks. You too can maintain your SCOBY within the fridge to gradual its metabolism, however then if you need to begin brewing once more, your SCOBY could be sluggish for the primary few cycles (which means that it’d take some further fermenting time to realize the flavour you are in search of). Be taught extra about taking a break from brewing right here.

9. Accumulate bottles

These ought to be glass bottles with plastic tops, akin to outdated kombucha bottles or flip-top brew bottles. When the tea is transferred to smaller bottles, it enters a second fermentation and turns into “drier” (much less candy) and—that is enjoyable—carbonated.

  • It is vital to not use any bottles with metallic tops so as to stop the possibility of any response between the kombucha and the metallic. If you wish to use Ball jars, you will have to get plastic tops to cowl them.
  • I additionally tried one glass-topped Weck jar, nevertheless it wasn’t sufficiently hermetic.
  • To gauge the carbonation ranges within the bottles, I used one plastic bottle, as nicely. *The plastic bottle is your information to carbonation: It turns into more and more stable and pressurized because the kombucha ferments; when it is rock-solid, that is a sign that the tea within the glass bottles will likely be bubbly.

10. Taste & Bottle

After you have a number of appropriate empty bottles, you will additionally need to take into consideration flavors. Thrilled that the kombucha was fly-free, mold-free, and good-tasting, I used to be joyful to go away it as is. However my colleagues helped me understand how enjoyable it may be to play with flavors (see extra about that under!).

You may need to fill your bottles nearly to the very prime. The fuller your bottles are, the extra carbonated they may turn out to be. Should you see your bottles are vigorously effervescent, you’ll be able to “burp” them by opening the tops to launch a little bit of stress.

11. Wait & Take pleasure in

As soon as the plastic bottle may be very agency—this took about 3 days for us—transfer all the bottles to the fridge, the place they will cease gaining fizz. (I desire to err on the facet of warning, so I used to be wanting to refrigerate the bottles sooner somewhat than later.)

Whenever you’re able to drink the kombucha, open a bottle below a bowl or within the sink to keep away from getting soaked from over-active carbonation. If you are going to be unappetized by strands of SCOBY and bits of your flavorings (or in the event you’re serving this to individuals who have by no means tried kombucha earlier than), you’ll be able to pressure the drink by means of a high quality sieve to get a extra homogenous beverage.

It is vital to recollect to not go too loopy with the add-ins: Introducing extra sugar within the type of fruit or fruit juice throughout this second ferment may lead to an excessive amount of stress build-up and a consequent explosion.

Picture by James Ransom & Bobbi Lin

Listed here are the flavors I’ve tried to date, and what I used to realize them:

  • Hibiscus: 3 or 4 dried flowers
  • Grapefruit: about 2 tablespoons of grapefruit juice, with the pulp; this was scrumptious, although you will notice on-line that many recommend utilizing juice with no pulp to scale back the variety of stringy bits that will likely be within the completed product
  • Ginger: a 1-inch piece, reduce into matchsticks
  • Rhubarb lime: lime zest and diced rhubarb; too tart for my style
  • Blueberry lavender: about 1 teaspoon dried lavender and a couple of or 3 frozen blueberries
  • Rose petal: about ½ tablespoon of dried rose petals
  • Orange saffron: a pinch of saffron and a strip of orange peel
  • Cherry and jalapeño: an deseeded jalapeño half (reduce lengthwise) and some tablespoons of tart cherry juice focus

To taste your kombucha recipe, add your flavorings of alternative through the bottling stage.

Want extra kombucha data? Listed here are the assets I discovered most useful.

This text has been up to date in April 2023 with our favourite instruments for making kombucha.

What are your suggestions and tips for making do-it-yourself kombucha? Share within the feedback!

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