So You Wanna Make Kombucha? Here’s a Recipe!

After our last post on Kombucha, we got a lot more response from our customers than we expected. Seems as though many of you are already devoted converts! Although there are more and more brands of bottled kombucha available on the shelves of your local natural foods store every day, some of you expressed interest in making kombucha at home. Being the helpful sort of folks that we are, we thought you might get some use out of a recipe.

To start, here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • A kombucha starter. This consists of a kombucha SCOBY (also called a “kombucha mother” or “kombucha mushroom”) and ½ cup prepared kombucha tea. These can be bought online or gotten for free through a “kombucha exchange”
  • ¼ cup of refined white sugar
  • 1 quart water
  • A glass jar or bowl larger than 1 quart
  • 3 tablespoons unflavored organic green tea or organic black tea
  • A strainer

Below, we’ve listed out the steps necessary to make a batch of kombucha at home:

  1. Thoroughly wash all utensils, pots, and bowls. It’s important to minimize the yeasts, bacteria, and molds competing with your SCOBY.
  2. Boil the quart of water for several minutes . This has three benefits: (1) It kills any microbes that may be in the water; (2) Boiling will drive the chlorine out of treated water (chlorine can damage your SCOBY, and will almost certainly slow fermentation); (3) It is easier to dissolve sugar in hot water.
  3. Cut the heat. Add sugar, stirring until it is completely dissolved, then add tea leaves. Tea in bags can be used in place of loose leaves.
  4. Let the sugar/tea solution cool until it is room temperature. If the fluid is warmer than body temperature it will kill the SCOBY.
  5. Meanwhile, place your SCOBY and ½ cup of prepared kombucha in the glass jar.
  6. When the sugar/tea solution has cooled, pour it into the jar with the SCOBY, using the strainer to catch the loose tea leaves.
  7. Cover the jar with a clean piece of cloth or paper towel, secure the covering with a rubber band, and place the tea in a warm, dark place.
  8. After 5 days, begin checking the tea. As the kombucha ferments, a new “daughter” SCOBY will form on the surface of the solution; this is perfectly normal. The kombucha is ready to drink when tiny bubbles are forming at the edges of the surface of the tea, and it tastes like a mildly sweet, slightly vinegary cider. Fermentation times of 7 to 9 days are normal, and 14 days is not unusual.
  9. Pour the tea into a clean glass container and refrigerate. Refrigeration halts fermentation, and also helps the kombucha mellow. Be sure to leave at least ½ cup of kombucha behind to keep your SCOBY moist.
  10. (OPTIONAL) For a fizzier drink, pour the kombucha into clean, spring-cap beer bottles. Seal these, and allow them to sit in the warm, dark place for 5 more days, then transfer to the refrigerator.

Happy Kombucha brewing! Feedback on the recipe above would be greatly appreciated.

June 29 2008 01:01 pm | Kombucha and Tea Fun

8 Responses to “So You Wanna Make Kombucha? Here’s a Recipe!”

  1. Denise on 27 Jul 2008 at 12:25 am #

    Is there any way I can make the Kombucha culture by just using some of the bottled fizzy kombucha tea from my local health food store? I like to drink this but am finding it expensive to buy and would rather not have to buy a “mushroom” if I don’t have to–that looks rather expensive to get started in as well. Please advise.
    Thank you!

  2. Jeremy on 19 Aug 2008 at 9:35 am #

    Hi Denise! I don’t think using bottled kombucha from the store would allow you to create a new kombucha mushroom. I think there probably wouldn’t be enough of the “active ingredients” (i.e. bacteria and fungus) to coalesce a new mushroom. Please report back if you learn otherwise, however!

  3. mt on 09 Sep 2008 at 12:16 pm #

    @Denise — yes, you can use store bought kombucha to produce a scoby. I used GT dave’s original, with about a 50% GT’s/50% new tea mix w/sugar. A new scoby should form just fine (although it might be a little thin the first time you do it).

  4. Valerie on 31 Oct 2008 at 7:25 pm #

    After making kombucha, if you dont want to start right away to make another batch. Is it ok to store
    the mushroom in the frig? If not, how do you store it until Im ready to make another batch?

    Thanks Valerie

  5. Jeremy on 03 Nov 2008 at 10:42 am #

    @Valerie – You should store your SCOBY covered in kombucha (at least ½ cup), either in the warm, dark place where you ferment your kombucha, or in the refrigerator — just be sure and check it frequently, to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Although a SCOBY can be frozen (again, making sure it is completely covered in kombucha), doing so runs the risk of killing the SCOBY. Best of luck!

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  7. Tricia on 27 May 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    I grew a SCOBY from GT Dave’s Kombuch and made a few batches of Kombucha with a high quality Earl Gray tea. It tasted like “regular” Kombucha with a Bergamont flavor. Now I am using the same SCOBY with Oolong tea. Hopefully my SCOBY is ok???

  8. ckmotorka on 20 Jun 2010 at 5:37 pm #

    I usually brew my kombucha with Irish breakfast (inexpensive), but my favorite is pu erh (pricey kombucha!). I have made some really nice batches with rooibos, too. A good combo is half rooibos & half jasmine green tea.

    I have, as an experiment, grown a successful SCOBY from a GT Dave’s Kombucha. It took a while to nurse to a suitable size to brew a good batch, but it worked well and one of my jars is still working from that SCOBY. (I fed it a little sugar each week to encourage growth. It took about a month to get a good base.)

    If you want to try to grow a SCOBY from “store bought” kombucha make sure you buy one that is raw and unfiltered (it will be refrigerated). Look for a bottle with a nice stringy mess floating in it so that you have a good starting point. Add it to some really sugary tea, cover it with a cloth and wait. It will happen.

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