Kombucha tea is that super probiotic drink people have been talking about. It supposedly works wonders for your gut biome — and who doesn’t need gut healing nowadays? Besides being good for you, it’s addictively delicious and fizzy. You’ll want to drink it every day. But at almost $4 a pop, it’s a little more than I want to spend.
You’ve probably heard you can make your own. The process involves nurturing an ugly little alien-like creature (aka “SCOBY” or “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”) in a jar. If you keep it happily fed with sugar and tea, it will reward you with this golden health elixir that everyone has tried or wants to try. You, too, can be hip (and healthy) — at a much cheaper price point.
- 64 oz mason jar or other 8-cup nonreactive jar
- Wide mouth funnel (optional)
- Pitcher, glass jar, or flip top bottles for storing
- 1 kombucha SCOBY
- 6 c water, boiled
- 4 organic tea bags (red and/or green tea)
- ½ c organic white sugar
- 1 c kombucha tea
Preparing the First Brew
- Pour boiling water into mason jar.
- Add tea bags and cover. Steep for 10 minutes. Discard tea bags.
- Stir in sugar until dissolved. Cover and set aside to cool.
- When cool, add SCOBY and 1 cup kombucha tea.
- Add additional water, if needed, to make 8 cups total.
- Cover with a paper towel.
- Store your jar undisturbed, away from direct sunlight.
The Second Brew
- Leave the scoby undisturbed for at least 1-2 weeks.
- When your first brew is “ready,” (see Notes below) set aside the SCOBY, along with 1 cup of kombucha (you’ll need this to start your next brew).
- Strain the rest of the kombucha (your “second brew”) into a pitcher, another mason jar, or flip top glass bottles.
- At this point you can enjoy your kombucha immediately or wait a few more days for the carbonation to develop further.
- Flavor it with fresh fruit, juice, or an herbal tea bag.
Don’t Forget to Start Your Next Batch of Kombucha Tea
Ideally, you should have a bottle of sweetened tea, cooled and ready to go before you decant your first brew. Simply follow the process for Preparing the First Brew above. It may seem a bit complicated at first, but after a couple of times, you’ll have it down to a routine that works for you.
*Notes for Making Your Own Kombucha Tea
Where do I get a SCOBY?
Ideally a friend. But you can also get one online.
What kind of container should I use?
I wouldn’t recommend plastic of any kind. Glass or stainless steel (if you can find it) is best. I find a wide mouth 64 oz mason jar is perfect: It’s easy to get, has a convenient lid and wide mouth for transferring the SCOBY, is convenient for pouring, and you can use the measurements on the side as a guide.
Do I need a funnel?
A funnel is not an absolute necessity, unless you’re using a flip top bottle for your second brew. Whatever container you use for your second brew, a funnel makes it easier to add ingredients and transfer your brew.
I use wide mouth mason jars for my first and second brews, and this stainless steel, wide mouth funnel by RSVP is indispensable. It’s easy to clean and has no attached parts to break. It’s one of my best and most used kitchen tools. (I also store most of my food in wide mouth mason jars).
Covering your jar
You definitely want to keep your jar securely covered to deter fruit flies and keep out debris. A paper towel does this while allowing the air exchange that the SCOBY needs to thrive. If using a mason jar, you can use the outer ring of the lid to secure the paper towel on top of your jar. A rubber band also works.
Where do I store my first brew?
Store your brew in a place away from direct sunlight, where it will be undisturbed and have air — preferably not a closed cabinet. (I put mine in a cabinet because I like things “put away,” but found the SCOBYs did not thrive. Maybe you might have better luck).
How long does it take to brew?
The SCOBY will be converting the sugar and tea to beneficial bacteria and yeast. This process will be faster or slower depending on the temperature of the environment. Around 68-78F is ideal.
How do I know when my kombucha is ready to drink?
Begin checking your brew after a week or two — at least this is the common protocol. It should be a little tart, how tart is up to you. Some people like a sweet brew, I prefer it quite tart. (Obviously, the more sweet it is, the more sugar you are ingesting, if that’s a concern). When it is to your liking, it’s “ready.”
Is a second brew necessary?
You can enjoy your kombucha “as is” after the first brew. If you like more carbonation, add a little fruit/juice and store in an airtight container (just be careful to leave a little head room in the container). I’ve actually had good success with fizz without adding any fruit or juice. After a couple of days, your drink should be fizzy.
I have a clear film developing on the top of my second brew. Is that normal?
That clear layer that comes up like a glob of snot (haha, yes) when you fish it out, is a little baby SCOBY. Aaaw. So ugly. Some people (who will remain unnamed) slurp this up. Other people feed it to their pets, put it in their compost, or slip in into someone else’s drink (No!) I just throw it out.
How do I flavor my kombucha?
Flavor your kombucha with fresh fruit, dried fruit, juice, or a fruity herbal tea bag. Though I’ve never heard of anyone else doing this, an herbal tea bag is my favorite way to flavor kombucha tea. The flavor is more intense and it’s as easy as dropping in a tea bag. Celestial Seasonings has a wide selection of herbal fruit teas with all natural ingredients, and Twinings has a variety of delicious berry combos with no strange additives. One bag is enough for 8 cups.
Beyond the Basics: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Kombucha Tea
I found these sites to be most helpful on my kombucha journey. They’ll even sell you a scoby.