We’re big on kombucha in my house. It’s is one of my favorite healthy thirst quenchers, and I wrote a guest post for MindBodyGreen about how and why to make kombucha at home. I’m posting the recipe below as well, along with some links to additional recipes and resources that may be helpful if you are interested in making your own kombucha :)

Note that I adapted this recipe just slightly from the new (and wonderful!) book Mastering Fermentation: Recipes for Making and Cooking with Fermented Foods. There are many different recipes for making kombucha floating around the internet, but I like this one because it’s very simple. A lot of people seem to be intimidated when it comes to homemade kombucha, but it’s not at all difficult. Give it a try! If you have questions or concerns, please ask them in the comments section below.

Homemade Kombucha | Healthy Green Kitchen


Recipe for Homemade Kombucha

You will need a SCOBY (a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) to make this recipe. You may obtain a SCOBY from a friend or from a reliable retail source. Each time you make kombucha, you'll "grow" another SCOBY: pass extras on to friends (a SCOBY in a small glass jar with some finished kombucha is a wonderful gift for someone eager to get started making their own) or store in the refrigerator immersed in finished kombucha (or apple cider vinegar) for future batches. If you end up with far more than you can use, you can compost them or use them to make SCOBY "candies".

Kombucha needs air to ferment, which is why you cover your jar with cheesecloth secured with a rubberband. In warm weather, your kombucha is likely to attract fruit flies, which is super annoying, and which is why you see I've covered my cheesecloth with a lid in the photo at the top of this post. I have found that because my jar is not filled to the top, there's enough air in the jar and my kombucha ferments just fine this way. In cooler weather, when fruit flies are not an issue, I don't cover the cheesecloth.

Though many who drink kombucha use it as a soda replacement, it's probably best if you sip it in small amounts rather than guzzling a lot at a time. I like to drink a small glass (often mixed with some fruit juice) along with a snack in the afternoon, or before I eat dinner.

Some people seem concerned about the sugar and/or caffeine in kombucha. Rest assured that finished kombucha contains very little of either one because the SCOBY consumes them during the fermentation process.

Ingredients:

*13 cups water, divided (use filtered water, if possible)
*1 cup sugar (I prefer organic sugar; raw honey or molasses can be used instead, but most sources state that other sweeteners are not appropriate for making kombucha)
*5 teaspoons organic loose -leaf black tea
*1 cup finished plain kombucha (from a previous batch, a store-bought bottle, or from the liquid the SCOBY comes in)
*1 kombucha SCOBY (obtain from a friend or purchase from reliable retail source)

Directions:

1. Boil 3 cups of water in a stainless steel pot. Add the sugar, and stir until it has dissolved. Remove pot from heat and add loose tea. Allow to soak/cool for about 30 minutes.

2. Pour sweet tea through a fine mesh strainer into your fermenting container (a 1-gallon glass jar with a wide mouth works well...don't use metal or plastic). Compost or discard the tea leaves (alternatively, you can place your loose tea into a muslin tea bag and simply remove the tea bag after steeping). Add the finished kombucha and the SCOBY to the jar with the sweet tea, then add the remaining water (10 cups). Cover the top of your jar with cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band. Leave undisturbed for 7-10 days in a warm, dark place. (As your kombucha ferments, a new SCOBY will grow attached to the original one to the width of your container.)

3. After a week, sample your kombucha to determine if it is ready to drink. It should be a bit bubbly and taste both sweet and sour without much hint of the tea. If you are pleased with the taste, use clean hands to remove your SCOBY (and carefully separate it from the new one) and store as directed above (if it's not ready, allow your kombucha to ferment for a few more days...it will take longer to ferment when the ambient temperature is cooler). Transfer kombucha to glass jars for storage (swing-top bottles work well), leaving about 1/2 inch headspace at the top. Allow bottled kombucha to sit at room temperature for a day or two to ferment a bit more/build up carbonation, then place in refrigerator until ready to drink. Kombucha will last in the refrigerator for up to three months, but it's best if consumed sooner: Mastering Fermentation recommends drinking it within a week of opening a bottle.

More Kombucha Recipes:

-I’ve used Jenny’s recipe for Continuous Brew Kombucha many times and it is terrific. I need to give her Kombucha Vinaigrette a try, as well.

-Emma Christensen did a very comprehensive write-up on kombucha over at The Kitchn. She also has a book out called True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home: it’s on my wishlist.

-Kristen of Food Renegade wrote a post about How to Make Flavored Kombucha: I look forward to trying her method, too.

-Make “candy” from your extra SCOBIES! This post shows you how: Scoby Snacks.

-I’ve had my eye on this Kombucha Margarita for a while…I need to make it.

Additional Kombucha Resources:

-If you’re still unclear on the benefits of kombucha, check out my post about cultured foods.

This excerpt on kombucha from Sandor Katz’ book The Art of Fermentation is excellent. (I don’t have the book but I’ve heard it is wonderful: you can buy it here: The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World.)

-I purchased my SCOBY on amazon.com. This is the one I bought: Goldfinch Kombucha Scoby

-This is the jar I use to make my kombucha: Anchor Hocking 1-Gallon Heritage Hill Jar with Glass Lid

-I also see you can buy a DIY Kombucha Kit that has everything you need included!

-Cultures for Health is another great place to buy what you need to make kombucha and other healthy cultured foods.

Homemade Kombucha | Healthy Green Kitchen

 

25 Comments

  1. 1

    Cassie Anne — September 4, 2013 @ 10:55 am

    I am just wondering, as a new brewer…what do you tell people when they think you are crazy for making and drinking kombucha. I have seen such a great change in my health, digestion and energy since starting to drink it, and I really want people to try it. However, getting them to get past the weird aspect of it, and try it is not as easy as I thought it would be. Just wondering if you’ve had experience with that. My extended family has been a bit harsh in their judgement of it all. Thanks in advance and brew on!

    • Winnie replied: — September 4th, 2013 @ 11:10 am

      Hi Cassie Anne,
      In my life I’ve done many things that others have considered crazy. This includes things like having two homebirths, keeping honeybees, and lifting big heavy weights at the gym. But I don’t care what others think of the things I do: I do the things that make sense to me and that make me feel healthy and happy :) As for kombucha, as far as I am concerned it’s almost mainstream these days! Keep doing your thing and they may come around. If not: ignore the criticism and carry on with your awesome self.

  2. 2

    Cassie Anne — September 4, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

    Thank you. That is such great advice, I really shouldn’t care what they think- especially since I have experienced such great things after introducing kombucha to my life! I needed to hear that today. ^_^

    • Winnie replied: — September 4th, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

      Happy to help!

  3. 3

    Homemade Kombucha ... Perfect for My Friends Who'd Happily Choose Kombucha Over Dessert | All Gluten-Free Desserts...All the Time — September 5, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

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  4. 4

    Shirley @ gfe & All Gluten-Free Desserts — September 5, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

    Hi Winnie–I just featured this recipe on All Gluten-Free Desserts! Folks are going to love it–thanks so much!

    Shirley

    p.s. Love your reply/advice to Cassie, too. :-)

    • Winnie replied: — September 5th, 2013 @ 9:18 pm

      Thanks SO much Shirley!

  5. 5

    Rachael — September 8, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

    I am currently brewing my first batch of kombucha. I live in a hot, dry climate. (Hot like 100+degrees) Today is day 10 and I do see another SCOBY is definitely forming but it doesn’t look quite done yet. Also, I see small bubbles forming under my SCOBY. I assume this is a natural occurrence as it ferments but I just wanted to her back from some professionals as to whether or not it sounds like I’m on the right track. I would have assumed it would have been done way before now because of the heat. I do have it stored in as cool of a place as possible.

  6. 6

    Hannah — September 12, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

    I’m delighted to see your post, Winnie! We drink gallons of kombucha (happily my teenage son loves it in place of soda!) and I started making it at home last year. I’ve given SCOBYs to friends and taught them how to make it, so I love sharing the kombucha love. :)

  7. 7

    Peter — September 17, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

    These smoothies in the eBook “Smoothies for Athletes” are great healthy and quick energy boosts that are easy to make and all the ingredients can be found in supermarkets or general food stores!

  8. 8

    Judy — September 18, 2013 @ 10:54 am

    Hi Winnie, I received the SCOBY today in the mail and the package was a little wet but I don’t see any hole in the plastic bag that it was in, is it okay to use still? Do I transfer it into a clean glass jar now and then proceed with the recipe this is my first go at it and I want to be clear on what i am supposed to do to get started. Thanks from St Augustine, Florida

  9. 9

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    Sandra Kozij — November 20, 2013 @ 11:40 am

    Hi Winnie. Just about to pour my first batch of Booch into smaller jars for their second/flavoured fermentation. The SCOBY on top of the gallon jar doesn’t look healthy, looks like it rotting…I’m assuming this is the original SCOBY and should be separated from the new one that should have grown. I will use the new one to start a new batch. What do I do with the original one? Can it also be used to start a new batch. Thanks for your help. Sandra

  11. 11

    Jeff — January 12, 2014 @ 7:54 am

    I’m in the process of making my first batch of Kombucha and think I may have made a small mistake. I kind of combined the process of making Kombucha with making a SCOBY. Meaning I made a big batch of liquid, but just added a starter of bottled Kombucha, not a developed SCOBY. I can see a layer starting to form on the surface which I hope will develop into a SCOBY.

    My question is once the SCOBY grows (hopefully) will the gallon of liquid I have prepared be viable Kombucha? Or should I just use the SCOBY and some of the liquid I have to begin a new batch?

  12. 12

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  13. 13

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  14. 14

    Denise — April 9, 2014 @ 10:08 am

    Hello’
    I was wondering if I could use a GT bottle of kombucha that was not opened and kept in my refrigerator since 2010 as a safe and viable scoby? Any idea on this ?
    Thanks, denise

    • Winnie replied: — April 9th, 2014 @ 8:53 pm

      Hi Denise,
      I am a little confused by your question. You may be able to use part of the bottle of kombucha for the 1 cup finished kombucha in the recipe (but honestly I don’t know if it’s still viable…4 years is a long time). But you still need a scoby…

  15. 15

    Denise — April 11, 2014 @ 8:53 am

    I have a scoby but wanted to dump the gt kombucha in with my scoby to make an additional batch so as not to throw the gt away,
    Thank you for your response

  16. 16

    Veronica — May 16, 2014 @ 7:40 pm

    I made mine kombucha now 2 weeks and the top of my gallon jar is white and gel like,is it ready and what do I do with and store my scoby? Thanks so much this is a first for me:)

  17. 17

    Veronica — May 16, 2014 @ 7:45 pm

    How do you store scoby after the first batch is done? Thanks and what do I store it in?

    • Winnie replied: — May 16th, 2014 @ 10:34 pm

      Hi Veronica,
      The scoby can be divided into 2 (a new scoby has grown attached to the other so carefully separate the two): use 1 for your next batch and save the other in a plastic bag in the fridge to give away. Or, you can compost it or use it to make “scoby candy” (google it).

  18. 18

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  19. 19

    Veronica — June 21, 2014 @ 5:42 pm

    Hi Winnie ,left my second batch for 30days is has a weird smell but taste good and there was no sign of mold but I now have 2 scobys should I store the extra in frige or can I go ahead add it to my 3batch? Thanks so much for your help:)

  20. 20

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