Homemade Kombucha

Even though I made kombucha at 105degrees, it’s always freaked me out to make it at home. I pictured our house being overrun by scoby mushrooms, engulfed in a vinegar aroma. I also thought the Pilot thought it would be the final ticket to the “my wife is a little ‘out there'” town. But, guess what?!

The man likes kombucha.

Hot bar

(One for me, one for him)

I always knew he’d eventually become a fan. It’s kind of like beer ;)

You can brew kombucha at home, it has a nice little fizz and kick to it, and bonus: you can get some health benefits from it, too.

When I told him I was going to start brewing my own kombucha, he (surprisingly) thought it was a great idea. So, I decided to whip out my old skills from years past and go for it.

It lives in the pantry, fermenting its little heart out.

Kombucha  1 of 1

Unlike the stuff at the health food stores, you can make a huge amount for under $20, and it’s like the gift that keeps on giving: new scobies (autocorrect changed that to “scabies”) grow to enable you to make multiple batches at once. You can also give your scoby to a friend! What a gift, huh? “I love you so I brought you this healthy bacteria to share!”

Scoby  1 of 1

Mmmmm, delicious.

You may be reading this wondering, “What the heck is kombucha?”

Kombucha

Kombucha is an ancient fermented tea beverage with many reported, but not thoroughly studied, health benefits. When I first told my nana that I was making kombucha, she said that her mom used to always have some brewing in the kitchen- they called it teswin.

Here are some of the potential benefits of kombucha:

-probiotics

-high in antioxicants

-can help reduce acidity and restore the pH balance of the body

-promotes healthy digestion

-various healing properties, particularly those related to heart, liver, cell and metabolic function

Here’s how to easily make it at home:

-You can order your scoby online (mine was $14 on Amazon) or if you have a kombucha-making friend, ask them for a starter.

-Brew some black, white or green tea. Make the tea STRONG and stay away from the fancy, flavored stuff, as you can always add your flavorings later. At 105, we tried sweetening the tea with agave, but plain, white sugar works much better. For your container, the tea should fill it 2/3 of the way. (For our pitcher, I brewed 8 cups using 8 tea bags.)

Tea  1 of 1 2

-Add your sugar to the tea and allow to cool to room temperature.

-Stir in your starter tea (from the kombucha starter kit) and plop the scoby on top of the tea. The starter mixture should be about 10% of your total mixture.

-Lightly cover (cheesecloth or a paper towel secured with a rubber band works well), and place in a room temperature location to ferment, away from direct sunlight.

-After 7-10 days, start to test your kombucha (see how tangy you like it!) and then when you like the strength, transfer to separate bottles to flavor (using whatever juices or herbs you’d like), and allow to carbonate in the fridge. You’ll be able to taste how the mixture becomes more acidic and less sugary over time. It’s tempting to bottle it quickly, but try to wait it out. (14 days-ish seems to be a magic number, but it’s up to you and how you like it to taste.) Remember, you can always ferment your next batch for a longer or shorter amount of time.

-For flavors, the possibilities are endless! Add fresh or dried fruit, fruit juices or herbs.

I’ll report back in a couple of weeks to let you know how the batch turned out and what flavors I decided to make. I already told Kyle and Meg they can have my baby scoby haha.

Some tips:

-Do NOT stir the kombucha with any metal utensils

-Store the kombucha in a glass container

-Make sure to wash and sanitize everything and avoid touching the scoby with your hands. If you do touch it, make sure your hands are nice and clean and be gentle, mmm k?

-Be wary for signs of mold. It’s relatively safe to brew kombucha at home, but if the liquid or scoby look moldy, toss everything and start over again. Be especially cautious for blue or green colored strands- healthy kombucha should be a brownish color.

-Every few batches, throw away the oldest scoby (the underneath layer). Use the new scoby to either start a new batch (using the scoby and about 1 C of the tea mixture) or give it to a friend as their own starter kit.

-Some flavor ideas:

Fresh lavender, blueberries (infuse or use the juice)

Orange ginger

Strawberry mint

Goji orange

Lemon raspberry

Watermelon cucumber

If you choose to infuse your kombucha, do it before straining and bottling to carbonate in the fridge.

Would you brew (or have you brewed) your own kombucha? What’s your favorite flavor?

Bottoms up!

xoxo

Gina

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Comments

  1. Crystal Hodgson says:

    Hey Gina!

    I’m intrigued! I’ve only ever heard of Kombucha from your blog! I have digestion woes and am always looking for healthy alternatives!

    Question- what is a scoby exactly?

    I’m off to google and research.

    Happy Monday!
    Crystal

  2. Crystal Hodgson says:

    Hey Gina!

    I’m intrigued! I’ve only ever heard of Kombucha from your blog! I have digestion woes and am always looking for healthy alternatives!

    Question- what is a scoby exactly?

    I’m off to google and research.

    Happy Monday!
    Crystal

  3. Great post! My husband brews his own beer, so I finally asked him this year to start brewing me Kombucha! I totally thought the same thing, that he was going to think I was finally too hippy dippy, but I should have known. If it involved “brewing”, he was in! It’s been really fun and a lot cheaper!

    Our favorite flavor is apple cinnamon! We put a small stick of cinnamon in each bottle and the apple helps take of the vinegary flavor away.

  4. I definitely would want to try out kombucha at home. Where I live there are actually a TON of people that sell the scoby, which is pretty neat. Unfortunately, kombucha makes me have a difficult time breathing. It’s really bizarre, but I think it’s maybe because I have an allergy to mold in foods.
    My friends have made it before, and it definitely is really interesting to watch!

  5. Awesome tips! Maybe this will be my push to finally brew my own.

    How much sugar did you put in one batch? I love that store bought kombucha tastes so sweet, but according to the label, is low sugar/low calorie.

    There was a flier at my post office last week for free scoby babies, and all of the little pull tabs were taken. I live in such a unique town. :)

  6. Oh wow. That’s a big project! Once you’ve bottled it and transferred to the fridge, how long does it keep?

  7. Love love love this! I definitely have thought of making my own Kombucha before – way too expensive to enjoy it on a regular basis if I buy it at the store. Oddly enough making my own always kind of freaked me out..but I think your post inspired me to finally do it. Thanks! :) Cant wait to see how yours turns out!

  8. Do you have to use green/black/white tea or can you use herbal? I don’t drink the others for religious reasons but love koombacha and would love a cheaper alternative to the store stuff. Thanks for inspiring and sharing!

  9. I love kombucha as it is a life saver in regulating my digestion these days. I haven’t made my own yet because I’ve been terrified of the possibility of making a mistake and contaminating myself. However it is so expensive to buy. I’ll be excited to see how yours turns out, and might have to give it a go.

  10. I’ve actually never tried it!

  11. I love kombucha, and it has really worked wonders on my stomach, but I have to admit that I’m kind of paranoid when it comes to brewing it myself. I’m scared that I’m just going to end up giving myself food poisoning. My mom’s been making her own kefir for years without ever running into any problems, but I’m still on the fence, and I think I’d rather pay the somewhat hefty price tag for some peace of mind.

    • Sylvia Hawryluk says:

      I had the same concerns however there are a number of great sites which offer great information and gave me the courage to brew it at home . A few thoughts… First the smell of a good batch is pretty identifiable and if it is off your nose will catch it. Secondly ,the look of the batch is another great clue so brew in a clear glass container. Brown fragments floating is a good thing other colors not so much.. Thirdly , this tea was brewed in times when cleanliness was even more of a challenge and if they could do it then why not me or you today? I use a lot of vinegar to maintain a safe environment for the scoby. I pour vinegar in my hands as a rinse when I am brewing and bottling and I make sure all my stuff has been rinsed lightly with vinegar. I have been doing the brewing for a year with no problems.

  12. I just brewed my first batch last week!! So yum.

  13. What a great idea! I don’t think we even can buy Kombucha here in a bottle so that sounds like the perfect thing for me to do. Thank you for sharing!

  14. There are a few on Amazon. Do you mind linking me to the Scoby & Starter that you purchased? I’ve been wanting to brew my own for so long! Thanks!

  15. Ohh I can’t wait til I live close to a Whole Foods so I can pick up Kombucha. I have IBS and I would love if something could help settle my stomach when it acts up. I don’t know I’ll ever be able to make it myself but I really like it whenever I visit a city and get some.

  16. I’m tempted to try this but I’m a little bit scared. I’ll just pin this and wait until I get past my fears ;) Thanks for the tips!

  17. Maria @ Maria Makes Muffins says:

    It’s so funny that you blogged abou this today. Because just this morning I was contemplating starting to brew kombucha again. Before I got pregnant with Luke a year ago, I was brewing on a regular basis, but got a little freaked out about mold, etc. while pregnant and lazy, who wants to deal with anything extra while going through morning sickness? and stopped.

    One question, what kind of tea are you using? I tried a few varieties of organic black and green tea, but always felt the resulting kombucha was bitter/earthy and figured it was probably my tea choice throwing things off.

  18. I’ve always wanted to make Kombucha but was really intimidated by the procedure. It looks simple enough though! Maybe I will try it during the summer. :)

  19. LOVE this!! Definitely something to put on the list of future projects. :) Especially if it will help me cut back on the 4 bucks a bottle kombucha purchases. Thanks for all the great tips!

  20. Whoa! I think I’m probably going to pin this on Pinterest in the “If only I were as motivated…” category. This looks amazing and it scares the crap out of me. I’ve never had kombucha so I may go out and buy some to see how I like it. And then who knows someday I may put on my big girl panties and give this a shot.

  21. Cool1

  22. I love kombucha (and now I want some!) and brewed my own for a while but got tired of it. I don’t remember what flavors I made. It seems like I’d mix plain kombucha with some V-8 Splash maybe? My family always made fun of my ‘floaty tea’ in the frig and pantry.

  23. Hi Gina – would you mind sharing where you got your starter? I don’t have any friends with SCOBYs to share at the moment (and don’t feel like starting my own from a bottle of store-bought kombucha), so I’d like to buy one from a reputable place. Thanks!

  24. I’m very interested to see how yours turns out! Orange ginger sounds delicious.

    How much sugar do you add to the tea?

  25. I was a little scared the first time I went to brew my own too, but it ended up being delicious! It seemed like such a hassle, but once you get the hang of it, it takes like two seconds to set up a batch!

    I just made a plain one but definitely want to try some of the flavors you listed above!

  26. I’ve been wanting to brew my own kombucha for SO long. I was getting frustrated because it seemed like nowhere in my city was selling the scoby. I had no idea I could order it online (which now that I think about it, seems very obvious).

    Thanks for letting me know! I’ll be ordering some tonight!

  27. i just can’t with kombucha. it’s just no…..just no….my “Tata” had a jug of pulque going at all times and it just made me gag looking at it as a kid. i also don’t like beer. vodka, mountain dew, and water are my drinks of choice;)

  28. I have recently brewed my own. I did raspberry and peach. I’d like to do a ginger Echinacea.

  29. Hi Gina,
    I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU ! :)

    Reading and learning from your blog has changed my whole life and I feel sooooo much better now.

    Lately my whole family has joined me in eating clean and healthy and as soon as I make Amazeballs…..they are all gone again :D

    Besides, you always make me smile and I look forward to reading your blog all day long !

    So thanks again, have a wonderful day and I send you all my best wishes from Germany :)

  30. After reading this post I would FOR sure try it out! You made it sound so much easier then the other blogs I have read! Your tips will be helpful as well. I have never done it but this gal at the farmers market always has the most amazing flavors and I have been wanting to try it for forever! Thank you for sharing Gina! Hope your Monday rocks ;) Love + Shine COURTSTAR

  31. Excellent post! I’ve always wanted to try to make my own Kombucha, since I drink so much of it (hey it’s expensive!), but I’ve been intimated. This helps to get some of your details and experiences. Thanks for sharing ;)

  32. Kelly Kurcina says:

    Lol, you are SO normal in the way you eat! Become a high raw vegan who rarely eats grains and mmmm..it is a far out place. But love it and how it makes me feel! I always thought kombucha was so healthy, great for digestion, but after working with Dr. Robert Morse learned that sadly, it is not true! The research is out there and check your sources for the truth. Boo! ;(

  33. I’ve toyed with the idea of making my own kombucha but I’m too scared of creating something toxic! Maybe one day…!!

  34. I have been brewing continuously for over 2 years! I have two 5 gallon wooden barrels , so you can say that my SCOBYs are pretty big :) i have my whole family on it. my favorite is lemon and blueberry, and i’ve made it with ginger, raspberries, strawberries- whatever is in season. cheers !

  35. I have always wanted to make my own kombucha after I realized just how much I was spending on it at the store! Thank you so much for this post!! I can’t wait to give it a go, tho I worry what my family will say. They already think of me as some weird hippy type, might as well live it up! ;)

    Anyone else tired kombucha for a hangover? that and coconut water are my go tos!

  36. Thanks for doing this post, Gina! I I’ve been meaning to make my own for a while now and this gave me the incentive to finally order the scoby that has been sitting in my cart on Amazon. :-)

  37. I currently have my first batch of pomegranite brewing. My boyfriend was excited that I wanted to brew my own, he loves the stuff!

  38. This is awesome! I’ve been wanting to try making my own kombucha because shelling out almost $5 per bottle is just crazy. My favourite flavour is Third Eye Chai by GTs!

  39. I wanted to pass on a tip- you can make a Scoby from a bottle of plain commercial kombucha, as long as it is organic raw, like GT. Just pour a little into a glass container with some of the strands at the bottom from the mother, cover with the cheesecloth/paper towel, and let it stand at room temperature for a few days. It will start to form a mother! I did this to start my colony, because I figured I’d rather pay $3 for a bottle locally over ordering online :)

  40. This is something I’ve really been wanting to try. Nice tutorial – seems so simple now!

  41. I’ve only had Kombucha a few times and still cant tell if I like it or not. but I DO LOVE the many benefits. I can’t wait to hear what you say about it:) Im always up for trying something new and making it myself.

  42. So awesome! Love it :) I really like to add the Passion Tea from Tazo for the flavour. <3

  43. I’ve heard that it can contaminate easily and you have to be really careful. No doubts you’re well aware! Love that you and the pilot share the love for it!

  44. Random question from a long time reader. Can you recommend any online sources or books, for someone a beginner trying to learn the basics of nutrition and exercise?

    TIA

  45. While we were living in Belgium, my flatmate, that was studying Human nutrition really loved Kombucha, she was getting the one from the markets and also maked her own. I was really on Kombucha train, especially after all the benefits that she talked about. I almost forgot about the drink when we moved out, but this was very nice to be reminded

  46. I’ve never heard of it before- mustn’t be a craze here in Aus…yet. Looks interesting- I’d love to try some!

  47. Elizabeth says:

    I used to brew and then stopped a year ago when I moved. You have inspired me to begin again! The only thing that troubled me was separating the babies from the mother. I ended up reusing the mother over and over again because I could never get a clean break between it and the babies. The baby was always holy and easily torn. I read the tip above about potentially starting a strain from a commercial jar so I am definitely going to try that! Another tip I’d like to share is that if you don’t have any starter tea (which you should, but if you are afraid to use old tea like I was), you can also put a 1/4c of vinegar into your tea before you place the SCOBY into it.

  48. I’m making my first batch of kombucha this week!! Crazy. Anyways, I got my starter off Amazon too, and I’m hoping in works well. The batch is on day 5! Can’t wait to see how it tastes.
    One question, for this kombucha newbie, once I’m bottling it to put in the fridge can I add flavor, like lavender for example? Also, is it okay to “bottle” it in glass jars like canning jars that have some metal in the lids?
    Thanks Gina!

  49. tesspic says:

    I have been brewing my own kombucha for about a month now. I was buying it in the store and spending $3.69 per bottle and when I discovered I could make it in my own kitchen inexpensively I decided to give it a go.
    Don’t be afraid of the process! As long as you keep your utensils, pots, bottles and hands clean, everything should be fine. My first batch was a success and the mother scoby reproduced a perfect new baby scoby. Now I have so many I am sharing them with family and friends.
    I have found the health benefits of kombucha to be wonderful. I also love the taste; quite honestly it is a bit addictive. My husband now drinks it regularly and I am hoping I can get my kids to acquire a taste!
    If you are thinking about it, go for it! You know the cleanliness of your kitchen best!

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