How to Make and Flavor Kombucha at Home

Sharing tips on how to make and flavor your own kombucha at home!

Hi friends! Hope you’re having a lovely morning! This week is a bit bonkers and we’re enjoying time with some friends who are here from Florida! I’ll be back on Friday with some faves, but in the meantime, here’s a post from the archives. If you’re curious about making your own kombucha at home, here’s the full how-to!


homemade kombucha

After about a year (maybe a little longer?) of inconsistently making kombucha at home, I finally made some that tastes even better than store-bought stuff.

Orange Cranberry Ginger Homemade Kombucha

Orange Cranberry Ginger Homemade Kombucha

It was getting really close, and I was happy with the flavor combos I’d tried, but it was always a little too tangy, too sweet, not fizzy enough, etc.

After quite a bit of experimentation, I got the result I’d been searching for; it was a glorious moment indeed. A warm embrace was shared with the kombucha jar before holding the scoby in the air like a baby Simba while singing a celebratory chant.

(Ok, just in my mind.)

Tips on How to Make Kombucha at Home

-I followed the steps in this post, but will outline them again, updated with the current techniques.

1) The quality of the scoby (the starter bacteria that looks like a flat, opaque gummy disk) makes all the difference in the world. I got an awesome scoby from Amazon, but I’ve also ordered a dud that ended up molding. (A little tidbit about mold: a lot of people are rightfully fearful about making moldy or bad kombucha. If the batch is bad, it’s an obvious thing. You will know it’s bad just by looking at it. The scoby will have blue or greenish patches on it, and well, it will look like mold. Don’t drink it; throw it away to start over.) The scoby I picked up from the farmer’s market in Ocean Beach is a BEAST.

(I got a bottle from the farmer’s market, filled with scoby strands and starter tea. To say I was skeptical would be an understatement. Shame on me.)

I’ve made multiple batches with said amazing scoby and also gave one to Whitney; she now has a full-up scoby hotel.

I like ‘em thick.

make kombucha at home

Scoby handling guidelines: always make sure your hands, tools, container, anything that comes in contact with the scoby, are fully sanitized. Do not touch the scoby (or stir your kombucha) with anything metal; it can destroy it. Use wood or plastic tools instead.

2) After you have your scoby, make your starter tea (black and green tea with NO added essential oils work well). I like the Newman’s Own organic black tea. 8-10 cups of water to 8-10 bags of tea (equal water:tea ratio). After the water comes up to a boil, I add the tea bags, remove from the heat and stir in one cup of organic sugar. Let the tea cool completely to room temperature before straining it and pouring into your kombucha jar (this is a perfect one).

3) Next, you’ll add about 2 cups of starter liquid (or whatever came with your scoby), and gently place the scoby on top. If the scoby and tea are the exact same temperature, it will float beautifully to the top. If it sinks to the bottom, NBD. Just let it swim around and a new scoby will grow on top.

4) Cover it with cheesecloth or a paper towel (covered to protect, but with something that will enable it to breathe) and secure with an elastic band before placing in a dark cabinet to ferment. Avoid looking at it while it’s fermenting, and start checking the taste of the mixture in about a week. This is where you’ll decide how tangy or sweet you like it.

fermenting homemade kombucha

Dip a clean plastic spoon into the ‘buch and give it a taste. If it’s to your liking, you’re ready for a second ferment! If it’s too sweet, give it a couple more days to become more tangy/acidic. If it’s too tangy, move onto the next step (flavoring and second fermentation) and add some extra fruit juice.

The duration for your kombucha fermentation will vary based on your climate and taste preferences. In hot Tucson, it was ready in about a week. In cooler weather, it could take up to two weeks. Be patient, young grasshopper.

5) When you’re ready for your second fermentation, this is the fun part: flavoring it! Get another jar or two (that has a flip lid, like these ones), or some Mason jars for the second round fermentation + flavoring the mixture.

Some things that work well to flavor:

-Fruit juice (apple, berry, orange)

-Berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries)

-Herbs (lavender, dried ginger, mint)

Have fun experimenting!

kombucha flavor ingredients

To each jar or bottle, add some juice, herbs (if you’d like) and (this is KEY) some dried fruit (like dried cranberries or raisins). The sugar in the dried fruit will continue to feed the bacteria, and will also make the kombucha fizzy. Another thing that helps will fizz factor: dried ginger. This stuff is particularly awesome; a little (like a hefty pinch for each Mason jar) goes a long way. Pour the kombucha into each jar or bottle, but be sure to leave at least 2 cups of kombucha in the original jar to use as your “starter tea” for the next batch.

6) Seal the flavored kombucha and place back in the pantry (in a dark, temperate spot) for 2-3 days. 

7) Next, you’ll transfer the jars/bottles from the pantry to the fridge to chill and enjoy! (if you used any “whole” fruits, herbs or berries, strain the mixture before sealing again to place in the fridge.

So what do you do with the old kombucha bottle (which now has the old “Mother” scoby in it + the new layer “baby” scoby growing on top)? You separate the baby from the mother (yes, this involves touching it with your hands and cringing as you peel the slimy layers apart). The baby scoby can now venture on its own into the world to make its own kombucha (so you can have two batches growing at once). Or even better: put it in a baggie with some starter tea and gift to a friend! The gift that keeps on giving haha.

A little tip: I only use one scoby for a max of two batches of kombucha, and then will switch over to the baby scoby. They become weaker with each batch, so it’s good to switch to a new scoby after a couple of rounds.

Hope this helped those of you who were considering making your own kombucha!

Kombucha: yay or nay? Have you ever made kombucha at home? Anything unique that you like to make or ferment? I would love to experiment with homemade ghee or goat cheese!

Hope you have a lovely night <3



Try these kombucha cocktails!

More adventures in fermentation:

Homemade sauerkimchi

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  1. Amanda @ Slimplify Life on September 22, 2014 at 7:16 am

    I am so intimidated by this process slash fermenting in general. I fear explosions would happen in my kitchen, so for now I am sticking to living vicariously through your fermenting =)

  2. Kaila @healthyhelperblog! on September 22, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Pretty cool how many things you can make on your own at home! Just takes a little pre planning and a little patience!

  3. Brynn on September 22, 2014 at 7:41 am

    So cool! I cannot wait to try this. To be honest, it is totally intimidating, but I would love to try. I love kimchi and would like to try and make that at home as well.

  4. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on September 22, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Mmm I am totally bookmarking this, Gina! I love kombucha and while ginger is my favourite, I like berry flavoured ones too. I’ve never tried making my own, but you make it sound really easy so I just might have to try. 🙂

  5. Christa @ Living Unablanced on September 22, 2014 at 8:09 am

    I am SO glad you posted this! I’ve been buying Kombucha consistently for the past few weeks (We like to drink them at night as a healthier substitute for beer/wine) and each time I think “I need to look up how Gina makes her own” because it is so dang expensive! Thanks for posting…I’ll be trying it out soon!

  6. char eats greens on September 22, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Great tutorial!! I brew my own kombucha at home but didn’t know about switching to the baby scoby as the mother gets weaker! I just did my third round, so I’ll switch to the baby this time! My fave flavour combo so far is peach ginger, or just straight up ginger! We also did orange this round and worked out nicely too. Mistake I made this round was used jasmine scented green tea and it’s really gross to me…the hubby likes it but let’s just say, he’ll never be experiencing kombucha with that tea ever again haha

  7. Liz on September 22, 2014 at 8:18 am

    I use the entire “stack” of baby scobys with the mother underneath each time I brew, I haven’t separated the mother from the babies. It helps it brew even faster. I might have to separate them eventually, though.

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      wow, good to know! i will try keeping my next baby with its mama 🙂

  8. Livi @ Eat, Pray, Work It Out on September 22, 2014 at 8:21 am

    I love kombucha but have been to scared to make my own! I’ll get there one day!

  9. Amanda @ .running with spoons. on September 22, 2014 at 8:37 am

    I’ve been meaning to make my own kombucha for what feels like -years- now, but I keep putting it off because I’m afraid I’ll do something wrong and give myself food poisoning 😆 Good to know that it’s pretty obvious if the batch is bad. Maybe I’ll give it a shot one day.

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      hahah it’s totally obvious if something goes wrong 🙂

  10. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on September 22, 2014 at 9:39 am

    I love kombucha but am a little terrified to make it myself. Way to go on making one that’s better than the store version!

  11. Sara on September 22, 2014 at 9:53 am

    I have not had very good luck with making kombucha at home. I don’t know if it was my scoby or what but tit never tasted just right. My last batch ended up moldy 🙁

    I have had success making goat cheese though! That was fun and rather easy with a kit bought on amazon 🙂

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      it was probably the scoby. such a bummer! i will check out those kits on amazon 🙂

  12. Cassie on September 22, 2014 at 10:49 am

    I just bought a kit to make goat cheese off of etsy! I hopefully am going to make it soon. My first cheese I made was a farmers cheese last weekend. It was surprisingly easy! I highly suggest making cheese I really have been wanting to make kombacha so I may get brave and try to make it 🙂

  13. Tracy @ sprinklesandsquats on September 22, 2014 at 10:55 am

    This is really interesting to me… I’ve never tried kombucha, but it’s definitely on my list of things I’d like to test out. I’m a huge fan of kimchi, and I usually buy it from the Asian grocery store, but it’s another item I’d like to try to make at home. My mom always talks about living in Korea, and how my grandmother would make her own kimchi and bury it in the ground to ferment haha, talk about old school!

  14. Andrea B on September 22, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I started making kombucha a couple of months ago and my last batch was the perfect flavour/fizziness!! My fave flavouring is using an organic frozen berry blend of cherries, blackberries & blueberries — so good! Next, I really want to try adding ginger 🙂

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      i will try that berry blend!

  15. Amanda on September 22, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I love love love kombucha, and I’ve recently become interested in fermenting in general, but I’m a little hesitant haha. I’m thinking of starting with a sour pickles recipe from Nourished Kitchen, then moving on to kombucha. Great post!

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      pickles sound amazing!

  16. courtney b on September 22, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Awesome! I was literally going to post my kombucha adventure today on my blog I just finished my first ever batch! Got introduced to it by you:)

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      so awesome!! 🙂

  17. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment on September 22, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing your experimenting. Do you think overall that it costs signifigantly less to make it at home?

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      totally. i have made multiple batches for free since i have everything at home! to get everything was making $30 initial investment

  18. Kate @ SoCal Runner Gal on September 22, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I bought a SCOBY for like 39 bucks or so online, was so excited to brew my own kombucha, bought all the supplies, then my ADD kicked in and I totally forgot about it. Whoops.

    Nice work on the kombucha front. Yours looks perfect!

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      39 is highway robbery for a scoby. i’ll give you one for free haha

  19. Amy on September 22, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Oh Gina,
    I so appreciate that you love your scobi and kombucha………..BUT, I just can’t ever, ever, ever……..imagine creating or consuming this type of drink again…….wow. It only took buying 1 bottle of the stuff at Whole Foods…….then drinking 1 swig, to confirm it is not for me. That said, more for you and all that love the stuff:)

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      hahah! it’s an acquired taste 😉

  20. Julianna @ Julianna Bananna on September 22, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    i’m equally grossed out as i am intrigued by kombucha.. i have yet to buy a bottle of it in the store because i’m afraid i’m going to be drinking it and something slimy is going to come hit me in the face, haha

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      gotta watch out for the gooey pieces bahah

  21. Alex @ Get Big, Go To Work on September 22, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I love kombucha! We usually by a case of Synergy from WFM for a discount, but have recently been trying some others at the market. I’ve really been enjoying Barefoot kombucha recently.

    I think I’m going to need to venture into the world of making my own too. I put off making my own almond milk until this weekend thinkig it was a difficult and lengthy process only to be proved terribly wrong. If kombucha is the same, I better get on it like yesterday!

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      it is exactly the same amount of work as making almond milk 🙂

  22. Tracy on September 22, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Congrats on mastering kombucha!! I’m still a little scarred… but you’re getting me closer to giving it a try! It would sure save me a lot of money! I’m addicted for sure.

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      it’s an awesome money saver! fun to customize the flavors too

  23. Elizabeth on September 22, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    So, for the orange-cranberry-ginger–did you use orange juice, and then the dried cranberries and dried ginger? I am brewing a batch of kombucha now and that flavor sounds so yummy!

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      yep, that’s it!

  24. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on September 22, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I’ve never tried kombucha even the store bought kind. I’ve also felt like it was scary for some reason. If I tried to make it, I would be worried I would poison myself. It sounds really easy though.

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      that’s what i thought too. surprisingly, it’s way easier to make than i thought it would be

  25. Alexandria on September 22, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    I would love to make this myself!!! I haven’t had to guts to, but you make it look so easy! 🙂 Maybe I’ll give it a try. My favorite flavor Kombucha is grape.

  26. Crystal on September 22, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    I love homemade kombucha! When one of my coworkers gave me a scoby a couple years ago, we joked that it was like friendship bread, haha. I just made cultured butter for the first time the other day–I’m definitely hooked. I’m honestly surprised you haven’t tried making goat cheese yet! I hope you do, and share the experience with all of us 😀

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      haha it is like friendship bread!!
      i definitely will post about goat cheese adventures when i give it a whirl 🙂

  27. Laura B @ FitMamaLove on September 22, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    I love kombucha, but haven’t tried making it at home yet. It seems like something I might try someday, but I also don’t love the idea of having all that stuff hanging around somewhere. I’m not sure where I’d put it exactly and I’m sure my husband would be less than thrilled.

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      i thought tom would be totally weirded out by it, but he doesn’t mind at all 🙂

  28. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on September 22, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Very very interesting. I’ve definitely never made it at home, in fact, I’ve only tried it one time, which was at the airport. You’re pretty crafty, nice work!

  29. Sagan on September 22, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    So glad you posted about this! I’ve always been intrigued about making kombucha but haven’t done it yet… nice to have the info right here at my fingertips!

  30. Maureen on September 22, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    omg Gina!!! i am so happy you’ve posted this, I’ve been patiently waiting for the fitnessista kombucha tutorial/recipe, since there have been many kombucha mentionings over the last few months! We have a kombucha addiction at our house and I would love to try to make this at home and you’ve broken it down in a way that makes it feel like I can do it 🙂 I do have one (semi weird) question, (we live in a small high rise condo, so not alot of extra space up in this joint!) does the fermentation smell? Thanks 🙂

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 8:04 pm

      it smells a little vinegary, but if you keep it in the pantry, it shouldn’t be a bother!

  31. Carrie (This Fit Chick) on September 22, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    so happy you did this! I have tried kombucha a few times and while I didn’t like it at first, I am a bigger fan now!

  32. Alex @ True Femme on September 22, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    This is SO COOL!! I really love kombucha but I don’t know if I’ll be making my own anytime soon. Not that it looks extraordinarily complicated but I’m a bit on the paranoid side and don’t trust my bucha skills (I guess you have to practice to get skills!) Still this is a great tutorial and I love that I could do this at home if I wanted to!

  33. Tammy on September 22, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you!!! I started a batch last year (my first), using a scoby purchased from Amazon. It started to mold within a week, and I haven’t tried again, thinking it was something I did (or didn’t do). You directions are so clear, I’m ready to try again!

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      hope the next batch turns out for you!

  34. Jamie on September 22, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Dumb question, but why do you drink kombucha? For the taste, or are there other benefits? (I know I can google it, but I’m curious about your personal experience/preference). I appreciate this trial and error tutorial and hope you will continue to update it should I decide to get in the kombucha game 🙂

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      not a dumb question at all! i drink it for the health benefits (mostly the probiotics since i don’t do a ton of dairy), but also love the taste. it kind of reminds me of soda, but with a bit of tang and it’s very refreshing 🙂

  35. Sharon T on October 21, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    These instructions led to my first batch of ‘real’ tasting kombucha – flavored with orangejuice, cranberries, and crystalized ginger. Thank you!!!

    • Fitnessista on October 21, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      that is great news! sounds amazing 🙂 cheers! xo

  36. Kelsey on December 31, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Question for you! I’m interested in trying to match a batch of kombucha, and have one question – how do you store the baby scoby? Do you keep it in some kombucha, or just seal it in a container until you’re ready to use it? Refrigerate it? Thanks!

    • Fitnessista on December 31, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      usually, i make it right away. i make the tea the day i receive it and add the starter tea and scoby that night, after the tea reaches room temp

  37. Dianne on May 6, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    is the dried ginger sugared? That’s the only kind I know of. Thanks

  38. Dianne on May 6, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Is the dried ginger you used sugared/candied? That’s the only kind I know of. Thanks

    • Fitnessista on May 6, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      no, it’s dried like herbs (similar to the oregano and basil shakers you buy at the store). i haven’t seen it in stores, but it’s inexpensive from amazon!

      • Dianne on May 6, 2015 at 6:42 pm

        Oh ok. I will look! Thanks. I loooove ginger

  39. Stacey M. on June 28, 2022 at 12:30 pm

    I love this post! While I’m not sure I’m quite ready to make my own kombucha, I do love it and have been drinking it regularly for the past year or so. I was diagnosed with C Diff after coming home from the hospital when my daughter was born in Dec 2020, and after one round of antibiotics it returned again with a vengeance. I knew I needed to do something to help my body recover from both the C Diff and the additional antibiotics I was put on so I did my research and started drinking kombucha and eating sauerkraut everyday. I was a bit weirded out by kombucha at first, but I found a few flavors I liked and now I look forward to drinking it. Given my need for probiotics, my husband and I even ventured to make and can our own sauerkraut last year. We purchased 6 heads of cabbage from a local farm stand, shredded them up in a food processor, and let the whole pail full of shredded cabbage ferment for a couple weeks. We canned it once it was ready, and I enjoyed it all winter long. This year, we’re growing our own cabbage in our garden to do the same thing. It’s so nice to be able to make some things at home, on your own, where you can control the ingredients and their quality.

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