I’d like you to meet my SCOBYs. They are like pets. You have to feed them, cover them, and provide a comfortable environment for them to thrive. If you treat your SCOBYs with love, they will give you kombucha. Endless, unconditional amounts of kombucha to help keep your gut microbes happy.
I first bought kombucha at the grocery store out of pure curiosity. Kombucha is a fermented tea. I didn’t know very much about it but had read a few articles that promoted it’s beneficial probiotics, so I thought, ehhh, why not, it’s only a few dollars. I think it might be an acquired taste for some, I loved it instantly and find it very refreshing. But it’s pricey if you buy it on a regular basis. And to get the health benefits, you need to drink it almost daily. So I jumped at the chance to start making my own kombucha at home.
I’ve been making homemade kombucha for about a year and a half. I’m definitely not an expert and still consider myself a newbie. We got our very first SCOBY from a neighbor but our house was too cold, and it grew mold. If your SCOBY is moldy, you’ve got to toss it. We got our second SCOBY from a lady on Craigslist. I know you might be thinking that it’s totally sketchy to get a SCOBY on Craigslist, but the lady was legit and the SCOBYs were perfect.
I now have too many SCOBYs to count. So many SCOBY hotels hidden away in my cupboards. Every time you make a new batch of kombucha, a new SCOBY will grow. The SCOBY will grow to fit it’s container. I recently switched over to continuous brew and that SCOBY is giant, at least a ten-inch diameter!!!
SCOBY stands for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”. You feed SCOBYs sweet tea made from black or green tea, no herbal teas. The yeast eats the sugar in the sweet tea and the bacteria feed off of the byproduct of the yeast. Sounds a little weird, I know. But kombucha has been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. I did a lot of reading right after we got our first SCOBY and am still learning. Below are some great resources on making your own homemade kombucha:
- Phickle – Kombucha Starter Guide
- Cultures for Health – Kombucha
- Kombucha Camp
- Food Renegade – Kombucha Health Benefits
- The Kitchn – How to Make Kombucha Tea at Home
Making kombucha is easy to do at home. You can drink it right after the first ferment or you can do a second ferment to flavor and carbonate the tea. I usually do a second ferment because I like it better with some bubbles.
To make homemade kombucha, you’ll need: a SCOBY (obviously), one large 4-quart jar, two 2-quart jars or even four 1-quart jars (you’ll need more SCOBYs if you’re brewing in smaller jars or just scale back the recipe to make one small batch), black or green tea, sugar, coffee filters, rubber bands, starter tea (from previous batch or from plain store-bought), Grolsch Bottles if you want to do a second ferment, and flavoring for the second ferment. I tried using pieces of fruit for the second ferment and was never very successful at getting the kombucha to self-carbonate. I’ve had the best luck using 100% fruit juice concentrate. The fruit juice will carbonate the kombucha so much that I’ve had almost all of it fizz out of the bottle like a shaken can of soda when I opened it. Sometimes I add flavoring after the kombucha has been through the second ferment. Also, just an FYI, SCOBYs don’t like metal, so use plastic, wood, or glass containers and utensils.
If anyone in the Boise, ID area wants a SCOBY, I have plenty. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know how you like your kombucha!
** Full disclosure, some of the links on this page are amazon affiliate links, where we receive a small kick back. We only ever link to products that we use and know are legitimate products. **
- 2 quarts of water
- 8 tea bags - black or green
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1.5 - 2 cups of starter kombucha
- To Flavor: 100% Frozen juice concentrate, flavor of choice or fresh fruit, ginger, cinnamon, herbs, etc. You can add any flavors you want.
- Equipment: glass jar(s) (one 4-quart jar or three to four 1-quart mason jars), 3-4 grolsch bottles, funnel, wooden or plastic spoon, coffee filters, rubber bands
- Bring water to a boil.
- Once water is boiling, remove from heat and pour into your jar(s). Add 1 cup of sugar and stir to dissolve. (I like to make my sweet tea in a big pitcher and then add it to my brewing jars after it has cooled)
- Add in tea bags and let brew until tea has cooled (may take several hours). Remove tea bags.
- If you're using more than one jar, divided the cooled sweet tea evenly between your jars and then evenly distribute the starter liquid.
- Place one SCOBY in each jar.
- Cover jars with coffee filter and secure with a rubber band.
- Store jars at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.
- Ferment for 5-10 days. The warmer your house, the faster the tea will ferment. Taste the tea after five days to see if you like the flavor. If you let your tea go too long, it will start to taste like vinegar.
- Once tea has fermented, it is now kombucha. Remove about ⅔ of the kombucha from the jar. (I always try to leave about a third in the jar with the SCOBY to use as starter liquid for my next batch). Add more sweet tea to the starter fluid and SCOBY for your next batch.
- You can now immediately drink the kombucha or flavor and do a second ferment.
- For a second fermentation, add approximately one tablespoon of 100% juice frozen concentrate per 2-3 cups of kombucha. You don't have to be exact here, experiment and see how strong of a flavor you like.
- After you add the juice concentrate, bottle the kombucha in the grolsch bottles (helps to use a funnel) and let it ferment for another 2-5 days. It may take longer to carbonate, depending on what you used as flavor. You can just add plain sugar if you like the original flavor and just want it carbonated.