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Homemade Kombucha - Full of Days

HOMEMADE KOMBUCHA - Season 1, Episode 3 from Full Of Days we're sharing how to make homemade kombucha. This healthy, fermented, probiotic drink is so good for our bodies, and by making it at home, it's easier to consume on a daily basis. Naturally fermented, kombucha is filled with B vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acid (acetic, gluconic and lactic). All key components for good health and a strong immune system. Get the full RECIPE here >> https://everydayfull.com/make-kombucha/

Posted by Full Of Days on Monday, January 15, 2018

Homemade Kombucha

Making Kombucha at Home is Both Simple and Affordable

Imagine I’m giving you a big high-five right now! I’m so excited for you! You’re ready to brew your own kombucha.

THIS IS A BIG STEP! Be proud of yourself! You’re now a proud parent of your very first Kitchen Pet! You did know that a SCOBY is alive, right? It needs proper care like feeding, cleaning, changing…and they really like when you sing to them!

I tease, but it really is alive. I’ll introduce you to all my kitchen pets throughout the next few months (I rotate between 6-7 pets, but usually only 3-4 at a time).

Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself…first things first, your pet needs a name!

Meet my first kitchen pet; pictured above is Kombucha-Kevin! 

Kevin has been with me ever since I fell in love with kombucha  (going on 4 years now!).  We’ve been the best of friends (although, I did have to put him into hibernation during my post pregnancy months as he was getting a little neglected…which basically means I threw him in a jar filled with kombucha and forgot about him…we’ve since made up!).

But enough about Kevin, you’re here to make your own kombucha.

Gather Your Supplies

  • Glass jar (the size is completely up to you, we have a 2 gallon dispenser jar)
  • Organic Black Oolong Tea 
  • Organic Sugar*
  • SCOBY (it’s best if you get a SCOBY from a friend, but I had success using this starter culture if it’s your only option)
  • Kombucha starter tea (basically, plain kombucha**)
  • Coffee filter and rubber band
  • Non-metallic spoon or spatula (wooden spoon works great)
Print
Kombucha in a grolsch bottle sitting on a deck rail with mountain view in the background.

Homemade Kombucha


  • Author: Full of Days
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1-4 weeks
  • Yield: 2 gallons kombucha 1x
  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Fermentation

Description

Homemade kombucha is as simple as brewing some tea and adding a bit of sugar. Follow this recipe and you’ll be enjoying this delicious drink for just pennies a serving.


Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Boil 1 ¾ gallon water (28 cups). Once water is boiling, turn off heat.
  2. Add 2 cups of sugar. Stir to dissolve.
  3. Add 12-16 tea bags and let steep for ten minutes, remove bags and let cool until room temperature (I use 12 tea bags as I prefer a mild kombucha).
  4. Once your tea is room temperature, pour into your glass vessel (we love this 2-gallon dispenser to have kombucha “on tap” at all times). It’s important to note that your vessel have no metal parts as this can be damaging to your SCOBY.
  5. Add 4 cups of starter tea to your glass vessel.
  6. Carefully place your SCOBY on top of your tea. (It should want to float, although sometimes my SCOBY is lazy and floats sideways in my jar. Whatever your SCOBY wants to do is fine, be accommodating and gracious, he’s going to provide you with delicious nectar in about a week or two!)
  7. Cover your vessel with a coffee filter, paper towel or tea towel and a rubber band.
  8. This is perhaps the most difficult step…WAIT! How long? I’m not sure!
  9. SCOBY’s love temperatures between 68-85℉, but can survive above or below that. The colder it is, the slower the SCOBY will ferment your tea (they just aren’t as hungry when they’re cold). The warmer it is, the quicker the ferment.
  10. The best part is getting to taste-test your kombucha. Once your baby SCOBY has formed, you can start tasting your brew. If you’re not using a dispenser jar, then carefully dip a non-metallic spoon into your jar, and give it a taste (the goal is to taste your kombucha while keeping the SCOBY floating on top). If it’s still pretty sweet, then let it keep going. This is completely preferential though! Your taste buds will tell you when it’s ready!
  11. When your kombucha is to your liking, drink away! If you leave it at room temperature it will continue to ferment and get a stronger flavor. Or, you can remove the SCOBY and a bit of starter tea (and start your next batch of kombucha) and place it in the refrigerator to enjoy!
  12. The longer you allow your kombucha to ferment, the less sugar content and caffeine it will have, so this is a good reminder if you’re letting your kids drink it (or wanting to drink it in the evening).

Notes

  • It’s best if you can get a SCOBY from a friend, however, I had success using this starter culture.
  • I successfully started my very first batch of kombucha from a bottle of store-bought plain kombucha (GT brand). However, if you read reviews about using store bought kombucha, you’ll find varying opinions/results following this method. So I leave you to use your own discretion.
  • When choosing your kombucha vessel, be sure there are no metal parts as this can damage the SCOBY.
  • Natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup are not favorable for making kombucha as the SCOBY tends not to thrive on these sweeteners (and raw honey contains natural microbes that can interfere with the SCOBY).
  • Don’t worry about the large amounts of sugar added, most is consumed by the SCOBY during the fermentation process.
  • When covering your kombucha, be sure it’s fine enough to keep all bugs out. Fruit flies love kombucha and finding tiny fly larvae on your SCOBY is not a pleasant experience (true story!).

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 8 oz
  • Calories: 240
  • Sugar: 16.3g
  • Sodium: 80mg
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 56.3g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
Supplies for making homemade kombucha, starter tea, a SCOBY, 2 gallon Nantucket dispenser container.
Homemade Kombucha in a large jar with coffee filter secured over opening by a rubber band.
Adding starter tea to the brewed tea in a large 2 gallon container for homemade kombucha.
Oolong tea and organic sugar ready to be used for homemade kombucha.
Fishing out tea bags from a large pot of brewed tea for homemade kombucha.
Adding a SCOBY to the homemade kombucha.

I thought it might be helpful to mention this kombucha starter kit from Amazon. It has all your necessary supplies (except the jar, but you can throw one of those in your cart at the same time) and you’ll be well on your way to brewing kombucha in no time.

When I started brewing kombucha, I invested in these fun grolsh bottles for doing a second ferment and they, along with the culture and starter tea, paid for themselves within two months! Read this post for tips and recipes on second fermenting kombucha and water kefir.

A few helpful tips

  • Remove strings and tags before adding tea bags to your water, this eliminates having to fish out soggy paper floating around in your tea (live and learn!).
  • Prepare your tea in the evening and let it steep 10 minutes, then cool overnight. The next morning it will be ready to proceed with step 4.
  • If you’re really in a hurry, you can steep your tea for 10 minutes and then plunge your pot into a sink full of icy water to speed up the cooling time. (Your tea MUST be room temperature before proceeding to step 4, or you risk killing your SCOBY…and that would be sad.)
  • Once you have a new “baby” SCOBY you can now gift it to a friend, or add both SCOBYs to your next batch of kombucha. The larger your SCOBY the quicker the ferment!
  • Be sure to save some of your kombucha tea to use as your “starter tea” for your next batch.
  • If you can’t keep up with your kombucha and need to take a break. You can let your SCOBY “hibernate” in an airtight jar (remember, no metal), covered with kombucha. You’ll find varying recommendations for how long a SCOBY can be left unattended in the refrigerator, but mine was dormant for the better part of a year and still came back strong.

Things that are NORMAL

  • After 3-7 days you should start to notice a slight “film” on the top of your tea. It will look white and cloudy, this is perfectly normal! Meet your new, “baby” SCOBY!
  • If you have procured a mature SCOBY from a friend there may be brown stringy pieces that float down into your tea (mature SCOBYs tend to have these strings more often than new “baby” ones). As long as the strings are light to dark brown (see “SCOBY” pictured above) and not black this is perfectly normal.
  • Baby SCOBYs tend to be a milky white color while older SCOBYs become darker with age. This is simply due to staining from the tea and perfectly normal.

Things you do NOT want to see

  • Any black mold is not OK and you will need to discard everything and sadly, start over.
  • If, after 30 days, you do not see a new “baby” SCOBY appear on the top of your tea, then your ferment was not successful and you’ll need to discard everything and sadly, start over (although it should be possible to reuse the same SCOBY in a new batch, but you’ll need to get new starter tea before trying again).
  • It also needs to be mentioned that cheese-cloth is not a suitable covering for your kombucha as fruit flies have been known to sneak in and lay their larva atop your SCOBY. If this happens, to your dismay, within a few days you will see tiny worms crawling all over your SCOBY…again, discard everything and sadly, start over (this is, unfortunately, a true story, thankfully not my own! But the phone call, although disappointing, was quite hilarious once we figured out what had happened!)  

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Showing 25 comments
  • Avatar
    Amy-Beth Dawson
    Reply

    Hi there Would like to start making the Scoby but What is a starter Kombucha??? And when do you add the flavours????

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Hello Amy-Beth! Starter kombucha is just kombucha that’s already been fermented and is ready to drink. You can buy a kit that will come with some, or get some from a friend. Some people have had success starting off with a bottle of plain, store-bought kombucha, too, but that’s not my recommended method. You can add your flavors after your kombucha has fermented and is ready to drink. Then, enjoy right away, or allow to double-ferment in an airtight container like a grolsch bottle. Happy fermenting!

  • Avatar
    Paola Maitret
    Reply

    Hi! I’m from Mexico and I have my first Scoby… It’s a little one than 10 cms. My question is: can I get a gallon of Kombucha with this little? Now I’m preparing a jar for 1/4 gallon …

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Exciting Paola! I’d recommend starting with 1/4 gallon and letting your SCOBY get bigger and stronger for a couple batches first. Then increase the amount. It’s not that it can’t ferment a gallon of kombucha, it’s just that it would take a lot longer!

      • Avatar
        Paola
        Reply

        Yess Hahaha! Castor because when he gives me a twin … Their name will be Polux… I’m a Gemini woman 😉 hahaha! Thank you so much for your help and your complete post!

  • Avatar
    Lisa Dirks
    Reply

    What do I do with the “baby”? Should I start my new batches always with the “mama”or the “baby”?

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Great question Lisa! There are a few options for your “babies”…you can gift them to a fermenty friend; you can leave them in the jar for your next batch of kombucha (if you use the same container, your SCOBY will just get thicker and thicker and ferment each batch a little quicker); or you can start a SCOBY hotel by putting your babies in a jar with some kombucha and storing them in the refrigerator. This way, if something ever happens to your SCOBY you have a backup, or you have plenty to share! There’s also the option of making SCOBY jerky…if you’re game! Cut your SCOBY into thin strips, marinate them in teriyaki sauce, and dehydrate at 115 F until crispy! It’s not for everyone, but it’s an option! 😉

    • Avatar
      Paola
      Reply

      OMG! Thanks for your answer! I’m in love with this new member of the family

      • Kelsey Steffen
        Kelsey Steffen
        Reply

        LOL! It’s our pleasure…does the new member have a name yet? 😉

  • Avatar
    Nadia | Body Unburdened
    Reply

    YES making at home is so super affordable compared to the crazy prices they charge in-store!

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Right? If you love kombucha, it can easily get SUPER costly!

    • Avatar
      Lisa
      Reply

      Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Raia Todd
    Reply

    Your scoby looks so clean! Mine is a mess. haha.

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Awe. thanks Raia! This is actually the SCOBY that succumbed to fruit flies last summer. 🙁 My current SCOBY isn’t quite as awesome…but it’s getting there! The big jar helps!

  • Avatar
    Jennifer Price
    Reply

    My 1st batch of kombucha turned out great! I’m ready for my second ferment! I want to add ginger and turmeric and make it a little bit fizzy, which I guess comes from the second ferment. I wanted to use a half gallon mason jar would that work with a plastic lid? What kind of jars and lids would work for the second ferment process?

    Thanks!

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Awesome Jennifer! In order to second ferment and get the fizzy, soda-like consistency you’re going to need an airtight seal. Unfortunately the plastic mason jar lids don’t give you that airtight seal. Look at the bottom of this post, I linked to the grolsh-style bottles that we use for second fermenting. You can certainly double ferment your kombucha in a mason jar just to get the ginger and turmeric flavor, but you may not achieve the carbonation. Hope this helps!

  • Avatar
    Tammy
    Reply

    Thank you… I will grab a Kombucha from the store. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Jennifer Price
      Reply

      Thank you!! I haven’t received my bottles yet so I’ll use those next time!!

  • Avatar
    Cassie
    Reply

    Okay. My husband bought our daughter the kit for a special occasion almost 5 years ago. When we visited in Seattle she showed us her big jar of Kombucha. I must say, it sure looks weird to me. I didn’t want to taste it, because of the SCOBY! I have bought kombucha at the grocery store and didn’t like the taste of it. What exactly is the attraction to this strange looking and tasting stuff? Is it good for us?? Do tell please!

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Cassie, yes, the SCOBY can be very off putting. Some people refer to it as a SCOBY mushroom, as it has a similar look and feel. The taste can vary greatly depending on the tea you use and how long you let it ferment. Check out this post For the health benefits of kombucha. It really is worth giving a second try! We often times add a splash of organic lemonade to ours, the kids like it better that way.

      • Avatar
        Cassie
        Reply

        Sure glad I’ve never been a fan of soda pop! I think I might give kombucha another shot, though on a smaller scale than you. Currently I still have very little sense of taste/smell so this might be the best time to try it!

    • Jason Steffen
      Jason Steffen
      Reply

      Cassie, You mean the big “booger”! I still walk past the 2 gallon jar that looks like something from a science closet…I mean 2 gallon Nantucket drink dispenser…and occasionally wonder what I am really drinking. Took me awhile but I got over it and now crave kombucha and water kefir.

      • Avatar
        Cassie
        Reply

        Yep! That’s what it looked like. Or a sea slug. I’ll try to get over it. I think I will see what my doc thinks of it on my next visit.

  • Avatar
    Tammy
    Reply

    I just “re-did” my Kombucha. I had neglected it on the counter for way to long! I forgot to retain a starter tea, will my scoby die? or will it just take longer to brew? My scoby is very thick and healthy. I never thought of naming my scoby… mmmm I think I will name him Bob….

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Your SCOBY shouldn’t die, but you will need to add starter tea or it won’t ferment. It needs the acidity. But you can either grab some store bought plain kombucha, or substitute distilled white vinegar, you just may not want to drink this batch if you use vinegar, it will have a very strong flavor, but you could just use it to make starter tea for a next batch. Sorry Bob! 😉

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