by Olena

How to Make Kombucha Tea

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
5 from 27 votes

This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy.

How to Make Kombucha with simple ingredients from scratch. This kombucha recipe is easy if you follow our quick video instructions. And costs 30 times less than store bought!

We will show you how to grow a SCOBY (you can also buy one or get from a friend), brew kombucha and then even make it fizzy. This is a full guide to homemade kombucha tea that costs 30 times less than store-bought. Aha, that’s right!

homemade kombucha in a glass jug

Why Make Homemade Kombucha?

Wondering why and how to make kombucha at home? Got “a kombucha problem” and don’t like how much it costs? I don’t blame you. Store bought kombucha costs as much as wine.

1 gallon kombucha = $28 Store bought vs. $0.80 Homemade = 30 times cheaper

Shocked? I was too. This reason alone should be enough to get over any aversion towards kombucha SCOBY, the jellyfish like slimy kombucha “mushroom”, and learn how to make your own kombucha.

I have been making my own kombucha for 5 years now. Making kombucha at home is super-super simple once you understand how kombucha tea brewing process works. This post goes into detailed instructions including a video, supplies needed (with affiliate Amazon links I use and trust myself) and a huge section of FAQs. Keep scrolling below or click on any link in the Table of Contents above for a quick jump to your section of interest.

flavored kombucha in glasses and bottle

What Is a Kombucha Tea?

Kombucha tea is a fermented tea made with water, tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. After kombucha SCOBY (mushroom) sits in a sweetened tea for 7-10 days, the result is barely sweet fermented fizzy drink. Most sugar in store bought kombucha comes from added sugar.Kombucha definitely tastes and smells like a fermented product. Something in between apple cider and tea. It tastes depends on type of tea leaves used and flavorings added. There is a big difference in taste between green tea and black tea fermented tea.

Ingredients and Supplies You Will Need

Ingredients

  • Kombucha SCOBY: You will need to grow your own SCOBY first from a mix of a bottle of store-bought kombucha, tea, sugar and water. However, you can buy fresh SCOBY with starter tea to speed up the process by 2-3 weeks or get one form a friend.
  • Tea: Any caffeinated, flavoured (love Earl Grey tea here) or plain tea like white tea, black tea or green tea works. No decaf tea. You can also use tea bags (I list the amount in the recipe card below).
  • Sugar: White or cane sugar, preferably organic. No brown, coconut or raw sugar. Also no honey, maple syrup, stevia, splenda etc.
  • Water: Can be just tap cold water, doesn’t have to be filtered.
tea, sugar and scoby

Supplies

Bottles cleaning tip: With time inside of the bottles accumulate a tea build up. Add 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tbsp uncooked rice, then fill up with hot water half way. Shake, let stand fo 10 minutes, shake well again and rinse. Bottles should be much cleaner now.

glass jar, glass bottles, mesh sieve, towel and rubber band

How to Make Kombucha from Scratch

Here is a quick recap of the whole process:

  • Grow or buy a SCOBY
  • First fermentation – brewing kombucha.
  • Second fermentation (optional) – flavoring and making kombucha more fizzy.

1. Grow or Buy Fresh SCOBY with Starter Tea

Here is a super easy video recipe how to grow kombucha SCOBYQuick recap: All you will need is a bottle of store-bought kombucha, combined with a few cups of homemade sweet tea and left to ferment for about 2 weeks or until a SCOBY forms on top. Or you can buy fresh SCOBY with starter tea these days. Amazing!

You might be able to grow a SCOBY with store-bought flavoured kombucha. Just make sure it contains black tea. For example, I think ginger kombucha will have more chances than mango one.

GT's kombucha in a bottle

2. Brew Sweet Tea

Now that we have kombucha mushroom, we are ready to brew kombucha also called “first fermentation”. In a large pot, bring water to boil and turn off heat. Add tea leaves and sugar, stir and let cool completely.

To speed up the cooling process, place pot in a sink filled with cold water for 30 minutes, or let cool outside (if it’s cold). I use the same pot each time when making kombucha, so now I do not have to measure 14 cups of water every time.

brewed tea in a pot on the stove

3. Combine Tea and SCOBY

In at least one gallon size glass beverage dispenser, add SCOBY and 2 cups of starter tea (the one from growing a mushroom in or store-bought kombucha). Pour cooled tea on top using a fine mesh strainer.

Once you pour freshly brewed tea, it is normal to see the SCOBY sink to the bottom or hang sideways. It will float to the top after a few days of fermentation.

4. Ferment

Cover with paper or linen towel secured with a rubber band and put in a place with temperatures around or above 21C or 70F degrees (I leave mine on a kitchen counter away from direct sunlight) to ferment for 7-14 days.

How do I know my kombucha is brewing? Kombucha will lighten in colour and develop fermented smell. You will also see small bubbles forming and new SCOBY forming on top of the first one.

In summer, warmer temperatures speed up the fermentation. And in winter, they slow it down. Keep an eye on the kombucha based on the season and your house temperatures.

brewed kombucha in a glass container

5. Taste and Bottle

After 7-10 days (less in summer) start tasting kombucha. If it isn’t sweet, has a tangy taste, fizzes as you pour and booch mushroom is floating at the top, then your fermented tea is ready. Pour all of it, minus the 2 cups and SCOBY, using a funnel into an airtight cap bottles and enjoy!

6. Storing Kombucha Tea

Does kombucha go bad? Kombucha tea doesn’t go bad but rather keeps fermenting which makes it taste more vinegar-y. Choice of storage depends on your personal taste buds. Keep at room temperature for up to one week, “burping” bottles every few days to avoid gases build up. After that (or from the start) refrigerate for up to 2-3 weeks. Fermented tea loses its carbonation when refrigerated and doesn’t need “burping”.

There is nothing like freshly brewed kombucha. When it’s ready for bottling, I like to pour myself a big glass directly from the dispenser with a spout before bottling the rest up.

7. Repeat

Always leave about 2 cups of fermented tea covering the SCOBY in a jug, to keep it hydrated and to be able to start a new batch. To brew next batch, start with step 2 by brewing and cooling the sweet tea.

glass jug with scoby

Health Benefits of Fermented Tea

One word – PROBIOTICS. Kombucha is a fermented product containing the “good” bacteria.

  1. Stronger immune system.
  2. Improved digestion.
  3. Healthy gut.
  4. Detoxification.

If you are looking for another way to boost your immune system, detoxify and improve gut health, check out how to make lemon water.

How to Flavor and Make Kombucha More Fizzy

Freshly poured kombucha tea from the dispenser with a SCOBY is very fizzy. It loses its carbonation once bottled, especially in a fridge. Would you like it to be more fizzy? Then you need to do a second fermentation aka how to make kombucha fizzy.

Would you like your kids to drink and love the booch? Would you like to make your own “healthy pop”? Then click and learn everything about flavoring kombucha.

second fermentation kombucha in the bottle

Homemade Kombucha FAQs

Can I make kombucha without sugar?

Unfortunately not. Kombucha is one of few recipes where you have to use white or cane sugar. Raw sugar, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, stevia or any other sweetener will not work. However, you will not be eating 1 cup sugar once tea has fermented. The sugar acts like the food for the bacteria and yeast. They will eat it all up turning into acidity and carbonation. Final kombucha is very low in sugar.

Can I use decaf tea for brewing kombucha?

No, caffeine is a must for the fermentation process to occur. You can combine a bit of flavored tea with black or green or white tea to add flavor.

Should I wash the SCOBY and the jug?

No and yes. I don’t rinse the mushroom but if you want to – go for it. Every few batches I wash the jug with biodegradable dish soap (check out the non-toxic cleaners I use). I have read that you should wash jar with vinegar but because I don’t use conventional harsh dish soap, I am not too scared of the chemicals making my SCOBY “sick”.

What to do if I see mold?

I honestly never had this issue. Neither any reader has reported it. So it is very rare and what you might think is a mold, is actually new SCOBY growing on top. But if it happens, you have to discard the entire batch and start over again.

What is that thin white film on top of my SCOBY?

That is a new SCOBY growing – “a baby”.

What do I do with SCOBY babies? They keep reproducing.

Always leave the top (newer) kombucha mushroom to keep brewing kombucha. Peel off the older one and you have 2 options:
Option #1: Give it to friends or start another batch.
Option #2: Compost it. It sucks, it’s a waste but at least it gets composted.

Can I cut the SCOBY?

Yes, SCOBY is easy to cut with a pair of clean kitchen scissors. In fact, you always should keep only a few SCOBies in your kombucha brewing batch because too many and your fermented tea will be sour. Think of it as a bigger hungry “baby” that will eat sugar faster. However, you should also keep in mind that for best carbonation results the shape of a SCOBY should be the shape of the jar creating a tight seal.

Can I eat the SCOBY?

Yes, technically. I have seen scoby candy recipes and have heard some folks feeding the mushroom to their dog.

How can I increase carbonation without second fermentation?

To maintain a bit of a fizz, store kombucha at room temperature (not refrigerated) in an airtight bottle. Carbonation won’t be as strong but still some is better than none.

How to store SCOBY?

When we went on vacation to Mexico for a month, I placed the jug with SCOBY and about few cups of kombucha in the fridge for 4 weeks. This way the fermentation process slows down. If I want to take a break for a shorter period of time while at home, let’s say 7-10 days, I just let the jar sit on a counter in the same way.

Does kombucha have caffeine in it?

Yes, a bit. It contains approximately 1/3 the amount of caffeine as the tea it is made with.

Can you get drunk from it?

Alcohol level in kombucha is 0.5% ABV compared to 5% ABV in beer. Definitely won’t make you drunk.

How much of kombucha to drink?

Drink as much as desired. There is no right or wrong formula for health benefits. Make sure to drink plenty of water as kombucha is natural detoxifier. And you want to flush the newly released toxins out.

Can kids drink kombucha?

Yes for sure. My kids love the booch, especially the flavored one. They treat it as pop or juice.

Why does it taste like vinegar?

You let it ferment too long. Happens to the best of us. I usually make a few cups of strong sweet tea, let cool and add to the jug with the booch. Let sit for another 1-2 days, taste and bottle. Do not add sugar directly to the jug with kombucha as it will not dissolve or help with the acidity.

What is the best tea for kombucha?

Black tea. Its leaves that have been oxidized for a long time creating a bold flavor.

Does kombucha need to be refrigerated?

Choice of storage depends on your personal taste buds. Keep at room temperature for up to one week, “burping” bottles every few days to avoid gases build up. After that (or from the start) refrigerate for up to 2-3 weeks. Fermented tea loses its carbonation when refrigerated and doesn’t need “burping”.

More Healthy Drinks Recipes

How to Make Kombucha Tea

How to Make Kombucha {Easy Recipe for Beginners}

How to Make Kombucha at home, a fizzy fermented tea, that is 30 times cheaper than store-bought. You just need water, tea, sugar, starter tea and just follow our easy kombucha recipe!
5 from 27 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Drink
Cuisine: Asian
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Cooling Tea and Fermentation Time: 10 days 3 hours
Total Time: 10 days 3 hours 17 minutes
Servings: 14 servings
Calories: 30kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Make kombucha SCOBY. All you will need is a bottle of store-bought kombucha, combined with a few cups of homemade sweet tea and left to ferment for about 2 weeks or until a SCOBY forms on top. Or you can buy fresh SCOBY with starter tea these days.
    How to Make Kombucha Tea
  • In a large pot, bring water to boil and turn off heat. Add tea and sugar, stir and let cool completely: place in a sink filled with cold water to speed things up, or let sit overnight.
    How to Make Kombucha Tea
  • In a glass container, add SCOBY and 2 cups of starter tea (the one from growing a SCOBY in or store-bought kombucha). Pour cooled tea on top using a fine mesh strainer.
    How to Make Kombucha Tea
  • Cover with paper or linen towel secured with a rubber band and put in a place with temperatures around or above 21C or 70F degrees (I leave mine on a kitchen counter away from direct sunlight) to ferment for 7-14 days. It is OK if SCOBY isn’t floating at the top (it will later).
    How to Make Kombucha Tea
  • After 7-10 days (less in summer) start tasting kombucha. If it isn’t sweet, has a tangy taste, fizzes as you pour and SCOBY is floating at the top, then your kombucha is ready.
    How to Make Kombucha Tea
  • Pour all of the kombucha, minus the 2 cups and SCOBY, using a funnel into an airtight cap bottles and enjoy!
    How to Make Kombucha Tea
  • Always leave about 2 cups of fermented tea covering the SCOBY in a jug, to keep it hydrated and to be able to start a new batch. To brew next batch, start with step 2 by brewing and cooling the sweet tea.
    How to Make Kombucha Tea

Store: Kombucha tea doesn't go bad but rather keeps fermenting which makes it taste more vinegar-y. Choice of storage depends on your personal taste buds. Keep at room temperature for up to one week, "burping" bottles every few days to avoid gases build up. After that (or from the start) refrigerate for up to 2-3 weeks. Kombucha loses its carbonation when refrigerated and doesn't need "burping".

    Video

    Notes

    • Plastic spout: If you have glass dispenser with a tap and it is plastic, know it is fine and normal. That is what I have.
    • Can I use plastic or metal container for making kombucha? No, it has to be glass.
    • What is best tea for making kombucha? Any caffeinated, flavoured or plain tea like white tea, black tea or green tea works.
    • Can I use decaf tea for brewing kombucha? No, caffeine is a must for fermentation process to occur.
    • What is ideal room temperature for brewing kombucha? About 68 – 70 F or 20-21 C for bacteria to grow and kombucha ferment. Warmer temperature means faster fermentation.
    • How do I know my kombucha is brewing? Kombucha will lighten in colour and develop fermented smell. You will also see small bubbles forming.
    • My kombucha tastes like vinegar. You let it ferment too long. Happens to the best of us. I usually make a few cups of strong sweet tea, let cool and add to the jug with kombucha. Let sit for another 1-2 days, taste and bottle. Do not add sugar directly to the jug with kombucha as it will not dissolve or help with the acidity.
    • What to do if I see mold in my batch of kombucha? I honestly never had this issue. Neither any reader reported it. So it is very rare. But if it happens, you have to discard entire batch of kombucha and start over again.
    • What is that thin white film on top of my SCOBY? That is a new SCOBY growing – “a baby”.
    • What do I do with SCOBY babies? They keep reproducing. Always leave the top (newer) SCOBY to keep brewing kombucha. Peel off the older one and you have 2 options. Option #1: Give it to friends or start another kombucha batch. Option #2: Compost it. It sucks, it’s a waste but at least it gets composted.
    • Should I wash SCOBY and the jug? No and yes. I don’t rinse SCOBY but if you want to – go for it. Every few batches I wash the jug with biodegradable dish soap.
    • Should I brew kombucha in a dark place? I keep mine on a counter, away from direct sunlight.
    • How can I increase carbonation without second fermentation? To maintain a bit of a fizz, store kombucha at room temperature (not refrigerated) in an airtight bottle. Carbonation won’t be as strong but still some is better than none.
    • Can I take a break from brewing kombucha? Yes. When we went on vacation to Mexico for a month, I placed the jug with SCOBY and about few cups of kombucha in the fridge for 4 weeks. This way the fermentation process slows down. If I want to take a break for a shorter period of time while at home, let’s say 7-10 days, I just let the jar sit on a counter in the same way.
    See Recipe Post for more FAQs.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1cup | Calories: 30kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Sodium: 10mg | Sugar: 2g | Calcium: 7mg
    Join today and start saving your favorite recipes

    Recipes and images are a copyright of ifoodreal.com. It is against the law to republish recipes anywhere including social media, print and all world wide web. Nutritional info is provided for informational purposes only and to the best knowledge.

    The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. You assume full responsibility and liability for your own actions.

    This page may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy. ifoodreal.com is a participant of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep iFOODreal recipes free. Thanks for your support!