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October 21, 2015

How to Make Kombucha Tea

I shared a kombucha scoby with a friend last week - I feel as though I've "arrived".

There are directions online for making kombucha, and many of them differ. Here is how I make it, but remember,  I'm not a master, just a novice with a little experience.

To make the tea for the first ferment, I brew a gallon of tea using one cup of sugar and eight tea bags and filtered water only, not tap water. I let it steep for about 20 minutes or so, remove the tea bags and let the tea cool to room temperature.

Black tea on the left, green tea on the right. I used 8 tea bags total,
but less than a gallon of water. I add the rest of the water after the tea has cooled.

Actually, I only use two cups of water, one cup of sugar and eight tea bags. It's faster to heat this smaller amount of water to make the tea. I add the rest of the water after steeping and removing the tea bags. It helps to cool the tea down to room temperature faster too. With the batch I made yesterday, I used some green tea for the first time; I used six black tea bags and two green tea bags. (Yes, I could have done that in one jar, but I wanted to feed the scoby in the hotel with black tea so I made them separately.)

I rinse my clean gallon-size brewing jar well to remove all traces of soap, and rinse it with white vinegar to sanitize it. I add 13-14 cups of the cooled tea to the jar, and two cups of starter liquid (kombucha from the last batch), then try to float the scoby on top. Sometimes it floats, sometimes it doesn't. One time it stood up and down in the jar.

Then I cover the top of the jar with a clean handkerchief and secure it with a rubber band. Don't use cheesecloth; the weave is too loose and fruit flies can get into the jar. Keep the jar in a place where it [hopefully] won't be jostled, and out of direct sunlight. Also don't put it near the trash or anything else that could introduce mold. If your scoby develops mold, you'll need to throw it and your kombucha tea away, scrub the brewing jar well and sanitize with vinegar before trying again with a new scoby.

Eventually there is a thin film covering the top of the tea - a baby scoby.

After seven days, I use a straw to nudge the scoby away from the side of the jar and pick up some liquid to taste. If it's too sweet, I let it ferment another day or so, tasting each day. The length of time also depends on how cold or hot it is in the kitchen. Usually my tea is ready in eight days.

When it tastes right, I remove the scoby from the kombucha and place in a bowl with enough kombucha liquid to cover it (photo above). I save another two cups of the kombucha to use as starter for the next batch, then start a new batch of tea as before.

From left to right: my scoby hotel, the new batch of kombucha tea, and three bottles of 2f.

The finished kombucha is ready to drink, or it can be fermented a second time, sometimes referred to as "2f", for flavor and hopefully some fizz. This time I added 100% juice to three quarts of kombucha along with chopped ginger, which is supposed to help add fizziness. The jars will ferment on the counter for a few more days.

After about four days, I put them in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation. Kombucha tastes better when it's cold. I strain it before drinking; it always looks to me like there’s a new scoby in the jar all tangled up with the fruit.

Eventually the scoby will be quite thick. I recently pulled the layers apart and put the older ones in another jar with enough starter liquid to keep it wet. This is a “scoby hotel” - I love the term - I'm considering naming mine the Oak Hill Inn. Every so often I add some cooled sweet tea to feed it. These are your back-up scobys in case you need to start over, or want more than one batch going at a time, or to share with a friend.

Related Posts:
Adventures in Kombucha
The Kombucha Adventure Begins
Flavoring Kombucha, the Second Brew
How I Make Kombucha

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
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  1. Been making my own for several years. Your info was spot on. I thought I'd add that I change the "add in" according to seasons. Elderberry and Ginger are a great combo during flu season.

    1. Oh yes, elderberry would be very good during flu season. Thank you for that suggestion.

  2. I am so delighted that I hopped over from My Flagstaff Home to check out your kombucha recipe. I drink kombucha but I have never made it from scratch. I plan to try your method. Pinning and sharing!

  3. Deborah, I'm glad you hopped over too. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Thank you for sharing this! I've been wanting to start brewing my own kombucha and your directions are clear and simple. I'm excited to try it!

  5. Hi Kayse, I'm happy to hear that the directions were helpful to you. Most of all, have fun and enjoy!

  6. I don't know if I could get anyone here to drink it, but I am thinking about trying. Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop.

  7. I'm the only one who drinks it here too, Gregg.

  8. I'm getting into fermentation more these days, and kombucha's up next! I'm hoping to give it a try soon. :) Thanks for sharing!

  9. I'm glad it was a timely post for you, CJ. I hope it's helpful.

  10. Anonymous5:33 PM

    Sounds like you're really getting the hang of it. I also strain my kombucha, I know it's fine to drink the bits, even healthy, but I don't fancy the idea. I find that if you add pieced of fruit such as whole berries you get more stuff happening. Just wondering if anyone who has made kombucha for multiple seasons can help me out. In Australia we are just entering spring. Over winter I stopped making Kombucha since my house doesn't have much heating and it was taking too long to ferment. I just left the scooby in the very large Kombucha jar with the liquid. I haven't added any more tea or sugar since. There doesn't appear to be any mould but do you think it will still be alive. Can I just start up as usual?

  11. Hi Therese, I googled and found quite a few folks who have resurrected scobies over a year old. Wow. Resurrecting a kombucha scoby. It sounds like it'll work just fine.

  12. I've heard so much about kombucha tea but have never had any! Thanks for linking up to the Country Fair Blog Party!

  13. I heard about of kamboucha tea for long time, never tried to make it home. From your post I learned that is simple to make at home. Thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop, pinning and tweeting.


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