How to Make Kombucha.



Kombucha. Have you tried it? Do you buy it, bottle by bottle at the coop or grocery store? Kombucha it turns out is easy and satisfying to make.

I hadn't heard of kombucha until a few years ago when I discovered it at the coop. Not normally a purchased/bottled drink person I was inexplicably drawn to it. I did a bit of research becuase I was curious about what it was and why I wanted to try it so much.

Turns out kombucha is an ancient live fermented beverage with a long list of health benefits. The more I read the more I realized that it is as easy to make at home as, say, yogurt. Maybe easier. All you need is to find a friend who already makes their own who can share their "SCOBY" with you (symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast) – the mother that turns black tea and sugar into a health tonic. (The SCOBY is the big rubbery disc in the photos below.) I happen to live in the sort of community where loads of people make their own everything, so I had several offers in the first day I asked around. If you are the odd-duck in your community you can find them via Craigslist or Freecycle or you could even purchase one on-line.

We started making our own and have only purchased a few bottles at the store since. We love our homemade kombucha. It is extremely affordable and make a naturally carbonated, mildly acidic drink. Here is how we make ours:



4 TB loose leaf organic black tea

1 C organic sugar

4 quarts water

A large stainless steel (or other non-reactive, non-plastic) bowl or pot large enough to hold water above

Masking tape

Cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel large enough to drape over bowl



1. Fill tea kettle with fresh water and bring to a boil.

2. Measure out organic black tea and sugar into cooking pot.

3. Pour boiling water over tea and sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar and steep until cool.

4. Strain into your large steel bowl or pot. Compost tea leaves.

5. Add enough fresh, cool water to make a total 4 quarts (including your sugar/tea mixture).

6. Add your SCOBY and the kombucha it is soaking in to your sugar/tea/water mixture.

7. Make an x over the top of the pot with tape and drape cloth over the pot to keep out critters.

8. Check your kombucha every day. Stir with a wooden spoon underneath the floating SCOBY and taste. After about a week the sweetness will have faded and a mildly vinegar-edged flavor will begin to come through. When you taste this, your kombucha is ready to bottle. (Note: if you let it go too long and you taste strong vinegar you've gone too far. But you just made vinegar, which is good too. Use as you would apple cider vinegar and start over on your drinking kombucha.)

9. Remove your SCOBY. It will be the size of the opening of your bowl and two layers thick. You can now peel the two layers apart and share one with a friend. Every batch of kombucha results in the growth of a second "mother". If you don't have any takers then thank it for its work and add to your compost. Put the SCOBY you are keeping for your next batch into a jar and cover with your fresh kombucha. Cap and refrigerate.



10. Bottle your kombucha. You can use any lidded glass bottles or jars. We use to keep store bought kombucha bottles around to reuse for this purpose, but now I prefer to bottle into a few narrow mouth canning jars instead. You can bottle just the kombucha or top off with juice (our preference). I add approximately 5/6 kombucha and 1/6 fresh or bottled unsweetened juice.



11. Cap and refrigerate. Leave for a few days and the kombucha will carbonate itself using the sweetness from the juice as its "fuel".

12. Enjoy! Server kombucha cold. If the flavor is too strong for you, dilute with 1/2 water or carbonated water, or dilute with 1/4 juice, 1/4 water and 1/2 kombucha. When you open your last bottle it's time to make a fresh batch.



I am drinking the glass above right now. And it's really, truly, amazingly good.

34 thoughts on “How to Make Kombucha.

  1. Rachel Wolf says:

    I took a break from Kombucha for several months once. Six? And my SCOBY died. This last batch was my first with a new SCOBY from a friend that probably had sat (between her house and mine) for four months at least. Hope this helps. If your SCOBY is dead it will sink (live ones do for a bit sometimes, too) and then it will not grow to cover the surface of the kombucha. Youll know if it is non well.

    ~ Rachel

  2. Gypsy Forest says:

    Wow! That is one HUGE scoby…. We make ours too. I just ordered a fresh scoby from cultures of health and hopefully soon we’ll be making big ol’ batches here as well. Yum 🙂

  3. says:

    so cool! i haven’t loved the bottled kombucha i’ve tried, but i like the idea of diluting with juice/water. i just love the idea of growing a little colony of healthy stuff, i think it’s a great mix of science lesson, cooking lesson, and nutrition lesson (to name a few). can’t wait to try!!

  4. Rachel Wolf says:

    Absolutely. It is all of those things. And try adding it bit by bit to water/juice. If you havent loved it before go slow. Just a splash and build up your taste for it. The first time I tried it I was not jazzed, but then found myself wanting more and more and more.

    ~ Rachel

  5. Lori says:

    Oh wow!! I get the bottled stuff all the time. Where can you get the SCOBY from? Sounds fun to make! Should it be plain black tea or can flavored be used also?

  6. Jody says:

    I’ve never tried adding the juice or leaving it out for a few days. Thanks for the tip though…I’d really like fizzy kombucha for once!

  7. Melissa says:

    I had to laugh when I read your post because I just started doing research and talking to friends about how to make my own Kumbucha, it like you were posting this just for me 🙂 The first time I tried it I wasn’t expecting the fizzy, fermented juice and tossed it thinking it had gone bad. Now that I know it’s supposed to taste like that I love it.

  8. ami says:

    seriously? synchronistic events abound. i have been trying to figure out if i can make a scoby from the slime in my store bought kombucha.thoughts?

  9. Kim Akari says:

    Thanks for posting this tutorial. I’ve been wanting to make my own for a while but have seen other how-to’s that seemed so difficult! I love kombucha, especially with the added juice and it’s crazy expensive at Whole Foods!!!!! I definitely need to start making my own if I want to keep drinking it. 🙂

  10. Rachel Wolf says:

    You can but it would take a long time to get a viable scoby. There is a guy in Minneapolis who make kombucha with kombucha. He tosses the scoby and uses 1/2 water/sugar/tea and 1/2 finished kombucha everytime. Or you could wait a week at take a scoby from me when you visit. xo


  11. Ms. Smoochy says:

    Nice. I had been a little anti-kombucha for a while until a friend of mine shared her fruit-mixed version with me right as I was getting sick. A trip to the chiropractor, a good night’s sleep, and her yummy kombucha were enough to help me dodge the illness. It might be time to hit her up for a mother. This looks simple. Thanks.

  12. Brook - LearnToPreserve says:

    Thanks for spreading the Kombucha-Love.
    I fall into the category of “the first time I drank a bottle I thought something was wrong with it!” Now I crave it.
    One thing I have noticed about Kombucha fermenters; they are always willing to provide encouragement, give helpful advice and even share their mothers with others.
    What a cool group of healthy people 🙂

  13. Emily says:

    Thanks for this awesome post!
    If the SCOBY lasts awhile in the fridge, how long will the actual Kombucha last for (especially mixed with juice)? We are a family of 2 and not sure how fast we will go through it. Have you ever heard of bottling it with juice in beer-type bottles(after sanitizing them of course)? Then do you think you could store it indefinitely not in the fridge? Sorry lots of questions, I have been thinking about doing this a lot, but don’t want to be wasteful if we don’t drink it fast enough!


  14. Teresa says:

    Emily, you WILL drink this fast enough! I make a 5 litre jar first, then when that is half way done, i start a 3 litre jar, so i always have something to drink. this rotation works since it takes around 5-12 days for a batch to be ready (in warmer weather it grows faster, cooler weather its considerably slower…) when its hot out, i seem to drink nothing but kombucha!
    i find i sometimes have mold growing, but that is when i use tea that has flowers or dried fruit that perhaps is too volatile and oily. i just can’t help experimenting! but i always try out different green and black teas. chocolate scented black tea is my fave.
    if you can’t find a friend with a spare scoby, but you do have *unpasturized* kombucha at the market-meaning its still alive, you can use that as your starter. it really doesn’t take any longer using a pre-made drink than having an established scoby.
    have fun, experiment and enjoy and don’t worry if every batch doesn’t turn out as expected. thats the fun of live foods and life!

  15. Hannah says:

    I’m so happy to learn about making kombucha! I drink bottled versions and love it, but am always happy when I can learn how to make something myself. Now to locate a SCOBY…

    Just discovered your blog and it’s lovely!

  16. Rachel Wolf says:

    I just use canning jars. Ive never tried tight sealing bottles, though I cant conceive of any reason it wouldnt work. That being said, it sounds like more work than perhaps you need to do. I just use clean, non sterilized jars. Because of limited fridge space Ive been storing the batch pictured in the post in my basement for the past few weeks. Cool but not cold down there and I used juice. It is perfect and delicious. Because it is live fermented, it lasts! Truly!

    Have fun,

  17. Johanna says:

    You can! I did 🙂 make a starter tea with sugar and tea, add cool water and mix into jar. Dump the gnarliest bottle of store bought Kombucha and wait…it will take a few extra days, but keep checking it!

  18. Kristin says:

    Hi Rachel, thanks for the instructions! Does the brew need to be kept at a certain temperature while fermenting?

  19. says:

    Rachel~I would like to know where I can order one of these Scobys….I have googled and craigslisted and cannot really find what it is I need to start without paying a fortune. I live in Kentucky in a rather rural art community…..actually I live in George Clooney’s hometown just a few minutes from his mom and dad….and no…I do not know him or want to:) Sorry for the rabbit trail….any ideas where to find one….Our groceries nor the local GNCs carry Kombucha. Thank you and I hope you see this even though it has been many years since the actual post! Amy

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