How to Make Kombucha with Detailed Steps

how to make kombucha featured

In this guide, I will walk you through every step about how to make kombucha.

I have tested these steps and made my own kombucha many times. So if you follow them one by one, I am pretty sure you can make your own in your kitchen, too.

In the following, we mainly cover these information,

3 General Notes Throughout Making Kombucha

1. How to Choose the Best Water, Tea, and Sugar for Kombucha

Water, tea, and sugar will be the raw materials that we will need in any stage of making kombucha. However, each of them has many categories. For example, water can be tap water, spring water, well water, and more. Which one of them would be the best option for kombucha? No worries. We will give you the answer in the following contents.

Water

Short answer, I always use the tap water. Yes, some people may have told you that tap water must be the last resort for kombucha. However, tap water is cheap and easy to get. Besides, if you follow the steps below about how I have processed the tap water, you can make it qualified for kombucha.

The factory commonly sanitizes the tap water with four methods, ie. chlorine, chloramine, fluoride, and UV or charcoal disinfection. For each of these additions, I will tell you how to deal with it in the following.

Chlorine: If your tap water is chlorinated, what we need to do is bring it to a rolling boil and let it boil for 5 minutes. And then you can add tea and let it cool to room temperature. Please leave it uncovered, so the chlorine can evaporate from the water.

Chloramine: First, the boiling way will not work for chloramine. But we can filter it out with a charcoal filter, like an in-sink filtration system or a pitcher filter.

Fluoride: For this addition, we can do with it just the same as chloramine, using a water filter or a pitch filter to remove it.

UV or Charcoal Disinfected Water: Since this kind of water has no added chemicals, we can use it straight from the tap.

A practical tip of mine is I have always boiled the tap water first, and I will recommend you do the same, no matter how it is sanitized. Because boiling can not only kill any stray germs but also brew the tea.

Tea

Tea will provide minerals that the bacteria and yeast need for brewing kombucha. To making kombucha, we can use these kinds of tea, ie. black tea, green tea, and oolong tea. However, What you need to notice here is that the black tea is the only option for making SCOBY.

You may have learned that the white tea is also working. However, I would not recommend it here, because I have not tested it yet. Maybe I will update it in the future after I test. Besides, we definitely need to avoid herbal teas and those teas with added flavor. Most herb teas do not contain the nutrients for kombucha fermentation. And the teas with added spices or oils, like earl grey and chai, will make the fermentation go bad.

 Sugar

Sugar mainly provides the energy for the yeast to eat, and then they transform it into ethanol. To make kombucha, my favorite sugar is white table sugar. You can also use organic cane juice crystals and raw or whole cane sugar. But they are just as good as the white table sugar, based on my personal experiences.

We must not use the brown sugar, honey, and the powdered sugar. Because the brown sugar has molasses which is bad for the SCOBY, honey contains botulism bacteria which is a danger to the fermentation, and the powdered sugar has cornstarch which is also not a good option for the fermentation.

2. Temperature Plays a Big Role When Making Kombucha

To make kombucha, no matter about making SCOBY or the fermentation, we will have a very harsh requirement on the temperature. Because the kombucha will ferment at a slower rate, and its taste will be very weak and sweet, if the temperature is too low; while if the temperature is too high, the kombucha will likely have a very strong vinegar and yeast flavor.

Kombucha can be brewed in a temperature range between 60-85°F (16-29°C). If you want the most delicious kombucha, please keep the temperature range between 75-80°F (24-26°C). Besides that, when making SCOBY and fermentation, we also need to make sure kombucha is away from the light and protect it from contaminants.

3. About the Kombucha Mold (Very Important)

Kombucha mold is an overgrowth of bad bacteria or fungus. If it happens during your journey of making kombucha, you shouldn’t continue with it, and drink any kombucha that has been in contact with mold. Mold is very likely to grow in the stage of making SCOBY and the first fermentation. Because in these two stages, the kombucha acidity isn’t high enough to ward off the bad bacteria and fungus. However, we have some ways to prevent it.

  1. Make Sure the Supplies Clean. The simple way to keep the supplies clean is pouring hot boiling water into bottles and jugs, or sinking smaller supplies in the boiling water. Just please be careful and keep it from burning you.
  2. Choose the Right Materials. Please choose the right water, tea, and sugar as we have talked about above.
  3. Ensure the Kombucha Starter Acidic Enough. The scale of the kombucha starter acidity should be from 2.5 to 3.5. You can use a pH test strip to tell the number.
  4. Temperature Should not Be Too Low. We have mentioned how the temperature influences kombucha brewing. If it is too low, the bacteria and yeast will grow at a slow rate, and there will not be enough acidity produced. And also, please keep the kombucha away from the light.

How to Make Kombucha SCOBY

kombucha scoby

A SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It is formed after the completion of a unique fermentation process of lactic acid bacteria (LAB), acetic acid bacteria (AAB) and yeast. And it is also the indispensable stuff which we have to prepare in the first place for making kombucha.

So in the first part, I am going to show you how to make your own SCOBY. There are mainly two methods which I have tested to make it. We can cultivate SCOBY using raw and unflavoured Kombucha, or grow it from nothing. Choose the one you prefer.

Method 1. How to Make a SCOBY with the Raw and Unflavored Kombucha

What We Need

  • 1.5L filtered tap water
  • 250mL raw and unflavoured kombucha tea (You can get it from the grocery store, or ask in the Facebook group or from your friends.)
  • 100g white sugar
  • 4 bags black tea (which is the only gredient of tea used for SCOBY)
  • A large (3L-3.5L) glass or ceramic container 
  • Tightly woven cloth
  • Rubber bands

Detailed Steps

Step 1. Boil 1.5L tap water in a large pot. Dissolve the white sugar and add the black tea into it, to make the sweetened tea.

Step 2. Wait for the tea to cool to room temperature. This is because the hot tea will destroy your raw and unflavored kombucha.

Step 3. Pour the sweetened tea, and then the raw and unflavored kombucha into the container after it is cool.

Step 4. Cover the container with the tightly woven cloth. The cloth should be a few layers. And then secure it with the rubber bands.

Step 5. Place the container in a dark place where the temperature should be at 70-75°F (21-24°C), and wait for its fermenting for 1-4 weeks. When you see a ½ cm SCOBY cultivated, you can move to the next part where we will show you how to use it to make kombucha.

Please note that the SCOBY on top of kombucha indicates healthy kombucha. But a sunk one doesn’t necessarily tell you that it is unhealthy. We can also use it for making kombucha.

Method 2. How to Make a SCOBY from Scratch

There are a bunch of people who want to know how to make the SCOBY from scratch. Here is how.

What We Need

  • A bottle rice vinegar
  • A bottle 50% or above liquor
  • 2L filtered tap water
  • 100g white sugar
  • 4 bags black tea (which is the only gredient of tea used for SCOBY)
  • A ceramic (1L) container
  • A large (3L-3.5L) glass or ceramic container
  • Tightly woven cloths
  • Rubber bands

Detailed Steps

Step 1. Mix the rice vinegar and the liquor at the ratio of 50:1.

Step 2. Boil 500mL water and cool it to room temperature.

Step 3. Pour the 500mL water and 2 tsp of the vinegar and liquor mixer into the 1L container.

Step 4. Still, use the tightly woven cloth with a few layers to cover the container and secure it with the rubber bands.

Step 5. Place the container in the dark place whose temperature ranges from 70°F to 75°F (21-24°C) . 

Step 6. Wait for the fermentation for 3-4 weeks. And then we will get the acetic acid bacteria (AAB).

During this period of fermentation, we need to make sure the container is always in the dark place, away from the light. Because the light will break down the produced vitamin C.

Step 7. After we get the acetic acid bacteria, now we are going to start making the kombucha SCOBY. First boil 1.5L water.

Step 8. Dissolve the white sugar into the boiled water. And then add the black tea to make sweetened tea.

Step 9. Wait for the sweetened tea to cool.

Step 10. Pour the sweetened tea into the 3-3.5L container. Then take out the cultivated acetic acid bacteria and put it into the container, too. Please make sure the acetic acid bacteria are not contaminated.

Step 11. Cover the container with the cloth. Make the cloth into a few layers and secure them with the rubber bands.

Step 12. Put the container in a place which is away from the light and with the temperature of 70°F to 75°F (21-24°C). Wait for 2 weeks and you will get the kombucha SCOBY.

How to Make Kombucha

After you have the SCOBY, no matter if you get it from the store or make it on your own, now we will start with the steps of how to make the kombucha. In this stage, we will mainly go through three kombucha fermentations.

The first one is to make the unflavored kombucha; the second one is for making hard kombucha (with more alcohol); the third one is for adding flavors that you want into your kombucha.

First Fermentation

What We Need

  • 3L filtered tap water
  • 200g white sugar
  • 8 bags black tea (or green tea if you want a specific flavor which we will show you in the following.)
  • 480mL unflavored kombucha
  • 1 SCOBY
  • A large glass or ceramic container with at least the volume of 1 gallon (3.7 L)
  • Tightly woven cloth
  • Rubberbands

Detailed Steps

Step 1. Boil the water.

Step 2. Dissolve the sugar into the water.

Step 3. Add the tea and wait for its temperature to cool to the room temperature.

Step 4. After the sweetened tea is cold, pour it into the glass or ceramic container.

Step 5. Transfer a SCOBY and the unflavored kombucha into the glass or ceramic container. Please make sure your hands and the container are clean.

Step 6. Cover the container with a few layers of the tightly woven cloth and secure them with the rubber bands.

Step 7. Wait for it to ferment for 6-10 days at the room temperature of 70-75°F(21-24°C) and in a dark place.

Step 8. After the first 6 days of fermentation, you can taste what it would be like. Just make sure not to contaminate the kombucha. If you are happy about the taste, you can go to the second fermentation.

Second Fermentation

In this part, we will mainly tell you how to make hard kombucha. If you do not want this, please move to the third fermentation part, where we will tell you how to flavor your kombucha.

What We Need

  • 1 gallon kombucha made from the first fermentation
  • 1 tsp yeast, which will produce more alcohol in the kombucha. You can choose ale yeast for neutral flavor, or champagne yeast for the champagne flavor.
  • 1 cup hot boiling water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • Bottles. We need a glass bottle that is airtight and holds up to at least 60 psi pressure. Because this kind of bottle can efficiently make the kombucha fizzy. Based on that, I always choose swing top bottles.
  • Airlocks, which can effectively repel the carbonation but without letting oxygen in. If we let the oxygen into the bottle, then the bacteria would break down the alcohol. Notice: please make sure your airlocks fit the bottles.
  • A funnel

Tip: If you do not want to make 1 gallon hard kombucha, you can decrease each ingredient in proportion.

Detailed Steps

Step 1. Dissolve the 1 cup white sugar into 1 cup boiling water. Wait for it to cool down to milk-warm. Then add the yeast into the sweetened water and stir it.

Step 2. After 5 minutes, transfer 1 gallon unflavored kombucha made from the first fermentation into bottles evenly with the funnel. Please make sure each bottle leaves some space for the yeast water.

Step 3. Add the yeast water into the bottle evenly.

Step 4. Fill the airlocks with the water.

Step 5. Wait for its fermentation for 7-14 days, depending on the temperature, in a dark place. Still make sure the temperature is at the range of 60-85°F (16-29°C). After the thirst week, you can also taste your hard kombucha. If it is dry and boozy, I think it would be ready for the next step.

Step 6. After your hard kombucha is OK, you can move to the next part for adding flavors to it. If you prefer the unflavored hard kombucha, you can just seal the bottle and put them into the fridge to stop the fermentation.

Third Fermentation

In this part, we will show you how to flavor your kombucha.

What We Need

  • Kombucha made from the first fermentation, or the second one if you want hard kombucha with flavors.
  • Sweetener (fruit, honey, sugar, or others). There are more than 30 kinds of flavors that we have covered in the following part. You can check how to make them there.
  • Bottles (if you have jumped here from the first part.)
  • Airlocks
  • A funnel

Detailed Steps

Step 1. Use the funnel to transfer the unflavored kombucha made from the first fermentation evenly into the bottles. If you have made your kombucha hard, you can flip this step.

Step 2. Add your flavor(s) into each bottle and fill the airlocks.

Step 3. Ferment them for 3-10 days at the temperature ranging from 60-85°F (16-29°C) and in a dark place.

Step 4. After fermentation finishes. Seal each bottle and keep it in the fridge.

And that’s it. That is all the steps that we needed for making kombucha.

33 Popular Kombucha Flavors

kombucha flavor

1. Lemon Ginger Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Lemon
  • Ginger
  • Honey

Juice the lemons and finely chop the ginger.

2. Peach Pie Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Peaches
  • Maple syrup
  • Vanilla

3. Blueberry Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Blueberries
  • Optional additions
  • Cook the blueberries

4. Strawberry Kombucha

Ingredient:

  • Strawberries

5. Mint Lime Mojito Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Mint
  • Lime
  • Sugar

6. Pumpkin Spice Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Pumpkin
  • Spices

7. Apple Cinnamon Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Apples
  • Cinnamon

8. Ginger Pepper Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Ginger
  • Pepper
  • Sugar

9. Mango Kombucha

Ingredient:

  • Mango

10. Chia Seed Kombucha

Ingredient:

  • Chia seeds. You can also add chia seeds to any flavor of kombucha.

11. Pineapple Basil Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Pineapple
  • Basil

12. Zingy Raspberry Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Raspberries
  • Ginger
  • Lemon Juice
  • Honey

13. Spiced Pear Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Pear
  • Ginger
  • Cloves

14. Blueberry Banana Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Banana
  • Blueberries

15. Rosemary Grape Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Grapes
  • Rosemary

16. Blackberry Vanilla Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Blackberries
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla

17. Turmeric Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Ground Turmeric
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Honey

18. Pomegranate Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Pomegranate Juice
  • Ginger

19. Ginger Beet Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Roasted Beet or Beet Juice
  • Ginger

20. Orange Creamsicle Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Orange Juice
  • Vanilla

21. AVanilla Peach Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Peaches
  • Maple syrup
  • Vanilla

22. Green Goddess Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Kiwi
  • Spinach
  • Moringa Oleifera
  • Ginger

23. Spicy Ginger Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Ginger
  • Pepper
  • Sugar

24. Spiced Apple Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Apples
  • Cinnamon

25. Rose Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Dried Rose Buds
  • Cherries

26. Lavender Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Dried Lavender Buds
  • Blackberries

27. Mulled Wine Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Red Wine
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Cloves
  • Orange Juice

28. Cream Soda Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Roasted Beet or Beet Juice
  • Ginger

29. Cherry Pie Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Cherries
  • Vanilla

30. Chai Spice Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Dry Spices
  • Flavor Enhancers
  • Sugar

31. Candy Cane Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Peppermint Candy Canes
  • Optional Extra: 1 or 2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder

32. Ginger AleKombucha

Ingredients:

  • Ginger
  • Orange Juice
  • Spices

33. Banana Bread Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • Banana
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cinnamon

Frequently Asked Questions About Kombucha

1. What is the Health Benefit of Kombucha?

  1. Have gut-loving probiotics.
  2. Cut sugar.
  3. Antioxidants in kombucha can help stay healthy.
  4. Keeps you hydrated.

2. What is the Side Effect of Kombucha?

  1. Cause bloating and digestive discomfort.
  2. Dangerous for some specific populations: immunocompromised people, young children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  3. Contain caffeine and alcohol which may have side effects for some populations.

3. When Can I Drink Kombucha?

I would suggest you drink kombucha with or after a meal. Because the carbonation of kombucha can make you feel more full, which can be useful if your goal is weight loss.

You surely can drink it in the morning if you have been used to it. Because drinking it on an empty stomach can make full use of its probiotics. However, if you have not gotten used to it, definitely do not drink it in the morning, or you may feel your stomach upset.

In any situation, I strongly suggest you not drink kombucha at night, especially before going to bed. Because kombucha is typically made from black or green tea, which can contain caffeine.

4. How Much Can You Drink Kombucha?

Normally, please drink kombucha no more than 16 oz per day.

5. How Long Does Kombucha Last?

For bottled kombucha in the fridge, it can be stored for 6-8 months. If you open it, it would last only for 1-2 days outside. Surely, you can also put it back to the fridge and last longer.

6. Can Kombucha Get You Drunk?

Normally, the flavored kombucha has the amount of alcohol ranging from 0.5% to 3% ABV. So you will not get drunk by kombucha.

7. How to Make Kombucha Fizzy

To make your kombucha fizzy, or in other words, carbonating your kombucha, we need the help of the flavors, such as food, fruit, etc. After we add these things into the bottle in the second or third fermentation, then we just need to wait for the bacteria and yeasts to do the rest of the job.

However, if your kombucha is not carbonated, these may be the reasons,

1. You have not added the food, fruit, sugar, or something else in the second or third fermentation.

2. You have chosen the wrong bottle.

3. You have left too much air in the bottle.

4. The second or third fermentation is too short and the temperature is too low.

5. You have not stirred the kombucha before bottling.

Can I Eat SCOBY?

Short answer: yes. Kombucha SCOBY has many of the same health benefits as kombucha. Many people also cooked a number of tasty treats using it.

How Long Does a SCOBY Last?

If you save the SCOBY in the right place (with suitable temperature and without light), it can last for several years and grow continuously.

What to Do Next?

Now you have just gone through all the steps of how to make kombucha, and you can start your own journey. If you are pretty sure you will make kombucha again or several times in the future, please remember to save some unflavored kombucha made from the first fermentation.

Resource:

A Beginner’s Guide on Kombucha by Linda

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