Home-Brewed Kombucha

I have been on a fermenting-kick lately. First, coconut yogurt. Then, sourdough. Now, I am adventuring into the world of kombucha. Growing up, we had a “kombucha cabinet” above the refrigerator, where my mom brewed several flavors of this fizzy fermented concoction at any given time. I remember thinking of this as one big science experiment. Now, all these years later, I am following in her footsteps and brewing my own. Turns out, it is a bit of a science experiment, albeit more simple than I had believed. Today, I have my own “kombucha cabinet,” except rather than being above the refrigerator, it is above the microwave. That counts as full-circle, right?

I’m going to lay out my step-by-step experience brewing kombucha at home. You should know, there is a great deal of flexibility as far as ingredients, materials, and timing go. I primarily used what I already had at home or was able to borrow from generous, kombucha-experienced friends. The timing of bottling kombucha also depends a bit on preference. If you prefer it sweet, bottle earlier; if you prefer it tart, wait a few extra days. Most importantly, have some fun with it!

Equipment/Materials Used: Large Bowl, Gallon Jug, Plastic Wrap, Cheesecloth, 33.75 oz. Swing-Top Glass Bottles, Hair Tie

Ingredients Used: One Bottle of Unflavored Store-Bought Kombucha (I recommend GT’s), Filtered Water, Black Tea (I used Trader Joe’s Original Irish Breakfast Tea because that’s what I had), Sugar, and anything you’d like to flavor your kombucha with after fermentation period (I used frozen blueberries and fresh ginger)

Time from Start to Finish: 28 days


  • Before you can brew your kombucha, you need to grow your starter SCOBY. A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. It is the key ingredient to making kombucha; it houses bacteria and yeast that, given time, transform tea into fermented kombucha. Its appearance can vary, but a SCOBY is usually round, rubbery and opaque. To me, it looks like a jellyfish. Strange, maybe a little bit disconcerting, but man does it brew a delicious drink. Making your own mother SCOBY is actually pretty simple. I started with a bottle of GT’s Original Kombucha. Remove the cap, place a cheese cloth over the mouth of the bottle, and secure with a hair tie or rubber band. Covering is essential, as it prevents contamination by fruit flies or other, bad bacteria. Then set the bottle in a warm, dry location for 7-12 days and wait. I checked on my SCOBY periodically decided it was ready on day 10. By the end, you should find your weird, beautiful starter SCOBY floating at the top.
  • Once your SCOBY is ready, it’s time to set aside and prepare your brew. Place 5 tea bags in a large bowl with 2-3 cups of boiling water. Add 1 cup of sugar and stir to dissolved. Once ingredients are combined, allow tea to steep for 10-12 minutes. You really don’t want it to steep for much longer, as it will increase in bitterness.
  • Next, Remove the tea bags and pour your sweet tea mixture into a gallon jug. Add filtered water until jug is about 3/4 full. Allow to cool slightly, until jug is only just warm to the touch.
  • Now it is time to add your starter SCOBY and 1-2 cups of store-bought kombucha. You can absolutely use the kombucha you grew your SCOBY in.
  • Top off your gallon jug with more filtered water until you have about 2″ of space left at the top.
  • Cover jug with plastic wrap and/or cheese cloth and secure with a hair tie or rubber band.
  • Let your kombucha ferment for up to 30 days. I let mine ferment for 18 days before bottling. As I mentioned, timing depends a great deal on your preference for sweet vs. tart kombucha. I recommend tasting at 10 days and every 2-3 days afterward. Your SCOBY will grow considerably over this time.
  • Now it is time to bottle! I used Swing-Top Glass Bottles (pictured above) but you can use Mason Jars, Growlers, or any airtight container, really. Before transferring to bottles, remove SCOBY and place into bowl with 2 cups of kombucha. Cover and set aside.
  • If you’d like to flavor your kombucha, do so now. I put 1/3 cup frozen blueberries into one bottle and several peeled knobs of ginger into another. Carefully pour kombucha from gallon jug into bottles using a funnel if needed. Do not fill bottles all the way – be sure to leave a few inches of space at the top.
  • If you plan to brew again, be sure to save 1-2 cups of your brewed kombucha along with your SCOBY to start the process again.

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