Homemade Kombucha 101: How to Make Homemade Kombucha

Make this healthy probiotic drink at home! It's so easy!! Homemade Kombucha 101: How to Make Homemade Kombucha

Let’s see, where do I begin?

I’ve been brewing a colony of bacteria and yeast, fed by pure white sugar, which looks like a placenta, on my kitchen counter for weeks. All for the purpose of drinking the resulting liquid.

There it is.  The simple truth.


If you are a little turned off by the whole idea, you’re not alone! In fact, my entire family thought I’d completely lost it. That is until they tried this amazing drink and learned of its amazing health benefits. So, don’t stop, continue to read. I promise, it gets better.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a naturally carbonated sweet, fermented tea which contains probiotic benefits. Kombucha is produced by using tea, water, sugar (plain ol’ white organic sugar), and a giant “mushroom” (I think it looks more like a placenta) called a “SCOBY.” The sugar feeds the SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) which ferments into a delicious, nourishing tea.

I know that sounds even scarier. A giant mushroom placenta that eats sugar. Just keep reading.

After the SCOBY has done its job, a simple mixture of tea and sugar is turned into a naturally carbonated drink filled with naturally occurring health benefits.

As a result of the fermentation, almost all of the sugar is converted by the SCOBY and when fermenting is finished, there will be about 2-3 grams per 8 ounce glass. By contrast, an 8 ounce glass of orange juice has about 24g of sugar. Natural carrot juices have 13g per 8 ounces. Source

Kombucha is a traditional drink enjoyed first by the Chinese and later spread to Russia, Japan, and Korea.

Kombucha is enjoyed for its unique taste (a wonderful way to replace sodas and juice) as well as its many health benefits. One of its greatest health benefits is detoxing the body. It’s also rich in glucaric acid and amino-acids which can help prevent (and possibly) treat cancers. Kombucha boosts the immune system as is anti-oxidant rich. This wonder drink is also a mom’s best friend as it gives energy.

What mom couldn’t use an energy boost? Sleep deprivation is a real thing, folks.  Come over for a night.

Remember, that colony of bacteria and yeast?  All that goodness is part of the amazing health benefits of Kombucha. We need good bacteria to maintain a healthy gut.  The good bacteria makes Kombucha the perfect probiotic which helps restore good gut flora in your system and fight off the bad yeast (candida). You can read more about the health benefits of Kombucha here.

Now that you’re just longing for Kombucha, you have a couple of options:

  • Pay $3-5 for a small bottle of store-bought Kombucha
  • Make your own for just pennies

Make this healthy probiotic drink at home! It's so easy!! Homemade Kombucha 101: How to Make Homemade Kombucha

How to Make Homemade Kombucha
  • 1 SCOBY: ask around, you may be surprised to find a fellow Kombucha-brewer willing to share the love. You can also find a SCOBY online (where to buy)
  • 1 gallon jar-not metal as it will kill the SCOBY (where to buy) or (here)
  • 3 quarts of filtered water
  • 1 cup sugar (where to buy)
  • 5 tea bags-I use 2 black and 3 green
  • ½ to 1 cup Kombucha (you will need at least ½ cup of already fermented Kombucha)
  • 1 large stock pot
  • cheesecloth (where to buy)
  • mesh strainer (where to buy)
  • funnel (where to buy)
  • flavoring (optional)-fresh fruit, frozen fruit, herbs, spices, even juice.
  • bottles for fizzy Kombucha (where to buy) or mason jars (where to buy)
  1. Bring 12 cups, 3 quarts, of water to a boil. Add in 1 cup of sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add in 5 tea bags. Allow the tea to steep for about 5 minutes and remove the bags. Allow the tea to completely cool.
  2. Once cooled, pour the sweet tea mixture in a gallon-size jar. Place your SCOBY inside the jar with ½- 1 cup Kombucha. Cover the jar with a cheesecloth and rubber-band. Store in a warm, dark place for at least 6 days up to 28-30 days. The longer your SCOBY and tea ferment the less sweet and more sour the tea will taste.
  3. Remove the SCOBY and any babies from the Kombucha and reserve 1 cup of Kombucha liquid with the SCOBY in a bowl. Strain the Kombucha through a mess strainer to remove any loose pieces. This is optional. If you don’t mind drinking the pieces, you’re welcome to skip this part of the process.
  4. Now, it’s time to add flavor. I chose to flavor mine with strawberries. I used 3 diced strawberries per bottle of Kombucha. In a another bottle, I added 1 cup of mango juice. Be creative, the possibilities are endless.
  5. Pour the Kombucha in each bottle. A funnel is a handy tool for pouring. You don’t want to waste any of that precious Kombucha. Seal your bottles and leave the Kombucha on the counter for two more days. This is called the second ferment. During this time the tea and flavor will infuse together creating a delicious, fizzy beverage. After two days, you can refrigerate your tea and start drinking.

Make this healthy probiotic drink at home! It's so easy!! Homemade Kombucha 101: How to Make Homemade Kombucha

Make this healthy probiotic drink at home! It's so easy!! Homemade Kombucha 101: How to Make Homemade Kombucha

I ferment my tea for seven days.

The SCOBY will grow a baby (I told you this was like a placenta.) A new SCOBY (a thick film) will also grow over the top of your Kombucha and the original SCOBY, “the mother”.

Make this healthy probiotic drink at home! It's so easy!! Homemade Kombucha 101: How to Make Homemade Kombucha

Make this healthy probiotic drink at home! It's so easy!! Homemade Kombucha 101: How to Make Homemade Kombucha

Real Food RN has great suggestions for flavoring your Kombucha. You can also check out Cultures for Health’s suggestions. You can find my recipe for Berry Lemonade Kombucha here.

Make this healthy probiotic drink at home! It's so easy!! Homemade Kombucha 101: How to Make Homemade Kombucha

Yes, a tad bit unusual, but once you start drinking Kombucha you’ll forget you ever handled a placenta-looking “mushroom”.

The final result is a tea that’s delicious and full of health-giving benefits.

Make this healthy probiotic drink at home! It's so easy!! Homemade Kombucha 101: How to Make Homemade Kombucha

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  • Kimberly says:

    Great pictures, Kristin!

  • Carmen says:

    Olive kombacha and have been making it for a while. I think I forgot the sugar this last time. Will that hurt my mother. :/ ?

    • Kristin says:

      Do you have a favorite flavor? I am still experimenting, but so far love the berry combo! A SCOBY really needs sugar in order to thrive. If you begin to spot any mold growth I’d toss it. Can you start a new batch with the SCOBY using sugar?

  • Organized SAHM says:

    Yay!! Love this post!!

  • Katie@simplefoody says:

    I am still on the fence about Kombucha. Have you read this? http://www.orawellness.com/blog/why-we-dont-drink-kombucha/ What is your take?

    • Kristin says:

      I have read it. It certainly made me think when I read the article a while back. I did some research and feel safe consuming Kombucha. This is an excellent article from the Weston A. Price Foundation. http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/kvass-and-kombucha. Here is a quote from the article…”Researchers looking at the toxic effects of fluoride have recently raised concerns about kombucha because most commercial tea is very high in fluoride. Fortunately, kombucha made with organic tea contains very little fluoride. We had fluoride levels tested in organic black tea and in the kombucha made with the tea. The levels in the tea were only slightly higher than those in the filtered water from which it was made and actually slightly lower in the kombucha than in the black tea. These results suggest that the process of fermentation actually removes some of the fluoride from the tea and may explain why the kombucha “mushroom” eventually gets black. These older, darkened “mushrooms” can be replaced with the newer, cleaner “babies” that grow on top of the original “mushroom” during the fermentation process.”

      • Katie@simplefoody says:

        Now this is interesting. So just use organic tea? You have peaked my interest. Do you have to use white sugar? Can you use honey?

        • Kristin says:

          Organic tea is best. I’m not sure about honey, however, I do know the SCOBY feeds off the sugar (literally it’s food) so it really is one of the keys. Without sugar the SCOBY dies. The SCOBY eats nearly all the sugar, so there is very little remaining in the Kombucha. I’d be interested in what you find out about using the honey.

        • Emily says:

          You shouldn’t use honey to make kombucha as it is naturally antibacterial, and it’s all that good bacteria that makes it so wonderful 🙂

        • Bekah says:

          I’ve heard that using anything other than straight white sugar really weakens the scoby. Honey, as one example, can kill the scoby because it has so many anti-bacterial and anti-microbial benefits. The scoby survives and thrives on straight sugar. And it transforms the sugar, so it’s not like you’re digesting it straight (something that I also worried about upon hearing about kombucha. I don’t like eating a lot of sugar in my diet and I definitely don’t like giving my kids a ton of sugar). Most of the sugar is “eaten” by the scoby and transformed into healthy flora and enzymes, which are super beneficial for you and your gut.

  • angels86 says:

    I used to make this by the gallons at a time. It nearly worked me to death. I was wondering where I could get a start. Now I know. Thanks

  • Rachelle says:

    Water kefir gives me that energy boost, too! Love it!

  • Miz Helen says:

    Hope you are having a great summer weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  • Kim says:

    A friend gave me a scoby starter this past weekend and I’d like to give this a shot. I don’t have any white sugar in the house, but I do have an old bottle of agave that’s collecting dust in my pantry. Do you think that will work instead of the sugar or should I just go buy some sugar?

    • Kristin says:

      That’s great! I would buy some sugar. If you are planning on making it regularly you will need it on hand too. I didn’t have any sugar in the house either, so for the first time in a long time, I had to go out and buy some. The SCOBY feeds off the sugar, not sure how it would do with Agave.

  • Julie says:

    Where do you get a SCOBY??

  • Susan P says:

    Is there a place to get the bottles? Shipping from AMazon is astronomical. This is the ONLY reason I haven’t attempted this yet. Thanks for the excellent tutorial! I’ll be referring back to this!

    • Kristin says:

      You can look at a local wine or beer store in your area. I have also found them at Home Goods or store like Home Goods. Target or Walmart too 🙂 Thank you 🙂

  • Heather says:

    I found this from Stupid Easy Paleo on how to grow your own SCOBY. I have one working up as we speak. It’s cheaper than buying a SCOBY if you have noone to give you a starter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3TN54s_ezA

  • SnoopyGirl says:

    How do you store the SCOBY in between making batches of kombucha?

  • SnoopyGirl says:

    Do you share the Kombucha with your kids? I recently read it can contain alcohol because of the fermenting process. I was concerned as this is all new to me.

  • Lara says:

    Kristin – what do you do with the SCOBY if you are going to be away, or unable to make Kombucha for awhile?

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hi Lara,

      If you’re going away or don’t plan to make Kombucha for a time, I recommend keeping the SCOBY in a SCOBY hotel, just a storage container with Kombucha, kept in a dark place.

  • Michelle says:

    I’m just starting out, and I don’t know anyone who does this. Where do I get the 1/2 to 1 cup Kombucha (you will need at least 1/2 cup of already fermented Kombucha)? Any suggestions??

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hi Michelle, You can generally find bottles of already prepared Kombucha at any health food store. You can use 1/2-1 cup of this liquid as your starter Kombucha.

      • Michelle says:

        Thank you Kristin. 😀 We only have one health food store in the area. If they don’t carry it do you know where I may be able to purchase online?

      • Penny Crone says:

        Is the already prepared Kombucha (for the starter) in the refrigerated section? How is the already prepared different from the Kombucha drinks. I know the drinks are flavored and I would think you are talking about two different things. I love Kombucha and want to attempt making my own as to save $

        • Kristin Marr says:

          Hey Penny, The already prepared kombucha comes in both flavored and non-flavored options, and is found in the refrigerated section at the store. I believe store-bought prepared kombucha and kombucha drinks are the same thing, but I could be wrong. To make a flavored version, similar to the famous ones at the store, you’ll need to add flavor to the second ferment.

  • Emily Walker says:

    I am so excited to start this process and a friend shared with me a scoby start and her kombucha. You are so inspiring and your instruction is such a blessing! Thank you! Can you use flavored tea bags to impart flavor to the kombucha?

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Emily, Yay for great friends that share Kombucha and SCOBYs! I haven’t used flavored tea bags for making Kombucha. I’d recommend not using any herbal teas as they may kill the SCOBY. So glad you found the tutorial helpful. Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions.

  • Art D. says:

    Just made our first batch tonight! I’ll let you know in a week. Thanks Kristin!

  • Ericka says:

    I LOVE kombucha and LOVE making it. But I seem to have a problem with it growing mold. It has started to mold as early as the 6th day. The starter pack (includes SCOBY, sugar and tea) that I get from our local co-op doesn’t say to add the ½-1 cup of pre made kombucha to it. Could that be part of the problem? I live in WA, so I don’t think weather is an issue. HELP!

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Ericka, It sounds like you are doing correct to make kombucha. I’m not sure what would be causing the mold growth. Do you allow the tea to breathe with just a light towel or cheesecloth over the jar, during fermentation? A lack of air can cause mold growth.

    • Gloria says:

      Hi Ericka, we are in WA also, I am thinking it is the very hot days that are making our scobys get a bit of mould. Was reading this trying to see if someone else lived in hot places such as WA and get some ideas. Cheers Gloria

  • Karla says:

    Had good success with this post. I have one question though. When seperating the mother SCOBY and babies after the batches what one would you keep in a SCOBY “hotel” as a spare incase of mold ect?

  • Lindsay says:

    How many times can you reuse the “mother” and how long can you store the “babies” in the hotel?

  • Lori says:

    You recipe seems to be the easiest I’ve found. A friend of my husband gave me a Scoby and a starter batch. Can’t wait to try my hand at making my own. I wish this recipe had an easy “print recipe” button like some of you other posts.

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Lori, We are currently working on switching over our recipe “cards” (the little recipe sections with a printer-friendly option) because the former company service we used went out of business in December. So, I’ll add this post to the list. Thank you for the great suggestion! Enjoy the kombucha!

  • Lori says:

    While cutting and pasting this recipe to a word document I can print, I noticed step 4 is missing. It looks like all the recipe is there, so maybe it’s just a numbering error?

  • Vina says:

    The instructions say “(you will need at least 1/2 cup of already fermented Kombucha)”. Should I use store bought kombucha?

  • Kim says:

    I recently received a scoby from a friend and have attempted to make kombucha for the first time. It has been sitting on my counter for 9 days now but is still not fizzy. Am I doing something wrong or could the scoby be bad?

  • Marjorie says:

    Hello :0)

    I have never made Kombucha but want to so I have been reading up on it. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned or maybe I missed it is whether or not you must feed the stored babies and do you store them separately. Also do you store them sealed or with a cheese cloth covering.
    Thank you so very much!

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Marjorie, You’ll need to keep the babies in a “hotel” environment. Basically, a container with kombucha, so they can stay hydrated for future use–enough kombucha to fully cover the SCOBYs. You can set up a hotel with as little as one SCOBY or multiple. I usually seal my baby SCOBY because I turn right back around a few days later and use it to make more kombucha, but if you’re storing multiple SCOBYs long-term, place a cheesecloth or coffee filter with a rubberband over the top of the jar.

  • Abby O'Leary says:

    I just visited a neighbor who’s going to give me a SCOBY to get started. Your site is very helpful, too. One question: does it matter if the tea is caffeinated or not?

  • Sierra says:

    Hey! Awesome article, thanks a bunch. The glass jar featured in the photographs, the one with the spigot––where did you purchase that? I’ve been experimenting with making kombucha for a bit now, and I’ve decided I want to get into a continuous brew method, but I’m having a tough time finding a good spigot-ed container!

  • Charlene says:

    When you flavor with frozen fruit do you thaw it first?

  • Brian says:

    Hi Kristin, Thank you so much for the information. Would using organic Cain suger be ok? Awesome Q & A on here also.

  • Bethany says:

    I am eager to experience the benefits of Kombucha, but I don’t want to drink tea. I have heard one could use Rooibos herbal tea to brew it (supposedly the only herbal that would work) but to brew it with Black or green tea now and then to make sure the SCOBY is well fed. Do you have any suggestions please?

  • Rachel says:

    Hello, I love this article and I am looking to try this but I ha e a few questions. I know someone else had mentioned storing the SCOBY in between batches, but do they need to be covered? I saw on Amazon when you buy it they come in a sealed plastic bag. Can you just put som Kombucha in a zip lock back with the SCOBY and store it in the refrigerator? Or a Tupperware container? And for the “hotel” for the babies, you said to cover them with cheesecloth or a light towel, but if you store it for a period of time wouldn’t the liquid evaporate? Do you need to add more?

  • Christine says:

    I have been using just Lipton black tea but can I switch that to organic black/Green tea or will that affect my scoby? I had also been using sugar in the raw. Is that ok or does it need a more refined sugar?

  • Cori Reid says:

    Happy New Year! Can I keep my fermenting kombucha in actual “real” Tupperware with the cheesecloth instead of seal on top or does it have to be in glass? I also heard you shouldn’t refrigerate your kombucha scoby. True? Thank you!
    ~ Cori

  • Mellissa says:

    Hi! Thanks for this post. I found a local scoby and have made a couple of batches now, each one better than the last.
    Couple questions:
    I’ve been leaving my baby scobys in. Any harm in that?
    My mama scoby looks…. brown? Much darker than the growth on the top. Does this one get old/need to be replaced with a baby from time to time?
    Thanks again!

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Mellissa,

      From my experience, the additional SCOBY babies won’t hurt the kombucha, so you can leave them in there. The mama SCOBY will begin to look very brown and almost like it has veins after multiple uses–that’s 100% normal and usually attributed to the tea. You can continue to use the mama SCOBY as long as you’d like, she doesn’t expire.

  • I’m making my own scopy. My question is can I use the liquid I’m making my scopy in as the 1/2-1 cup of kombochi for the actual real batch of kombochi?

  • Jamie says:

    Hi Kristin,
    I’m about 3 years late to this post, but I am a big lover of kombucha and wanted to start making my own to save money. Until my school semester is over, I think I’ll be stuck buying. I saw on one of your videos you said you were buying local kombucha on tap, I am also in Florida and was wondering if you could share which brewery you are buying from? There’s a company I buy from in west palm beach that is my absolute favorite called Tealixir from Olivia’s Special Teas. She uses all types of teas from her shops to brew medicinally inspired kombucha. They also ship from Amazon if you’re not in south Florida! Sorry to rant and rave, just wanted to connect with a fellow kombucha lover

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Thank you for sharing, Jamie! I’ll look for Olivia’s Special Teas–sounds amazing!! The local company in St. Pete is called Mother Kombucha. I purchase a growler every week from our local health food store full of Mother Kombucha’s latest flavor creation.

  • Moca says:

    Hi Kristin, I would like to know where to keep the jar containing the Scoby with one cup of Kombucha? In the fridge or on the counter at room temperature? And for how long can I keep it if I don’t want to make a new batch right a way? Thank you.

  • Leanne Bell says:

    Hey Kristin! I’ve made your Kombucha recipe several times and love it! However, I made a mistake last batch by forgetting to add Kombucha to the tea/scoby or the first ferment 😩 My question is, since the scoby has been sitting in the next batch and it wasn’t fermented (it was so flat) is the SCOBY ruined?? I hope I explained that well enough….
    Thanks so much!

  • Liz says:

    I just ordered my first SCOBY. I read through your instructions saying that the mother SCOBY will never expire. My questions: Do I need to keep the mother and babies fed with sugar whilst in the hotel? What would I need the babies for if the mother never expires? Can I give them away or is it better to keep for future use? What will cause mold? I’m a little nervous to make kombucha but tired of paying for ready-made; I drink a bottle every day.
    Someone mentioned alcohol and kids. I’m from Europe and children drink fermented drinks, just like eating fermented pickles, etc. all the time. My kids drink store bought kombucha – there is no warning on the bottle and no more alcohol than in homemade pickles, kraut etc. And if parents really are concerned about the minute amount of alcohol they can further dilute the final product with water, juice etc.
    Finally, I was told to use white sugar before bc it easier for the SCOBY to digest. Do you use organic unbleached sugar? I prefer that bc I already have that in hand but will use whichever is better.
    Thanks so much for all the info, and your great blog!

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Liz, Great questions. I’m so excited for you! I’ll try to answer the ones I can, and direct you to the best resources out there for the others:

      1. I’m not the best at keeping a SCOBY hotel, I just reuse my baby and mother over and over, until they get too thick, or pass my babies onto a friend. This is a great resource for building and keeping a SCOBY hotel: https://www.kombuchakamp.com/scoby-hotel-maintenance.

      2. Technically, you don’t need the babies, they are just a natural by-product from fermenting the kombucha. You can toss them, compost them, pass them along to a friend, or use a SCOBY hotel to keep them alive if you don’t want to part ways. I think it’s nice to have a back-up just incase anything ever happens to the mother.

      3. This is a great, detailed resource about mold and kombucha: http://www.kombuchabrooklyn.com/blog/kombucha-mold-need-know/.

      You’re going to do great! I can’t wait to hear about your kombucha-making. Also, thank you for sharing about the fermented foods and kids–very well said!

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