This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of making your first homemade kombucha and serve as a reference for the rest of your sparkling adventures.
You’ll see, making kombucha at home is easy, fast, and delicious!
Making kombucha in 5 steps:
The recipe is ready in 10 days, and you can immediately start a new recipe with the same kombucha scoby, because it can be reused endlessly! Isn’t it magic?
Go straight to the section that interests you:
- How to make kombucha
- Easy Kombucha Recipe
- How to store your SCOBY
- Flavouring your kombucha
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a naturally fermented sweet tea discovered thousands of years ago in Asia. Kombucha is growing in popularity today because of its health benefits, delicious taste, and ease of preparation at home.
To make kombucha, a kombucha SCOBY is used, which contains bacteria and yeast living in symbiosis. When added to sweet tea, these microorganisms consume the sugar to produce bubbles and a pleasant, slightly acidic taste.
How do you make kombucha at home?
Here is a summary of the 5 steps to making homemade kombucha.
1. Prepare sweet tea
The kombucha microorganisms need sweet tea to make kombucha. For 3 litres of kombucha (about 1 gallon), 12g of plain tea (6 tablespoons) and 180g of sugar (1 cup) are recommended.
2. Add the kombucha SCOBY
The scoby is added when the sweetened tea is lukewarm. The kombucha SCOBY (also called mother) provides the microorganisms that trigger the fermentation process. For 3 litres of sweet tea, 300 to 500 ml (1.5-2 cups) of kombucha SCOBY is needed.
3. Let it ferment
The fermentation jar is kept at room temperature and covered with a cloth that allows the kombucha to breathe while protecting it from impurities (dust and insects). During this time (10 to 15 days), the yeast and bacteria transform the sweet tea into kombucha. As time goes on, it becomes less sweet and more acidic.
This stage is called the first fermentation, or F1.
4. Remove the scoby and flavour
After about 10 days of fermentation, the scoby is set aside with 300 to 500 ml of kombucha (1.5-2 cups), which will be used to start the next recipe.
The remaining kombucha can be drunk plain or flavoured.
The kombucha is bottled and left at room temperature for a few days. This is when the fizz is produced.
This step is called the second fermentation, or F2.
And that’s it, it’s that simple!
What Equipment Is Needed to Make Homemade Kombucha?
The basic equipment for making kombucha is easy to obtain.
You will need:
- A fermentation jar with a wide opening (kombucha likes oxygen).
- A cloth with a fine mesh (not a cheesecloth).
- Pressure resistant bottles (no Mason jars)
How to Make Your Own Kombucha
Preparation of the Sweet Tea
- Place the tea bag in the jar.
- Pour in 500ml of boiling water, let it steep for 15 minutes, then remove the tea bag.
- Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Add cold water to the 3 litre level. The tea is now lukewarm.
Adding the Kombucha Scoby
- Add the kombucha scoby with its liquid culture.
- Cover the container with the cloth and secure it with the rubber band.
- Place the jar in a well ventilated place out of direct sunlight.
Fermenting the Kombucha
- Ferment for 10 to 15 days at room temperature.
- Taste regularly from day 5. The kombucha is ready when its sugar and acidity levels are to your liking.
- Remove the kombucha scoby and 2 cups (500ml) of plain kombucha. Set aside to start your next recipe.
- Add fruit juice, herbal tea, syrup, chopped fruit, or whatever you like to flavour your kombucha. See our kombucha recipes for inspiring flavours.
- Pour the kombucha into pressure resistant bottles (such as our swing-top glass bottles).
- Store the bottles at room temperature.
- After 3 days, open and close a bottle to test its pressure. Prolong the fermentation for a few more days for a fizzier kombucha. When it's fizzy enough (watch the pressure!), put it in the fridge.
How to Store a Kombucha Scoby
Once fermentation is complete, you can store your SCOBY for future recipes.
The best way to store your kombucha scoby is to start a new recipe immediately. However, you can space out your recipes by a few days, or a few months by properly storing your kombucha scoby between recipes.
- You should keep 10% of the volume of the next recipe.
- The film is not necessary… It is the liquid that counts!
- At room temperature, a scoby will keep for 3 to 4 weeks.
- In the fridge, a scoby will keep for 6 months.
How Much Kombucha Scoby Should Be Kept?
It is recommended to keep 10% of the volume of the next recipe. This is the ideal proportion to start a kombucha fermentation. Feel free to use more, but it is not recommended to use less.
For example, if you want to make 3 litres of kombucha, you should keep 300ml (1.5 cups) of plain kombucha. You could also use 500ml, but 250ml would not be enough.
Keeping the Film or the Liquid?
The gelatinous film is not necessary for fermenting kombucha, as the microorganisms are, for the most part, supplied by the liquid culture (the freshly harvested plain kombucha).
It is possible to make kombucha with liquid culture only. On the other hand, the film alone is not sufficient to start the fermentation.
The film should not be thicker than 3 cm. If necessary, cut it! You can keep the top or bottom film, as long as there is enough starting liquid.
Storing a Kombucha Scoby in the Fridge
Here’s how to store a kombucha scoby in the fridge:
- Place the kombucha scoby and its liquid in a container with a lid.
- Write the date on the container.
- Place in the fridge
Your kombucha culture will go dormant and last up to six months.
Storing a Kombucha Scoby at Room Temperature
You can keep the kombucha scoby at room temperature for 3 to 4 weeks. It is stored in a jar covered by a cloth.
After 3 weeks, add sugar and tea again to extend the shelf life.
For more information, read How to store your kombucha scoby.
How to Flavour Your Kombucha
Plain kombucha is delicious. However, kombucha can be flavoured with all kinds of flavours!
Options for Flavouring Kombucha:
- Tea and herbal teas
- Fruit juice
- Fruit pieces
Flavouring is a matter of taste. It is best to follow one of our kombucha recipes or to experiment.
When to Flavour?
Flavour your kombucha just before bottling. Before adding your flavours, remove the kombucha scoby to avoid contaminating it.
(Not recommended) If you add flavours at the beginning of fermentation, the ingredients could weaken the kombucha scoby. In addition, the first fermentation removes most of the flavours.
Which Amount to Use?
The amount to add depends on the type of ingredients used.
For liquids, such as juices or fruit purees, we recommend adding about 750ml (3 cups) of ingredients for 3 litres (12 cups) of plain kombucha.
For other more concentrated ingredients, such as syrups or spices, a few teaspoons are sufficient.
Add the ingredients gradually, then taste your kombucha until the flavour is to your liking!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to your most frequently asked questions.
What Is the Best Tea for Kombucha?
The best plant for making kombucha is plain tea (black or green). Tea contains nutrients and tannins that are essential for the microorganisms in kombucha.
You can use green tea, black tea, oolong tea, or a kombucha tea blend. Avoid flavoured teas, which may contain compounds that weaken the kombucha scoby.
Plants other than tea can also be used if they are very rich in tannins, such as raspberry.
For more information, see:
What sugar to use for kombucha?
The best sugar to use for kombucha is plain white sugar. It is easy for the kombucha microorganisms to digest.
Other sugars can be used for kombucha, such as maple syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar, golden sugar, etc.
If you want to make kombucha with honey, get a jun scoby. Jun is a cousin culture of kombucha specialized for fermenting honey.
For more information:
What Water Should I Use for Kombucha?
The water should be as chlorine-free as possible. If you don’t have a filter, you can let tap water sit for two hours in a jug. The chlorine will evaporate.
For more information, see Which water to use for my fermentations?
What Is a Scoby, Kombucha Scoby, Starter, Liquid Culture?
A kombucha scoby is a collection of bacteria and yeast living in symbiosis. The acronym SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast.
A kombucha scoby contains yeast and bacteria that feed on sweet tea. Each microorganism has its role:
- Yeast converts sugar into CO2 (bubbles!) and alcohol
- Bacteria convert the alcohol into acid (the good vinegar taste)
After fermentation, the result is a tangy, fizzy tea with very low alcohol content thanks to the work of the microorganisms.
The microorganisms live mainly in plain kombucha that comes with the gelatinous disc. The plain kombucha that is added with the gelatinous disc is called the starter culture, liquid culture, or starter. This liquid provides the microorganisms and the essential acidity for the fermentation to start properly.
For more information, see What is a kombucha scoby?
How Do I Change the Quantities of a Kombucha Recipe?
It is possible to change the volume of the kombucha recipe, but the proportions must remain the same.
Proportions of Ingredients to Make Kombucha:
- Tea: 4g (1 tsp.) / litre
- Sugar: 60g (¼ cup) / litre
- Starter culture: 100ml (½ cup) / litre
How Much Tea?
The addition of tea provides the tannins needed for the bacteria to grow properly. The recommended amount of tea is 4g of tea per litre of kombucha (1 tsp.), but it is possible to add much more.
How Much Sugar?
Sugar is essential for the fermentation of kombucha, so you can’t do without it. It is what feeds the microorganisms! You need between 60 and 80g of sugar per litre of kombucha (¼ and ⅓ cup).
How Much of the Starter Culture?
The amount of starter culture (the scoby) required is 10% of the volume of the next recipe. You can safely add more than 10% culture, but it is not recommended to add less.
Read the previous chapter on How to store a kombucha scoby.
What Are Primary and Secondary Fermentations (F1 and F2)?
Primary fermentation (also called F1) is the stage during which the tea is transformed into kombucha. It takes place in a large jar covered with a cloth.
Secondary fermentation (also called F2) is the stage during which the kombucha is bottled and becomes fizzy.
The second fermentation is stopped (or rather slowed down) when the bottles are placed in the fridge.
How Do You Get Bubbles in Your Kombucha?
Kombucha becomes fizzy during secondary fermentation (F2). To get bubbles, place the kombucha in airtight, pressure resistant bottles and let it ferment for a few days. 3 to 4 days is usually enough to produce a perfect fizz.
Is It Normal for My Scoby to Sink to the Bottom?
Yes, this happens very often with a new scoby. Don’t worry about it. A new scoby will form on top.
To find out more, read Why does my kombucha scoby sink to the bottom?
How Do I Know if My Kombucha Scoby Is Ok?
A kombucha scoby looks very strange at first sight! Sticky texture, black filaments, brown spots… However, 99% of the time, kombucha scobys are perfectly healthy!
To help you know if everything is fine, we have written an article on How to tell if your kombucha scoby is sick.
- Buy a kombucha making kit
- Check out our kombucha making equipment and ingredients
- Try our recipes for flavouring kombucha
- Take our online course on “How to make kombucha”