How to Make Kombucha Tea: The 10-Step Recipe

I’m back and ready to talk BOOCH! I’ve been brewing my own kombucha at home for about a year now, and let’s just say: I wish I would have started sooner. It’s saved me money; I prefer the taste; and I love knowing what goes into my booch. Plus, I find it therapeutic and fun to craft my own kombucha concoctions. I should also mention: it’s super simple. If I can keep up with a continuous brew at home with two toddlers running around and two pups, you can too! Before I get into how to brew kombucha at home, I wanted to touch on the benefits of this fermented beverage.

So many ailments stem from the gut. Maintaining healthy gut flora is key to optimal, overall health and wellbeing, and kombucha–like most fermented foods–has the ability to help us get that good balance in our bellies. There’s quite a list of benefits* from drinking kombucha daily, including the following:

  • Promotes healthy gut bacteria
  • Rebalances homeostasis in the body
  • Supports healthy liver function
  • Boosts metabolism, energy, healthy cell regeneration
  • Improves digestion, bowel function, eyesight
  • Reduces blood pressure, glucose levels, kidney stones, free radicals
  • Heals ulcers, yeast infections/candida overgrowth, eczema
  • Relieves headaches and migraines

…just to name a few. Long story short: kombucha fits any diet–vegan, raw, vegetarian, Paleo, kosher, SAD, you name it. We can all use a bit of balancing and healthy bacteria in our bodies, right? And luckily, as I mentioned before, it’s easy to brew kombucha at home. With that being said, let’s brew a batch!

*Source: Crum, Hannah; LaGory, Alex: The Big Book of Kombucha

My first ever “SCOBY” (or symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)

Here’s what you need for 1 gallon of kombucha:

1 gallon glass jar/vessel (attached, non-metal spout optional but encouraged)
1 gallon cool, chlorine-free water
1 cup sugar
1 full-size SCOBY (same fit as your vessel)
1-2 cups mature starter kombucha
6 green and/or black tea bags (or 2 tablespoons loose-leaf tea)
1 breathable fabric cover
Rubberband for fastening

  1. Heat 1 quart (4 cups) of water in a pot on the stove to just below boiling. Add the tea bags to the hot water, cover, and let steep for up to 15 minutes. I like to do 3 black and 3 green tea bags.
  2. Uncover and remove the tea bags.
  3. Add the sugar to the hot tea and stir until all sugar is dissolved.
  4. Set aside and let cool until lukewarm.
  5. Meanwhile, add the remaining 3 quarts (12 cups) of water to your brewing vessel.
  6. Add the sweet tea to your vessel.
  7. If this is your first ever batch, you can slide your SCOBY into your vessel with a tongs (or clean hands). Preferably, you will also have reserved at least 1-2 cups of mature starter kombucha from the person/place who gave you the SCOBY. (If you can’t find a local SCOBY, I recommend kombucha kamp.) Ideally, you add the starter tea at this point, on the very top of everything in the vessel, because it solidifies the pH of the tea near the top of the vessel and therefore, offers a protective layer where the culture is most susceptible to potential pathogens. If you do not have a strong starter liquid, just add 2 cups of plain, store-bought booch. NOTE: If you’ve brewed before and want to keep it continuous, you can leave your SCOBY in the vessel after bottling and also leave/reserve at least 1-2 cups of booch from your previous batch so you can start a new batch when you’re ready.
  8. Cover the vessel with a breathable cloth and secure with a rubberband.
  9. Set in a warm, dark location–75 degrees-ish–out of direct sunlight. I don’t get too technical with temperatures, but the temperature will affect how long it may take to ferment and be ready to drink or bottle. If it’s cooler, it may just take longer to get to your liking.
  10. Watch and wait! You should allow the sweet tea 7-21 days to ferment. (This varies greatly depending on temps, location, starter liquid, etc.)

At about 7 days, give or take, you can do a little taste test. I drain a bit into a mug and give it a taste. If you don’t have a spout, you can uncover your brew and slip a straw just under the SCOBY and take a sip. If it tastes super sweet and flat, it’s probably not ready, and you can re-cover it and check again in another couple days. If it’s slightly bubbly, almost tingly on the tongue, and at your liking for taste–I prefer mine on the more vinegary side but a good rule of thumb is to bottle it when it’s just ever-so slightly sweeter than you ultimately want it to be in the end–then it’s ready to bottle…or you can always enjoy right out of the vessel, if that’s your thing. I prefer and encourage everyone to take it to the next level: bottle and FLAVOR! I always bottle and flavor mine because it’s more fun and delicious, and honestly, once you get the hang of brewing, it seriously tastes better than store-bought booch! This next step is called 2F, or second fermentation. At 2F, you can infuse fruits, juices, herbs, coffee, veggies–whatever you’d like–into your kombucha. This is also the step that often really creates that effervescence that I love! I like my booch BUBBLY! Yes, there will be a little more waiting involved, but trust me, it’s worth it. If you want to kick your kombucha up a notch, check out How to Bottle and Flavor Kombucha for next steps! Thanks for reading! Enjoy.

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