Brew your own Kombucha!

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This post has literally been years in the making. After countless requests for a kombucha brewing method and recipe, I finally feel confident enough to write about such a HUGE topic. Considering the fact that there are entire books about this one subject, I’ll start off by saying that I do not consider myself a kombucha-brewing expert. Although I’ve brewed hundreds of liters of the stuff by now, I am still learning and just happy to share my processes and experiences with you so far. Everyone has a slightly different way of brewing and this is mine – it works perfectly for me and I hope for you too!

Making kombucha, like any “kitchen project” seems pretty daunting until you actually do it. Once you take the first step and brew your own batch, you won’t believe how simple and easy it is to make your own kombucha and be able to drink it every day of your life! You’ll also wonder why you waited so long to start. With just a 20-minute time investment every 7-10 days you’ll have access to the most delicious, high-vibe kombucha you’ve ever tasted at a faction of the cost of buying from the store. Plus, if you make it yourself, it will be 100% raw and full of those precious, digestion-supporting enzymes that our diets are typically lacking, whereas commercial kombucha has often been pasteurized – a process that destroys enzymes. You can ferment it to suit your taste, make it as fizzy as you desire, and even add flavourings. How rad is that?

What is Kombucha?
Although kombucha is experiencing a major surge in popularity, it has actually been around for thousands of years. It is essentially sweetened tea, fermented with the help of a SCOBY, transformed into a fizzy, effervescent drink. SCOBY is an acronym, which stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s an odd-looking thing – often compared to an organ, a slippery mushroom, or a rubbery pancake – but it’s the essential ingredient in making the miracle beverage that is kombucha. Its flavours can range from pleasantly vinegar-y to champagne-like, with sweetness varying according to the original brew and second fermentations.

kombucha5

Where can I get a SCOBY?
Since the SCOBY duplicates every time you make kombucha, there are plenty out there in the world for free! I recommend asking at your local health food store – in my experience it seems like the place to either purchase one, or connect with someone who brews and enjoys spreading the kombucha gospel and giving their extra SCOBYs away. Alternatively, try your local Craigstlist to find a culture. You can even buy them online. Here is a worldwide source: www.kombu.de

What about sugar?
Yes, you need sugar to brew kombucha but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be consuming it – it’s only food for the SCOBY! What starts off as very sweet tea completely transforms through the fermentation process, and that SCOBY turns all of that food into a delightful mixture of beneficial organic acids, B-vitamins, and enzymes. If it’s something you are concerned about, just let your kombucha ferment for the full 10 days, or longer. The longer the tea ferments the less sugar it contains. Usually by day 10 there isn’t a trace left – but your tea will be rather acidic-tasting just so you know!

There are a few types of sugar you can use for feeding the SCOBY, but cane sugar is the most recommended by seasoned brewers. I use the least processed form of cane sugar I can find – organic evaporated cane juice – but even the most sugar-avoiding, health-conscious people I know brew with refined white sugar. Remember: the sugar feeds the SCOBY, not you!

kombuchabrewing

What about caffeine?
The caffeine range in kombucha is extremely broad, and is mostly dependent on the type of tea used to brew it. Black tea contains substantially more caffeine than green tea for instance, and since I am sensitive to caffeine, I always brew with green tea. In general, brewed kombucha will contain approximately 1/3 of the caffeine of the original tea. If black tea contains 30-80mg of caffeine per cup, the same sized up of kombucha would contain 10-25mg. Green tea kombucha may have just 2-3mg per cup. Whatever you do, do NOT use decaffeinated tea to brew kombucha. Instead, blend the black tea with green tea or simply use green tea alone.

What about alcohol?
Fermenting anything sweet with yeasts is going to produce booze, that is just nature! With kombucha you’re looking at an average of 0.5 – 1% alcohol by volume. With home-brewing, there is always a risk of more alcohol forming since it is in an uncontrolled environment, so keep that in mind if that is a concern for you or someone you are serving it to.

What are the health benefits of Kombucha?
First, kombucha is a probiotic drink, so it is an excellent beverage for improving digestion, and supporting healthy bacteria in the gut. Its high enzyme content also promotes healthy digestion and nutrient assimilation.

Lab tests show that kombucha has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, and the ability to improve liver function and reduce oxidative stress in the body. Many people report success in relieving their symptoms of arthritis, allergies, chronic fatigue, hypertension, metabolic disorders, and digestive issues.

What I think is very exciting and promising about kombucha however, are the acids formed during fermentation. These acids have incredible detoxifying and antioxidant capabilities. Glucuronic acid, for example, is the body’s most important detoxifier and made by the oxidation of glucose. Glucuronic acid binds to toxins in the liver and flushes them out through the kidneys. It also works in conjunction with gluconic acid, which binds with heavy metals and ushers them out of our systems. Acetic acid inhibits the action of harmful bacteria. Usnic acid protects against viruses through its antibiotic properties. Malic acid helps detoxify the liver. Butyric acid is produced by the beneficial yeasts in kombucha and protects cellular membranes and combines with gluconic acid to strengthen the walls of the gut to combat harmful yeasts such as candida albicans.

Of all the healthy habits I’ve adopted in my life, I’d say that drinking kombucha has actually made a difference in how I feel. Every time I take a sip it feels like every cell of my body is screaming YAAAAAHHHHHSSSSSS! Really and truly. To me, it is life elixir, and a fabulous drink to add to your healthy lifestyle. But I will also say that kombucha is not a panacea. The hype around this beverage has reached astronomical heights and I believe it’s important to consume kombucha without the expectation that it’s going to change your life. What works for me, may work for you and it may not. At the end of the day, kombucha is purely delicious and I think it’s best to enjoy it for that reason alone.

Can I drink too much kombucha?
Kombucha, like anything, should be enjoyed responsibly. Just as you wouldn’t eat a pound of chia seeds in a sitting, nor should you drown yourself in kombucha (although it would be a delicious way to go). If you have never had kombucha before, start out with about half a cup (125ml) and work your way up over the course of a few weeks or months. I probably drink around 1-2 cups a day (250 – 500ml) but my body is used to it and I too eased into this amount. Remember: food is medicine! You never know how your body will react, so it’s best to take things slow with such powerful potions.

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Second fermentation – flavouring your brew and making your kombucha fizzy
Although kombucha straight after the first fermentation is delish, I love to flavour it and make it really fizzy through a second fermentation. This involves adding a sweet substance, like fresh fruit or juice (I use unfiltered apple juice), to the bottles of brewed kombucha and letting it sit, sealed at room temperature for another couple of days instead of refrigerating it right away. This extra dose of sugar will feed the kombucha further and produce gas, which builds up inside the sealed bottle. This step is optional, but will make your kombucha really special and sparkly!

It’s essential that you use flip-top bottles with good seals for this step, since you want the gas to build inside the bottles at this stage. But because the pressure can be quite strong, I always recommend “burping” your bottles once a day until they have reached the amount of fizz you’re after. Simply flip the top on the bottles and you should hear the gas escaping, which is just enough to take the pressure off – there will still be plenty of sparkle in the kombucha. If you fail to burp your bottles, you may end up with an explosion on your hands! Needless to say this is quite dangerous, so set a timer for once  day if you’re a forgetful person.

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Taking a break from fermenting
There will come a time when you’ll have to pause your kombucha brewing cycle – perhaps if you’re traveling for a period of time, or simply feel like stopping – in which case, you need to know how to take a break.

Remove the SCOBY from the jar, separate the mother and the baby and put them into the same or separate glass jars (separate if you’re giving one away) with enough brewed kombucha to cover it, and seal with a plastic lid (remember that kombucha can not come into contact with metal, so stay on the safe side and use plastic). Keep this in the fridge where the temperature will slow down fermentation, and it will keep for many months. When you want to brew your new batch, remove the SCOBY from the fridge and let it come to room temperature before adding it to the sweetened and cooled tea, along with kombucha from your last batch, the SCOBY and the liquid it was stored in.

If you can time it properly, it’s a nice to be able to bottle your last batch right before you leave so that you can put your SCOBY away at the end of a cycle. I time it so that my second fermentation ends on my travel day so that I can store my bottles in the fridge while I’m gone. If it doesn’t exactly line up, you can do this by increasing the first or second fermentations by a few days. Remember that if you bottle early, it will be sweeter, and if you leave it longer it will be more acidic. Some people will leave their kombucha brewing for up to a month and that may suit you, but I personally wouldn’t leave mine for more than 2 weeks. If you are flexible on the taste and don’t mind these flavour variations, it will be a lot easier to time your break.

Whatever you do, don’t start a brew right before you leave for more than a couple weeks (unless you like very vinegar-y kombucha), and definitely don’t leave your second fermentation bottles out at room temperature! You’ll come home to an epic mess or worse.

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I know that this seems like a lot of information, but I wanted this post to be thorough so that you could have all the information you need to start brewing! If you have another variation on brewing, or tips and tricks that you think others would find helpful, please let me know in the comments! And because I know you’re going to have a lot of questions, I’ll try to check in on this post more often to answer them.

Here are some great online resources for those who want more information on brewing kombucha:

Remember that it may take a few batches (and a few SCOBYs) to get your kombucha just the way you like it, but it’s a really fun, empowering and delicious project that will make you feel like you can do anything in the kitchen! Did I mention you’ll get to drink kombucha every day for the rest of your life? Yes, there’s that too.

All love and happy brewing,
Sarah B.

Show me your kombucha on Instagram: #MNRkombucha

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140 comments

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  4. Karen

    I have followed this recipe twice & love it! I have found Baby scobys after both the 1st & 2nd fermentations. The babies are quite small. I just started a new batch & put all my scobys in hoping the babies will grow. Do you have any advice regarding how big a Scooby needs to be to work on it’s own? I’m not sure what to do with all these babies!

  5. Saskia

    Success!
    I finally made my first batch of Kombucha thanks to my yogi neighbor who provided me with a scoby – the result is delish. I’m hooked!

  6. Amy

    Hi Sarah,

    thanks for this article! I have brewed on and off for years but never with a clear recipe to follow. The batch I just made with your post turned out amazing!!

    I actually brewed mine in a very big ceramic bowl ( held just under 4L plus the two cups of added kombucha) It grew a very wide shallow scoby and I bottled it today on day 8! I think the wider surface area might speed fermentation but who knows! Anyway just thought I would share in case someone can’t find a tall glass jar!

    Happy Booching everyone!:)

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  12. Niels

    Thanks a lot for the recipe :-). I’ve wanted to try making my own kombucha for a while and I will definitely give it a try after reading you post.

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  14. Jenny Herritz

    Hi Sarah,
    I started brewing my own Kombucha using the recipe from your blog – great! I have two questions for you:
    1. What is your opinion of Jun tea, that uses honey instead of cane sugar? Seems like that would be a good idea, but if it is, why is Kombucha so much more popular in health food stores and groups than Jun?
    2. My secondary fermentation doesn’t seem to work about 2/3 of the time. I think it’s warm enough, and I’m using fresh-squeezed juices, so no chlorine contamination. I’m leaving about 1.5 inches at the top for air… What else could I be missing?
    Love the blog – shared it with many friends over the year. Keep it up!
    Jenny

  15. Marie

    Hey there, I love your instructions for brewing kombucha and made some batches alread – worked great, tastes super nice 🙂 Would like to have the recipe in the app, but missed in the latest update. Will I find it there somewhen? Thanks

  16. kristen

    Sarah, where did you find your beautiful dress/shirt? I love it! Great post, I’m looking for a scoby tonight so I can get started. xo, kristen

  17. Jake

    Since kombucha is SO detoxifying, I wouldn’t recommend it during conception or pregnancy unless your diet is SUPER clean already, because all of those toxins will be liberated from the liver and circulating throughout your body. I had no clue this could happen thanks for info

  18. Nike

    Love this post! Thanks for sharing!!! I’m so motivated to getting started and already have my SCOBY waiting…

    A few questions:
    2nd fermentation – What is the reason for this? Just the flavor/fizz or is it more healthy?
    After the batch is ready for bottling (1st fermentation) would you use a plastic sieve or anything similar to sieve any strings/thickness out or just leave it as is? I remember seeing some string etc. swim around when I was brewing some years back and would be nice to get them out but not if it lowers the healthiness levels of the drink.

    Many thanks from Kenya,
    Nike

  19. amybamy_

    Ive been brewing booch on and off for years and I always add fresh ginger to my secondary ferment to get that fizz. Sometimes I just do ginger but usually it’s with something else. Some of my favorites are whole chai spices or the juice of a delicious grapefruit after I’m done eating it (the method where you cut it in half and use a serrated knife to cut the pulp away from the wedge casings). Grapefruit kombucha is like champagne, so good!

  20. Nike

    Lovely post as always!
    I have brewing kambucha many years ago and then forgot about it when I got pregnant (did not want to take it because of the alcohol), but your post really made me want to get started it again. Might be tricky to get hold of a SCOBY here in Nairobi, but I think there might be a few friends brewing in silence.
    Now one question: do you think it’s “safe” to give a small drink to children too? I feel it would be so great for my 4 and 2 year olds to get all the benefits from it, but I’m slightly worried about the alcohol levels. Maybe I could dilute and give a small glass w added juice and fruits etc.? What would you suggest the amount to be for them – if at all?

    Thanks so much for a truly fantastic blog!

    Love from the Danes in Kenya!

  21. DDuffy

    Been waiting for this too. So much information to take in. Seems kind of scary still.
    ‘Food Is Medicine’ is my new quote – thank you!

  22. Aldy

    Hey Sarah, I’m LOVING this post 🙂 I’ve been wanting to make homemade kombucha for a while but got a few questions popping around my head about how sugar and caffeine work while in the fermentation process of kombucha. And your wonderful post just answered all my questions! Can’t wait to make my first batch of kombucha.

    Thank you for your awesomeness 😉

    Aldy

  23. Barbara Jacops

    Hi Sarah!!

    Soooo my Sco-baby has been brewing since more than two weeks…
    he heeeee!!!!
    but here are already a few questions… Have so many more, as this process or going..

    1. The scoby does not look pretty,.. can I clean it under cold water a bit?
    between two brewing sessions?

    2. I have the impression that they – Yes, I have two already – that they are reproducing super fast!!!
    how do you know the mother? vs the baby? Is the baby the one hanging on the bottom of the mother?

    3. Can you store all you kombucha baby’s from different batches into the same jar?
    after this brewing session, I think I will have 4 scoby’s… Can I just continue with 1, and save the other 3 in 1 jar?
    Or do they all need to be saved separately?

    4. the first batch I brewed, I used coconut sugar and a bit of cane sugar. Once I realized coconut sugar killed it, I added a whooole lot more cane sugar
    How do I know I killed my Booch?

    5. You use green tea, everyone recommends black tea… so green works?? yaaaayyy!!! prefer green…

    6. more questions to come!! watch out 😉

    Kissses and lots of love!!!!!!
    Kawa-Buchaaaaa!!! x

    ps: you should add to the article that you should name your Kombucha! 😉

    • Sarah Britton

      Hey Barb!

      HAhaa…sorry I’m responding so late. Here are the answers:
      1. No, your SCOBY isn’t in a beauty pageant. Just leave it alone, no washing.
      2. The baby is the new SCOBY on top. The mother is on the bottom. Congrats!
      3. They can all be stored together. Google “SCOBY Hotel”
      4. You may not have killed it completely, but you may have starved it. There’s not enough in the coconut sugar to feed the SCOBY. It’s favourite food is cane sugar, so from now on just give it that.
      5. I like green tea best, but I always use black tea every few batches to keep my SCOBY strong.
      6. Oh boy 😉

      xoxo, Sarah B

      • Karen van der Merwe

        Hi there, just tuning into the cocounut sugar/cane sugar situation. I got a scoby from a friend who fed it honey. How do I convert the scoby to one that feeds of sugar. Can I just use this scoby and start feeding it a “new” sugar straight away? Can’t wait to start. Thanks so much. I’ve ordered your first cookbook and am counting the days for it to arrive…

  24. lisa

    salut Sarah ! super ce post kombucha ! il manquait sur le site et voilà qu”il est ici 🙂 Je vais re tenter bientôt …
    Ici en France on aimerait bien avoir ton livre qui à l’air top , traduit dans notre langue !!
    Un jour ?
    merci pour tes magnifiques recettes .

  25. Elle

    Just FYI, what you refer to as the SCOBY (the white top layer) isn’t actually living – it is a cellulose layer created as a byproduct of the fermentation of the live cultures in the tea mixture. It isn’t strictly necessary for the fermentation process to occur, though it can help keep your first brew be a little fizzier by keeping the carbonation from dissipating into the air immediately. The real mother (and most important part of Kombucha brewing) is the fermented tea that you’re storing it in! This is why a cellulose layer will form out of nowhere when you leave a bottle of Kombucha out at room temperature – the cultures live in the tea itself. You can find sources on the internet that discuss this, but I learned this from a friend who brews her Kombucha commercially (check out Bloom if you’re ever in Michigan! It’s amazing!) and visited many other commercial Kombucha breweries to learn about the actual science of Kombucha in preparation for launching her business.

  26. Olivia Berggren

    I have been waiting for this post, thank you for sharing! I was lucky to get a mama from a friend in France who got it from her sister in California. I love the way kombucha get shared over the world. I wanted to bring my mama to sweden so a put her in a glass jar in my check in luggage. Unfortunately it wasn’t water proof so when I came home I had kombucha all over my clothes. Not as a planned… So… now I have a mama but not much liquid to work with. How can I get her happy again? Should I just keep feeding her with the and sugar?
    Love, Olivia

    • Sarah Britton

      Hey Olivia,

      So great you got a mama, and fine that you’re missing some liquid. To make her happy again, get brewing girl! You will need already-brewed kombucha to make the tea (read the ingredient list once again), but she’ll be fine once you put her in a sweet tea-kombucha blend. I hope it works…happy brewing!

      xo, Sarah B

  27. Adrienne

    Hi there,
    Thanks for this post-it inspired me to go for it finally and make a batch! I doubled the recipe and brewed it in my large sauekraut crock and it worked! My question is what to do with the baby that formed at the top. It’s thin and as wide as the crock…so massive. I stored the original tiny scoby and its huge pancake baby in a mason jar ( the baby is folded over in the jar ) wirh some kombucha. So do I use the baby for my next batch, the original scoby, or both? Thanks!

  28. Jess

    I’ve been meaning to brew my own Kombucha for a while now, and this makes it look pretty simple! Really excited to try it out!

  29. Adrianne

    Thanks for the suggestion on burping the bottles! I can’t tell you how many times my kitchen ceiling has been sprayed because I had left a bottle for a little too long and then tried to open it!

  30. Isa

    Thanks for sharing this! I will definitely try making my first batch of kombucha now… xoxo from Canary Islands

  31. Leanna

    Hi community. Wondering after 3-4 days of secondary fermentation, should you remove the fruit before returning to fridge?

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi Leanna,

      You don’t have to, but it can a bit funny-looking in the bottle. Most of the colour will likely drain out of the fruit, so if you’re using something like strawberries, you end up with brownish-gray blobs in the kombucha. This is one reason I like using fresh juice the best! But it’s your call 🙂

      Happy brewing!
      Sarah B

    • Adrianne

      I always do. I strain it and bottle it in a flip top bottle (Belgium beer bottles is what they are called here).

  32. M.T.Becker

    I love homemade Kombucha! I was brewing it myself until I destroyed my Scoby. Gave it coconut sugar and I think it didn’t like it! #freshpressedyoga available on Amazon

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi M.T.Becker – yea, coconut sugar doesn’t really work. You could always do a mix with refined sugar and coconut sugar if you like, but I can’t promise the results!

      Good luck 🙂
      Sarah B

  33. Harry Bowden

    Wow this is so in depth! Kombucha really is having a moment right now and I’ve been curious to know more about it. I like that you suggested easing into it and not just diving straight into drinking it all the time.

    H. Bowden

  34. Carla

    Hi Sarah, thanks for the great post, you got me inspired. I just got a Scoby from someone and just can´t get such a big glass jar, is it ok to use a foodsafe plastic bucket while my glass jar comes shipped from England!! ( i live in germany) or does the Scoby need light?

    Thanks!

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi Carla!

      Congrats on getting a SCOBY! I don’t recommend brewing in plastic. You can do it of course, but glass is best 🙂 Either wait until your jar comes, or brew once batch in the plastic and the second one in glass. The SCOBY should be kept out of the light (see more info in the post).

      Good luck and happy brewing!
      xo, Sarah B

  35. Amy | The Whole Food Rainbow

    Hey Sarah, this absolutely wonderful post comes just at the right moment for me as I am poised to make my first batch. Could I ask if there is a way to try to keep the alcohol content as low as possible, or conversely is their a stage to limit in which alcohol is produced?

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi Amy – so happy you’re about to start!

      There is going to alcohol in any brew you’re making of course, but to keep it low, brew the batch for a shorter amount of time (around 7 days) and don’t do the second fermentation. You won’t have any carbonation, but it’s still delicious! Hope that helps 🙂

      xo, Sarah B

  36. Erin

    Beautiful kombucha! I’ve been brewing for years but just learned a relevatory thing or two over at nourishedkitchen.com. Apparently it is a big no no to keep extra scobies in the fridge (which is what I used to do, too). It can either kill them or cause them to grow unhealthy yeasts. I do the continuous brew method mentioned above so I never run out of cultures (and I–gulp–even compost the extras sometimes!)
    Beautiful blog – love following it! (We harbor a similar passion for tahini 🙂

    • Sarah Britton

      Hey Erin – thanks for the tips – good to know! I don’t keep my scobies for very long at all, but I must try the continuous brew method. Sounds incredible!

      So glad to find another tahini fiend too 😉

      xo, Sarah B

      • Kathryn Sheridan

        I also do continuous, taking out half to two-thirds and then filling up with cooked sweet tea.

        Even if you don’t do the second fermentation on the counter, just keeping the Booch in the fridge in either a plastic or a flip top bottle provides light sparkles.

        I haven’t tried adding flavours yet or brewing with herbal tea. I’ve read that herbal tea should also work.

        As for the alcohol, I am teetotal but I do drink kombucha. I figure such a low amount is ok. I drink around shot glass a day.

  37. Emily Weaver

    Do you have any opinions on continuous vs single brew kombucha? It looks like you are doing single brews; I do continuous but have heard that this may create more acidity and poorer taste. Interested to hear your thoughts! Thanks for the awesome post!

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi Emily,

      I hadn’t even heard of continuous brew until after I posted this. I am stoked about it! But I have no idea about taste / acidity etc. I will let you know once I do 😉

      Best,
      Sarah B

  38. Inês Furtado

    Hi Sarah!! First of all – You rock girl!!
    One question… as SCOBY grows in every batch, when should we split the SCOBY and give it to a friend to contribute to the Kombucha world`s domination? I know it grows slowly but in 4-5 batchs its ok to divide it?
    Much love, Inês

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi Ines!

      Yes, a new SCOBY grows in every batch. You should divide it every time (if you want to) and give the mother away. I like the keep the fresh babies for myself 🙂

      WORLD DOMINATION!!! Haha 😉
      xo, Sarah B

  39. Lisa

    I have been brewing kombucha for awhile now and I keep 2 porcelain water dispensers on the counter (with the spigot down low) so I can keep a continuous brew going. Every 7-10 days I take the scoby out, use the spigot to bottle the brew (leaving about 2 inches of liquid in the bottom to support the next brew), add the cooled tea, and add the scoby back. It makes it a super simple process with little clean up. Every 2-3 batches I separate the scobies from each other and feed the older scoby to my dogs – they love them – and every 3 months or so I drain the crocks completely (reserving about 2 cups per crock of kombucha) so I can wipe out the crocks and remove any strings or other gunk that builds up at the bottom (my dogs love to eat this stuff, too). My son prefers the kombucha unflavored, but I prefer adding apple juice or fruit for a sweeter brew. My son has digestive issues and allergies and drinking kombucha has cleared up his rashes, hives, and eczema better than any prescription the doctors were giving him.

  40. Jodi

    I’m all about kombucha, and very exciting to see this post, Sarah – but first – that blouse! Gorgeous! I’ve been in a very good homemade phase lately, there is kimchi in the fridge and all sorts of sprouts on the counter and a sourdough starter that I whisper sweet nothings to every morning in the pantry – so why no get it on with kombucha too! Thank you for the inspiration! I put it out there on our local ‘craig’s list’ – turns out there are a lot of brewers in this small town! Scoby’s for everyone! xx

  41. Stephanie

    Hi Sarah! Thanks for such an informative post. Your photos are gorgeous. It’s such a beautiful process and ritual, isn’t it? I’ve been brewing on and off for years, and also consumed it during conception/pregnancy. I even give a little here and there to my toddler. Wondering your thoughts on this? Thanks!

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi Stephanie,

      The jury is still out on whether or not it should be given to kids…you have to do what you think is best! I feel like anything in moderation is fine. Giving kids very small amounts is okay, but for fermented drinks I’d lean towards water kefir instead. Just my opinion 🙂

      Big love,
      Sarah B

  42. Jordan

    Heard about this but never try it. Your article is so informative. Thank you! I will look for this at my bio store. Reading the comments I realize that a lot of people knows the benefit of it.

  43. Elmien

    Have you ever tried making this with Rooibos tea? You kick started my clean eating habits, you absolutely rock! Thanks for all your research and super awesome recipes.

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi Elmien!

      Amazing to hear! So thrilled to hear you’re on a healthy path 😀
      I’ve only tried using hibiscus tea, but I’ve heard that rooibos works well. Just make sure you add either a little black tea with the rooibos, or that you brew a batch with black tea on the next round to keep your SCOBY strong!

      Good luck,
      Sarah B

  44. kim

    l have been making kombucha for a couple of years now and l make one batch with organic raw sugar and the other with rice malt syrup. l got the recipe from l quit sugar- Sarah Wilson (Australia) Both my scoby are going strong,even when they have been neglected.

  45. Gennevie

    I drank it through two pregnancies, a ginger flavor, and it really helped me with morning sickness. But I had been drinking it for a few years before I became pregnant so my system was really accustomed to it. However, I had to stop when the babies arrived and I began nursing. My son had pretty sever colic that stopped almost as soon as I omitted it from my diet. My midwife and acupuncturist both agreed that it’s best to stop while nursing. I was very happy when I got to have my first glass after I stopped nursing!

  46. Donna

    I feel like you read my mind with this post. Thanks so much for sharing! I just recently started my kombucha journey, and am growing my scoby from scratch. Do you know if it is detrimental to the health of the scoby if you happen to move your glass jar around? I realized that after I sat my jar down that I didn’t put it in the best spot (somewhat close to fruit & plants which means critters!) So I ended up moving it into another room. This happend on the first day, about a few hours after I finished preparing it. I noticed that a lot of the little bubbles that were forming on the top seemed to have dissolved when I moved it. However, It’s been about 3 days now and I’m noticing that the bubbles are slowly reappearing along the sides, as well as strands of yeast and a bit of a white film is forming. I’m assuming this is a good sign?! Fingers crossed that I didn’t ruin it while moving it into another room!

      • Donna

        Thanks for your reply, Victoria! It’s been about a week in and my scoby seems to be doing wonderfully! It is just starting to thicken up now. I am so excited to see how it will turn out over the next week and am looking forward to starting my kombucha!

    • Sarah Britton

      Hey Donna,

      You definitely shouldn’t move the jar around during fermentation, but if you have to adjust it once or twice that’s okay too. It won’t damage the SCOBY as such, it will just prevent it form being able to form in the early days. From what you’ve said it sounds like you’ve got a healthy baby on the way! Hooray 😉 Let me know when it’s done…good luck!

      xo, Sarah B

  47. Susan

    I’ve been making kombucha for a couple years. Just met Hannah Crum and got her huge book called “The Big Book of Kombucha”. Her recipe sounds like yours and she has information on continuous brewing. I just made face cream and hair tonic out of my extra scobys. Thanks for your detailed instructions.

  48. Susan

    Thank you for a great explanation and set of instructions for brewing kombucha. Since we travel a lot, for extended periods, I really appreciate knowing how to keep the SCOBYs going.

    You made a comment about usnic acid protecting against viruses through its antibiotic properties. That statement cannot be correct, because antibiotics affect only bacteria, not viruses (that’s why taking antibiotics for the common cold is not a good idea).

    I also have a question: I, too, am caffeine sensitive, so I am wondering if it would be possible to brew kombucha using rooibos tea (an herb tea)? If you have any thoughts about that, I would appreciate knowing. I would clearly need to choose green tea for brewing if the rooibos wouldn’t work.

  49. Lisa

    Another question for you… Is this something that is safe (& beneficial) for young children to consume? I have a 2 & a 4 year old…

  50. Romola

    I use an open topped ceramic kombucha crock (Durand brand) with a tap at the bottom and use the ‘continuous brew method’ – each day I take off 1l and add 1l of sweet tea in the top, then you have a bottle ready everyday to do a second ferment. Takes about 2 mins each day!

    • Emily

      First, great post!!
      Romola, I am just learning about the continuous brewing method and thinking about starting it. With this method, how do you handle the scoby? I assume it will continue to get bigger the longer it sits in the brewing kombucha. Do you just take it out every once in a while to remove some of the layers? And do you take out and remove the oldest layers or the newest layers? Many thanks in advance for any answers!

  51. Kassidee

    Why not decaf tea? I seriously can’t find any info about that. I used to make kombucha with it and I think it was fine. I wondered if there’s some risk that I don’t know about though…

  52. AmyB

    This is fantastic! I’ve been wanting to make my own for some time but it always seems daunting. Your post makes it sound…dare I say…easy?!

    Question, could you tell us where you purchased your jar and bottles?? I’ve had a tough time finding one that is the right size food safe glass without a metal lid :-/.

  53. weronika

    I love kombucha but I’ve never made it myself. After this post, I think I will need to give it a try! Yours looks delicious. Do you think it would work with any herbal or floral tea?

    • Victoria

      You can add flovoured teas to the second fermentation, but it’s best to stick with plain black or green tea in the main batch to keep the SCOBY healthy.

  54. Taylor

    Hi! I’m so happy that you have put up this post! I have been brewing Kombucha for a while but I keep getting stuck at the end. After my first batch is completed (flavored and put in the fridge) how do I start my second, third, etc. batches? Do I use the baby that grows from the mother of my original SCOBY and completely start over, then each time use the newest SCOBY that has grown? Or at a certain point am I able to use several cups of the kombucha from the batch prior without the SCOBY? I would like to know what you do and exactly what you recommend. Thank you for your help!

  55. Megan

    Thank you for this post!!! I would like to start doing this at home but wasn’t sure how to start so this is a wonderful read!!!! Thank you thank you!!

  56. Jenny

    It is a very bad idea to store your SCOBYs in the fridge, as doing so can compromise the cultures, and leave them more prone to molding or failure. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s pretty common to have issues with refrigerated kombucha mothers. I’ve taught workshops on fermentation to thousands of students worldwide, and those people who rest their mothers in the fridge are far more likely to have trouble brewing and experience mold. Best thing to do is use a SCOBY hotel: https://www.kombuchakamp.com/scoby-hotel-maintenance.

  57. Anna huber

    I had been making kombucha for about 20 years but stopped about a year ago. Am thinking of starting again. Can I purchase a bottle of kombucha at my local health food market, and start a new mushroom from it or do I have to buy a new SCOBY..?

    Incidentally I never had a batch go bad, ever, and I used water from my tap and Lipton tea.

  58. Jessie

    FYI I think I the important notes section, #4, you meant to write “do NOT let the Kombucha come in contact with metal.

  59. Cathy

    Thank you so much for this in-depth information! I have in the past made and drunk kombucha regularly, but, for some reason I don’t remember, have gotten away from it. Maybe I took a trip and just didn’t get started again. You have inspired me to take my scoby out of the fridge and make a new batch! It should be done just in time for my next weekend away.

    The second fermentation is new to me, so I must get the appropriate bottle and try that.

    I’m curious about what happens if kombucha comes into contact with metal. My scoby is in a glass jar with a metal lid.

  60. J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats

    Did not know kombucha had glucuronic acid, a lot of over the counter medications (NSAIDs, Tylenol, steroids) can deplete GCA in your body so glad to know drinking kombucha can actually counteract that.

    Also wahhh most nitpicky but, antibiotic specifically refers to bacteria so usnic acid can’t protect against viruses by being antibiotic (but it happens to be antiviral AND antibiotic). Can you tell I work in science haha.

  61. Melissa

    This is perfect! I am a new reader to your lovely blog and this post has come at the perfect time! Cant wait to try to make my own 🙂

  62. Jessica

    Yay! This is just what I needed to get back into brewing. Quick, random question…how do you clean your flip top bottles? I’ve saved a few from other things for secondary fermentation but I can’t get them clean again after one use! Just wondering if you had a tip ?

    • Kassidee

      I bought some little stainless steel beads on Amazon…can’t remember the name…anyway, they’re great for cleaning bottles like that! You add a few of those with a funnel, a little hot soapy water, and shake it until the bottle is clean!

    • Sarah Britton

      I use a big bottle brush, lots of soap and go to town. Definitely don’t let anything other than water dry inside them, as it’s impossible to remove! Salt and water also work well. Rinse with vinegar so that there isn’t any residue. Hope that helps! The beads Kassidee is recommending sounds great too 🙂

      Best, Sarah B

  63. Shanna

    Sarah, do you have any thoughts on an increase in candida with too much kombucha? I read an article the other day stating that drinking kombucha over the course of a year (or more) can cause a big influx in candida and other gut yeasts. I was so sad reading that as I drink somewhere around the same amount per day as you do – so I thought maybe you’d know a thing or two! xx

      • Sarah Britton

        Hi Shanna and Darlene,

        First of all, there is a VERY difference between commercial kombucha and homemade. If you are drinking homemade kombucha that HAS NOT been pasteurized, then there should be highly specialized yeasts present in the brew that will reduce candida albicans, not exacerbate it (kind of like good bacteria vs. bad in the gut). But, it’s also important to see the brown stringy bits floating around and clinging to the SCOBY. These are the yeasts we want! That being said, drinking kombucha as a remedy for candida is not advisable without the guidance of an experienced naturopath. If you are just concerned about creating an imbalance, I feel confident assuring you that if you’re brewing properly, the opposite will happen – you’ll end up with strong, healthy, and resilient gut ecology!

        I hope that helps 🙂
        xo, Sarah B

  64. kellie

    This post COULD NOT have come at a better time!

    I have my FIRST batch of Kombucha sitting on my kitchen counter … I’m at day 8 of fermenting and am just trying to get up the courage to tackle the Scoby (that thing is an alien!!!), the bottling process & the second fermentation.

    Exciting and scary! Love when science and food collide 🙂

    • Sarah Britton

      Haha! Amazing Kellie 🙂
      I know it looks nuts, but congrats – your SCOBY is a mom! I hope you have just as much luck with the second fermentation. And I love when food and science collide too – it’s the best!
      xo, Sarah B

  65. SC

    If you’re just starting out, you can actually grow a SCOBY using the same process and by dumping a whole bottle of raw kombucha into the mix (bits of SCOBY reside inside). Just wait until your SCOBY resembles a pancake in thickness then restart the process to make the kombucha. I did it and it worked like a charm!

    • Sarah Britton

      Hey SC – I actually mentioned this in the post, but removed it because this method didn’t work for me 🙁 I should try again. And thanks for letting us all know!

      Best,
      Sarah B

  66. Rebecca

    Hi Sarah! I’ve been a long time follower and lover of you, your book, and your blog. I love what you do! And this post is wonderful!! I’m so glad you finally did it. I have been brewing my own kombucha for years, but it’s never tasted pleasant (which I have grown accustomed to), but have been on the lookout to see what I have been doing wrong. So if you can help, I have a couple questions for you! My SCOBY always has “a baby”, that is much smaller and darker. When I make a new batch of tea, I throw away the mother, and use the baby to ferment the next batch. Is this correct? And sometimes when I make a new batch of kombucha, I find that the mother on top is very thick and has holes in it. Is that ok? Or has it sit for too long/died? I let my kombucha brew for ~2 weeks, so this is probably why my kombucha doesn’t always taste the best-the sugar is all gone! 😉 Thanks so much for your help! I appreciate it so much. 🙂 Cheers!

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi Rebecca,

      You’re on the right track!
      To answer your questions, yes, it’s correct to throw away the mother, but you can also use the mother if you think it’s stronger than the baby, or use both! The mother can look all kinds of unusual, with holes, stringy bits, as long as it’s fermenting the tea it’s healthy. The kombucha will taste MUCH better with a shorter fermentation time. Try 7 days and see if you like it. And second fermentation with fruit juice also improves the taste and makes it fizzy – not sure if you’ve tried that yet 🙂

      I hope that helps! Keep brewing!
      xo Sarah B

  67. Steph

    WOOOHOOOO!!! I’ve been searching for the perfect kombucha brewing guide and this looks right up my alley! Weekend fun here I come!!
    T H A N K Y O U !! !!

  68. Clara

    Hi Sarah, thanks for such a detailed post.
    I have one doubt, once the bottled kombucha is in the fridge (having done the second fermentation) for how long can it be kept? Should I burp the gas even when they are in the fridge? thanks

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi Clara,

      The bottled kombucha can keep for many weeks and even months in the fridge, but burp it maybe once a week if you can remember to? The fermentation slows down but definitely doesn’t stop completely, so be careful! I always end up drinking mine fairly quickly so I don’t have the problem, but if you know you’re going to be away for a long time (several months) maybe give the bottles to someone who would appreciate them? Just an idea!

      xo, Sarah B

  69. nettelie

    YAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSS!!! Sarah B. thank you SO much for this elaborate post! Can’t wait to step into my lab…uhm…kitchen and start brewing.

    One question, though. What are your thoughts on drinking kombucha when trying to conceive or during pregnancy?

    • Lynn

      I too would love to know about your thoughts about drinking this during pregnancy. I’m less concerned about the alcohol level and more with growing funky bacteria, but I’m noooo expert.

      • Emily

        Official medical advice is not to drink kombucha during pregnancy because it hasn’t been fully researched. However, we have been brewing and drinking kombucha for a few years now and I’m sure my immunity has benefited. So I continued drinking it through conception and pregnancy. My health was excellent (I got sick less than my colleagues) through the pregnancy and my six month old has never been sick. I can’t say it was the ‘buch that did it, but I reckon it helped. Having said that, be cautious about starting to drink it if already pregnant and of course seek medical advice too.

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi Lynn,

      Great question! I think it all depends on your overall health. Since kombucha is SO detoxifying, I wouldn’t recommend it during conception or pregnancy unless your diet is SUPER clean already, because all of those toxins will be liberated from the liver and circulating throughout your body. But if you feel like you eat well, then a little bit is probably fine. Remember that is a little alcohol in it, so take it in moderation.

      And thanks to Emily for your comment – congrats on the healthy babe!

      xo, Sarah B

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