admin April 18, 2010

There are LOTS of blog posts about kombucha out there, but I thought I’d share too, since I currently have an obsession with it!  Just a week or so ago, I finished brewing my first batch.  Prior to that I bought it and drank it for about a month.  It’s expensive to buy — but not to brew!

Kombucha is super easy to brew, too.  First you need to obtain a SCOBY, or “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.”  You can buy them at Cultures For Health or Fermented Treasures and probably lots of other places, too.  You can also grow your own (I did, and it really is that easy!  Mine is still sitting in its jar.  It floated to the bottom after it was about 1/2″ thick, and now I think a second one is starting to grow.  They grow FAST).  The reason I didn’t use the one I grew is because just before it was ready, a really nice person on the Kefir Making Yahoo Group sent me a couple of them.  I gave one to a friend and used the other to brew my kombucha.  If you have friends who brew kombucha, just wait a week or two and they’ll have one to give you.  In fact, they’ll be GLAD to give it to you.  We’ll get to that, though.

Here is what you will need to brew kombucha:

*1 gallon-sized glass jar

*1 piece of cheesecloth (I used birdseye cotton) that covers the top of the jar

*1 rubberband

*15 cups or so black tea (boil a gallon of water, and add 8 regular tea bags or 1/2 c. loose black tea)

*1 cup sugar (organic, to avoid GMOs)

*1 kombucha SCOBY with at least 1/2 c. brewed kombucha (that’s important and any SCOBY you get should be in some kombucha)

So, first.  Boil the water and steep the tea for 3 – 5 minutes.  Then stir in the sugar.  Once that’s done, let the tea sit until it is cooled.  Most say room temperature.  Mine was a little warmer than that because it was getting late and I was impatient, but the jar felt warm to me — not hot.  100 degrees is probably okay; 180 is not.  Use your judgement here.

When the tea is cool, add the mother to the top of the jar, pouring the brewed kombucha in with it.  Place the cloth over the top of the jar and put the rubberband on to keep it in place.  You want oxygen to be able to get to the tea, but not bugs.  Set the jar somewhere warm and dark (like a pantry, the top of your fridge; it only needs to be room temperature and out of sunlight) for about two weeks. 

 I checked mine everyday after about 6 days.  At first it smelled sweet to me, so I knew it wasn’t done.  Finally, on the 11th day, it smelled vinegar-ish.  That was when I bottled it.  I don’t have any pictures of the process up to this point, but I do have some after….

I saved most of my G.T. Dave’s kombucha bottles, and I used these.  Here’s a picture of them all in the dishwasher (there are 26):

See all my bottles!

I gathered all my bottling supplies then:

Kombucha, bottles, funnel, and juice

I’m using the double fermentation method, so when I bottled these, I added about 1 oz. of grape juice to each bottle, then filled the rest of the way with kombucha, about 15 oz.  This is about the same proportions as G.T. Dave’s uses too: 95% kombucha and 5% juice.

Once bottled, I let the bottles sit out for two more days.  This is how it develops its nice carbonation.  After two days, they went into the fridge.  I don’t have a picture of that.  This made 7 16-oz. bottles, with enough plain kombucha left over to cover the mother(s!!), which will brew the next batch.

Speaking of mother(s) (another name for the SCOBY), I discovered something cool when I took the cloth off the top:

TWO Mothers!!

I warned you these things grow fast.  I was told that a “baby” would grow each time I brewed kombucha and that it might or might not separate from the mother.  So, I was under the impression that it would be kind of small.  Maybe a smaller diameter or only like 1/4″ thick or less.  But no.  It was full grown second mother!  The one on the right is the “baby.”

For me this is great.  So far.  It takes 2 weeks to brew a batch and I plan to drink 16 oz. per day.  Do the math: it makes 7 16-oz. bottles, which will last only ONE week.  So assuming I’m constantly brewing only one gallon I will still have a week to go without any kombucha! NO!!  So I need to either brew two gallons at once or start one gallon each week so I always have fresh kombucha available.  I might even eventually brew more if I decide I want to drink more per day or if I can get the rest of my family to drink it too.  So I do need more “mothers” now.  But in a few weeks I’ll have way too many.  And then…I don’t know.  Want to buy one?  🙂

Do you brew kombucha?  Have you made other fermented beverages?  What are your favorite?  If not, what is holding you back?

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  1. I just finished making my first batch of water kefir and it is delicious! My husband is drinking it too even though he is not 100% convinced that it is not alcoholic 🙂
    For some reason kombucha is a little weird for me. Something about the mother is a little creepy. I do want to try it though. I guess I should try some store bought stuff before I make my own though. I can’t really imagine what a fermented tea would taste like! What do people do with so much extra mother if they can’t give it away? I am imagining this thing just taking over my kitchen 🙂 Is it "taboo" to throw some out?


  2. I just bought my first kombucha yesterday after hearing you and other bloggers rave about it. I tried GT’s and….I LOVE it! 🙂 I’m definitely going to stock up from Whole Foods….and then who knows. Brewing my own next??? Can’t wait!


  3. I really enjoyed reading your post. I am currently on Day 4 of my very first batch of kombucha. Since I second-guess myself on this, reading about others’ kombucha experiences has been important to me lately. I’ve purchased some organic black cherry juice to put in mine..I thought it sounded tasty, but we’ll see how it turns out.


  4. If you don’t know anyone to get a scoby from you can culture a scoby of your own, simply and easily from a bottle of raw Kombucha:

    16 oz bottle of raw, unflavored kombucha (room temp)
    1 cup of black tea (room temp)
    1 tablespoon of white table sugar
    clean large jar, cover cloth, rubber band

    Dissolve the sugar into tea. Then combine the entire bottle of raw organic kombucha with sweetened tea (sugar only provides energy for the yeasts in the developing scoby) in the jar and secure the cloth over the mouth of the jar with the rubber band and set in a location out of direct sunlight where it will remain undisturbed for about 3 weeks (less time when the weather’s hot).


  5. Great post, though I am wondering where you got your recipe at with it calling for 16 bags of tea??
    Virtually every recipe per each 3 quarts of water boiled to add the tea and sugar to call for only 4 bags / 5 at the most.
    I've been making Kombucha for 2 1/2 years's a link to one of my postings


  6. Pamela,

    What size tea bags? I think that may be the difference. I only use 2 per gallon if I am using the quart-sized bags, but many more if I am using the "single serving" bags. I need to do an update on this post though because I've now been brewing continuously for several months (4 gallons at a time!) and have changed a few things slightly. Thanks for your link!


  7. I was going to ask if you were still brewing. I have a mother that's been sitting on top of my fridge for months. Maybe I should use it to get started again. My 4 and 6 year old daughters LOVE kombucha!


  8. I love Kombucha too! I've been brewing for a few months. It is true that there are a million ways to do it seems. I only use 6-8 tea bags for 1 gallon of water. I use 1 cup of organic white sugar. I live in Texas where it is warmer so I only brew for 7-9 days, then my second "ferment" is usually just one or two nights. I like putting chopped strawberries in my bottles for a strawberry flavored kombucha.

    Also, I read that the wider mouth jar you can use the better, so it has more room to breathe. Also, I was told that a cheesecloth is too porous and gnats can get in between the weave. I use a clean t-shirt doubled over with a rubberband.

    I don't make as much kombucha as you because I also make water kefir daily. I make about three bottles of it a day.

    I read that the extra SCOBY's make good in your compost. I give some to my mom to compost (she has a compost pile) others I just throw in my soil and bury a bit.


  9. Thanks for the great Kombucha tips. I've wanted to do this but have been procrastinating. I will try to make my own using Dave's … didn't know I could do this. So it roughly takes about 3 wks from scratch?? I wonder how many children like it or if there are specific recipes that children like better. I would like to have a list of all the medicinal benefits on kombucha. I just read that it helps balance candida. I wonder if it could help people with autism. Thanks again!


  10. GT Dave's bottles are absolutely perfect to reuse for your own brew! To remove the labels, I found the best way is to fill the bottle with water to just above the label, then microwave it for 3-4 minutes (lid OFF!). It's HOT so use a towel to handle it. Put folded towel over top, hold down with one hand, and peel the label off with the other. Should peel right off, leaving little to no residue. Veggie oil then dish soap will easily remove any remains. Then you can get a good view of your brew!


  11. This is the first Ive heard of it…. but it sounds fabulous! I'm wondering if any of you have heard of anyone having migraine problems with it? I'm sensitive to processed food, msg, and some fermented things (pickles). I would love to try this, but if anyone has heard me someone else with chronic migraines having a reaction, then you might just save me the headache…lol…. literally. Thanks!


  12. Do you think its ok to give my toddler kombucha in a sippy cup? I know its supposed to be in glass but he is too little to use a glass cup, but he surprisingly LOVES it!


  13. Sara,

    Sure, we have done this from time to time. Usually we give our toddler sips from our bottles, but sometimes we put some in his cup. It doesn't stay too long anyway!


  14. I wanted to share that a second fermentation is what gives kombucha some alcohol content. For newbies or those who do not drink that CAN make you drunk. The first time I tried it I became drunk off a bottle. I make my own now and its naturally fuzzy/bubbly without adding the juice to ferment. We LOVE kombucha and go through 2 gallons in about 5 days. We solo need to get another jar to brew in!

    Oh, I also brew a gallon for my chickens. They are INCREDIBLY healthy!



    • Hi Honey,
      I read your comment about your chickens. Can I ask you to tell me how you give it to them? Pure or mixed with water in what relations?
      I would love to do that, too but have no idea how much to give them?


  15. According to Betsy at Laurel Farms, who sells kombucha cultures, it should be brewed and stored in clear glass, but drinking it out of other materials or colored glass is fine. Probably not stainless steel, though.


  16. Celeste,
    I don’t know if pickles are in the same category as this, but to further allay any fear: I’ve suffered from frequent severe migraines and this has not increased them, even at times when other things might. In fact, I find the balancing kombucha does for my system seems to help my migraines stay away. However, i do realize that migraines are still very individual and different people have different triggers, and we really don’t know a lot about migraines! So you might do what I did and go slow. I drank one on a whim one day, having always wanted to try one. Then a week later another. Then multiple times a week. I’m now considering brewing my own so I can afford to have it every day! 🙂 Hope that helps answer your question.


  17. Are you still brewing Kombucha? Would you sell me one of your SCOBYs? I’m looking to purchase one so I can start making kombucha!


  18. Are the G.T. bottles dishwasher safe?


    • Hi Phil,

      I’ve been using GT Kombucha bottles for two years now for my homemade kombucha. They wash in the dishwasher just fine. : )


  19. Can you fix your photos on this page? I reference it all the time…and send all my friends here! It’d be awesome to see the pics too. Thanks for teaching so many of us about kombucha!


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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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