Homemade Kombucha

DSC_0106Making your own kombucha is stupid-easy. Yusss! All you need is tea, sugar, a SCOBY and patience. Okay, so there are a few more details than that but overall, it’s pretty simple. I started buying kombucha before the great freak-out of 2010 – thanks a lot, Lindsay Lohan – during which the unquantified alcohol that could be in the drink caused it to be suddenly yanked off store shelves. Meanwhile, homebrewers of kombucha were laughing.

I love fermented foods – I make my own sauerkraut and plan to start making kimchi – and it makes me feel kind of off the grid. Recently, I decided that I’d had enough of spending $4 for a bottle of GT’s. It was high time to get a SCOBY and start fermenting. For those new to kombucha brewing, a SCOBY is a magical symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast which gobble up (ferment) the sugar, metabolizing it into the slightly carbonated, tangy drink that’s rich with probiotics and beneficial acids. In reality, it looks like a pale, weird, flat pancake and sort of like a science experiment.

IMG_4121I used this kombucha recipe from Balanced Bites to get started, and then created my own flavor combinations for the second fermentation (to make more carbonation). I came up with ginger-mango and blueberry-raspberry…ummm, both came out freaking delicious! Since I’m all about stupid-easy stuff, I made a fruit puree (directions below) and froze it in ice cube trays so that I could add it exactly when my kombucha was ready – which happened to be during the week when I was uber-busy. I ended up with *almost* four full 32 oz jars of kombucha (one ginger-mango, two blueberry-raspberry and half a jar of plain). Why not four? You have to reserve at least a cup of kombucha out of each batch to get the next started.

Overall, I was psyched at how easy this was to do at home, and I’m alreadyplanning to expand my little operation so I can double or triple my production. Bottom line: you’ll have to experiment to see how long each step of process will take based on the conditions in your home and your own tastebuds. If the kombucha is too sour, you can add more sugar and keep the fermentation going, but that just delays the process. For troubleshooting the process or to find a SCOBY, a quick search of The Google will give you a bevy of info.

Basic Ingredients for Unflavored Kombucha Tea (KT):

  • 1 SCOBY
  • 8 green tea bags (I used organic)
  • 1 cup sugar (I used organic granulated white sugar)
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 gallon mason jar
  • 1 old t-shirt

Directions for Unflavored KT (I followed the specific instructions on Balanced Bites):

  1. Boil 64 oz of water (8 cups) in a large pot.
  2. Add 8 green tea bags and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags.
  3. Add 1 cup of sugar and stir well.
  4. Allow the tea to come to room temperature and pour into a clean one-gallon mason jar or crock.
  5. Add 64 oz more water to the jar and place the SCOBY (along with any KT it came with) into the jar.
  6. Cover with a piece of old t-shirt, and secure with a rubber band.
  7. Allow to ferment in a dark place (mine was in the pantry) for 7-14 days. Mine was ready after 8, but I live in Southern California, and it’s been warm lately. The fermentation time will vary depending on your location, your SCOBY and how sweet or sour you want the KT. Sample by moving the SCOBY aside and taking a little out with a clean spoon. After this time, your tea may be slightly carbonated and will be unflavored (only tea-flavored). You may drink it then or to do a second fermentation with different fruits for flavor and more carbonation.

For Ginger-Mango KT:

  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen mango
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  1. Puree the mango and ginger (defrost if frozen) in a blender, Vitamix or food processor. Or, you can grate the ginger with a microplane if your blender isn’t very strong.
  2. Spoon the mixture into an ice cube tray. Freeze until solid.
  3. Two cubes will be ~1/4 cup of fruit puree.
  4. After your unflavored KT is done fermenting, transfer it to a 32 oz mason jar. Add two cubes or 1/4 cup of ginger-mango puree. Close the lid and allow to ferment again from 3-7 days – again, it depends on your taste. You may want more or less ginger-mango puree or more or less carbonation. Mine took 3 days until I thought it was perfect.
  5. Keep the extra cubes frozen for your next batch.

Ingredients for Blueberry-Raspberry KT:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the berries over medium heat until they have released their juices.
  2. I lightly pureed them in the Vitamix and then strained them through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. You could also mash them with a fork and then strain them.
  3. Spoon the mixture into an ice cube tray. Freeze until solid.
  4. Two cubes will be ~1/4 cup of fruit puree.
  5. After your unflavored KT is done fermenting, transfer it to a 32 oz mason jar. Add two cubes or 1/4 cup of blueberry-raspberry puree. Close the lid and allow to ferment again from 3-7 days – again, it depends on your taste. You may want more or less blueberry-raspberry puree or more or less carbonation. Mine took 3 days until I thought it was perfect.
  6. Keep the extra cubes frozen for your next batch.
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18 thoughts on “Homemade Kombucha

  1. Can you do a tutorial for making SCOBY? Like could you make one from a store-bought bottle? I dislike tea but with enough fruit I could make it work for my tastebuds ;)

    • I’ve never tried it but I’m willing to give it a go!! :) Even the kombucha in the store is based on tea. The green tea that I use is a milder flavor, I think. I’ll get back to you with the results!

  2. Pingback: Science. All in. Time to make a SCOBY. | BLDPaleo

  3. I have my first batch of kombucha fermenting now. I have mason jars and will probably use those to bottle it. I have read, however, that you should use plastic caps and not metal for bottling. I also read that mason jar lids are not great to use because they don’t hold a tight enough seal and carbonation leaks through resulting in a flat kombucha. Have you experienced this? I would love to use my mason jar lids and not have to seak out another source of bottling.

    • Hi Kathie,

      I saved up some old GT’s bottles and use that when I can. I’ve also got some growler bottles that I bought from a local brewery that sells kombucha. Both provide a nice firm seal.

      A few weeks back when it was very hot here, I had my kombucha in it’s second fermentation in a mason jar and after 24 hours, it built up so much pressure that it dented the lid upward. My suspicion is that if your lids are a bit old and the rubber is dry, it may not hold the seal quite as well.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Why does it need to be frozen? I have been putting strawberries in mine. I just cut the strawberries into chunks. I am fairly new to this.

    • Hi Mona! You can certainly put fresh fruit into your kombucha. I make a large batch of puree ahead of time, and I freeze it so that it keeps or else it would go bad before I could use it all. Hope that helps!

      • Got it. Yes that helps. Especially this time of year when all of the fruit is soooo good. Need to save some for when it isn’t!

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