Simple, Delicious Homemade Kombucha

If you’ve never tried kombucha, it’s quite a treat. Bubbly, refreshing, and flavorful, kombucha is also probiotic and is a delicious way to get your fizz on and make your digestive system more healthy!

simple delicious homemade kombucha - Stone Family Farmstead

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I learned about kombucha about 5 years ago, and to be honest, the name of it put me off. I had no idea what the heck I would be drinking (what is fermented tea anyway?!), and I wasn’t even sure if it was safe to drink. The more I looked into it, the more clear it was not only a delicious beverage, but it could help me kick my daily Diet Coke addiction, as well as encourage healthy growth of my gut flora. I ventured out and tried a few of the store-bought offerings and fell in love.

The problem with drinking store-bought kombucha is the cost–it is so expensive! At $3 per 16 oz bottle, I knew this wasn’t a habit I could maintain. Soda was still cheaper and I couldn’t be without my daily fizz, so I needed to solve the problem. I can’t remember who shared it with me, but I somehow became aware that Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions book (affiliate link) had a good recipe in it, so I bought the book.

What You Need for Making Homemade Kombucha

Making homemade kombucha is really simple if you have the right tools and ingredients. Here’s what you will need:

6 quarts of water
8 black tea teabags – I use Lipton, but you can use any black tea, organic or not
2 cups of cane sugar – I use C&H, but I have used organic evaporated can juice as well with success
SCOBY (aka kombucha mother) + 1 cup of kombucha starter** (I bought this one – affiliate link)
2 gallon glass jar (I use one like this – affiliate link)

**If you are purchasing a SCOBY for the first time, please take care to use the directions the seller provides. They will likely not send 1 whole cup of starter with the SCOBY, so the recipe will be different the first time you make it. You may want to make it in a smaller glass jar, like a 1/2 gallon mason jar. You can then follow my instructions for making it in the 2 gallon glass jar the second time you make it.

I don’t use organic all the time, but if you want to, search for organic black or green tea. You need something with caffeine because it serves as food for the SCOBY. The SCOBY also feeds on sugar, so you will want to make sure not to veer to far from the granulated variety. I have had my best success using white sugar or organic evaporated cane sugar in my kombucha brew.

How to Make Homemade Kombucha

To make your kombucha, bring your water just to a boil in a large pot. Remove from heat and dissolve your sugar in the hot water. Add your teabags, cover your pot, and allow your brewing tea to come to room temperature. I usually start my brew in the late afternoon or evening, and leave it until the next morning for the next step.

Simple, Delicious Homemade Kombucha - Stone Family Farmstead

You’ll need 8 tea bags for this recipe, which makes approximately 17-18 12 oz bottles, or 11-12 16 oz bottles of brew.

Once your sweetened tea is room temperature, remove your tea bags and transfer the tea into your glass brewing vessel. Stir in your kombucha starter with a wooden spoon, then set your SCOBY to float on top of your brew. It’s ok if it sinks, that happens a lot and it won’t affect your brew at all. Cover with a linen napkin or a piece of muslin to keep bugs out (do not use cheesecloth–fruit flies can get through that). Secure with a large rubber band. If you are like me and keep stuff, you might just string a bunch of regular rubber bands together and hold them together with a twist tie, which works just as well. Store in a cool, dry place to brew. I store mine in a cupboard where I store all of my extra bottles and brewing equipment.

Brewing Times

There is actually a lot of play in brewing kombucha. While it is “science-y” in nature, you really have a lot of leeway in your brewing depending on the temperature in the area you are brewing your kombucha.

If it’s during summer and it gets warm in your house, brewing should only take about a week. In the summer at our old place, it was often 90 degrees in the house. At our new place, I left it about 8 days and achieved a good flavor because this past week has only been around 80 indoors. The ideal temperature for brewing kombucha is around 75 degrees, and at that temperature, my experience is that it takes about a week, maybe two depending on whether you like a mild sweet or more vinegar-y flavor.

It is ideal to begin tasting your kombucha at around 4 days in hotter conditions, and at about 7 or 8 days in cooler conditions. Once you have achieved a mild sweet flavor with some fizz, your brew is probably ready. However, if you are into a more vinegar-y flavor, you can brew it a few days longer, but make sure to taste it often so it has the flavor you love. No need to be concerned if the fizz isn’t as abundant as you like, that can happen in the second brew.

Bottling Your Brew

Bottling your kombucha can be done in a few different ways. The key to choosing what you bottle your brew in is that it needs to have a tight lid. The reason for this is that kombucha is a carbonated drink, and it doesn’t stop brewing until all the sugar in the brew is gone, producing vinegar that is not pleasant to drink. Therefore, you will want to have your bottles tightly capped to maintain the carbonation in your drink.

You can choose from mason jars, kombucha bottles, swing top bottles, saved or new beer bottles (you’ll need a bottle capper and some bottle caps if you choose beer bottles), or you can just use your recycleable plastic bottles.

To bottle, uncover and remove the SCOBY to whatever vessel you want to store it in until you are ready to use it again. (Before storing, make sure to cover your SCOBY completely with some of your brew so that the whole thing is immersed. Cover tightly and store in the fridge.) Using a funnel, fill all of your bottles leaving about 1 inch of headspace. Cap tightly and store in the refrigerator.

Adding Additional Flavoring

If you would like to add additional flavoring to your homemade kombucha, it’s really easy to do. Here are some ideas for flavoring and their guidelines:

100% juice: 1-2 oz per 12-16 oz bottle
fruit syrup: 1-2 oz per 12-16 oz bottle
fresh or dried fruit: a small citrus peel, a raisin or two, fresh ginger, etc. (cut up for better results)

flavoring kombucha with fruit syrup - Stone Family Farmstead

I love to use my homemade strawberry syrup that I make from strawberry tops to flavor my brew. It’s practically free, and tastes so great!

Before bottling, add your flavor to your bottle, then top off with kombucha, leaving 1 inch of headspace. I used my homemade strawberry syrup that I made from strawberry tops to flavor most of this batch, and I know it will turn our fantastic, because it always does! Once you add your kombucha, cap tightly and leave on the counter for 2 more days, then refrigerate and enjoy!

homemade kombucha - Stone Family Farmstead

Shared at Good Morning Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Monday, The Art of Homemaking Monday, MisAdventures Monday, Tuesdays with a Twist, Tuesday Garden Party, Tasty Tuesday, Homestead Blog Hop, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop

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Kristi Stone

Kristi Stone

Honestly? I'm the author of this blog...sometimes. My family and I live in Sunny Southern California on a one acre hobby farm where we are working diligently to one day produce our dairy, eggs, and produce. That takes A LOT of work, so if you don't hear from me as soon as you'd like, give me a shout out in the comments and I'll chat back as soon as I can between the garden, goat kids, chickens, husband, human kids, and playing with my grandboy, Kieran. And in the mean time, if you'd like to see more frequently what goes on at our farm, please feel free to join my Facebook group (see the right column) where I am more active. I'd love to get to know you! 🙂
Kristi Stone

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  1. This sounds yummy and I’ve never heard of it. I’ve always wanted to make some kind of bottled treat so this might be on my list. I like the idea of adding in a little flavoring too. Thanks for the instructions – you are always so thorough.

    • Thanks Carole, what a kind compliment! You’ll have to let me know how you like it! I know you’ll have a ton of creative ideas for flavoring once you get rolling on making it. 🙂

  2. This sounds interesting. I have never heard of it. i like the idea of making my own drinks as I can control the amount of sweetness in it. i often find things much too sweet for my tastes. thanks for sharing.

  3. My husband has been making his own kombucha now for several months and our 3 year old daughter loves her “bucha”. We have two 2-gallon carboys going at one time. We were recently on vacation for two weeks and the kombucha got pretty strong. Just last night my husband had to split the scoby, which was getting pretty fresh! It is amazing how something that actually tastes good can come from something so bizarre looking.

  4. I love making and drinking kombucha! I bet the strawberry is awesome! I grew my own scoby for making my kombucha and now I have two “scoby hotels” filled with scobys!

    • The strawberry is amazing, I tell ya! It’s so good. I’ve grown my own SCOBY before too, but for some reason, I wasn’t having any luck at our new place. I think it’s because it was too cold when I was trying. I’d love to see what a scoby hotel is!

  5. Very interesting and informative article. i have thought about making my own brew before but not sure if I could tolerate eating it regularly due to my many food allergies. But this doesn’t sound difficult. Visiting from Wildcrafting Wednesdays Twitted & pinned.

  6. I make kombucha but have never tried adding something like strawberry syrup. What a good idea. Congrats on being featured at Wildcrafting Wednesday.

  7. omg im excited to try this. i love tea. i just hope i can find scoby around here (manila philippines)
    then i’ll try the soap recipe from thenerdyfarmwife. one question though instead of cane sugar can i do regular white sugar or mascovado sugar or brown , other sugar variety? thanks a lot

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