How To Make Kombucha Tea at Home (2024)

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Emma Christensen

Emma Christensen

Emma is a former editor for The Kitchn and a graduate of the Cambridge School for Culinary Arts. She is the author of True Brews and Brew Better Beer. Check out her website for more cooking stories

updated Sep 8, 2023

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How To Make Kombucha Tea at Home (1)

Kombucha can be made at home with just a handful of ingredients. In this tutorial, we'll show you exactly what to do in detailed step-by-step instructions.

Makesabout 1 gallon

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How To Make Kombucha Tea at Home (2)

I’ve been addicted to kombucha from first sip. It wasn’t really the probiotics or other health promises that did it for me — although I’ll take those, too! It was the way it tasted: like tart green apple mixed with sour stone fruits, but with an underlying sweetness that keeps it all together. And fizzy! I couldn’t believe that something this delicious could actually be made from tea, of all things. Or that I could make it at home with a few very basic ingredients.

To make kombucha at home, stir in the starter tea with tea base, transfer to a jar and add scoby, cover, ferment for 7-10 days at room temperature, remove the scoby, and bottle the finished kombucha. To know more, check out the step-by-step guide on making kombucha at home below.

Quick Overview

Tips For Making Kombucha Tea At Home

  • Make sure your hands are clean when sliding the scoby into the jar.
  • Cover the mouth of the jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band to keep insects out.
  • As fermentation process starts, keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight.
  • Bottle kombucha when it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness.
  • Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation.

What Is Kombucha Tea?

Kombucha starts out as a sugary tea, which is then fermented with the help of a scoby. “SCOBY” is actually an acronym for “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.” It’s very close cousins to the mother used to make vinegar.

The scoby bacteria and yeast eat most of the sugar in the tea, transforming the tea into a refreshingly fizzy, slightly sour fermented (but mostly non-alcoholic) beverage that is relatively low in calories and sugar.

The Best, Cheapest Jar for Brewing Kombucha

If you need a jar to get your kombucha brewing, this is our favorite 1-gallon option. It even comes with cheesecloth and a lid so you don’t have to hunt those down separately.

1 Gallon Glass Wide Mouth Kombucha Brewing Mason Jar, 2 Pack$29.99Amazon

Buy Now


Let’s talk about that scoby — you can see what it looks like in the picture above. It’s weird, right? It floats, it’s rubbery and a bit slippery, brown stringy bits hang from it, and it transforms sugary tea into something fizzy and sour. It’s totally weird. But if you take a step back, it’s also pretty awesome.

There are a lot of theories about why the bacteria and yeast form this jelly-like layer of cellulose at the top of the kombucha. The most plausible that I’ve found is that it protects the fermenting tea from the air and helps maintain a very specific environment inside the jar that is shielded from outsiders, aka unfriendly bacteria. I think of it as the mobile home for friendly bacteria and yeast, happily traveling from jar to jar of kombucha.

Make your own scoby! Here’s how: How To Make Your Own Kombucha Scoby

Which brings us to the next question: What’s actually in kombucha? Kombucha is indisputably full of probiotics and other happy things that our intestines love and that help boost our overall health. Claims that kombucha cures things like arthritis, depression, and heart burn have less of a proven track record, but hey, our bodies are all different and I say go for it if it works for you.

Brewing Kombucha Safely

While the home-brewed nature of kombucha makes some home cooks nervous, it’s unlikely that kombucha will ever make you sick. I spoke with Eric Child of Kombucha Brooklyn when I first started working on my homebrewing book, True Brews, and he said something that has really stuck with me: “Kombucha has been around for a very long time and been brewed in environments that were even dirtier than our own.”

Like all things, you need to use common sense when brewing it and pay attention to what you’re doing. It’s natural to feel nervous and unsure at first. Bottom line: If the scoby is healthy, then the kombucha will be healthy. (See the Troubleshooting section below.)

Is There Alcohol in Kombucha?

Kombucha does contain a little bit of alcohol as a by-product of the fermentation process. It is usually no more than 1%, so unless you drink several glasses back to back, you should be just fine. However, people with alcohol sensitivities or who avoid alcohol for other reasons should be aware of its presence.

I’m breaking the kombucha-making process into very small steps here. It looks long and complicated, but this is actually a very straightforward and streamlined process. Once you get into the rhythm of it, bottling a finished batch of kombucha and preparing the next only takes about 20 minutes every seven to 10 days.

Where to Find Kombucha Brewing Supplies

You can use regular, store-bought tea and sugar for brewing kombucha. You can pick up a scoby from a kombucha-brewing friend or even make your own. If you’re having trouble finding a scoby or any other supplies, check out Cultures for Health.

Learn more about making kombucha and other fermented beverages in my book!

True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home by Emma Christensen


How To Make Kombucha Tea at Home

Kombucha can be made at home with just a handful of ingredients. In this tutorial, we'll show you exactly what to do in detailed step-by-step instructions.

Makes about 1 gallon

Nutritional Info


  • 3 1/2 quarts


  • 1 cup

    sugar (regular granulated sugar works best)

  • 8 bags

    black tea, green tea, or a mix (or 2 tablespoons loose tea)

  • 2 cups

    starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought kombucha (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored)

  • 1

    scoby per fermentation jar, homemade or purchased online

Optional flavoring extras for bottling

  • 1 to 2 cups

    chopped fruit

  • 2 to 3 cups

    fruit juice

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons

    flavored tea (like hibiscus or Earl Grey)

  • 1/4 cup


  • 2 to 4 tablespoons

    fresh herbs or spices


  • Stock pot

  • 1-gallon glass jar or two 2-quart glass jars

  • Tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), covvee filters, or paper towels, to cover the jar

  • Bottles: Six 16-oz glass bottles with plastic lids, swing-top bottles, or clean soda bottles

  • Small funnel


  1. Note: Avoid prolonged contact between the kombucha and metal both during and after brewing. This can affect the flavor of your kombucha and weaken the scoby over time.
    Make the tea base:
    Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled. Depending on the size of your pot, this will take a few hours. You can speed up the cooling process by placing the pot in an ice bath.

  2. Add the starter tea: Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea. (The starter tea makes the liquid acidic, which prevents unfriendly bacteria from taking up residence in the first few days of fermentation.)

  3. Transfer to jars and add the scoby: Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar (or divide between two 2-quart jars, in which case you'll need 2 scobys) and gently slide the scoby into the jar with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers tightly-woven cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels secured with a rubber band. (If you develop problems with gnats or fruit flies, use a tightly woven cloth or paper towels, which will do a better job keeping the insects out of your brew.)

  4. Ferment for 7 to 10 days: Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won't get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, checking the kombucha and the scoby periodically.

  5. It's not unusual for the scoby to float at the top, bottom, or even sideways during fermentation. A new cream-colored layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. It usually attaches to the old scoby, but it's ok if they separate. You may also see brown stringy bits floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles collecting around the scoby. This is all normal and signs of healthy fermentation.

  6. After 7 days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.

  7. Remove the scoby: Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch of kombucha, as outlined above. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. As you do, check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick.

  8. Bottle the finished kombucha: Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch. Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if desired) into bottles using the small funnel, along with any juice, herbs, or fruit you may want to use as flavoring. Leave about a half inch of head room in each bottle. (Alternatively, infuse the kombucha with flavorings for a day or two in another covered jar, strain, and then bottle. This makes a cleaner kombucha without "stuff" in it.)

  9. Carbonate and refrigerate the finished kombucha: Store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Until you get a feel for how quickly your kombucha carbonates, it's helpful to keep it in plastic bottles; the kombucha is carbonated when the bottles feel rock solid. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.

  10. Make a fresh batch of kombucha: Clean the jar being used for kombucha fermentation. Combine the starter tea from your last batch of kombucha with the fresh batch of sugary tea, and pour it into the fermentation jar. Slide the scoby on top, cover, and ferment for 7 to 10 days.

Recipe Notes

  • Covering for the jar: Cheesecloth is not ideal because it's easy for small insects, like fruit flies, to wiggle through the layers. Use a few layers of tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), coffee filters, or paper towels, to cover the jar, and secure it tightly with rubber bands or twine.
  • Batch Size: To increase or decrease the amount of kombucha you make, maintain the basic ratio of 1 cup of sugar, 8 bags of tea, and 2 cups starter tea per gallon batch. One scoby will ferment any size batch, though larger batches may take longer.
  • Putting Kombucha on Pause: If you'll be away for 3 weeks or less, just make a fresh batch and leave it on your counter. It will likely be too vinegary to drink by the time you get back, but the scoby will be fine. For longer breaks, store the scoby in a fresh batch of the tea base with starter tea in the fridge. Change out the tea for a fresh batch every 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Other Tea Options: Black tea tends to be the easiest and most reliable for the scoby to ferment into kombucha, but once your scoby is going strong, you can try branching out into other kinds. Green tea, white tea, oolong tea, or a even mix of these make especially good kombucha. Herbal teas are okay, but be sure to use at least a few bags of black tea in the mix to make sure the scoby is getting all the nutrients it needs. Avoid any teas that contain oils, like earl grey or flavored teas.
  • Avoid Prolonged Contact with Metal: Using metal utensils is generally fine, but avoid fermenting or bottling the kombucha in anything that brings them into contact with metal. Metals, especially reactive metals like aluminum, can give the kombucha a metallic flavor and weaken the scoby over time.

Troubleshooting Kombucha

  • It is normal for the scoby to float on the top, bottom, or sideways in the jar. It is also normal for brown strings to form below the scoby or to collect on the bottom. If your scoby develops a hole, bumps, dried patches, darker brown patches, or clear jelly-like patches, it is still fine to use. Usually these are all indicative of changes in the environment of your kitchen and not a problem with the scoby itself.
  • Kombucha will start off with a neutral aroma and then smell progressively more vinegary as brewing progresses. If it starts to smell cheesy, rotten, or otherwise unpleasant, this is a sign that something has gone wrong. If you see no signs of mold on the scoby, discard the liquid and begin again with fresh tea. If you do see signs of mold, discard both the scoby and the liquid and begin again with new ingredients.
  • A scoby will last a very long time, but it's not indestructible. If the scoby becomes black, that is a sign that it has passed its lifespan. If it develops green or black mold, it is has become infected. In both of these cases, throw away the scoby and begin again.
  • To prolong the life and maintain the health of your scoby, stick to the ratio of sugar, tea, starter tea, and water outlined in the recipe. You should also peel off the bottom (oldest) layer every few batches. This can be discarded, composted, used to start a new batch of kombucha, or given to a friend to start their own.
  • If you're ever in doubt about whether there is a problem with your scoby, just continue brewing batches but discard the kombucha they make. If there's a problem, it will get worse over time and become very apparent. If it's just a natural aspect of the scoby, then it will stay consistent from batch to batch and the kombucha is fine for drinking.

This post was originally published July 2012.

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How To



How To Make Kombucha Tea at Home (2024)


How To Make Kombucha Tea at Home? ›

What is the recommended ratio of tea, sugar, water, and starter tea for making kombucha? For a 1-gallon batch of kombucha, you'll need 1 cup of sugar, 6-8 bags of tea, and 12 fl oz of starter tea. The rest should be filled up with clean, filtered water.

How do you make kombucha at home? ›

How to Make Your First Batch of Kombucha
  1. Brew Tea. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a 4-quart pot. ...
  2. Sweeten It. Remove the tea bags and add 1 cup of organic cane sugar and a half-gallon (8 cups) of cold water. ...
  3. Transfer to a Jar. ...
  4. Add the SCOBY. ...
  5. Cover It. ...
  6. Wait & Watch. ...
  7. Try it! ...
  8. Transfer Your SCOBY.
Apr 28, 2023

What is the ratio of tea sugar to water for kombucha? ›

What is the recommended ratio of tea, sugar, water, and starter tea for making kombucha? For a 1-gallon batch of kombucha, you'll need 1 cup of sugar, 6-8 bags of tea, and 12 fl oz of starter tea. The rest should be filled up with clean, filtered water.

How many teabags for a gallon of kombucha? ›

Recipe Notes

Batch Size: To increase or decrease the amount of kombucha you make, maintain the basic ratio of 1 cup of sugar, 8 bags of tea, and 2 cups starter tea per gallon batch. One scoby will ferment any size batch, though larger batches may take longer.

Can I use Lipton tea bags to make kombucha? ›

The first two ingredients you likely already own. You can use any tea, but i really prefer the flavor of black tea. And you can use any black tea you like, but for the best flavor, i highly recommend something decent like PG Tips over straight-up Lipton. The sugar is regular granulated white.

Can homemade kombucha turn alcoholic? ›

It's really difficult for homebrewed kombucha to ever exceed 2% alcohol by volume (ABV) and that's on the high-end — say if you've accidentally left an airtight bottle fermenting in a hot car for about a month. But honestly at that point, the kombucha will likely be too vinegar-y and too fizzy to even be drinkable.

What is the best sugar for kombucha? ›

Cane sugar is the most common type of sugar that is used for brewing Kombucha. Most people use “plain white sugar” – you want to make sure the package says “cane sugar” on it or you are most likely using GMO Beet Sugar. Cane sugar has been used by humans for over 5000 years.

How much sugar to put in kombucha? ›

-How much sugar should I use? Lila's golden ratio is 1 cup of sugar per one gallon of kombucha. You can adjust it depending how much kombucha you are brewing.

What if I don't have enough starter tea for my kombucha? ›

If you buy a SCOBY, it'll usually come with some starter tea. If you don't have enough starter tea to make 2 cups: You can cut this recipe in half (or even quarters!) Alternatively, you can purchase unflavored, raw store-bought kombucha to make up the difference.

Do you leave the tea bags in when making kombucha? ›

Pour 1.8 litres boiled water into a saucepan, add the teabags and sugar (depending on how sweet you like it or the bitterness of your tea), stir to dissolve the sugar and leave for 6-10 mins to infuse. Remove and discard the teabags without squeezing them.

What not to mix with kombucha? ›

Kombucha contains alcohol. The body breaks down alcohol to get rid of it. Disulfiram decreases the break-down of alcohol. Taking kombucha along with disulfiram can cause a pounding headache, vomiting, flushing, and other unpleasant reactions.

What tea should you not use for kombucha? ›

Avoid herbal tea:

Don't try to use herbs like peppermint or chamomile as your brewed tea base. Herbs won't be able to provide the nutrients necessary to feed your kombucha culture.

What kind of tea makes the best kombucha? ›

Black tea is an excellent choice for making kombucha. To produce black tea, the tea leaves are oxidized. This transformation creates all the necessary nutrients for kombucha microorganisms. On the market, black tea can be found under several names: Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon, English breakfast, Orange Pekoe, etc.

Is homemade kombucha good for you? ›

Kombucha is loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols that work overtime to protect your body from damage. This can help limit chronic inflammation that can lead to health issues such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis.

What supplies do I need to make kombucha at home? ›

So, you're warming up to the idea of making kombucha at home, but not sure exactly what you'll need. We have good news! Making kombucha at home requires only two, very simple kombucha supplies: a brewing vessel and cover. It's that simple!

Can you brew kombucha without a SCOBY? ›

You can actually make kombucha without a SCOBY, but it can take up to three times as long and sometimes people have problems. Part of the job of the SCOBY is giving added bacteria while it ferments, protecting the tea, and keeping it filled with plenty of good bacteria and good yeasts.

How long does kombucha take to ferment? ›

To brew kombucha, you have to go through two phases: 1st fermentation and 2nd fermentation. F1 typically takes around 7-12 days, though some people like to go longer. During that time, the sweet tea ferments and is transformed into kombucha by the starter tea and a kombucha culture (a SCOBY).

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