Homemade Kombucha: DIY Instructions for Fermented Tea

Homemade Kombucha Recipe | Home for the Harvest | www.homefortheharvest.com

Have you tried kombucha yet? It’s kind of like soda, ice tea, and ginger ale are having a party in your mouth. And…if you brew homemade kombucha yourself, you can be sure that all the ingredients are high-quality while also saving money and having some fun! Check out these instructions about how to brew your own kombucha (and don’t forget to grab your free printable cheat sheet!).

How to Make Organic Homemade Kombucha (+free printable!) | Home for the Harvest

Why Brew Your Own Organic Kombucha?

One drawback to kombucha is the price. It can be anywhere from $4 – $8 a bottle in my neck of the woods. I’m sure it’s even more in the big city. Fortunately, it’s easy to brew at home! Homemade kombucha is delicious. As usual, the homemade stuff is just yummier, feels healthier, and is much more “real” somehow.

You know exactly what’s in your own homemade kombucha, as well as the quality of each ingredient. That is empowering. The jar of homemade kombucha brewing on your countertop will also be a conversation starter with anyone who hasn’t seen a SCOBY before!

Homemade Kombucha Recipe | Home for the Harvest | www.homefortheharvest.com

Making Homemade Kombucha

The measurements in this homemade kombucha recipe are in Imperial, as many brewing jars are in gallons. Even here in Canada, most people are familiar with measuring liquids in cups rather than mL. When I try to think about Imperial, I just remember that my mom calls a 4 litre jug of milk “a gallon of milk”. This helps me visualize the volume until I can get to my iPhone and do the unit conversions.

Homemade Kombucha SCOBY | Home for the Harvest | www.homefortheharvest.com

Supplies for Homemade Kombucha

  • 1 Gallon Glass Jar (Ceramic can also be used, just check that the glaze is non-toxic)
  • Thin cloth or coffee filter (the cloth must have a tight-enough weave to keep out tiny fruit flies)
  • Elastic band
  • Plastic or silicone ladle
  • Plastic or silicone spoon/stirring utensil
  • Pot for brewing tea (I use this one)
  • Small mason jars with self-sealing lid

You can buy SCOBY’s online if you don’t have one yet

Ingredients (for 1 Gallon of Homemade Kombucha)

  • SCOBY (Symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Get one from someone you know, order one off of Amazon or Etsy, or grow your own from store-bought kombucha)
  • Approximately 1 cup of raw organic kombucha from previous batch (can be store-bought kombucha).
  • Approximately 14 cups of filtered water (I use this Berkey Filter for all our drinking/cooking water)
  • 8 tea bags of organic black or green tea
  • 1 cup of granulated organic sugar
  • Fruit juice, ginger, frozen berries, or other sweet ingredients to flavour the second fermentation (acidic ingredients like citrus can be added in small amounts only)

If you’re starting from scratch, it may be cheaper to buy the supplies all together in a starter kit like this one:

Kombucha Starter Kit

Instructions: How to Make Homemade Kombucha

  1. Clear, clean, and sanitize your workspace (countertop, sink, et cetera). Cleanliness during Kombucha brewing is SUPER important. Germs + kombucha = yucky.
  2. Sanitize all supplies in the dishwasher on the sanitize setting.
  3. Boil the filtered water in a large pot.
  4. Add the tea bags and sugar to the boiled water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Allow tea to cool (cover if it will be left unattended to keep out fruit flies).
  6. Remove tea bags and any bits of tea leaves that have escaped the bags.
  7. Transfer the cool sweet tea to the 1 gallon glass brewing jar.
  8. Pour in the existing kombucha liquid that accompanied the scoby.
  9. Place the scoby in the jar (use your hands, just make sure they are super clean). The scoby may sink to the bottom. That is perfectly ok. A new one will form on the top.
  10. Cover the jar with the cloth and secure with a rubber band. The cover will let in air, but keep out fruit flies. If you are very handy with sewing, you can sew a cotton cover with an elastic sewn right in. Just be sure that the fabric weave is tight enough to keep fruit flies out, and that the elastic makes a good seal. Fruit flies will lay eggs in the kombucha if given the chance, and then the brew will be full of tiny little fruit fly baby worms….disgusting. Keep everything very clean and sealed to prevent this. Excellent sanitation practices are vital when brewing your own kombucha.
  11. Put the jar in a warm area of the kitchen, at least a few feet away from the stove and/or any other fermenting items. Sometimes I cover the entire jar with a cloth, just to hide it.
  12. Let the kombucha sit on the counter for approximately 2 weeks. If the brew is only one week, the kombucha will be sweeter. If it is left for a month, it will be tart and vinegar-y. Experiment and decide what you like. Timing is approximate (like many calculations in kombucha brewing).
  13. The kombucha is ready at this point, or you can do a second fermentation:
    1. Decant most of the kombucha into small mason jars, so each jar is about 2/3 full.
    2. Leave the scoby aside with 1 cup of kombucha for the next batch.
    3. Fill some of the remaining room in each small jar with fruit juice or other sweet flavouring. Be sure to leave 1/2” of air at the top of the jar.
    4. Tighten the lid of each small jar very tight.
    5. Leave the small jars on the counter for approximately 3 days.
    6. Place the small jars in the fridge to chill.
    7. The small jars should now be slightly carbonated, and should fizz like soda when opened :) (if they don’t fizz, it is ok, just tighten the jars more tightly next time. If your house is cool, you may have to leave the closed jars on the counter for up to a week).

Always inspect your homemade kombucha thoroughly. Do not consume the kombucha if there are any signs of contamination, including mould or insects. When in doubt, throw it out (scoby and all).

Grab your free printable cheat-sheet of these instructions here:

Printable Kombucha Instructions

Homemade kombucha

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Print out these instructions and keep them on your fridge or beside your batch of kombucha!

Homemade Kombucha - Home for the Harvest Gardening Blog

Other Notes for Homemade Kombucha

  • These instructions are for 1 gallon of homemade kombucha. The recipe can be sized up or down if you have a smaller/larger container. Note that ingredient volumes are an approximate guideline, but you can change it up later on.
  • If the scoby is healthy, and your workspace and supplies are sanitized, the kombucha should be healthy. The scoby should never have mould on it. A new scoby should form on the top of the brew during each batch (or the existing scoby will become thicker as the brew ages). If you ever observe signs of mould on your scoby, throw out the kombucha and scoby, sanitize absolutely everything, and start again from scratch.
  • The scoby should never be frozen, boiled, or left in a hot environment such as direct sunlight. Room temperature (out of direct sunlight) is best. Refrigeration is ok if the fridge is on a warmer setting. If things sometimes freeze on shelves of your fridge, it is probably too cold for scoby storage. Extra scobys can be stored in another jar on the counter with a bit of kombucha and a touch of new sweet tea (a scoby hotel!).
  • Kombucha does contain a slight amount of alcohol, which is created during the fermentation process. This amount is apparently close to 0.5%, although I have never measured my own. The amount likely varies between batches when made at home.
  • Even though you add a lot of sugar at the beginning, the finished kombucha is very low in sugar. The scoby feeds on the sugar, resulting in a low-sugar beverage.
  • According to the lady who taught me to brew kombucha, the scoby apparently does not like steel. I have not yet investigated the underlying reasoning for this, but I do try to use plastic, silicone, or glass whenever handling the scoby.
  • Kombucha makes a great replacement for pop/cola. I love pop, but am generally happy to have a kombucha instead.

Homemade Kombucha Recipe | Home for the Harvest | www.homefortheharvest.com

Do you have unanswered questions about kombucha? If you’d like a bit more background information on kombucha, check out this post over at MKLibrary, which goes into detail about the actual composition of kombucha as well as some potential health benefits.

How to Make Homemade Organic Kombucha | Home for the Harvest

Have you tried making homemade kombucha yourself? Or would you like to? Let me know how it goes! Share your stories and questions in the comments section below :)

Printable Kombucha Instructions

Homemade kombucha

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