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Friday, October 28, 2011

Making and Flavoring Kombucha Tea

On Wednesday, I introduced you guys to the world of kombucha, and today I want to answer some of the questions I've been asked and go into a little more detail about the kombucha making process.

The one question I've been asked more than once is this

"Where can I get a kombucha scoby to get started making kombucha?"

Jar full of kombucha scobies. scobys. It doesn't look right plural....

Well, it just so happens that I have a few extra, so if you know me and live in my area, I would be happy to share! I really only need one because every time I make kombucha a new scoby is formed at the top.
If you know my Mom, ask her for one. I got my first one from her.

If you are reading from afar, and you're interested in getting a scoby, I might see if we can work something out, or you can order one on

FYI, "SCOBY" stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.
Sounds delicious, does it not? But remember, our healthy digestion and immune system are dependent upon us putting the right type of bacteria in our bodies!

So, say you've got a Scoby and you're ready to make kombucha. Check out my recipe from earlier, and keep some of these tips in mind.

Kombucha brewing tips
1. Add 1/4 cup of your previous batch of kombucha to your new batch of kombucha. This will help it get off to a good start.

2. Use filtered water or bottled spring water because the chlorine in your tap water will kill off the good germies in your kombucha.

3. You will probably think your kombucha is molding the first time you make it. It more than likely isn't. Every time you make kombucha, a new scoby will form on the top of the jar, just above the tea. When it first begins to form, it looks kinda like white scuzz. Give it a few more days.
*If you do think your kombucha is moldy, do an internet search for "moldy kombucha" to be sure. I've never had a problem b/c the good bacteria and yeasts in the kombucha prevent any mold or bad bacteria from forming. It doesn't hurt to be careful, though.

4. Always brew your kombucha in glass. Metal will react and turn the tea funny colors. Plastic will leach chemicals into the kombucha because of its acidic nature. It doesn't matter what you brew your initial tea in, just what you ferment it in.

5. Cover your jar loosely while your kombucha tea is brewing. (See above photo.) It needs air so the cultures can grow, but you don't want any little bugs wandering in. Or maybe you do, I don't know. I'm sure the guy on Man vs. Wild would say it's "good protein." I, for one, don't care to try buggy kombucha so I cover my jar with a rag wrapped with a rubber band.

6. Double brew your kombucha for better fizz and flavor.

Double brewing and flavoring kombucha
After your kombucha has been brewing for about a week (taste every few days until it's at a balance of sour/sweet that you like), pour it into a glass bottle and let it sit for another day or two to get nice and bubbly. This is called a "second fermentation". It will get a little more sour, so you may want to stop the initial brew a little earlier than if you were going to do just one fermentation.

When you're done fermenting, store your kombucha in the fridge so the fermentation process will stop.

I like to add a little fruit juice concentrate here to give it some more flavor. I never measure, but it's about 1 teaspoon per quart of kombucha. Grape is by far my favorite for kombucha. You should try a few to see which one you like best. Some people use fruit juice, dried fruit or fresh fruits chunks instead. I find that a spoon full of juice concentrate is easiest.

The picture on the right shows the bottles I like to use. Seltzer water bottles with plastic lids work great! I've found that metal lids wear out pretty quickly and don't give a good, airtight seal. If your seal isn't airtight, your carbonation will escape. That makes for a sad day.

A lot of brewing kombucha is finding out how you like it best. It may take a few batches before you find a flavor balance that you love. I like to use half green tea leaves and half black tea leaves for a lighter tea flavor. I also like to stop the brewing process while it's a little sweet and slightly less sour.

It's really hard to kill a scoby, so don't worry about neglecting it too long. In fact, if you want to take a break for a month of so from making kombucha, make a regular batch of kombucha and just let it sit in a cabinet until you are ready for it again. You'll have a really thick scoby and some kombucha vinegar. Kombucha tea eventually turns to vinegar after all of the sugars have been digested.

Also, you don't have to wash the jar every time you make kombucha because it's a sanitary process. I just pour off the tea, take out one scoby (there will be two, the "mother" you started with and the new "baby."), and start all over again.

Now, are you on kombucha overload? That's a lot of kombucha info! Still, I'm sure I left some questions unanswered, so feel free to leave a comment if you have a question!


  1. sarah,you are so amazing!i love learning your gems of obscure technique! your friend,randy

  2. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!
    If you have grain-free recipes please visit my Grain-Free Linky Carnival in support of my 28 day grain-free challenge! It will be open until November 2.

  3. I love using grape juice for the second fermentation. I made a batch without juice, and it just doesn't taste the same.

    I found swig bottles at Ikea, and I use those increase the carbonation in the kombucha. After I do the two fermentations, I put the kombucha in the swig bottle and close it, and leave the bottle on the counter for at least 2 days. You do have to be careful in the summer when it's hot. I had a bottle explode this summer, though very fortunately, no one was in the room.

  4. Can I use just green tea? I'm allergic to black tea.

  5. Barb - what's a swig bottle, sounds interesting! I'm so glad no one was in the room when your kombucha exploded. How would you explain that one to the doc? :)

    Thursday Next - you can definitely use just green tea. It will give a lighter flavor. Some people say that the scoby isn't happiest without black tea...but I find scobys to be pretty agreeable to any tea. They're an agreeable lot. :)