Kombucha at Home

How to grow and enjoy kombucha!


  1. Obtain a SCOBY
  • (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) Keep the SCOBY in a cool place until you are ready to add it to the new starter culture.
  1. 1st Ferment
  • In a clean glass vessel with an open top, brew extra strong, extra sweet tea using simple green or black tea, and unflavored honey or white sugar. Once this brew has cooled, remove tea bags/strain debris.
  1. A Vessel Becomes a Home
  • Add in the SCOBY to the vessel and use a rubber band or string to secure a double layer of clean cheesecloth to the vessel rim.
  1. Time and Place
  • Keep the starter culture in a safe place with indirect light. Allow the culture to anerobically ferment for 1-2 weeks, until the culture smells/tastes slightly vinegary. Ensure the cheesecloth is fully covering the vessel opening to prevent flies from invading.


  1. 2nd Ferment
  • In a clean pressure rated bottle, gently ladle the starter culture into the bottle with a funnel. Add no more than 2/3rds of the starter culture, or 1/2 of the bottle in volume.
  1. Extra Special Flavor
  • In a separate vessel, make any flavored sugary mixture of your choice. Any tea, fruit juice, or strained puree will work. Allow to cool, then add to pressure rated bottle.
  1. Patience is Key
  • Allow the 2nd fermentation bottle to ferment on the counter for 1-5 days, opening the top for a second every day to burp the cultures and prevent a pressure explosion.
  1. Enjoy the Fizz
  • Once the 2nd ferment is beginning to bubble and fizz, store in a cool place and enjoy. Watch out for SCOBY debris that may have developed in the 2nd ferment, and pour to enjoy using a strainer if you prefer not to consume it.


  • SCOBY Temperature
  • Because the SCOBY is a living, growing organism, it thrives at room temperature. However, temperatures lower than 40º F and higher than 90ºF can slow growth, and for prolonged periods of time, kill the organism. It’s smart to have a frozen SCOBY layer ready in case this happens. The SCOBY indicates it has stopped living when it consistently sinks to the bottom of the vessel and doesn’t produce bubbles or vinegary smell after a few weeks of new tea.
  • SCOBY Spa Day
  • Every few months, clean out the vessel the SCOBY lives in by gently wiping the top of the inner glass with a damp cloth or paper towel. If the SCOBY has many layers, gently peel off a few of them from the bottom and compost or give to a friend. If the mucky debris at the bottom of the vessel bothers you, carefully ladle it out. Lastly, ensure you place the SCOBY right side up, the way it has been growing. Ensure the starter culture stays around 4.2 pH by allowing 1/3 to 1/2 of the fermented culture to stay in the vessel at all times.
  • Tea for SCOBY
  • Brewing the simplest tea for the SCOBY gives it the elements it needs; A bit of tannins, color, and flavor with the tea, and a lot of sweetness to feed the organism. Any tea that has natural oils in it (cinnamon, citrus) will clog the pours of the SCOBY and could kill the living organism. Stick to brewing strong and sweet black or green tea, and using both works too.
  • 2nd Fermentation
  • To promote fizzy bubbles in the 2nd fermentation process, ensure the added flavor starts out overly-sweet. Facilitate this process with a pressure rated bottle. Burp the bottle (outside or over a sink) once a day to prevent a build up and explosion. Experiment with flavor combinations of fruit, spices, and herbs during this step!


  • The practice of making and drinking kombucha dates back to more than 2,000 years ago in China, and made its way through the Silk Road. It is common throughout Eastern Asia, and customs directly originating from Korea, Japan, and Tibet are also prevelant. Similar to the medicinal benefits of drinking bitters, apéritif, digestif, or jun, kombucha has similar benefits. Alcohol levels of kombucha are typically below 0.5% on average. Kombucha is a fermented food, meaning it utilizes sugar and natural bacteria and yeast to process sweet tea into a probiotic food.
  • Kombucha contains many health benefits, and contains antioxidants, polyphenols, enzymes, amino acids, B vitamins. Drinking kombucha regularly can reduce cholesterol, improve gastrointestinal functions, and contains antimicrobial properties that fight harmful bacteria. Because of the brewing teas used and sugar, kombucha can contain a small amount of caffine.
  • The kombucha culture I have is the same one I began growing when I was 15 years old. For almost 10 years, I have consistently grown and drank this kombucha, and in the times when I am not drinking it on a regular basis, my body immediately feels slower, I have a harder time processing any food, and my bloating gets to a painful point. Beyond being a delicious, acidic, flavorful drink, it can quench thirst and help ween sugar addictions. The limitless flavor combinations for the 2nd ferment keeps the process seasonal and inspiring, and it is lovely when mixed into a drink or enjoyed simply with ice on a hot day.

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