Thursday, September 19, 2013

How to make kombucha at home

Fermented foods and beverages, such as kefir, yogurt, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, etc. are highly probiotic, as well as full of enzymes and vitamins (especially B vitamins). I am working on a separate post explaining in great detail how fermented foods play such a huge role in being healthy. In a nutshell, I would say that adding ferments has been monumental, at least as important and efficient as switching to being all organic, if not even more so.

Kombucha is fermented sweetened black tea. It is incredibly refreshing, healthy, hydrating, naturally fizzy, and very tasty. At least the homemade kind. I have tried one from the store, and while the health benefits are the same, I greatly prefer the taste of my fresh, home-brewed kombucha. It's also much cheaper, plus you can play around with the various teas and flavors.

Inevitably, someone will raise the concern that kombucha (or other fermented foods and drinks) contain alcohol. This is partly true: anytime you have sugars (that's carbs) and yeast present, you have alcohol fermentation. Of course, yeast spores are everywhere, even in the air you are breathing right now. Therefore, wherever you have sugar, you also have trace amounts of alcohol.

There are two ways to ferment something: by yeast, or by bacteria. Yeast fermentation always produces alcohol, whereas bacterial fermentation eats up these sugar alcohols. Since kombucha is made using both yeast and bacteria, the end product will contain only trace amounts of alcohol - less than the browning banana in your fruit bowl, or than what is found on the outside of grapes. At a rate of 1 cup sugar per gallon of tea, the alcohol level in kombucha will remain far below the legally permissible limit of 0.5% alcohol for soft drinks. This is why kombucha is considered a soft drink, and can be bought by anyone of any age. Even regular soft drinks contain about 0.2-0.4% alcohol, kefir about 0.5%, etc. Such small amounts of alcohol do not cause intoxication, because the human body and liver are capable of filtering these naturally occurring alcohols out of the system. Intoxication is a result of pouring in more than the body can process and eliminate - picture a funnel being filled faster in the top, than it can empty out in the bottom.

Ideally, you will be able to obtain a starter culture for free from a friend, or you may want to try your luck with craigslist or freecycle. If not, you can obtain a wonderful, inexpensive, fresh SCOBY starter culture from Azure Standard, or directly from I am also a great fan of Cultures for Health, however, their starter culture comes in a dehydrated state and must be rehydrated, an extra step that I would rather skip. They also have a great video on how to make kombucha.

Have you tried kombucha, and have you tried making your own?


  1. Yes, I have been brewing my own for about a couple years. My favorite is to do a quick second fermentation with mango chunks. Next I want to try the popular combo cherry and chai seeds. For a former soda addict like myself, this is a great alternative. I have made my own ginger bug but can't master a good home made ginger ale yet. My husband says our kitchen is more like a lab with things fermenting everywhere. Have you tried to do stuff like ketchup or salsa with whey? It's delish! Thanks for posting these great tutorials! I hope you will get a chance sometime to post your sourdough pancake recipe and your doughnut one too! :)

  2. What??? You don't like drinking the slime bits? :)

    I do drink it all, but I don't notice the slime if I drink quickly. :)

    Since I'm doing long brews, my SCOBY is now enormous - it's great fun to see how big it's getting.

    Thanks for the awesome video! I'll definitely be sharing! :)


  3. I cannot wait to have a kitchen big enough to make this in. We are looking into buying home now, so hopefully not too much longer. God has a plan for this we are sure.


  4. When/how did you start drinking Kombucha? I've read it causes mild detox and shouldn't be started during pregnancy/nursing (but is ok to continue if you've already been drinking it.) Since I always seem to be pregnant and/or nursing, I haven't been able to start.

  5. We like to mix ours with a dash of organic juice just before drinking. Right now we're using the Knudsen's Blueberry Pomegranate with a wedge of lime squeezed in too. Yum!

  6. To your questions at the close~no to each. But I have ordered a starter kit from Azure~ as guess what? They are actually delivering now to my local community(24 mile round trip away)!!! Thanks for the video, I will reference it again I am sure.

    I appreciate you taking the time to share~as you are a busy momma!


  7. I remember on another blog, they said you can make your own SCOBY, but I don't remember how. Something about vinegar I think. Have you heard this? That site takes posts down all the time, so if you don't print it right away, usually you'll lose it. :-(

    1. I have been able to make my own a couple times. Go to the store and buy the best Kombucha drink you can find, make sure it has lots of slimy bits floating around or else it wont work. Go home, pour it in a glass jar and place it in a somewhat warm dark place and leave it alone for a couple weeks. Those globs will actually form a SCOBY!:)

  8. I started making Kombucha from a Scoby I grew from a bottle I bought at the store. Just startpage how to do it. It was right before I got pregnant, and I really think drinking a little every morning stopped me from getting morning sickness. With my first 2 children, I had moderate to strong nausea, but with #3 NOTHING at all. It was wonderful! Many other women online feel the same. Please try it and let us know!

  9. I made my own SCOBY, just pour a bottle of Kombucha into one or two containers for a month or so, and they will have grown a SCOBY on top of each, just use that to make your next batch, or even start two batches at a time, if you grew two SCOBY.

  10. "Because there are several types of yeast and bacteria that can grow under these conditions, different Kombucha brews may contain different types. Since cultures and preparation methods vary, Kombucha tea may contain contaminants such as molds and fungi, some of which can cause illness. After the tea is made, it is usually highly acidic and contains alcohol, ethyl acetate, acetic acid, and lactate." Fermented. Contains alcohol. Are you claiming it's okay to drink this home brew and wrong to drink wine, beer and other strong drink?!?!?!?!? I'm anxious to hear your're logical explanation. One more ? Does Steve know you're making home brew and is he drinking it too?

  11. Confused Why Kombucha. Mushroom Tea was removed from store shelves.?

    June 23, 2010.Kombucha Products Containing at Least 0.5 Percent Alcohol by Volume are Alcohol Beverages. That is according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

    (see the TTB report in its entirety)

    Since komucha is not strictly a beer or a wine or a distilled spirit it does not fit neatly into a established category. However, I expect the TTB to be making a deceision by mid-July that kombucha with alcohol levels 0.5% or above (up to 7%) then it will be classified as KOMBUCHA WINE. Of course where Kombucha Mushroom Tea is brewed (and bottled) with less than 0.5% alcohol it is then a non-alcohol brew and outside the TTB.

    However where kombucha brew is bottled with 0.5% or higher alcohol then the TTB will classify that as a alcohol beverage and want it to be labeled. .For many alcohol beverage products, TTB must evaluate the product and approve its formula before issuing a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) to determine whether a proposed label identifies the product in an adequate and non-misleading way. TTB regulations require formulas when flavoring or coloring materials are added to an alcohol beverage. Since GT Synergy, Kombucha2000 and others have some 26 flavors, it may be awhile until "Kombucha" appears back on the shelves. Unless, of course, the kombucha bottlers can demonstrate that they can maintain alcohol levels below that magical 0.5% I assumre, Kombucha Wonder Drink, which is pasteurized , will not have to undergo any such ordeals. Although at this time the TTB is busy investigating all kombucha sold on the stores shelves.

  12. The above info was copied from:

  13. Do you make water kefir? I am getting some grains from a friend in the next few weeks and I would like some recipes.

  14. Demonstrated and explained perfectly! Thank you :)

  15. Any way you can make this video available again?


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