How to make kombucha? Making this kombucha recipe at home is a little bit weird, a lot of fun, and cheaper than store bought!

Kombucha recipe

Here’s a favorite homemade drink to share with you: kombucha! In the past few years there’s been a kombucha craze here in the US. But back when Alex and I started drinking it, it was totally niche! We’d been looking for healthy, satisfying drink recipes, and kombucha is exactly that. It has a bouncy acidity that replaces that craving for soda. Lucky for us, the appetite for this fizzy drink has swept the nation. While you can easily find it any grocery these days, it’s easy to make at home and super cheap. Here’s our time-tested homemade kombucha recipe!

Kombucha recipe

What is kombucha?

So what is kombucha? Kombucha is a traditional Chinese and Russian drink made by fermenting (yes, fermenting!) sweetened tea. Its flavor is somewhere between sweet tea and hard cider. There are all sorts of claimed health benefits to kombucha, ranging from improved digestion to alleviating depression. We’ll leave health benefits to the professionals; here we’ll show you the actual process to make this tasty elixir!

More fermented foods? Go to Top Fermented Foods to Try Now.

Overview: the basic steps to a kombucha recipe

Here’s the basic overview of what you’re getting yourself into with kombucha! The process takes about 15 minutes of hands on time the day of, and about 10 days to ferment. Just like with sourdough bread, your SCOBY replicates itself and you can continue to make batches of kombucha almost indefinitely. (What’s a SCOBY? Keep reading…)

Make a large pot of tea
Add a SCOBY
15 to 20 minutes active, 2 to 3 hours hands off
Ferment9 days hands off
Bottle & carbonate10 minutes hands on, 1 day hands off
Kombucha recipe

What’s a SCOBY?

Wait, what’s a SCOBY. SCOBY is an acronym that stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s a culture that’s much like a sourdough starter, and it transforms sugary tea into a carbonated, healthy beverage. Admittedly, it’s a bit creepy looking. It’s slimy and pancake shaped, and seems a little like an alien creature. But before long it becomes a beloved pet (just like with our sourdough starter)!

Where to get a SCOBY?

The trickiest part about a kombucha recipe is acquiring a SCOBY. We received ours from a friend. The SCOBY will double in size nearly every batch, so you can split them and share them with friends (though our waiting list is getting extensive!). So, inquire around for kombucha-making friends or purchase a SCOBY online.

More kitchen DIYs? Try our Best Sourdough Bread or How to Make Sauerkraut!

SCOBY

How to make kombucha (basic steps)

After you’ve acquired a SCOBY, it’s quite easy to make this kombucha recipe. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Day 1 Make the tea: On Day 1, you’ll make the sweetened tea. Then add the SCOBY and cover the jar with a paper towel and rubber band (so the SCOBY can breathe). Place it in a dark location, and wait. Wait for 9 days for the fermentation to take place.
  • Day 9 Taste: After 9 days, taste the kombucha to see if it’s done. It should taste tangy and fruity. If it’s still too sweet, continue to ferment day by day to see when it’s ready.
  • Day 10+ (Bottle & Ferment): On whatever day it’s ready, filter the kombucha and pour it into bottles. Then ferment it for 1 more day so that it carbonates. After this step, it’s ready to go! A crisp, tangy, lightly carbonated kombucha recipe.

Here’s hoping you run into someone who’s a closet home kombucha-brewer, and you can pick up a SCOBY from them. Cheers!

Pouring kombucha into bottle

Reusing a SCOBY

Once you use your SCOBY in the first batch of kombucha, you can use it over and over for future batches. A SCOBY lasts about 6 to 9 months: but you can replace it with a baby SCOBY before then.

What’s a baby SCOBY? You’ll notice the SCOBY grows another layer during the fermentation process. Over time after several layers have formed and the baby SCOBY is about 1/2″ to 3/4″ inch thick, peel off the baby SCOBY. You can give it to a friend, discard it, or start using the new “baby” SCOBY.

Note: If your SCOBY ever turns black or develops mold, discard it and begin again with a new one.

This kombucha recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, plant based, and dairy free.

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Easy Kombucha Recipe!


  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 10 days
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 days
  • Yield: 1 gallon 1x

Description

How to make kombucha? Making this kombucha recipe at home is a little bit weird, a lot of fun, and cheaper than store bought! 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 6 bags of tea (we use plain organic black tea)
  • 1 cup of sugar (preferably organic)
  • 1 SCOBY
  • 1 gallon glass jar (we ate a bunch of pickles to get one)
  • funnel
  • paper towel
  • rubber band
  • litmus paper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring 1 gallon of water to a full boil. Turn the heat off, add 6 bags of tea, and 1 cup of sugar. Stir to combine.
  2. Let the tea cool to room temperature (about 2 to 3 hours). Then remove the tea bags, and fill a 1 gallon glass jar.
  3. Gently slide the SCOBY onto the top of the tea, including 1 cup of kombucha from the last batch (or the liquid included with the SCOBY).
  4. Cover with the jar with a paper towel and a rubber band.
  5. Place the jar in a dark, room temperature location for about 9 days (shorter or longer depending on temperature, up to 2 weeks in winter).
  6. After fermenting, taste the kombucha for doneness: it should taste tangy and fruity. If it’s still too sweet, allow it to ferment for another day and taste again. Starting out, we used litmus paper to test — fermented kombucha should be between 3-4 pH.
  7. Remove the SCOBY and set it aside in sealable container with about 1 cup of kombucha. (Store the SCOBY in the fridge for about 1 week; if desired, split the SCOBY on a layer and provide it to a friend in a plastic bag with enough kombucha to cover. Then start the process again with your remaining SCOBY!)
  8. Pour the kombucha through a strainer or cheese cloth into sealed jars. Close the jars or bottles and return them to the warm, dark storage location. Store for 24 hours to allow the kombucha to naturally carbonate. (Don’t leave them for more than 24 hours, as pressure can build in the bottle.)
  9. When the kombucha is ready, refrigerate and serve cold. Keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Fermented
  • Cuisine: N/A

Keywords: Kombucha Recipe, Kombucha, How to Make Kombucha, Fermentation, Fermented Tea

Looking for more drink recipes?

Outside of this kombucha recipe, we have lots of delicious drink recipes on A Couple Cooks! Here are our favorite drink recipes:

Last updated: February 2020

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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11 Comments

    1. It’s quite different tasting from tea. You should try it out. I think they sell it at whole foods tour groceries too… :-)

  1. I love Kombucha way too much and find myself spending a small fortune on it. Need to get a scoby (even though they freak me out a bit). You make it sound so easy! I have a million ideas for flavouring the stuff. I’m on the scoby hunt now.

  2. I love making kombucha – have you tried flavoring it yet? It’s really easy – after you strain the liquid into bottles, pop in a few berries, ginger, or other fruit, cap, put in a cool dark place for a few days, and then refrigerate. Letting it sit after bottling also ups the carbonation if that’s something you like. Great post!

  3. Awesome! I just started brewing kombucha myself! I got my scoby from a local health food store since I wasn’t sure if I could have one shipped across the border to Canada. I’m so excited to try experimenting with flavoring it but I haven’t gotten that far yet :)

  4. You can purchase SCOBYs locally from Fermenti Artisan in City Market – they’ll also do a how to for the first time brewer.