The Art of Brewing Your Own Kombucha

Camryn Davis

If you’re anything like me, the pandemic’s really exposed your lack of hobbies. I tried all of the trendy fixes at the beginning of quarantine; from creating the perfect whipped coffee to stabbing holes in homemade Foccacia, I did everything to occupy myself, but nothing really stuck as my thing.

Then, I fell down the rabbit hole of the online kombucha community.

If you’re unaware of what kombucha is, it’s a fermented tea mixed with fruit juice praised for its apparent health benefits from its high volume of probiotics. I’ve been a kombucha drinker for quite a few years; it’s the perfect drink if you want something a little sweet and carbonated without the artificial flavoring or high fructose corn syrup used in soda. I’ve tried pretty much every kombucha brand under the sun, or more likely, in the Trader Joe’s refrigerated section, but with a single 16 oz bottle costing around $3-4, I started to wonder: could I make this myself?

The answer is an emphatic: Yes! I started brewing my own kombucha around two months ago, and I’ve never gone back. I’m saving money, making something that excites me, and learning about the process of fermentation all in one! It’s an incredibly easy hobby to maintain, and I recommend every kombucha lover makes the switch to home-brewed kombucha.

So, how does one go about brewing their own kombucha?

First things first, there’s no kombucha without a “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”, which is more lovingly known as the SCOBY. The SCOBY is the lifeline of a kombucha batch that takes the form of a microbial mat that floats on top of the kombucha container. Sounds gross, I know. They look even grosser, but that’s beside the point. Before you go about making your first batch of kombucha, you have to grow or buy a SCOBY. There are great kombucha starter kits on Etsy, such as this one, but I personally chose to use this recipe from The Kitchn to form my own SCOBY. Mine isn’t as pretty as the ones that come from starter sets, but it gets the job done. So, once you have your SCOBY ready and cultivated, it’s time for the fun part. You’re ready to brew your own kombucha.

These instructions will yield you half a gallon of kombucha. Adjust the measurements accordingly for the size of your brewing container!

EQUIPMENT

Stockpot

64oz glass jar

64oz glass bottle with an air tight lid

Washcloth, tea towel, or a large paper towel that covers the head of your jar

Rubber bands

Strainer

INGREDIENTS

7 cups of water

½ cup of granulated sugar

4 bags of black or green tea

1 cup of store-bought kombucha or kombucha from your previous batch

1 SCOBY per jar

First, you’re going to boil your 7 cups of water. Once the water hits a rolling boil, take your pot off of the heat and stir in the sugar. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, add your tea bags to the pot and let them steep until the water is completely cooled. This will probably take around two hours, so be patient!

After your tea has steeped and the water has completely cooled, pour your tea into the glass jar and combine it with your SCOBY and your existing cup of kombucha. This can be from an unflavored, store-bought bottle, from a previous drinkable batch, or from the batch used to form your SCOBY — any of these will work!

Once your mixture is in your jar, cover the head of the jar with your washcloth and secure it with a rubber band. After this, put your jar in a warm, dark place and wait for a week for your first round of fermentation to be over! When your first round of fermentation is over, you’re going to make more tea for your jar and just repeat the process over again.

Bottle your finished kombucha with any additional flavoring you want to add in. For this batch, I chose to add a little mango nectar concentrate for some added sweetness! Also, at this step, I typically strain out large bacteria and place it back into the jar for the next brew. Leave some headroom at the top of your bottle for fermentation and put your bottle in a warm, dark place for another 1-3 days so your batch can carbonate nicely. Then, you’re ready to enjoy some homemade kombucha!

And that’s it! The cycle of brewing your own kombucha just continues since your SCOBY is always cultivated after this point! Since I’ve started brewing my own kombucha, ‘brew day’ has become a weekly routine of mine, where I bottle my current kombucha and brew more tea for the next batch! It’s a super fun process, and I’ve been having an awesome time giving out bottles of kombucha as gifts for my friends. It’s definitely a fun crowdpleaser! Get brewing!