How To Make Kombucha

by Ann Marie Michaels on August 14, 2009

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How To Make Kombucha

Ever wanted to make your own kombucha? Making kombucha at home is easy and very inexpensive. It costs just pennies to make. And it’s environmentally friendly since you’re not constantly lugging home plastic soda bottles or aluminum cans. You just reuse glass bottles or mason jars.

What’s kombucha? It’s a naturally carbonated, sweet and tangy drink. It’s essentially a mildly fermented, fizzy sweet tea. It is not alcoholic, though, and has very little caffeine. Since it’s naturally fermented, it’s a living food with active cultures. Good for the gut!

Best of all, I love knowing that kombucha is so healthy. It’s full of probiotics, B-vitamins, and enzymes. I even give it to my toddler in a sippy cup. She loves the bubbles!

I used to be addicted to Diet Coke. But not anymore. Ever since I learned how to make kombucha, those days are over.

Notes on How to Make Kombucha

I modified this recipe from the recipe in Sally Fallon-Morell’s cookbook, Nourishing Traditions. She uses a glass bowl in her recipe, which you can do if you don’t have a gallon-sized glass jar. I prefer using a glass jar because it’s a little easier, and it’s easier to make room for it in your kitchen. I stick the gallon jars out of sight in a cupboard.

It’s not always easy to find a gallon glass jar. You might look for them on the internet. I just did a search for glass jars online and got four shipped to me practically overnight — and they were cheap!

I recommend getting more than one gallon glass jar. I often double or even triple this recipe so I can make bigger batches. I also find that it’s very handy to use the gallon jars when I’m making chicken or beef stock — they take up a lot less room in the fridge.

It’s important to use organic sugar and organic black tea, and you must use filtered water, not tap water. Tap water is chlorinated, and chlorine will kill your starter culture. Sally Fallon-Morell writes in Nourishing Traditions, “White sugar, rather than honey or Rapadura, and black tea, rather than flavored teas, give the highest amounts of glucuronic acid. Non-organic tea is high in fluoride so always use organic tea.”

You’ll also need a starter culture (also called a scoby or mushroom) to make kombucha. But here’s the neat thing, once you have a starter, you only need one for life. Every time you make kombucha, the starte grows another starter. You can give them away to friends or throw them in your compost.

How to Make Kombucha

How To Make Kombucha

Makes about 2 quarts

Equipment:

Large stainless steel stockpot (not aluminum)
1 gallon glass jar (or a 4-quart glass bowl)
Thin dishtowel or cheesecloth (or a coffee filter)
Rubber band
Mason jars or glass bottles for bottling

Ingredients

Filtered water (3 quarts)
Refined white sugar, organic (1 cup) — where to buy refined sugar
Black tea bags, organic (4) — where to buy tea where to buy organic black tea
Kombucha starter culture (1) — where to buy starters
Kombucha from a previous batch (1/2 cup) — you can use store-bought kombucha

Directions

1. Add the filtered water to the stockpot, cover, and bring to a boil.
2. Turn off the heat, pour in the sugar until it is dissolved.
3. Add the tea bags, remove the stockpot from the heat and place it on a trivet or pot holder on a counter or table. Let most of the steam out, then cover and let cool (this takes a few hours).
4. When the tea is at room temperature (if it’s too hot, it can kill your starter culture), pour it into the gallon glass jar. Add 1/2 cup of kombucha from a previous batch (or store-bought kombucha), and add the starter culture.
5. Cover with a dishcloth, cheesecloth or coffee filter (this is just used to keep the bugs and dust out — but it needs to be porous so air can get in) and wrap a rubber band around it to keep it on there.
6. Leave it in a warm dark place for a few days, tasting it every so often. Depending on how sweet or sour you like your kombucha, it will be ready as early as three or four days, and can take as long as two weeks. It also depends on how warm your kitchen is. You can make kombucha faster in summer and it may take longer in wintertime when your kitchen is cold. One trick I use in the winter is a “reptile mat”. I bought one at a pet store. You just plug it in and set your gallon jar on it.
7. When the kombucha tastes the way you want it to (I like mine a tad bit sweeter than some store-bought brands I’ve tasted… and my husband and daughter don’t like it when it’s too sour and vinegary), remove the starter culture and put it into a bowl or another gallon glass jar. Pour enough kombucha over it to make sure it’s completely covered.
8. Pour the kombucha into glass bottles or mason jars, seal, and store in the fridge.

One last thing: If you want to take a break from making kombucha, just leave your starter culture in the gallon jar covered with kombucha and a dish towel. It will stay alive for many weeks or months with very little attention (I know, because I’ve left mine in there for months.) You can always pour a little store-bought kombucha in there if you want to make sure it stays alive. Or brew a few cups of tea and add sugar and throw it in if you’re too busy to make a batch of kombucha and you’re nervous about killing your starter.

Where to Buy Kombucha Starters and Kombucha Kits

Where to buy kombucha starters and kombucha making kits

Photo credits:Zero-X on Flickr
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{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

Marcia Bell August 14, 2009 at 11:31 AM

AnnMarie,

I’ve never actually tried Kombucha tea because I had no idea where to find it. I recently walked into a coop to make a sales call and noticed a large Kombucha display. I’ll check your resources, too. I think I about to take (not the Nes Tea) plunge. Will keep you posted.

Thanks,
mb

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Local Nourishment August 14, 2009 at 11:42 AM

I’ve been making kombucha and flavoring it (in a second ferment) with fruit juice. I love it, but it wasn’t until this week we hit on a flavor the kids will drink: grape!

After the kombucha is done, I decant it into 16 ounce bottles to which I’ve already added 2 ounces of unsweetened organic grape juice each. I pour the kombucha in, close the bottles back up and leave them on the counter one more day, then put them in the fridge.

Oh, and one more tip: If you forget your kombucha and find you have a gallon of undrinkably tart liquid, don’t toss it, it’s great for salad dressings as a vinegar stand-in!

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Tara August 14, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Somewhere else (can’t remember where now) said NOT to use organic tea? I’m so confused! LOL! I’m on my second batch right now. Still getting the hand of this. My scoby came to me in pieces and it still is in pieces. How do I know which pieces to keep and which to toss?

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K December 8, 2013 at 10:12 PM

You want to use organic tea,the non-organic tea holds a lot more fluoride. The fermentation also helps with the fluoride in the organic tea’s.

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fyibecauseIcare August 14, 2009 at 12:05 PM

Here I’m offering some adjustments and advice to the myths surrounding Kombucha, methods and ingredients used:

Sugar – you don’t need to use white sugar. Especially if you’re vegan because a lot of sugar processors clarify and whiten their products using “bone char” (yes, it is exactly what it sounds like, the charred remains of cremated feed animals) and sulfur dioxide. The former contains unknown chemicals, the latter is a chemical that folks are common allergic too.

As this is a living culture that’s been around a lot long that us, and white sugar is a new phenomenon on this planet, suffice it to say it’s unnecessary. The common argument to this is that it provides the best, most consistent yields. Well that’s just crazy-talk. In fact it sounds more like corporate-speak. We’re looking for beneficial traits, not efficiency. Do you want to spray your crops with pesticides and chemical fertilizers or grow organically?

Other sugars can in fact produce a product faster, with more carbonation, taste better and leave your culture plump and happy. Specifically the culture benefits from nutrients removed from regular sugars, the stuff that makes all the brown color. These contain calcium, nitrogen and other nutrients that the organisms that make up this culture are a more accustomed diet. Sugars like Succinat, Pilloncio, Rapadura and more common in stores now “evaporated cane sugar.”

That last one is my favorite because it is exactly as it is and sounds. It’s sugars from the first extraction from the plant and dehydrated, hence the blond coloring to it. It produces a very happy culture and very bubbly kombuca.

Water – You can use chlorinated water if it has been boiled or set out to alow the chlorine to dissipate. You can find directions on the net. Some water systems also you chloramine, which is tastess and odorless, and cannot be removed from the water. Check your local utility for the best info.

Tea – You can use any unadulterated (pure, real) tea, and not limited to black tea alone. No to herbal teas, flavored teas, fruits and fruit juices in place of water, etc. These contain chemicals and oils that will damage or kill your kombucha culture. Many people have great results using green tea alone or mixed with black tea. But you can certainly use only black tea, it’s just a matter of taste. Black tea makes a fairly heavy, strong kombucha and, as expected, green tea makes a light mixture. However the added benefit to green tea is that it tends to make a more carbonated drink, like champagne.

Cheesecloth – I strongly recommend using cheesecloth because the holes are too big, allowing molds, virii and egg laying critters like the vinegar or fruit fly. Standard coffee filters work great but only if they are rubber-banded very tightly with no bunching, leaving a path for critters. It helps to put them on wet.

There’s lots of resources on the net about kombucha, but here’s a geat group of folks that really know their stuff. Check it out.

http:// kombuchatea.tribe. net

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fyibecauseIcare August 14, 2009 at 12:10 PM

ooops! correction:

My post, second to last paragragh, should read: I strongly recommend AGAINST using cheese cloth.

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Naomi Snider August 14, 2009 at 12:22 PM

If it happens that you don’t have any kombucha left (it HAS actually happened to me when I was first learning about making it) you can also use apple cider vinegar to start your kombucha. AND it is my understanding that Lipton brand black tea is not certified organic, but it’s organic. You can check with the Lipton people; their tea is grown without pesticides, they just can’t state this on their label.

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Heather June 28, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Hi,
I was wondering how you can get your starter from apple cider vinegar.
Thanks’
Heather

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Marshall July 9, 2012 at 10:15 AM

It’s not that you can get your starter from apple cider vinegar, but that you could use apple cider vinegar in place of kombucha to get your tea to a level of acidity that is good and safe for your SCOBY- your kombucha culture. If you need a SCOBY and can’t find one, try to find organic RAW kombucha (GT’s has a popular raw line) and just leave a cup covered at room temp for a few days. You’ll find your starter.

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Marshall July 9, 2012 at 10:15 AM

It’s not that you can get your starter from apple cider vinegar, but that you could use apple cider vinegar in place of kombucha to get your tea to a level of acidity that is good and safe for your SCOBY- your kombucha culture. If you need a SCOBY and can’t find one, try to find organic RAW kombucha (GT’s has a popular raw line) and just leave a cup covered at room temp for a few days. You’ll find your culture!

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Naomi Snider August 14, 2009 at 12:23 PM

Oh, and I meant to mention this: I love my kombucha with grated fresh ginger! If you’re a ginger-lover, you’ll like it too.

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Kim August 14, 2009 at 12:25 PM

Tara – I think that’s Kelly the Kitchen Kop. She mentioned that Lipton is the best tea to use, and that’s it’s organic, anyway…? I think I’m remembering that from her site…

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 12:26 PM

Good luck, Marcia!

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 12:27 PM

Local Nourishment, those are great tips!

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Patti August 14, 2009 at 12:28 PM

I was so excited to receive your post, as today I have been searching the blogs to become familiar with making kombucha. But now I am confused! Kelly has some very different instructions – beginning with the type of tea – she recommends not using organic, but only Lipton. I have made two batches with my current starter, and it has grown two nice new ones each time, but since I used decaf tea (Lipton) and not a clear glass bowl, I was thinking of throwing it out and starting over with a new mushroom. Based on your instructions, I feel like maybe I haven’t ruined my starter and maybe I could continue. Also, when you weren’t making it and simply stored your starter, did you keep it in the fridge? Thanks for all the great info!!

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Dawna Coxon August 14, 2009 at 12:29 PM

Thank You, Thank You, Thank you I LOVE Kombucha and currently pay $5 for a small bottle of it! Can’t wait try making it (for just pennies!!!).

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Diana Young August 14, 2009 at 12:40 PM

I agree that a gallon jar is easier to fit in a crowded kitchen, and that’s what I use. However I have found improved taste with kombucha brewed in a bowl.

Here’s my tip: buy the gallon jar with a spigot (find them at the hardware store or general merchandise store – they’re used for picnics and for making sun tea. With the spigot you can conveniently sample your brew and decide when to harvest.

For covering the jar or bowl I use muslin (I agree that cheesecloth is too porous to protect from various invaders.

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 12:42 PM

fyibecauseIcare -

Thanks for all the info!

Some cheesecloths are thicker than others — if you double it up, it would probably work fine. I prefer dish towels myself.

Re: tea and sugar, I’m sure you could use green tea and unrefined sugar, but if you read the section Notes About This Recipe (above), Sally Fallon Morell said that white sugar and black tea produce a higher amount of glucuronic acid.

Acc. to the WAPF website:

“Kombucha is rich in B vitamins and a substance called glucuronic acid which binds up environmental and metabolic toxins so that they can be excreted through the kidneys. Glucuronic acid is a natural acid that is produced by the liver. Kombucha simply supplies the body with more and boosts the natural detoxification process.”

http://www.westonaprice.org/foodfeatures/kvass.html

I don’t know where Fallon got that info about the sugar and tea but she’s pretty good about her sources.

Re: water. Yes, it’s true, you CAN use tap water that has been boiled to remove the chlorine. I know people who do that. I think it does depend on where you are and what is in your tap water.

Our tap water here in LA also has fluoride and perchlorate (rocket fuel!) — both are toxic and especially bad for the thyroid gland. What’s the point of getting all that good detoxifying glucuronic acid when you’re just adding more toxins. ;-)

Anyway, I use reverse osmosis filtered water.

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 12:45 PM

Dawna -

I think it’s so healthy and good, it’s worth every penny. I used to buy it too… and actually I still do when I’ve been too busy to make it. But YEAH, making it is cheap! And so easy. Better to make it at home if and when you can!

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 12:48 PM

Diana -

I guess I have some pretty thick cheesecloth. :-)

I searched high and low in LA but never found a gallon jar — much less one with a spigot. That’s a good idea — wish I had one!

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MovieBuff Babe February 11, 2014 at 12:45 PM

try asking at a local restraunt.. many commercial items still come in glass gallon jars and they just toss em when they’re empty.

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Kim August 14, 2009 at 12:56 PM

I have a kombucha mushroom in a jar for over 6 mos – you think this is still OK to use? Non-refrigerated….

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 1:00 PM

Patti –

Personally I would not worry about it too much. If your starter is thriving, I would keep using it.

Re: Lipton tea – Kelly said that Betsy Pryor told her that Lipton tea does not have pesticides in it. I don’t know anything about that.

It is odd though if you go to the Lipton website, they list regular tea bags AND organic tea… http://www.liptont.com/our_products/food_service/index.aspx

I tend not to trust large multinational corporations. It seems to me, if Lipton was using all organic tea in their tea bags, they’d be promoting that. Since you can always charge more for organic. I don’t have any evidence that their teas are not organic — but I don’t have any evidence that they are. I feel safer buying organic tea.

We need to find someone who is an expert on tea — or someone in the tea business — maybe they would know for sure.

Kelly also mentioned that Betsy said that you’ll get mold if you are using organic tea and you don’t use Lipton. I’ve been brewing kombucha with the same starter culture for a year and a half now — with only organic tea (Whole Foods brand) and I have never had any mold.

Also, I’m not a chemist, but Kelly also said in her post that Betsy said reverse osmosis water should not be used and that we should only use distilled water. I don’t know about that.

From my understanding, reverse osmosis and distilled water both remove most toxins. I think if you have access to reverse osmosis water, that’s good enough. I think if your tap water only has chlorine, you could just boil it out as suggested by the commenter above. But I have no sources to back that up — it’s just my opinion.

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 1:02 PM

Kim – If it’s still alive, go for it! Give it a try.

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 1:03 PM

Patti – I forgot to answer your question — I leave my starter in the cupboard. It’s been fine there for weeks and months on end. I’ve been too busy to make it!

I dump some kombucha or tea/sugar in there occasionally.

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 1:06 PM

This is what Kelly posted on her blog — the info she got from Betsy Pryor of Laurel Farms:

“Lipton does not use tea brokers or middlemen. (They’ve owned their own plantations for over 200 years – this is important because all green and black tea is grown outside the U.S.) She tells me that Lipton tea is never sprayed with pesticides, so it is organic without the organic label. (Although they now sell black and green tea labeled “organic”, but at the store I see they are the exact same price.) Because of how most organic or decaffeinated tea comes into the U.S., it usually isn’t really organic (50% are sprayed with pesticides at customs as a precaution), and this can cause the Kombucha to mold.”

http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2008/04/kombucha-tea-part-2-15-tips-for-making.html

I read that a while back on Kelly’s site and I emailed her about it and asked if she had sources. I think she might have asked Betsy but I don’t know if she ever got a response. Or at least I never heard back anything on it.

I’d really like a source for that claim that when organic tea comes into the US it is sprayed and therefore it is not organic. I find that very hard to believe. Why go to all the trouble of growing organic crops if they’re going to be sprayed? I can’t believe that is true.

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Dana August 14, 2009 at 1:16 PM

I’ve made 2 batches of Kombucha, both are on the vinegary side. I did quite a bit of research before starting the 1st batch and several types of natural teas were recommended. I’m using organic English Breakfast Tea and it seems to be working. The glass jar with spigot is perfect, that’s what I use. The main two questions I have: 1) my kombucha doesn’t seem to have any carbonation, how do I make some that does? 2) Most of the sites I visited said to use Kombucha as a health tonic, no more than about 1/2 cup a day rather than as a choice drink. How much can you drink? I too am trying to get out of a soda habit!

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 1:24 PM

Dana -

Here’s some info on Sandor Katz’s website (in the forums) about how to make a fizzier batch of kombucha:

http://www.wildfermentation.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=55

Also, I drink about 8 ounces per day. I also drink kefir soda pop.

For a health tonic, I drink beet kvass. I mean, these are all technically health tonics, true — but I drink beet kvass specifically as a health tonic.

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 1:28 PM

Also, Dana -

Are you using white sugar?

If you kombucha is coming out too vinegary I would normally say the fermentation is too long. But if you want it fizzier, you may need a long ferment.

Try a shorter ferment (so it’s not so vinegary) and add more sugar. Then do a second ferment as described in that forum post above.

If that doesn’t work to help increase the carbonation, you could try using a different starter.

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Diana August 14, 2009 at 1:43 PM

I’ve had a scoby in my fridge for a couple months now, but what I’m worried about is the unfiltered water. I use a Pur filter but not sure how well that filters the chlorine. Do you think bottled spring water would be okay to use?? Would it kill the culture? Thanks for the great post!

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Dana August 14, 2009 at 1:45 PM

I’m using organic cane sugar as I’m am trying to move completely away from refined sugar. Thank you for the tips!

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Rob - @formerfatguy August 14, 2009 at 2:35 PM

So do I understand correctly that one can make Kombucha WITHOUT SCOBY or an original source of Kombucha by using Apple Cider Vinegar?

@Naomi Snider in the comments above mentions this and I’ve seen it before I believe but want to confirm it with someone who’s done it.

I would assume that it’s the mother of the ACV that would begin the process

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Rob - @formerfatguy August 14, 2009 at 2:36 PM

@Dana, regarding amounts to drink, I’ve seen some people describe having 3 cups a day, before meals and after meals.

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Beth August 14, 2009 at 3:07 PM

So glad you republished this post (atleast I think you did.) I have had a scoby sitting in my kitchen for a week waiting for me to start the kombucha. I’ve not got around to looking up your recipe yet. Now I’m going to jump on this in the next few hours.
thanks!

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 5:55 PM

Diana -

I think the Pur filters do get the chlorine out.

http://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-41125.html

And I’ve used spring water successfully. I used to buy it in the jugs at the grocery store until I found a better source for reverse osmosis water.

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 5:56 PM

Rob – I’ve never heard of this before.

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 5:57 PM

Beth -

I didn’t republish it. This is the first time I posted this recipe. It was something I had been meaning to post for a long time. I must have read your mind!

Good luck with your first batch!

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elaine August 14, 2009 at 6:18 PM

Terrific post! I have been brewing Kombucha for 6 – 9 months and have had wonderful success. I use a gallon glass cookie jar (from Wal-Mart) and cover it with a dish towel secured with a rubberband. The Scoby had expanded to fill up the entire diameter and makes a “baby” every 5 – 7 days. I have followed the instructions for the double ferment from Local Nourishment the entire time (I use Knudsens Organic Blueberry Pomegranate) and it is delicious! Mine is so fizzy I have to be veeeery careful to not put the lids on the jars too tight during the second ferment. I can’t wait to try the grape juice – my kids will drink what I make but aren’t crazy about it.
Thanks for all the great tips!!!

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elaine August 14, 2009 at 6:19 PM

sorry – one quick question — is there anything to do with the old “Mother” if you don’t have anyone to share with? It seems a shame to throw it away.

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 8:50 PM

Elaine –

I share them with friends — or if I have too many, I compost them.

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tina August 14, 2009 at 8:26 PM

Can I replace my yucky sauerkraut with kombucha? I’ve made sauerkraut severals times using sea salt, whey and caraway seeds. It never turns out good. Kimi at Nourishing Gourmet posted a sauekraut recipe of few weeks ago that I will try some day… But in the meantime, I thought I’d made kombacha instead of the sauerkraut. I realize one is a food and one is a drink but I’m hopeful they’ll have similar benefits.

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cheeseslave August 14, 2009 at 8:53 PM

Tina –

They do have similar benefits. I don’t think it’s realistic to think that everyone is going to like every food or drink. I say, go with what you like!

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tina August 14, 2009 at 9:25 PM

Good to know that they have similar benefits. I actually love sauerkraut just not the stuff I make. Bubbies is too expensive. My friend’s Dad makes the best kraut I’ve ever had but after he ferments it, he cans it. He just gave me a few jars and they are superman delicious but all the good bacteria has been cooked out…So sad.

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diane August 14, 2009 at 9:34 PM

Wow – I just came back from the park where this great Russian couple was BEMOANING the fact that nobody here knew about Kopmbucha and they did not know where they would ever find a starter culture…I JUST turned them on to your site tonight! As for the jar with the spigot, you can get one on Amazon – it is a Ball Mason Creative or Special jar…just do a search on amazon for glass jars or dispensers with spigot Ball Mason…one gallon and with a spigot. We ordered ours two days ago. I have a BIG scoby in the fridge in tea right now…was I supposed to store it in the cupboard instead? Have I ruined the scoby?! YIKES. Diane

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diane August 14, 2009 at 9:40 PM

Now…is there really something out there called JUN as well? IT is a tibetan “mushroom” culture that grows on honey and in white or green tea only – that has a different flavor than Kombucha, and different probiotics in it…you can find advertisements on YOU TUBE for it and discussions on the tribe site too. I cannot tell if it is marketing hype, and really just kombucha or if it is truly a less well known beverage with a different history. We were in Nepal and in Northern India among Tibetan refugees and I never saw it…but then I was not looking, so it could be for real. There is a co in Oregon that specializes in it. Diane

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Kaylin August 15, 2009 at 8:13 AM

We LOVE kombucha! My kids think it tastes like pop. They can’t get enough of it. I got my jars from Walmart, about $4 each. They have nice wide mouths. I make 3 jars at a time and leave it for 1-3 weeks. I would add a few notes:

To prevent mold it’s best not to leave your kombucha anywhere near the kitchen or bathroom, where there are a lot more mold spores floating around and there is grease in the air (kitchen). A hall closet is much better. Also for mold prevention it’s important to increase the acidity of the tea when you first make it so it’s better to add 1 to 1 1/4 cups starter (more or less depending on how sour your previous batch was). If you do these two things you don’t have to have a heater or keep the kombucha at higher temperatures. We live more northerly and it’s not reasonable to keep our house that warm in the winter for the sake of kombucha :-). In fact, when your kombucha ferments more slowly at a lower temperature it produces more glucuronic acid.

This site has GREAT information. All the problem-solving you could ever want:
http://www.geocities.com/kombucha_balance/

Don’t be afraid to let it ferment to the point that it’s good a sour. I’ve left mine for 4 weeks before (I just didn’t get around to it) but I always strain it and then add fruit or ginger when I put it in jars and bottles (enough fresh or frozen fruit to cover the bottom of the jar or bottle) and leave it on the counter for a few more days to take on the flavor and health benefits of the fruit and get fizzy. Then we put it in the fridge and it’s perfectly sweet from the fruit but also slightly tart. Delicious! The fruit really takes out the vinegary flavor. I was concerned about the batch I left for 4 weeks and thought I would just have to use it all for starter, but after flavoring it, it turned out delish!

If you have a dog, you can dry out your extra scobys for chew toys.

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Helen August 15, 2009 at 9:27 AM

This topic is so fascinating to me. I am trying to grow a scooby now. Next Thursday I am going to class on making kombucha. I am not sure if I am doing it right. Can’t wait to really learn how to make it and start saving some money. I do save the bottles that I have purchased with kombucha. I am almost ready to start brewing! LOL

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Mindy August 15, 2009 at 12:48 PM

I have been making Kombucha for several years with the same starter. I use Lipton tea and have tried different sugars. I always go back to the plain white sugar. A friend of mine got mold in her Kombucha when she used tea in bulk because of the tiny tea pieces left in the glass jar. We got our glass jars at the local pizza place. We throw our extra scobies in the compost pile. I heard it added good culture.

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carla | green and chic August 15, 2009 at 8:35 PM

At $3+ a pop, I really need to learn how to make my own. Thank you for these detailed instructions.

How sour can you actually make it? My idea is to dissolve all of the sugar since I really need to avoid it at all costs. Any thoughts on that?

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lo August 17, 2009 at 7:13 AM

We LOVE kombucha, but the commercial stuff is seriously pricey.

I’ve been wanting to make my own kombucha for a while now… and I’m beginning to think that I really need to get going on that.

It’s silly, but I’ve always been a bit scared by the concept. The more I read, the less scared I become of the process :)

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Kaylin August 17, 2009 at 9:55 AM

Carla,
You can make it REALLY sour. After 3-4 weeks (less if your house is warmer – ours is usually about 74 in the summer, 68 in the winter) all the sugar will be converted to glucuronic acid so there won’t be any sugar left in the kombucha.

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carla | green and chic August 17, 2009 at 10:25 AM

Great, thanks Kaylin!

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Tierney August 17, 2009 at 12:57 PM

I started my kombucha with just some store-bought stuff and vinegar, no scoby. It will make its own scoby on the first batch (that batch can take a lot longer to get going though). The vinegar is added just to bring it to the right pH. This might be what Rob was referring to…

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Rob - @formerfatguy August 18, 2009 at 3:12 PM

Thanks Tierney, yes, that’s what I was referring to.

I’ve started my own now without the scoby and just a bottle of Kombucha tea I got from the store into each container.

So you’re suggesting a little apple cider vinegar as well eh? How much do you figure?

I’m going to try this first batch without the vinegar and expect results in about 2 weeks. If it goes well, I’m good. If not, I’ll do a new batch and add the vinegar.

I’d guess a tablespoon to each jar? or a teaspoon?

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Nancy August 19, 2009 at 7:55 AM

Does anyone have a recommendation for bottling Kombucha? I have used Mason jars, but they don’t seem to hold the carbonation very well. I’m thinking of trying the type of bottle that has the hinged lid with rubber seal. Has anyone tried this before and where can I find them? Thanks all for the great tips!

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tina August 19, 2009 at 10:44 AM

I posted the same question in “My Toddler is Anemic.” But thought this is probably a more appropriate place.

Does anyone know the nutritional differences between kombucha and water kefir soda? I think I would have an easier time making water kefir soda since I’ve made plenty of milk kefir. Thanks!

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Candy August 24, 2009 at 7:54 PM

I’m a booch neophyte, having fun experimenting. The info on the teas is interesting – I use herbal tea and green tea, no black (I don’t like the caffeine content). The first batch I didn’t use ANY sugar, thought I’d killed it dead, but it’s wonderful, and keeps on going! So far, my mushroom is thriving (at what stage do you get rid of the bottom layer??? I’ve got about 4″ of SCOBY now….help!), and I’m loving the flavors I play with. Ginger-lemon-honey is tops, and I’m waiting for the peach-honey to do it’s thing.
re: water, we have well water, high mineral content – no filtering – so far, so good.
I’m using bottles from http://www.ezcap.net/, they are pretty nifty! I don’t buy bottled sodas or water, etc, so I had to start from scratch – thus the bottles…

This is fun stuff, eh? AND good for us – what a bonus!

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Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship December 6, 2009 at 7:10 PM

When you’re storing the mushroom and not using it (like the one staring at me, ya know!) is it cold storage or room temp? Why the towel? Thank you!!!
.-= Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship´s last blog ..Advent Daily Dose: Clean Out Your Heart for the Light of Christ =-.

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jeanmarie August 12, 2010 at 10:29 PM

Hi AnnMarie, I just sent this link to my niece, who is interested in learning how to make kombucha. I appreciate your straightforward approach. I think some people make it too complicated!

I remember when I started making kombucha about 5 years ago, I was so worried about the temperature etc, and I fiddled around with a heating pad inside a box with towels… I eventually figured out that scobies are good at their job and don’t need that much coddling. I was very encouraged by Sandor Katz’s comments in Wild Fermentation. A scoby is a tough mother (culture)!

A lot of people have all sorts of rules for kombucha that may or may not be worth worrying about. I use organic sugar and black tea, and just lately started experimenting with half black, half green (which is what GT’s Kombucha uses) and I’ve had great success with secondary fermentation with fruit juice for more fizz and flavor variation. But I’ve used herbal teas before plenty of times, successfully. Not as a substitute for black tea, but along with it to add extra flavor. I also like chai-style black tea with various herbs and spices. I’ve never had problems with mold despite always using organic tea.

I keep my brewing kombucha on a counter in the dining area of our kitchen/dining room. I cover my Ikea jars (the perfect kombucha jars, wide as they are tall) with two clean kitchen towels, the first one attached with a large rubber band, the second folded on top of it in case a fly comes by. I use filtered well water, but previously I used Brita-filtered water when I lived in the East Bay area (east of San Francisco). Bringing your water to a boil in and of itself probably gases off the chlorine. Anyway it worked for me. I say to beginners, do your best to give your scoby optimum conditions, but don’t stress over it. Try it, see if it works. Adjust.

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Vivian August 21, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Hi,
I see people talking about making Kombucha with ACV but this is something that should never be done. The mother that forms from ACV is a complete different animal than the Kombucha mother. In fact, when you rinse your bottles, use only white distilled vinegar, never ever ACV.

Viv

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Shannon October 6, 2010 at 11:16 AM

I have just brewed my first batch and on day 6 I woke up to my scoby laying on the bottom of the jar. Wondering what I do now, is it ruined should I start over? Help! Thinking my counter top is too cold and maybe I need to put it in the closet on top of the hot water tank to keep it warm? Any suggestions would be greatly apopreciated!
thanks,
Shannon

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Sara March 16, 2011 at 5:52 PM

@Shannon….it does not matter WHERE your scoby is in your jar, sometimes it likes to float, sometimes it hangs in the middle, sometimes it lays on the bottom. If you have one that likes to float on top just know that if you tend to disturb your ferment the scoby may sink. It does NOT affect your ferment at all.

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Naomi March 16, 2011 at 7:23 PM

Sara, you are so right! My current scoby is hanging vertically in the jar. I guess nobody told them the rules huh?

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GARY January 30, 2011 at 6:16 PM

I just started my first batch of kombucha. I boiled my water and added the tea and sugar. I just read that you should never use aluminum for this process. Will this spoil this batch and should I start over using a different pot?

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Sara March 16, 2011 at 5:55 PM

@Gary…cooking with aluminum is another issue by itself BUT if it is all you have to heat your water in then it is the best you can do. If you happen to have a stainless steel pot that would be oh so much better. In a pinch you can use a glass mixing bowl with a handle and spout in a microwave to bring your water to a boil, drop your tea into it and then cover with a plate to allow it to steep.

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sewpretty13 July 3, 2011 at 12:39 PM

Thanks for posting this article. I just got interested by watching a video over from Sarah and the Healthy Home Economist! I need to find a starter now and a gallon jug.

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sewpretty13 July 4, 2011 at 3:31 PM

I found a source for the mushroom and I bought my jar today!!! I’m almost on my way!!

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shoppmk July 4, 2011 at 9:38 PM

LOVE our kombucha! Thanks for the recipe and cool picture!

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sewpretty13 July 7, 2011 at 9:53 PM

I went to a friend of my daughters for dinner tonight and the woman was making kombucha. She gave me some and it was Delicious!! It had been sitting in strawberries and ginger for two weeks and was so good. I now need to make it.

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sewpretty13 July 19, 2011 at 9:28 PM

I have had quite a few delays and now I am finally getting my mushroom tomorrow. I still need to get some organic black tea though.

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LeahS July 20, 2011 at 9:53 AM

My kombucha is very neglected right now. I need to go tend it.

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sherri March 27, 2012 at 9:50 AM

I have been buying G.T. Kombucha for about 3 months now and it is very expensive, so I was thinking of making my own. Can I just save those bottles and lids and use them or do I need the mason jars or bottles with a different type of lid?
Thank you for your time.

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Helen Levashoff March 27, 2012 at 12:13 PM

I saved my bottles and lids, knowing that I wanted to start making my own kombucha. I could not afford to keep buying them from the store.

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Karen April 13, 2012 at 7:57 PM

After bottling my Kombucha how long does it keep in the fridge for.
Thanks

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cheeseslave April 13, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Not sure but a pretty long time

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Johanna July 7, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Would you please specify the brand/model of this “reptile mat” you find useful in winter? I see a lot of mixed reviews from pet owners including a concern about weight on the mat. In Maine, we have a long winter and it would be nice to have a consistent heat source for my kombucha brewing fetish. Thanks a lot. God bless!

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cheeseslave July 7, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Sorry but I don’t remember. Try calling around to some pet stores and ask about reptile mats

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Ginny July 31, 2012 at 8:49 AM

I’ve recently subscribed to your blog and have been DEVOURING your posts. Thank you so much for all the time and research you put into each one; I am learning so much! Do you have a local (LA) source for mushrooms? I saw the online one in your resources section but I know sometime you can get them locally from those who have been culturing for a while and have extras. Maybe at one of the farmer’s markets? I haven’t seen them there but you never know.

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christina December 28, 2013 at 8:27 AM

Hi, I am making kombucha and it isn’t enough for the demand here at my house. If I double the recipe and use the old culture in a new jar, would that work?

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Marshall December 28, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Yes, but I’d recommend peeling it apart (if it’s grown multiple layers) to have a SCOBY for each jar. If it hasn’t grown multiple layers yet, you can cut it in half to have one for each jar. The SCOBYs will grow to fit the container over the next brew or two. My first batch of kombucha was made with a SCOBY the size of a finger!

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OB February 3, 2014 at 1:54 AM

Hi,
Which stores in Southwest Houston, Tx. can I get kombucha drink to buy.

Thank you

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Probiotic February 3, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Try this location

Whole Foods Market
4004 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX 77025
Open today
8:00 am – 10:00 pm
Whole Foods Market
4004 Bellaire BlvdHouston, TX 77025
Directions
Save
wholefoodsmarket.com
(713) 667-4090

Other stores that carry kombucha are Sprouts and Safeway.

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Darlene March 9, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Okay, got a SCOBY from someone, making my first batch. I have a two gallon jar, and only making a gallon, will the extra air space matter?

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Ann Marie Michaels March 11, 2014 at 3:02 PM

No that’s fine

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Darlene March 11, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Thank you so much for the reply. First batch brewing! Wish me luck! :)

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Carla March 11, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Can you brew it until its completely sugar free or “unsweetened”? If so, how long should it take? I can’t eat sugar for health reasons and I find that a lot of (purchased) kombucha is way too sweet.

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Ann Marie Michaels March 11, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Yes, you can brew it longer and it will be less sweet

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Carla March 11, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Thanks for the quick reply!

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