Kombucha is a fermented tea that provides tons of health benefits. Our entire family loves to drink it, but at $3 a bottle (or more), it can get really expensive for a family as large as ours. That’s why we decided to start brewing our own kombucha. Today, we are sharing a DIY fermentation guide on how to make kombucha at home.
Making kombucha at home is easier than you’d imagine and once you get your system going, you can enjoy delicious kombucha for a fraction of the cost.
We make our own kombucha even while living in our RV with limited space so I’m sure you can do this. However, make sure you read my helpful tips at the bottom of this post to make your brew of kombucha a success.
You Need A Scoby in Order to Make Kombucha
The most important ingredient for making kombucha is having a SCOBY. You can easily order a SCOBY on Amazon or if you know someone who already brews their own kombucha, they may be able to give you a SCOBY offspring.
Our OG scoby, for example, was named scobi-wan Kenobi, and it had an offspring so we named the second scoby Dexter after the lead singer of The Offspring.
What You’ll Need to Make Kombucha
Aside from a live scoby, you’ll also need a 1-gallon glass jar which is usually included if you buy a scoby on Amazon.
I’ve created my own brew system to make it fast and efficient by also using two 1-pint mason jars and one 1-quart mason jar as you’ll see below.
Kombucha goes through two fermentation processes so for the second ferment, you’ll either want another one-gallon jar or enough glass jars to hold a gallon of liquid. I personally just re-use eight GT kombucha jars from kombuchas that I’ve bought in the store.
Don’t forget to re-use! Save old store bought kombucha bottles to use for your own homemade kombucha brew.
You may also want a plastic funnel, but I just use a Pyrex 2-cup glass measuring cup to pour the liquid from the gallon jar into my GT bottles.
Last, some people use a mesh strainer in their funnel, I don’t. It’s up to you if it bothers you to have small bits of SCOBY in your finished product.
You also need to cover your kombucha with a towel and rubber band. I just use a clean dish towel for this.
Last, I use a reptile mat and highly encourage you to have one if you don’t live somewhere where it is 78 degrees most days. See my tips below for why and ways to get around this.
Overview of Supplies:
- 1 gallon glass jar
- 2 1-pint mason jars or 1 quart mason jar
- 1-quart mason jar
- 8 16-oz sealable bottles OR another 1-gallon jar
- Plastic funnel or measuring cup with spout
- Optional: Mesh strainer
- Dish towel and rubber band
- Optional: reptile mat
Ingredients for Making Kombucha
For a 1-gallon brew of Kombucha, you’ll need:
- 1 SCOBY (plus 1 cup of raw kombucha or starter for your very first brew)
- 1 cup of organic cane sugar
- 4 bags of black, white, or green tea (NOT English breakfast tea or anything with citrus)
- 3 quarts of filtered water
- Fruit or juice for the second fermentation
How to Make Your First Kombucha at Home
Step 1 of Making Kombucha: Brew Tea + Dissolve Sugar
Heat 6 cups of water to 165 degrees. I don’t like to bring it to a boil because then it burns the tea. Steep 4 tea bags in 4 cups of water for 5-10 minutes (then remove tea bags).
Use the other 2 cups of hot water to dissolve your sugar.
Tips to Speed Up the Process: I like using the mason jar to dissolve my sugar because then I can just throw a lid on the jar and shake to dissolve.
Step 2 of Making Kombucha: Add it All To The Scoby Jar
The big thing here is that you don’t want to overheat your SCOBY so either let your tea and sugar sit until it’s room temperature or add a little ice-cold water to the jar.
Remember, you want the SCOBY to be in a liquid that is about 78 degrees.
Pour in the tea and sugar water, then fill the rest of the jar with purified water. Then add in your SCOBY.
Cover with a clean towel and rubber band and place it on a shelf for 1-3 weeks. The amount of time it takes depends on the health of your scoby and the room temperature.
Important Tip for When You Make Kombucha
Honestly, we have too many mouths to feed to ever let it sit longer than a week and since the ambient air in our RV is typically 65 degrees, I always leave my kombucha on a reptile mat to speed up the fermentation process. I also think this makes the kombucha come out much better.
If you want to try to get around this step, I’ve tried in the past when we lived in a house, to put the kombucha in the oven at night with just the oven light on, but often I would forget it was there and it would overheat.
Also, our RV oven isn’t big enough for this anyways and I think the reptile mat makes the kombucha come out better because it stays right in that prime temperature range. If you have a better memory than me or a larger oven, you can give it a try.
How to Make Your Second Fermentation of Kombucha
Before you start the second fermentation, you might want to take the easy road and make another batch of tea and dissolved sugar in a separate one-gallon jar and then move your SCOBY from the fermented kombucha jar over to the new batch.
I don’t like storing an extra gallon jar in my RV that already has limited space, so I just pour the liquid from the gallon jar into my 2-cup glass Pyrex measuring cup and then pour it into bottles with flavoring. I repeat until all I have left in the jar is my SCOBY and 1-2 cups of the fermented tea.
Tip: When you do make the next batch, don’t overheat the SCOBY. Add your cool water first then the tea and sugar.
Step 1 of Second Fermentation: Add Flavoring
Yay! This is where you get to be creative. You’re going to want to add about 2 ounces of flavoring to the bottom of each 16 oz bottle (or about 12-16 ounces for a gallon jar).
My personal favorite is freshly squeezed lemon juice with a few ounces of organic cranberry juice. Juiced ginger and mint leaves are great flavorings. There really is no right or wrong really here. You can even put frozen berries in the bottom of the jar for flavor!
Step 2 of Second Fermentation: Add in your fermented tea
Divide your fermented tea into the bottles that have your flavoring. Again, you can either
- Funnel it straight out of the gallon jar,
- Or you can pour it into a funneled measuring cup then add the fermented tea to bottles.
Step 3 of Second Fermentation: Fizz + Chill
Next place them on a shelf. Yep! It’s that easy! Seal the jars and place them on a shelf for 1-4 days. This is the second fermentation and it’s how the kombucha gets fizzy.
You may need to release the gas every day if your room temperature is pretty warm, otherwise, your bottles may burst. If it doesn’t get warmer than 65, you should be fine to just let them stay sealed for 2 days.
After 1-4 days, strain out the fruit or ingredients if you don’t want to drink them (I personally leave the berries in) and refrigerate. The fridge stops the fermentation process so the kombucha will keep in the fridge for a while. I don’t know exactly how long because mine disappear as soon as they are cold.
Step 4 of Second Fermentation: Drink and Enjoy
At long last, you can know drink and enjoy your delicious homemade kombucha.
Remember, it’s a but of a learning process so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t come out like store-bought perfection the first time. Keep the scoby baby busy and ferment!
Tip For Making the Best Kombucha
As I mentioned, I think putting my kombucha on a reptile mat has been the best thing for brewing delicious kombucha. It’s not necessary but it will help to keep your kombucha at a warm enough temperature especially if your house isn’t normally above 70 degrees.
If you do decide to buy a SCOBY or Reptile Mat on Amazon, we’d really appreciate it if you purchased through this link. We get a small commission at no added cost to you and it helps keep our website going and us drinking gallons of kombucha!