How to Brew Kombucha at Home: Get Started for $50!

So... I took a poll on my Instagram story and asked my followers if they would be interested in learning about brewing kombucha and insisted that they be honest, since obviously brewing kombucha isn’t related to calligraphy or wedding invitations. However, it is GREAT for someone who may be on an artist’s budget… aka me ;) The response was a 70% and 30% split, with the 70% in favor of learning about brewing kombucha. So yay! This is why this has officially turned into a blog post on a calligrapher’s blog haha.

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Brewing kombucha is a fun and healthy hobby to have and I really struggled with finding a new hobby once my hobby (calligraphy & design) became my full time job. This has been perfect! Not to mention, it isn’t that time consuming at all, which makes it the perfect quick activity for an evening or a weekend afternoon. Most of the “time” spent brewing kombucha is passive because it’s sitting there and fermenting.

My husband and I had never tried kombucha, or really cared to try kombucha, until December of 2017 when we went to visit my family in Colorado for Christmas; we discovered that they were all hooked on the fizzy probiotic tea and of course had to try some for ourselves! Well, that pretty much lead to an immediate addiction and, thanks to Jenna of Monvoir, I latched onto Healthade kombucha like some sort of addict. She was always talking about Healthade in her stories and gosh darn it… that stuff is good. The only problem was each 12oz bottle was costing us about $4-5 a pop and there was a lot of money going toward our kombucha obsession that probably should have been going to other things!

In February I started doing research on how my husband and I could start brewing our own kombucha – mainly in the interest of saving ourselves some money! We live in GA, right outside Atlanta, so we really have the perfect environment for it because the winters here can get chilly but almost never extremely frigid. I began reading a bunch of different articles and blogs, as well as watching YouTube videos that I hoped would help point us in the right direction.

At the end of the day we were literally able to start brewing our own kombucha in house for about $50! And let me tell you, it has been well worth it because we have saved A LOT more than $50 by not buying our kombucha from the store. Not to mention, home brewed kombucha tastes even more delicious than getting it off the shelf of a store somewhere.

 The final product of a kombucha brew! Nicely bottle kombucha - so pretty and so satisfying!

The final product of a kombucha brew! Nicely bottle kombucha - so pretty and so satisfying!

Alright, now that all of the details about my kombucha background are out of the way, let’s get down to business on the nitty gritty details. This blog post does include affiliate links to the products I use for brewing my kombucha! That way y’all know the best things to buy. I wouldn’t recommend these products if I hadn’t loved using them so far.

Materials you will need:

Ingredients you will need:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 8 tea bags of plain black tea

  • 1 gallon (16 cups) boiled water

  • 2 cups starter kombucha (If you are brewing your first batch, make sure you’ve purchased some sort of Kombucha from the store. Healthade ORIGINAL flavor would work. Avoid getting a flavored Kombucha as a starter. However, if you buy a scoby from Zenobia's Garden, they will provide starter Kombucha for you.)

  • 1 scoby

Now I can hear almost all of you thinking, “Wait, what? What the heck is a scoby?” Well, I’m not a science expert, but a scoby is pretty much the bacteria that helps ferment the tea once you’ve brewed it. For more info on exactly what a scoby is, visit this article from Wikipedia.

We bought our scoby off of Etsy (no joke) from a store called Zenobia’s Garden. It has worked perfectly for our kombucha. You can also buy them off of Amazon or maybe get one from a friend that already brews kombucha! However, I definitely recommend Zenobia’s Garden because our scoby arrived in perfect shape and with some starter kombucha for our first batch. PS: never ever place your scoby in the fridge! This will cause it to go dormant and die. Yikes.

How to Brew Kombucha:

  1. Boil 1 gallon (16 cups) of water.

  2. Once water is boiled, transfer it to a large glass bowl. We use a salad bowl for this step!

  3. Once the water is in a glass bowl, stir in 1 cup of granulated sugar. Continue to stir until all of the sugar is dissolved.

  4. Drop in your 8 bags of black tea. Let the tea brew for 5-8 minutes. I’ve discovered if I brew it longer than this, my tea has too strong of a bitter flavor.

  5. Remove the tea bags and discard them.

  6. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature before moving onto the next step. During this time I usually clean house, do some work, read a book, etc. This is important because the scoby will die if it is scalded by the hot tea.

  7. When the tea is cooled, transfer it to the 1 gallon glass jar.

  8. With washed hands, transfer the scoby (yes it is gooey and slimy, you’ll have to get over it) to the glass jar with the tea. Add the 2 cups of starter kombucha as well. The scoby will either float, sink, or possibly lie on its side. All of these things are normal, don’t fret!

  9. Place a coffee filter across the top of the glass jar and secure it snugly in place with rubber bands to create a taut surface. The coffee filter allows for air to make it to the scoby, but keeps out dirt, fruit flies, etc.

  10. Place your kombucha in a dark place out of direct sunlight. The upper shelf of our front closet is the perfect place for this. Make sure the space still gets some air circulation! Kombucha brews best in 80-90 degrees. However, our apartment is normally right around 72 and it has brewed just fine in those conditions.

  11. Now the waiting… allow your kombucha to sit (untouched) for 7 full days. After 7 days, you should begin taste testing your kombucha! 7 days has been perfect for us since we love the sweet tanginess it has at this stage. Depending on your environment, you may need as few as 5 days and as many as 10 to get your kombucha to a desirable flavor. Don’t be nervous about taste testing your kombucha!

Bottling Your Kombucha:

At this point you are ready to bottle your kombucha after it has been brewed! My husband and I do this step together because it really is easier with two people.

  1. Remove the scoby and place it in a clean bowl.

  2. Measure out 1-2 cups of kombucha from your previous batch, and set it aside in the same bowl the scoby is in. This will be the starter kombucha for your next batch.

  3. Get your 16oz glass bottles ready. We like placing ours in the sink while we pour the kombucha, just to avoid making any accidental messes. Designate one person as the pourer (my hubby does this) and one person at the bottle holder / funnel stabilizer.

  4. Place the funnel in the top of a 16oz bottle and pour the kombucha into the bottle until it reaches the neck. We have discovered this is about the perfect amount to evenly distribute the kombucha throughout 6, 16oz bottles.

  5. Repeat the pouring step for all 6, 16oz bottles. Then cap the bottles.

  6. Either refrigerate the bottles immediately or start a second fermentation (see next section).

Second Fermentation (Optional):

At this point you can either decide to do a second fermentation to either enhance the carbonation of the brew or add some flavoring, or you can decide to place your kombucha in the fridge and drink it from there. My hubby and I love doing a second fermentation to get a little more carbonation. Simply place your 16oz brewing bottles back in the closet or space you had your kombucha before, then wait about 3 days to refrigerate it. During this time it will accumulate more carbonation, but don’t ask me the scientific process behind it because I don’t really understand it…

If you want to add flavoring, either add juice or chopped up fruit. We love adding chopped apples and ginger to ours! Yum!

***

Since starting to brew our kombucha, we have probably made about 8 batches! As soon as one batch is done brewing and ready to be bottled, I pretty much try to start a next batch the very same day. It doesn’t take much time to boil the water, steep the tea, etc. And once you get a hang of it, it’s even easier to do because you can do everything from memory! After all, the recipe is pretty simple.

If you don’t brew a new batch right away, simple return the scoby to your 1 gallon glass jar with the starter kombucha and cover is with a coffee filter and some rubber bands. Your scoby can live comfortably like this for a while before needing more sugar or tea added to it. Another important thing to note is that your scoby will eventually reach the end of its life span after it’s undergone multiple brews. Ours still seems pretty healthy after 8! At this time you can either peel the old part of the scoby off and discard it, or you can get a new one. Kombucha is persistent, and will most likely be creating new scobies throughout the process, so don’t get weirded out if you see little baby scobies floating at the top of your 16oz bottles if you decided to do a second fermentation. My husband and I have actually used those to create a new scoby that we will use when our first one retires and is no longer any good.

Now, the process for all of this might sound scary but I promise it’s really not! All it takes is a little time and planning. And yielding the results of a delicious kombucha without paying the price for a bottle off the shelf of a store is well worth it, especially when it tastes twice as good!

 Materials show here for brewing kombucha include the scoby, black tea, spoon for stirring, 1 cup of sugar, and water!

Materials show here for brewing kombucha include the scoby, black tea, spoon for stirring, 1 cup of sugar, and water!

 When you are brewing Kombucha, make sure to add the sugar to the boiled water as soon as it is finished boiling! Stir it well to make sure all of the sugar is dissolved. Sugar is essential to the brewing process, so use a full cup and don't skimp!

When you are brewing Kombucha, make sure to add the sugar to the boiled water as soon as it is finished boiling! Stir it well to make sure all of the sugar is dissolved. Sugar is essential to the brewing process, so use a full cup and don't skimp!

 After the sugar is dissolved, add 8 black tea bags to the water with the dissolved sugar. Black tea is the best tea to use for people who are brewing kombucha for the first time. However, avoid using earl grey black tea because it includes an ingredient that will mess up the fermentation process. Just plain black tea for your kombucha is perfect!

After the sugar is dissolved, add 8 black tea bags to the water with the dissolved sugar. Black tea is the best tea to use for people who are brewing kombucha for the first time. However, avoid using earl grey black tea because it includes an ingredient that will mess up the fermentation process. Just plain black tea for your kombucha is perfect!

 Allow the black tea to brew 5-8 minutes. Don't brew it any longer than this or your tea might have a bit of a bitter taste! After the tea bags are done brewing, remove them and discard of them. Allow the tea to FULLY cool to room temperature before moving it to the gallon glass jar with the scoby.

Allow the black tea to brew 5-8 minutes. Don't brew it any longer than this or your tea might have a bit of a bitter taste! After the tea bags are done brewing, remove them and discard of them. Allow the tea to FULLY cool to room temperature before moving it to the gallon glass jar with the scoby.

 This is my gallon glass jar full of my brewed kombucha with the scoby floating at the top! Yes, I know, it looks super weird. Mine is actually floating upside down for some reason (totally fine). The top of the scoby has must more of a smooth look, which you can see in one of the earlier photos on this post! Once you've added the kombucha brew to the glass jar with the scoby, cover it securely with a coffee filter and rubber band that goes around the neck of the gallon jar.

This is my gallon glass jar full of my brewed kombucha with the scoby floating at the top! Yes, I know, it looks super weird. Mine is actually floating upside down for some reason (totally fine). The top of the scoby has must more of a smooth look, which you can see in one of the earlier photos on this post! Once you've added the kombucha brew to the glass jar with the scoby, cover it securely with a coffee filter and rubber band that goes around the neck of the gallon jar.

 The final kombucha bottled in the beautiful glass jars! Love them!

The final kombucha bottled in the beautiful glass jars! Love them!

Questions/comments? Feel free to leave them below and I will do my best to reply!

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