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Food & Ferment,  Kombucha

How to Make Kombucha 101: Brewing Basics for the Best Booch Ever

Kombucha is a refreshing, tangy, fermented beverage that is gaining popularity due to its numerous health benefits. Kombucha is reported to boost energy, immunity, liver function, and digestion, while also reducing toxins, free-radicals, bad cholesterol levels, and blood sugar spikes! Store-bought kombucha is great, but can get rather expensive – particularly if you are drinking it regularly. The good news is, kombucha is extremely easy to make at home! It is also very affordable. All you need is a few supplies and about 30 minutes of time every week or two. Read along to learn how to make your own kombucha.

This article will walk you through everything you need to know to start brewing kombucha at home.

Today, we’ll mostly focus on brewing basics – from getting started, through the primary fermentation stage, and briefly about flavoring and bottling. To div into more detail about flavoring and carbonation tips, also known as secondary fermentation, see this separate post all about it!

So, let’s lay a foundation and go over what kombucha is exactly, address a few frequently asked questions, and then we’ll dive into the “how-to”. Short videos are included at the end of this post too!

Click here to jump straight to the brewing instructions.


WHAT IS KOMBUCHA?

History of kombucha


Kombucha is not simply a current trend or the latest fad. It has been made as a healthful beverage for centuries!

“Kombucha originated in Northeast China around 220 B.C. and was initially prized for its healing properties. Its name is reportedly derived from Dr. Kombu, a Korean physician who brought the fermented tea to Japan as a curative for Emperor Inkyo. Eventually the tea was brought to Europe as a result of trade route expansions in the early 20th century, most notably appearing in Russia (as “Kambucha”) and Germany (as “Kombuchaschwamm”). Despite a dip in international popularity during WWII due to the shortage of tea and sugar supplies, kombucha regained popularity following a 1960s study in Switzerland comparing its health benefits to those of yogurt.”

Christina Troitino via Forbes



How is Kombucha Made?


Kombucha is made through a double-fermentation process, where sugar and tea are slowly transformed into the semi-tart, semi-sweet finished beverage – with the aid of a SCOBY. The Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY) interacts with sweet tea to ferment it into gluconic and acetic acid. It encourages beneficial bacterial reactions, lowers the pH, and prevents growth of harmful bacteria. Additionally, probiotics, enzymes, and antioxidants are formed. These are the things that make kombucha so good for you!

Did you know: good gut health is the key to total-body health? If you’re curious to learn more, check out this article all about the health benefits of fermented foods.

During first stage of the double-fermentation process, or primary fermentation, the sweet tea and SCOBY are in a vessel that is protected from contamination like dust and fruit flies, but not sealed. It is an aerobic fermentation process – “with air”. At the end of primary fermentation, the kombucha is technically ready to go. It can be enjoyed then if you wish! However, most people enjoy their kombucha carbonated and flavored, which is where the secondary fermentation comes in.

For secondary fermentation, also called “second ferment”, the finished kombucha is added into air-tight bottles. A couple ounces of pureed fruit, whole chunks of fruit, or fruit juice are often added at this stage as well. By enclosing the kombucha in an anaerobic environment and feeding it a little fresh sugar (in the form of fruit), yeasts convert that sugar into carbon dioxide. The sealed bottled prevents the carbon dioxide from escaping, leading to carbonation.

An image of several bottles of kombucha. They're red in color and have "Blackberry Lavender Lemon" written on the bottle. Actual blackberries, lavender buds, and lemon wedges lay on the table in front of the bottles
Second ferment is one of the most fun and creative aspects of brewing kombucha! The flavor combinations are seemingly endless! I will share some of our favorite second ferment recipes very soon.


Continuous Brewing Method


You’ll hear me mention the “continuous brew” method a few times in this post. We have always made kombucha using the continuous brew method. Personally, this has always seemed like the easiest and quickest method. We’ve been practicing continuous brew for over 4 years now!

In contrast to the “batch method”, you never really halt the process. You do not take the SCOBY out of the crock during bottling. Instead, a vessel that has a dispenser is used. On bottling day, you simply draw off the amount you want to bottle through the dispenser, leave the rest alone, and add back the same volume of sweet tea that you took away in finished kombucha. When using the batch method, you sort of disassemble and reassemble everything each time you bottle and start a new batch instead.



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


What about the sugar in kombucha?


Sugar is a necessary ingredient in brewing kombucha. It is what feeds the SCOBY and keeps it healthy, in addition to caffeine.

Think of SCOBY as your strung out little friend.


Really though. She’s an addict. But she’s not an enabler! On the contrary, the SCOBY is greedy and wants all of “the good stuff” (her words) for herself. The resulting kombucha she provides you is vastly different from the raw ingredients she is fed.

The SCOBY converts the majority of the sugar to healthy acids during the fermentation process. Meaning, the final beverage you will consume is pretty dang low in sugar. If you read the nutrition label on bottled kombucha, most of them range from 5 to 12 carbs per 16 ounce bottle. Plus, those usually have fruit juice added for flavor. Because you’re making your own, you have ultimate control over your own brew. You can choose to not flavor yours at all during second fermentation, or run the primary ferment even longer. Both of which would further reduce sugar content.


Kombucha’s Effect on Blood Sugar

Hey there! Type 1 Diabetic here! And guess what? Despite the initial sugar content, kombucha does not noticeably raise my blood sugar. Instead, it can actually have the opposite impact, and help keep it more level! The gluconic and acetic acid that are formed in kombucha during the fermentation process are known blood sugar stabilizers. Moreover, the fermentation process cleaves sucrose (polysaccharide) into fructose and glucose – both of which are utilized by the fermentation process thereby reducing the glycemic load.

Note: I have heard of some people brewing successfully with honey, though I believe it can take a toll on SCOBY health over time. Avoid using other sugar substitutes.


Is there alcohol in kombucha?


The short answer is yes. But just a tiny bit, depending on how it is made. The chemical reactions between bacteria, yeast, and sugar result in the formation of a small amount of alcohol during the fermentation process. That very reaction is part of what keeps it safe and healthy to consume. Commercial kombucha that you’ll find in the store is marketed as “non-alcoholic”. To be called so, it is limited to contain less than 0.5% alcohol. Miniscule. In contrast, home-brewed kombucha may contain slightly higher amounts. Various sources say that homemade “booch” can range from .5% up to around 2-3% alcohol content.

The chemical reaction of glucose plus yeast to ethanol and carbon dioxide.
A portion of the chemical reactions involved in fermentation, to produce alcohol and CO2. This doesn’t count the other beneficial reactions caused by the bacteria in the SCOBY, such as the formation of healthy acids. Image Courtesy of Pass My Exams

Most people will not feel any type of intoxicating effects from consuming kombucha. However, pregnant or breastfeeding women should probably avoid it. You may experience a short-term invigorating buzz when drinking kombucha, but that doesn’t mean it is from alcohol! Even drinking store-bought kombucha gives me a little rush sometimes, but remember, those are extremely limited in their alcohol content. I accredit it to the acetic acid and antioxidants.


How much caffeine is in kombucha?


It’s up for debate, but most resources say that SCOBY needs some caffeine to thrive. Herbal or decaf brews may still taste good, and I’ve heard of people successfully doing this, but many experts say the beneficial cultures will weaken and die off with time. The most popular tea is a combination of green and black. This is what we use. It produces a great balanced flavor and healthy brew. We tried to go all green once, but found our brew seemed weaker and less carbonated. We’ll talk more about tea choices below!

If you’re concerned about caffeine levels, you could try something on the lower end of the spectrum, for example mostly white tea mixed with green tea. Keep in mind that properly fermented, finished kombucha should contain less than 1/3 of the caffeine concentration than when initially started! The fermentation process vastly reduces it. I am pretty caffeine-sensitive. I cannot drink tea or coffee past 3 pm without being wired all night. On the other hand, I can easily drink kombucha in the evening with no noticeable impact on sleep!

An image of two types of loose leaf tea (green and black) up close on a plate, with two large kombucha brewing vessels blurry in the background.
Beautiful black breakfast blend and gunpowder green organic loose leaf teas. Those are our two-gallon continuous brew vessels in the background.


In my humble opinion, the benefits of consuming kombucha greatly outweigh the very little residual sugar, caffeine, or alcohol content.

Do you agree? Let’s get you brewing then!


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The supplies needed for primary ferment, including tea, sugar, a SCOBY, a bottle of plain kombucha, a large stainless steel pot, and a glass dispenser.
The supplies needed for Primary Ferment only.


HOW TO MAKE KOMBUCHA

Supplies needed


It’s time to gather your kombucha supplies! In case you missed it, I shared a pretty detailed kombucha brewing supply list a few weeks back. I will still provide a brief rundown here, but if you have any questions about these things, go check out that post for more information.

  • SCOBY – You can either obtain a “baby” SCOBY from a friend who brews, buy one from a reputable source, or attempt to grow your own. We tried to grow one recently, twice… and it didn’t go all that well. I am not sure if it was actually mold, but they sure looked funky. We got our original SCOBY from Fermentaholics years ago, and decided to pick up another one for this demonstration. They’re one of the few certified organic providers, and very affordable!
  • Starter liquid – Two things get your sweet tea kickin’. The SCOBY, and some finished kombucha – also referred to as the starter culture, or starter liquid. Some experts say this part is even more important than the SCOBY! It essentially inoculates your brew. You’ll need 1 to 2 cups of mature stater culture per one gallon of sweet tea. Purchased SCOBY will often come with some included. Fermentaholics says their SCOBY package contains enough starter liquid to add to a one-gallon batch. Another option is to pick up a bottle of kombucha from the store. Choose plain, not flavored!
  • A Brewing Vessel : If you intend to follow the continuous brew method like we do, choose a vessel that has a spigot. You probably want to replace that spigot with a better, safer option – as I discussed in the supply post. It is best to start your first batch of kombucha using only one gallon of sweet tea. A new small SCOBY can’t handle fermenting much more than one gallon at first. Yet once it is strong and developed, we prefer using a 2-gallon crock for our regular brewing needs. Therefore, we are starting this batch in a 2-gallon vessel, but only half full. Other folks may start with a one gallon container and never upgrade to larger one. It all depends on how much you want to drink! In the height of our kombucha-drinking days, we ran two 2-gallon crocks at once!
  • Tea: For this recipe, you’ll need either 2 tablespoons of loose leaf tea, or 4-6 teabags. We prefer to use organic bulk loose leaf tea, and steep it in this stainless steel infuser. Once we have a healthy brew going, we use a combination of jasmine or gunpowder green tea with half black tea. However, to give the new scoby a good kick start, we opted to use black only for now! I hate to sound like a broken record here, but check out the supply post to read more about tea options, including what types to avoid.
  • Sugar: This recipe will use 1 cup of regular cane sugar. Organic is definitely preferable!
  • Water: Use filtered, de-chlorinated water if possible. We don’t want the chlorine slowing down the good bacteria.


A close up image of loose leaf tea in a tablespoon, hovering over a stainless steel infuser in the background, blurry.
Though we usually brew with half green and half black, we chose to use only half black to get this new batch started strong. SCOBY love caffeine, after all! Don’t worry, our infuser isn’t rusty – it’s just tea-stained from years of use.



INSTRUCTIONS


1) Clean your supplies


You want to make sure all of your supplies are clean, but they don’t need to be “sterile”. Avoid using bleach, or even soap on your kombucha supplies! The residual soap could stick around and really make things “off”. We spray or rinse our supplies with plain white vinegar, let it sit a few minutes, and then rinse well with hot water. That’s it. I also wash my hands very well and then rinse with vinegar before handling a SCOBY. If you chose to get a replacement spigot for your crock, give it a good cleaning and install it now.


2) Prepare the sweet tea

  • Heat one gallon of water.
  • Steep either 2 tbsp of loose leaf tea in an infuser or 4-6 teabags of your choice.
  • Add one 1 cup of sugar, and stir until dissolved.
  • We find this easiest to do all of this on the stovetop in a large pot.



Brewing tea in a large stainless steel pot on a stovestop, using a stainless steel infuser and loose leaf tea.


Simple, right?


Here’s the deal though… You want to allow the sweet tea to cool down slightly before adding it to the brewing vessel with the SCOBY. Warmish (75-85°F) to room temperature is good. Too hot of temperatures can kill the good cultures! Cold conditions will greatly slow down your ferment, and will also cause the SCOBY to sink. A sunken SCOBY isn’t a huge deal though – it should float again once it warms up.

To save time, we often only heat half the called-for water, add the full ratio of tea and sugar, then pour in the second half of water cold, rapidly cooling it down to the perfect temperature. You may find it helpful to use a probe thermometer to determine the temperature of your tea.


3) Assemble the brew

  • Once your sweet tea is at the ideal lukewarm temperature, add it to your brewing vessel.
  • Next, add 1 to 2 cups of starter liquid – see notes below.
  • Last but certainly not least, plop that SCOBY in there! As I said, it is okay (and fairly normal) if it sinks or floats sideways.


There are varying recommendations for how much starter liquid to add to one gallon of sweet tea, usually ranging around 1-2 cups. We go on the generous end of the spectrum. The SCOBY we got from Fermentaholics came with around a cup of liquid. For a little extra oomph, we added a half bottle of GT Dave’s Synergy plain kombucha as well. It makes for a great inoculant on its own!


Four images showing the process of setting up a new kombucha brew, including pouring tea into a glass vessel, pouring in starer liquid, and adding a small round white SCOBY. It is flat, but about as big around as a softball.
Adding the organic SCOBY we got from Fermentaholics to this new batch of kombucha! See, it’s okay if it starts much smaller than the vessel. It will grow and fill in! It floated right away because the tea was the perfect lukewarm temperature. See how active it got in just three days in the photos below!

Store your brew crock somewhere warm, but not necessarily hot.  You may find the need to change its location depending on the season. (We’ll talk more about temperature momentarily.) Contrary to popular myth, the crock doesn’t need to be in complete darkness. Ambient room light is fine! However, do avoid direct sun rays, such as keeping it in a bright window.

Cover your brew crock with a breathable but tight-knit material. The kombucha needs to breathe, but we don’t want to allow contamination like dust, mold spores, or fruit flies inside. Use something like a lint-free dish or tea towel, part of an old clean pillowcase, or even a coffee filter, for smaller crocks. Secure it with a large rubber band or similar. We learned the hard way that cheese cloth is not effective at keeping fruit flies out. Its holes are too large.


4) Ferment


The time your brew takes to convert from sweet tea to a spunky finished kombucha depends on a number of factors, which we’ll discuss below. Expect the very first batch or two to take far longer than they will thereafter. A brand new kombucha brew may take up to 21 days to ferment, while a mature brew can take as little as 7 days – especially utilizing the continuous brew method.


Temperature


The temperature of your brew is the largest dictator of ferment time. Warmer temperatures accelerate fermentation, and cooler temperatures slow it down. Too cold of temperatures can slow SCOBY activity and fermentation down so much that there is a risk for mold to develop. This is particularly true for a new not-so-strong brew. The ideal temperature range for kombucha fermentation is between 75-85°F. We feel okay with around 70-ish too, but much lower than that will result in a sluggish brew.

“Why do you have lights around your kombucha crocks?”


I can’t tell you how often this question comes up! One word: Heat. To provide the warmth that kombucha loves so much, we wrap our crocks in holiday lights. The traditional style lights give off the perfect amount of heat. New LED styles will not. We turn ours on in the winter months, or overnight during the spring and summer. During our warmest season (fall), we don’t need them at all. Other ways to provide warmth include using a seedling heat mat, or keeping the crock on top of a warm appliance.

Two 2-gallon glass beverages dispensers, full of reddish colored kombucha, wrapped in white christmas lights.
Our continuous brewing kombucha vessels. The new batch we started for this demo is on the left, and our crock full of mature SCOBY (serving as a SCOBY hotel) is on the right. They’re lightly wrapped in holiday lights to stay warm, and covered with thick tea towels.

To monitor temperature, you may want to use a thermometer. Some folks check the actual temperature of the liquid with a probe thermometer. The easiest option is to keep one on the outside of the crock, like one of these adhesive strip thermometers. By checking the temperature, you’ll feel confident that you’re in the ideal range, or see that adjustments are needed.


Age of Brew


Other factors that influence the time your brew will take to finish fermenting include: the size of the SCOBY, how strong your brew is, and how much “starter liquid” you leave behind to jump start the next batch.

SCOBY Size: Did you know that with every batch of kombucha, your mother SCOBY will produce a new layer? This is lovingly referred to as its baby. You do not need to remove the new layer. A lot of homebrewers allow their SCOBY to get really fat before thinning it down. The fatter the SCOBY, the quicker the brew will ferment. Sometimes ours are 3 to 4 inches thick before we peel away a few layers! Extras can be added to a SCOBY hotel, chopped up and fed to the chickens, composted, or even turned into SCOBY “fruit leather”.

Some of our SCOBY when it was pulled out to get thinned. It is on a plate, and is several inches thick. A hand is pinching it. It sort of looks like big round raw chicken breasts.
Some of our SCOBY when it was pulled out of the crock to get thinned.

Starter Culture:  As you’ll read more about below, when it is time to bottle finished kombucha, always leave some finished brew behind to get the next batch started. Unlike this recipe to start your very first batch, you can be really flexible in how much you leave behind in the subsequent brews. Using the continuous brew method, we draw off about 2/3 to 3/4 of the volume of finished kombucha to bottle and leave the rest behind. That means we could be leaving up to half a gallon of finished kombucha in the crock for the next batch. The more starter liquid in the brew, the faster it will ferment.


Personal Preference


The last factor that influences your kombucha brew time is your personal flavor preference.

The longer kombucha ferments, the more tart and vinegar-like it will become. A shorter brew time will result in a sweeter finished product. Do keep in mind that we want to ferment off a good amount of that sugar and caffeine though! Kombucha is supposed to be tart.  If you bottle your brew too prematurely, you are not getting all of the true benefits of a properly fermented kombucha. You’d be drinking semi-fermented uber-sweet tea instead.

On the other hand, if it ferments way too long, you’ll end up with “kombucha vinegar”. It may be too strong to enjoy by that point, but it can still be used for many things – including as the starter liquid for a fresh batch, to make fire cider, or even as a natural hair rinse! Read 7 Clever Ways to Use Sour Kombucha Vinegar here.

Do a taste test! That is another beauty of using crocks with spigots. If you suspect your brew may be about ready, pull a little off and give it a try! For those using a crock without a spigot, I have seen people sticking a straw right in the top to take a sip.

pH


According to experts, the proper pH level of finished kombucha is between 2.5 and 3.5.  We honestly don’t check very often because we like a pretty tart booch anyways. But if you’re curious to see exactly where it’s at, get some pH test strips to see!

An example of a gallon crock, used for the batch method. The vessel does not have a spigot like a continuous brew crock. They're sampling the kombucha for flavor and pH, and keeping track of the temperature with an adhesive thermometer stuck on the side. The vessel is full of orange red tea.
An example of a gallon crock, used for the batch method. They’re sampling the kombucha for flavor and pH, and keeping track of the temperature with an adhesive thermometer. Photo from Fermentaholics.


Notes During Fermentation: “My SCOBY Looks Ugly”


As your kombucha begins to ferment, you’ll notice it going through some changes. If your SCOBY doesn’t already take up the entire surface area of your crock, a film will start to develop on the top of the liquid. That is a new layer of SCOBY forming. Sometimes, SCOBY can get pretty damn ugly. It can get lumpy and even have white spots that look alarmingly like mold. Unless they’re fuzzy and raised, it is very unlikely that it is mold.

As a brew matures, the color will usually lighten. It may also develop brown stringy lumps hanging from the SCOBY. There may also be a brown film on the bottom of the crock, particularly if you’re using continuous brew. That is yeast, and is totally normal! Excessive yeast build-up should be removed every few months. I will tell you all about crock maintenance and cleaning soon!

This is the same batch showed above, made fresh just for this post! On the left is day three, and on the right is day four. That SCOBY is getting HAPPY in there! The brown lump on the top left looks a bit like yeast, and you can see the film starting to grow over the entire surface area. That whole thing will be a new SCOBY soon!
This is the same batch showed above, made fresh just for this post! On the left is day three, and on the right is day four. That SCOBY is getting HAPPY in there! The brown lump on the top left looks a bit like yeast, and you can see the film starting to grow over the entire surface area. That whole thing will be a new SCOBY soon!


5) Bottle


Once your kombucha has fermented to your ideal tartness, it is time to get it bottled!

The topic of secondary fermentation, flavoring, and carbonation is so vast that I needed to save it for another post (here!). In short, you’ll add the finished kombucha to air-tight bottles. If you wish, you can also add a couple ounces of fruit puree or juice, but the volume should be mostly kombucha. See our top 18 favorite fruit/flavor combinations here. The bottles then sit at room temperature for anywhere from 2-10 more days, depending on the temperature and flavor. Next, move them to the refrigerator to chill before enjoying.

There are SO many tips and factors that come into play with carbonation. We get killer carbonation! But please note that it can also be dangerous when done incorrectly. The most essential part when it comes to safety is using high-quality bottles; those that are made to withstand the high pressure of brewing and carbonation. Literal explosions may occur with bottles that can’t handle it.

Following a traditional “batch” method (in a crock without a spigot): Pull out your SCOBY, set it on a clean plate, carefully pour most of the finished kombucha into bottles, and leave behind the appropriate amount of starter liquid for the next batch.  See the chart below for how much liquid to keep behind, depending on your size vessel. Continuous brew kombucha is a little more free-flowing. Pull off as much as you want to bottle, but leave at least a few cups of finished booch behind. The SCOBY can stay in place during bottling.


6) Add fresh sweet tea


After bottling a batch of kombucha, you’ll need to add fresh sweet tea back to the crock. Make a batch of sweet tea just as we did in the instructions above, trying to create the same volume as you removed in bottling. Allow to cool slightly, and pour it in! We simply pour the replacement tea right on top of the SCOBY, who rights itself with time.

For a visual recap of these steps, check out my extensive kombucha 101 tutorial from Instagram below! Swipe/click though the slides to the right to see all 9 videos.



And then the whole process starts over. And over…


Note: If you started a one-gallon batch in a 2-gallon container as we did here, I would wait a couple of rounds until you add more volume to it. Once your SCOBY is looking larger and strong, slowly increase the amount of replacement tea you make, using the chart below.

Kombucha Recipe Chart, showing the amount of tea, sugar, water, and starter liquid needed for various size kombucha brews.
Kombucha Recipe Chart, courtesy of The Big Book of Kombucha



Benefits of Making your Own Kombucha


Aside from being easy, there are many reasons why you may want to consider making your own kombucha.

By making your own at home, you have the utmost control over the end product! You can choose the quality of ingredients, get creative with adding fruit and flavors, and adjust how sweet or tart you prefer the end product to be. We have come to favor the flavor of our homebrew. It’s delicious!

Let’s not forget the cost savings! Because they’re significant. The cost of bulk sugar and tea is peanuts compared to routinely buying bottled kombucha. Making our own kombucha at home greatly increases its availability., and our ability to drink it more often. That means we get exponentially more exposure to the health benefits.

Last but not least, brewing is fun!

I hope you found this post informative and empowering, so you feel excited to start brewing kombucha at home too. Let me know if you have any questions, and please spread the booch love by passing this post on!

deannacats signature, with "keep on growing"


48 Comments

  • Caroline

    thank you for this highly detailed blog! I made a 1 gallon batch of booch with a scoby I got from a friend, and didn’t realize that you do not recommend that size for CB method (that’s what I was planning on doing) My vessel does have a spigot on it, can I still do a CB method or is there a reason I need to do a batch method? Thanks so much!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hey Caroline, as long as you have a spigot than the continuous brew method is definitely recommended, no matter the vessel size. Oftentimes we don’t even fill our two gallon crocks all the way full. Thanks for tuning in and enjoy that booch!

  • yassy

    Hey Deanna! Thanks for the awesome advice. I started my scoby a while ago and left it too long (4 months) and so the liquid turned into vinegar. I used 1/2 cup of it for my starter liquid when I started brewing a gallon of tea into my two gallon crock a few days ago. I figured since the vinegar is probably so acidic that I wouldn’t need more than that. Should I have added another 1/2 cup or so? do you think it’s too late?

    Also, do you have any advice on maintaining a scoby hotel? I started my scoby in a liter jar after I thinned it out becuase it was pretty thick. Would you recommend I get another two gallon crock like yours so when I thin out the scoby again, it will fit perfectly? Should I add fresh sweet tea to the scoby hotel? THANK YOU!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      If the SCOBY was mature and well maintained then that may be enough to kick start your new brew. Just keep an eye on your new brew to make sure it is starting to ferment. As far as the SCOBY hotel goes, we find it easiest to have the same size container as your crock so the SCOBYs fit easily inside. It is a good idea to give some sweetened tea to the hotel once every month or so. Hope that helps.

  • Ryan Bianchi

    I would have been lost without these awesome instructions on your blog – thank you! Kombucha is not as hard as it seemed and so fun and delicious!

  • Brian

    Hey Deanna! Your website has helped so much!!! I found everything I needed to start making quality kombucha with no prior knowledge — Thank you so much, what a truly great gift 🙂

    I have a question for you, though — I noticed on reviewing the process that you recommend coffee filters only for smaller crocks. I am using the large crock that you posted a link for and doing the continuous brew method. I used a chemex coffee filter that I unfolded and it is large enough to cover the opening of the big crock. I wondered if you recommended coffee filters only for small crocks because most are not wide enough to cover, or if there is another reason I am unsure of. Do you think a chemex filter is too tight knit for that large a quantity of booch, should I search for another form of tight knit cloth to maximize my fermentation? Or were you saying to use it only for smaller crocks because most filters aren’t large enough to cover a big one?

    Thanks again!!!

    • DeannaCat

      Hi Brian! Yes, that sounds like it should work! We use a french press so I honestly didn’t know they made coffee filters so large, haha! Yes, the only reason I suggested for smaller crocks “only” was because of the size issue. Best of luck!

      • Melissa

        Thanks so much for this!!
        I’ve grown my own scoby! Can I use the kombucha from growing the scoby as my starter liquid in making my kombucha? Thanks!

  • Jenna

    Hello Deanna! Super glad I found your website, there is so much fun and helpful info here 🙂 I’ve been gathering supplies to home brew kombucha, hopefully starting it this week…Our drinking water is from a well that goes through a softener system and reverse osmosis. We do get occasional sulfur odor in the shower. I’m hoping that does not affect the brew quality, because I don’t think I could keep buying filtered stuff from the store! Fingers crossed! Thanks for all the awesome info!!

  • Emily

    Hi! Thanks for this helpful guide! Question:
    I’m onto the second ferment stage for carbonation and Im leaving the kombucha in ball jars, about 3/4 full. Im noticing after day 3 or 4 a thin white film forming on top of one of my jars. It is not fuzzy or anything, looks more like a Thin baby SCOBY or something? Have you seen this before? Is it safe to just pull it out and drink the remaining booch? I hate wasting anything! Also, in All 3 jars I didn’t notice bubbles until after I opened the jar slightly (letting air out) and then closing back up. Any idea why? Thanks so much!!

    • DeannaCat

      Hi Emily! Yep, totally normal. The bottled booch will form a baby scoby inside after several days. Aaron likes to drink/eat it… I like to pick it out and throw it to the chickens. If you don’t want it in your glass at all, there are funnels with strainers built in – I know some folks like to pour their booch from the bottle through a strainer and into a glass for a an extra refined product, lol! I don’t mind a little pulp. You will not see bubbles until the gases are allowed to escape (e.g. opening it to pour, or burping the bottles to check on them) – though you’ll lose some of the bubbles/carbonation then so you want to avoid opening them alllll the way or to often unless necessary. Did you check out the second ferment/carbonation article we have, which also goes over burping? Just so you’re aware, you probably won’t get the most insane carb with ball jars. They’re not truly air tight, unless you get lucky and reallllly screw the lid on tight. Usually some gas will be able to leak out still. Not a big dig at all! Just a heads up if you’re pondering over why you can’t get the level of fizz you may want. I hope that helps!

  • Raphael

    Hi Deannacat, my wife and are looking to start making our own Kombucha using your super informative guide (thanks!). I had one question though when using the continuous method after the first fermentation when adding more sweat tea to the main batch do we need to put some type of starter in that tea as well? If so can we use a store bought bottle of Kombucha? Sorry for the run-on sentence and thanks again for making this super helpful and extensive guide :)!

    • DeannaCat

      Hi Raphael! As long as you leave behind some finished kombucha in the crock (a couple cups at least) when you bottle the rest, that leftover IS your starter culture – so you don’t need to add any more bottled kombucha when you add tea. I hope that makes sense! Happy brewing!

    • Emily

      Hi there! Thanks for all the info!
      Have you ever had bits of “stuff” floating in your kombucha after the second ferment? Is that ok?
      Also, can I do a second ferment in ball glass jars instead of the swing tops? How do you know when its “carbonated enough”?
      Thanks so much!

  • Jennifer

    My favorite flavor is cranberry! During thanksgiving time I get the fresh cranberries and freeze them. Makes my favorite flavor ever. Sometimes I’ll purée them but usually I just put them in whole. Which makes the whole process quick and clean.

  • Ashtyn

    I originally started following you/subscribed because I was so inspired by your yard. It gave me lots of ideas for my own. Then I started seeing your posts about foods and fermentation, and was even further inspired. I love a good bootch, but hate how expensive it is so thought I’d follow your guide to brewing my own. I have a couple of questions about it though! It looks like you keep your bootch in a pretty common place in the home, is it particularly odorous? I’d like to go straight to the continuous brew method, but I see your chart recommends the 2.5 gallon container with 2 large scoby’s. Since I’d just be starting, will a small scoby just take longer? Lastly, for the water – we are on a well with a filter. Should the filtered well water be okay, or should I look at getting an additional filter at the tap for my brews? Thank you so much!

    • DeannaCat

      Hey there Ashtyn! Thanks for being here. It sounds like you’re up to some fun projects! To answer your questions: No, I don’t find the booch crock smells much except maybe in the hotter months, but it just smells a bit like apple cider vinegar and only when you’re in pretty close proximity to it. To me, it isn’t offensive at all. Second, if you have a smaller new SCOBY, I would probably start with just one gallon as the recipe/instructions call for to get started, let it grow and develop for several batches (maybe a couple months) and then gradually increase the amount you brew with it. It would ferment much slower, but also too small a SCOBY in too much liquid could lead to mold issues if it isn’t strong enough to ferment it – especially during cool winter months. Last, I think well water with a filter should be just fine. Probably better than most city water! 🙂 I hope that helps. Happy Brewing!

      • Sasha

        Hey Deanna!

        This looks super interesting! And as usual you’ve done an amazing job presenting this article with instructions and pictures. Your bottled kombucha looks delicious. Thank you so much!

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