How to Make Kombucha at Home

homemade kombucha recipe

How to make probiotic-rich kombucha from scratch a home using only a few ingredients: Tea, water, sugar and a SCOBY.

Kombucha makes a wonderful alternative to sugar-filled drinks like soda, and thanks to the fermentation process, it’s naturally carbonated, too, so has a nice fizz to it.

Soft drinks, on the other hand, are artificially carbonated through a process that forces carbonation into the beverage.

What Ferments the Tea?

A SCOBY (a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is used to ferment kombucha tea. The fermentation process takes around 7-12 days, depending on the temperature (warmer weather will speed up the fermentation process, cooler weather will slow it down) and the strength of the SCOBY.

If you’re concerned by the level of sugar used to make kombucha, let me put your mind at ease. The SCOBY consumes over 90% of the sugar during fermentation. The process is similar to that of making coconut kefir or sourdough bread.

Let’s Talk A Little More About the SCOBY…

This Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (a.k.a the SCOBY) is a colony of microbes that are responsible for turning the sweetened tea into a probiotic-rich beverage. The SCOBY is essentially a living culture of beneficial organisms that transform the sugar into healthy acids and probiotics.

Fun fact: Kombucha is sometimes called “Mushroom tea” because the SCOBY looks so much like a mushroom!

Another name for the SCOBY is “The Mother” (similar to the term used for the fermenting bacteria in apple cider vinegar), as it’s the parent culture that creates the probiotic tea. During the brewing process, the SCOBY will often create a “baby” or secondary culture on top of itself, which can also be used to brew other batches.

The SCOBY forms a rubbery disc on top of the brewing tea, covering the surface and essentially sealing off the tea from the outside air. This allows fermentation to happen in an anaerobic (air-free) environment.

If looked after properly, a SCOBY can last for many years. In fact, a family member of mine has been making homemade kombucha for over 13 years, and has SCOBYs that are years old!

Nutritional Benefits of Kombucha

Kombucha contains no fat or protein, but does contain an array of beneficial bacteria and nutrients including:

  • S. Boulardii: 1 billion organisms
  • Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086: 1 billion organisms
  • Glucuronic Acid 10mg
  • EGCG 100mg
  • Acetic Acid 30 mg
  • L(+) Lactic Acid 25mg

(All the above readings are for 8 ounces of kombucha).

This tangy beverage also contains fewer calories than other carbonated drinks like sodas (containing approximately 30 calories per cup).

What Does Kombucha Taste Like?

When fermented, this beverage has a slightly sweet and slightly tangy (almost vinegary) flavour. The taste can vary depending on the brand you buy or how long its been fermenting for.

Kombucha Health Benefits

Note: While there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence from enthusiastic kombucha supporters, there aren’t many scientific studies done on kombucha and the health benefits given by this probiotic drink.

Kombucha should only be looked at as a delicious refreshing drink containing healthy probiotics. That’s it.

It isn’t some “magic pill,” but it may help the body by supporting:

Liver Detoxification

The liver plays a huge role in proper detoxification. Glucaric acid, which can be found in kombucha, can assist the liver in detoxifying the body.


D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone (or DSL for short), is a compound found in kombucha and contains wonderful antioxidant properties. This compound has been recognised specifically for its help with detoxification at a cellular level.

Healthy Digestion

According to the Harvard Medical School:

A healthy gut will have 100 trillion+ microbes from 500 different identified species.

Having an overly sanitary environment in the body brings its own dangers. As a society we tend to overuse strong sterilising products like antibacterial soaps and hand washes, while medical professionals over-prescribe antibiotics, which all have an impact on the structure of the gut.

Fermented vegetables and foods like sauerkraut, yoghurt, kimchi, and beverages like kombucha, water kefir and milk kefir, contain billions of beneficial bacteria, acids and enzymes that help keep the gut flora in balance.

5. Joint Health

Glucosamines are a compound found naturally in kombucha, and are often recommended for improving joint health, as well as relieving joint pain. Glucosamines naturally increase hyaluronic acid in the body as well as assist in protecting and lubricating the joints. Hyaluronic acid can prevent arthritic pain, protect the cartilage, tissues, and muscles, and help reduce inflammation.

Possible Risks of Drinking Kombucha

I absolutely love this fermented tea and drink it quite often, but there are some cautions worth noting:

  • Pregnant and nursing mums and anyone with a medical condition should consult with their doctor first before consuming kombucha. It does contain sugar and caffeine, which aren’t advised during pregnancy.
  • Bloating may occur as a result of drinking kombucha. This can be partially due to the presence of probiotics in the beverage, and changes in the gut bacteria. Anyone who has a digestive condition should check with their doctor first before consuming it.
  • If the kombucha has been brewed incorrectly, harmful bacteria may be present in the drink which could be dangerous for the body. While it is rare, it does happen more often with homemade kombucha brews. If you choose to make your own kombucha, be very careful and ensure your environment is kept clean, and that you’ve brewed the drink correctly (see below for signs to look out for).
  • Do NOT prepare kombucha in a ceramic bowl, container or vessel of any kind, as lead can leach from the container into the finished beverage (due to the acidity).
  • Kombucha is relatively high in natural acids (though it still contains less than soft drinks), and these acidic compounds may wear away the enamel on teeth overtime. To prevent this, drink the glass of kombucha in one sitting (avoid sipping on it over the course of the day), and swish clean water around your mouth (don’t brush) right after you’ve finished the drink.

Caffeine and Alcohol Content

Kombucha does contain a very small amount of alcohol, with store-bought levels estimated around 0.5%-1.0% alcohol. When you put this into perspective, a bottle of kombucha would have a similar content to that of an over-ripe banana (though who was even aware bananas contained traces of alcohol?).

Another common concern raised about kombucha is its caffeine content.

Becuase green or black tea is used as the base in kombucha, it means this beverage does contain some caffeine; the amount varying depending on the type of tea used and how long it was left to steep. As a general consensus, kombucha is considered to have less caffeine compared with that of coffee or soft drinks. The caffeine content also tends to decrease during fermentation, so the longer it is left to ferment, the less caffeine (and sugar) it has.

Note: It is not advised to use decaffeinated tea when making kombucha, as:

  1. The residue may kill the SCOBY
  2. The majority of caffeine found in kombucha is generally removed through a chemical process

How to Make Kombucha from Scratch

The process of making kombucha is relatively simple, though it can take a few goes to get it right.

The first time I tried making kombucha, I was using a family member’s SCOBY which she kindly gave to me to start off my first batch. BUT, I had to travel for a few hours with it in the car (I was travelling from the country back to the city) and I don’t think it liked that all too much.

When it came time to make the kombucha, after letting the brew ferment for about one week, I started to see mould growing on top of the SCOBY. If this happens to you, and you discover furry or fuzzy mould on top of your SCOBY, DO NOT USE IT. It will have contaminated the brew. This batch will need to be discarded (including the SCOBY), and the container will need to be sterilised before trying again.

Thankfully, the second batch I made (using a new SCOBY I purchased from the local health food store) worked brilliantly! Here’s how to make your own kombucha at home.

You can even start out using a Kombucha SCOBY Kit (which can make the process a little easier).


  • 1 gallon size glass jar (ensure it’s been properly cleaned and sterilised)
  • 4 cups of filtered water, boiled (the ratio is 1/4 cup of organic sugar to every 2-3 cups of tea)
  • A SCOBY (which you can find at your local health food store) and 1 cup of liquid from a previous batch of kombucha
  • 4 organic tea bags, green or black tea (I use 1 tea bag for every cup of boiling water)
  • Coffee filter, cheesecloth or thin cloth and a rubber band

To make:

  1. Sterilise all your equipment first (if you haven’t done so) and wash your hands well.
  2. Pour 4 cups of boiling water into a large glass bowl and add 4 tea bags, using green or black tea, or a mixture of black tea with green/white tea or herbal teas.
  3. Add a little bit more than 1/4 cup of organic sugar (I use organic brown sugar). Honey is not recommended and sugar substitutes do not work.
  4. Let the tea steep and the sugar dissolve, then wait for the water to completely cool before pouring it in the large glass jar. If using loose leaf tea, strain out the leaves before putting the tea into the glass jar with the SCOBY and starter tea.
  5. Add a SCOBY once the water is cold. Do NOT add the SCOBY if the water is still warm, as it will kill the colony of beneficial bacteria. Add the 1 cup of starter tea (which is the tea the SCOBY was sitting it).
  6. If the SCOBY is not the same size as the container, don’t worry. It will grow to fit the size of the container as it ferments.
  7. Cover the glass jar with the cheesecloth or piece of organic cloth and secure in place with a rubber band.
  8. Leave it to sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight where it will not be disturbed. Let it ferment for 7-12 days. After 7 days, taste a little of your kombucha to see if it’s reached your desired flavour. You’ll know it’s ready when tastes fizzy and slightly sour, sort of cidery. It will ferment faster in summer and slower in winter.
  9. By this time, you will most likely have two SCOBYs in the tea, one as the “Mother” and the other as the “Baby.” Remove both of the SCOBYs and 1-2 cups of finished kombucha to start a new batch and repeat steps 1-9. (Leave enough kombucha in another glass jar for the SCOBYs to sit in until ready to use again). Store out of direct sunlight.

Where to Find a SCOBY:

Ask a friend who already brews kombucha if you can have one of their extra SCOBY’s. Or, as an alternative, you can purchase one from your local health food store.

Where to Get Kombucha (If You Don’t Want to Make It)

If you’re not keen on fermenting your own batch of kombucha, below are some great pre-made alternatives.

Kombucha has increased in popularity in Australia in recent years and is now available in a range stores. There are plenty of really good brands to choose from, just look for an organic selection without large amounts of sugar or added ingredients. I also look for brands who package their kombucha in glass bottles rather than plastic ones, as it’s more eco-friendly and won’t leach plastic chemicals into the drink.

Some good pre-made brands include:

Probiotic-Rich Alternatives

While kombucha delivers a boost of probiotics to the gut, it’s a good idea to branch out and try other healthy probiotic foods and beverages like sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, water kefir, milk kefir, beet kvass, homemade natural ginger ale, yoghurt (I love coconut yoghurt), miso soup, tempeh, pickles, kimchi, and more.

As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. I am not a doctor. All opinions expressed are my own personal thoughts and feelings of the products mentioned. Check with your doctor or health practitioner if you are uncertain about trying out any of the products, recipes or tips mentioned in this post.

Homemade kombucha recipe tutorial

Have you made kombucha before? What did you think? Share in the comments below.

Lots of love,

🖤 Vanessa

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