* Please note that this blog remains up as a resource. However, this blog is currently on hiatus until further notice. For more information, please read this blog post. Thank you and happy kombucha brewing, drinking, and SCOBY trading! Lots of love. ~Annabelle *

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Your Average One-Gallon Kombucha Recipe

So I meant to make this a really brief Kombucha Brewing Recipe, but there was too much important information! So the truly short and simple recipe may have to wait. And I promise to post more Kombucha brewing/bottling details! These are just the "essential basics"!

Note: DO NOT use soap, which can kill some of the bacteria/probiotics! Please clean with distilled vinegar or some sort of sanitizer used by brewers, such as Iodophor!


  • 1 brewing container
    -glass is best
    -size depends on how much you want to brew
  • 1 SCOBY aka a Kombucha Mushroom
  • 3 quarts water (aka 12 cups)
    -preferably filtered water
  • 5-6 tea bags (or around 2-3 tsp. or 15 g of loose leaf tea)
    -ex. Organic Green, Oolong, or Black Tea, or a combination
  • 3/4 cup sugar (around 150 g)
    -What’s typical: organic evaporated cane juice
  • 1.5 cups (12 oz) starter tea
    -From your previous batch, or some good, raw, store-bought, unflavored KT
    -The starter tea should be 10-20% of your overall brew
  • 1 clean cloth
    -or a paper towel, coffee filter, or cheesecloth
    -make sure it’s big enough to cover the container
  • 1 rubber band
    -or something to secure the cloth on the container
  • Optional: pH strips/pH meter
  1. Boil the water.
    -Not for too long- remove the pot from the heat once the water reaches a boil.
    -Boiling reduces the oxygen and carbon in the water, which are needed for the fermentation process.
  2. Add the tea and allow it to steep for 15 minutes (or follow the specific tea brewing instructions).
  3. Remove the tea bags/tea leaves (or you can leave them there overnight. It's your choice).
  4. Add the sugar and mix it until it all dissolves.
  5. Let the sugar/tea solution cool to room temperature
    -Leaving it overnight is easiest.
    -Make sure the mixture is properly covered so nothing gets inside!
  6. Pour the sugar/tea solution into the brewing container.
  7. Add the starter tea into the brewing container and stir it so that it’s evenly distributed throughout the solution.
    -Optional: check the pH of the liquid. You want it to be between 3-4.
  8. Add the SCOBY.
    -You want the temperatures of the sugar/tea solution, starter tea, and the SCOBY to be the same so that the SCOBY won’t get temperature shocked. SCOBYs are living things!
  9. Cover the container with the clean cloth and secure it with a rubber band.
    -The goal is to allow oxygen in and keep pathogens out.
    -If you cover the container with cheesecloth, double layer it! The holes in cheesecloth are pretty big and may let pathogens inside.
  10. Put your brewing container in a quiet, undisturbed spot.
    -Every time you brew, a new baby mushroom typically forms.
    -Factors promoting Kombucha Baby Mushroom formation:
    -Constant temperatures
    -Warm temperatures (SCOBYs particularly like 73-83°F, or 21-26°C)
    -Undisturbed spots- every time you disturb your brew, the new mushroom has to begin forming all over again.
    -To avoid:
    -Smoke (ex.: in kitchens)
    -Direct sunlight (brewing in the light is ok, though)
  11. Ferment for 6-8 days (when you’re brewing at around 80°F at a constant temp.)
    -Takes around 8-14 days when you’re brewing in the 70’s.
  12. Your kombucha tea is done! Enjoy! To check-
    -It should taste like semi-sweet cider, hard apple cider, or vinegar
    -Optional: check the pH of your brew. It should be around 2.5-3.5.
  13. Set aside 1.5 cups of KT for your next brew.
  14. Drink your kombucha tea as is, or consider bottling your kombucha or letting it undergo a second fermentation (kombucha wine, anyone?)

Thanks to Happy Herbalist (and my own experience and research) for some of this information!

Note: You do not have to brew a gallon of KT at once! You just need to brew everything proportionally. (A useful conversion: 1 quart = 4 cups).



Annabelle Ho said...

If for some reason you do not have any starter tea available to brew your kombucha, you can substitute 1.5 - 3 tbsp of distilled white vinegar (which is .78-1.54% of your overall brew) for starter tea in this recipe.

Source: http://www.organic-kombucha.com/brewing_kombucha.html

However, only pasteurized vinegars are recommended as substitutes for starter tea. Unpasteurized or raw vinegars may convert your kombucha mother into a mother of vinegar, which is composed of different bacteria and yeasts than kombucha SCOBYs.

Sources: http://www.happyherbalist.com/kombucha_brewing_guide.htm and http://www.rejoiceinlife.com/recipes/kombucha.php

Annabelle Ho said...

A one quart recipe for kombucha, for your convenience:

1 quart (4 cups) water
2-3 tea bags (or 3-5 g or 1 tsp loose-leaf tea)
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
1/2 cup starter tea (or .5-1 tbsp distilled white vinegar if you don't have starter tea)

Aimee Fuller said...

When it's done brewing/fermenting, does it have a shelf life?how long will it last? Can it be refrigerated? Do I remove the scoby before drinking it?

Annabelle Ho said...

-When it's done brewing/fermenting, you can either bottle the kombucha (directions/links here: http://www.kombuchafuel.com/p/bottling-directions.html), or put the whole fermentation vessel in the fridge. For long term storage, I would recommend bottling. I'd say the kombucha can last up to a year in the fridge in bottles if you have good sanitation. The better sanitation you have, the more likely the kombucha will last longer in the fridge. Putting the kombucha in the fridge puts in in a "dormant" state, where it's fermenting very slowly, at an "imperceptible rate." If you put the whole container in the fridge, be aware that the kombucha will ferment slightly faster in the fridge if the SCOBY is in there, which is perfectly fine if you think you will consume the kombucha within a few weeks. If you do this, you can pour some kombucha out of the container every time you want to drink it (being careful not to contaminate the kombucha/SCOBY), and when the kombucha levels are low again, you can take out the fermentation vessel from the fridge with the SCOBY in it, let the SCOBY warm up to room temperature overnight, and begin a new brewing cycle again.

Hope this helped and let me know if you have any other questions!

Whitney Womack said...

Hi Annabelle. I've been very successfully brewing for about a year and have never had any problems with it. The last batch I made however went a little too long and was incredibly sour and the SCOBY was nearly half an inch thick or more - very big! Healthy and thick and white. So I reserved some of that plain brew for starter tea, as usual, and the batch I started from that appears very flat. There are no bubbles or activity at all in the jar. The culture was very heavy this time and so it has been hanging out way down low instead of at the top. There are babies forming (I brew two jars at a time) on each but I can tell that there aren't any of those tiny bubbles at the surface of the brew and it appears to be lacking something? What would cause the brew to be flat during the brew process even when new culture is forming? It just seems something is very different this time and I can't put my finger on it. Let me know what you think when you get a minute. Thanks!

Annabelle Ho said...

Hi Whitney,
Good to hear from you! Are you using the thick SCOBYs that you have? If you are using the thick one you may want to cut it in half or into pieces- there is such a thing as too much SCOBY that can affect the ferment. The other thing that may be going on is that the bacteria are too strong vs. the yeasts, disrupting the balance, as the yeasts create the CO2. I talk about fizz here http://www.kombuchafuel.com/2010/01/kombucha-fizz.html and the site Kombucha Balance also has some good info on fizz http://users.bestweb.net/~om/kombucha_balance/. Good luck!

Alex said...

Hi there, came across your blog while trying to answer a question about my scoby. Great info, thank you! The scoby I have is a very thin mushroom that formed because I didn't finish drinking this particular brew over a year ago. I kept it bottled, completely capped, with the bottle about 75% empty. Just opened it and it had pressure built up. She looks good, just very thin, and it smells like the old kombucha i remember. Is it possible that this scoby could still be alive? Sitting in the dark with no air because it was capped for over a year? I'm planning to try it just for the heck of it, but wondering what you think.

Annabelle Ho said...

Hi Alex,

Thanks for visiting my blog! You aren't the first to ask this question...and usually I say it doesn't hurts to try as long as it smells/looks ok, and as long as you don't notice anything off-putting, such as strange odors/visual appearance. I have a blog post on this particular subject as well http://www.kombuchafuel.com/2011/05/q-i-left-my-kombucha-mother-in-fridge.html. I'd say go for it! If brewing with it is successful though, I would probably discard it after a few rounds and after you have a nice, younger kombucha mushroom.

IcanBENCHurCAT said...

Excellent info here, thanks! I have been making beer for about a year now, and recently found out I liked kombucha (but I hate traditional American sweet tea). When making Kombucha and bottling do you use an additional amount of sugar at bottling? Do you allow the bottles to sit at room temperature for awhile to carbonate?

Annabelle Ho said...

Thank you, and that's great that you have gotten into brewing kombucha! I don't normally add sugar in the bottling stage, but I don't see why you couldn't, and it would probably add some extra carbonation if that's what you like. Sometimes when I bottle my kombucha I will add additional flavors, such as citrus peels, fruits, etc., and that probably has a similar effect as adding additional sugar when bottling. I usually let the bottles sit at room temperature for a week or so to add some additional carbonation, and adjust that time accordingly, depending on the temperature, how sweet/fizzy I want the brew to come out, etc.

Unknown said...

I am making my first batch of kombucha. We heat with wood, so our house is usually between 68 and 85. It's been about 11 days, I have protein strings, what looks like a mushroom or two floating on top, and a very thin film floating on top. I do see a bunch of stuff on the bottom, but it looks nothing like the beautiful SCOBY I see online. I bought some homemade kombucha from a health store as my starter. The SCOBY that was in there was just a little mushroom thing as well. Should I just wait longer?

Annabelle Ho said...

Hello Lisa,

Thanks for your comment, I'm sorry that you are having trouble brewing kombucha. It sounds like you are brewing at a good temperature. It also sounds like you might be growing a kombucha mushroom from scratch? If you are, it can take a few weeks or around a month for a good SCOBY to grow. And hopefully you used unflavored kombucha as your starter. I don't know if you are still brewing the batch, but whether or not you had a SCOBY to start with, it can sometimes take more than 11 days for the batch to finish. If you go to my blog posts tagged Q&A (http://www.kombuchafuel.com/search/label/Q%26A), you'll find some posts titled When is My Brew Done Fermenting, No SCOBY, and How to Grow a Thick Kombucha Mushroom. I also have some blog posts tagged with "Grow a SCOBY": http://www.kombuchafuel.com/search/label/Grow%20a%20SCOBY. Hope that helps!