* 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 *

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Simple Brewing and Bottling Instructions

These are my simple brewing instructions that I provided at my demo earlier this year for the Urban Homesteaders' League Market Stand. In addition, I've included my simple bottling instructions. More detailed brewing instructions can be found here, and more detailed bottling instructions are here. In addition, this is a link to a post where I list/link to several other kombucha recipes for more perspective and additional information. There is no recipe that's "right." Every brewer has his or her own style and favorite recipe, so adapt the recipe to what works for you!

My next Kombucha Brewing Demo will be sometime in December. Stay tuned for details, and happy brewing!


Note: It is recommended to clean the equipment with white distilled vinegar, because of soap’s antibacterial properties, which may harm the bacteria in the SCOBY.


  • 1 kombucha culture (also known as a kombucha mother or a SCOBY)
  • 2 black or green tea bags (or around 1 tsp. loose leaf tea) per quart water
  • ¼ cup (50 g) sugar per quart water
  • ½ cup (4 fl. oz) starter tea per quart water
  • Water
  • 1 glass jar
  • 1 pot to boil the water (such as stainless steel, don’t use aluminum)
  • 1 clean cloth or paper towel
  • 1 rubber band


1. Boil the water.

2. Add the tea and allow it to steep for 15 minutes.

3. Remove the tea bags/tea leaves.

4. Add the sugar and stir until it all dissolves.

5. Let the sweet tea solution cool down to room temperature (hot temperatures can kill the SCOBY).

6. Pour the sweet 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.

8. Add the SCOBY that is also at room temperature (it’s ok if it floats or sinks).

9. Cover the container with the clean cloth and secure it with a rubber band.

10. Put your brewing vessel in a quiet, undisturbed spot.

a. With each brewing cycle, a new baby mushroom typically forms.

b. SCOBYs like warm temperatures and the brewing vessel shouldn’t be moved during the fermentation process, because movement will disrupt the formation of the new SCOBY.

c. SCOBYs prefer warm temperatures and brewing between 75-85 F is ideal, 68-85 F is ok.

11. Leave the tea to ferment for 6-14 days (kombucha ferments more quickly in warmer temperatures, so the 6-14 days is just a guideline).

12. Your kombucha tea is done! (Signs include an apple cider vinegar aroma or taste. Taste is the best indicator; it should taste similar to a slighty fizzy version of apple cider vinegar).

13. Set aside a SCOBY and some kombucha as starter tea for your next brew.

14. Drink your kombucha tea as is and store the extra in the fridge, or consider letting your kombucha undergo a second fermentation in the bottling process.

Tip: When first learning how to brew, it is recommended to brew smaller batches (1-2 quarts). Once you get the hang of it and the kombucha mother has produced new SCOBYs, you can brew larger quantities.




  • Kombucha
  • Bottles and caps
  • Bottle capper (if you are bottling your kombucha in beer bottles)
  • Optional: small pieces of cut up fruit, ginger, herbs, or jams to add flavors to your kombucha. The possibilities are endless!


  1. Optional: Add some flavors to your brew by adding little pieces of cut up fruit, ginger, herbs, or jam to your bottles. Smaller pieces are better because they give the yeast more surface area to act on.
  2. Fill your bottle(s).
    1. I typically leave around 1.5 inches of headroom for a 12 oz beer bottle.
  3. Cap your bottle(s).
  4. Leave your bottle(s) out at room temperature for 1-2 days, or for week(s).
  5. Fill your bottle(s).
    1. The kombucha is undergoing a secondary fermentation, which can produce more fizz in the kombucha. The secondary fermentation is also a good opportunity to add different flavors to your brew.
    2. Kombucha ferments more quickly at higher temperatures.
    3. Typically when I have a batch I try one bottle after a few days, and decide whether the rest of the bottles are ready to refrigerate or require more time to ferment.
    4. *PLEASE NOTE* if you leave your bottles out for too long, they may explode due to the buildup of carbon dioxide.
  6. Refrigerate the kombucha.
    1. Refrigerating the kombucha will cause the yeast and bacteria to go dormant. Fermentation isn't completely stopped, but is slowed significantly.
  7. Enjoy and drink your kombucha!

Where to shop: The Modern Homebrew Emporium is great for brewing supplies of any kind. Location: 2304 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140, T: (614) 498-0400.


Alex Lewin said...

A question! Slightly unrelated, but...

After the Whole Foods/"labeling"/0.5% alcohol brouhaha, GT Kombucha (for instance) was off the shelves for quite a while. It is now back on the shelves. Somewhere I heard that they had watered it down, in order to get consistently under the 0.5% mark and resolve the issue.

Have you heard anything like this? Does this sound like a good topic for a future post?

Mary Pete said...

I actually heard that the recipe was changed to reduce the sugar content so that the yeast content would be less-thus, less alcoholic.

Annabelle Ho said...

thanks Alex and Mary for the comments!

I've heard about numerous ways that companies may have changed their methods in order to reduce the alcohol content to under 0.5%, including changing the recipe. In any case, this is definitely a good topic for a future post, and I'll make sure to address it in December!

itfactor36 said...

Here is a question more about kombucha's final sugar content than about alcohol content (although of course alcohol content DOES partialy reflect sugar content).

You wrote in your blogpost 'No SCOBY'
"You can definitely control how sweet your kombucha is! The longer you ferment your brew, the lower the sugar content will be as the yeasts convert more sugars into CO2 and alcohol."
(http://www.kombuchafuel.com/2010/03/no-scoby.html )

You also wrote in your blogpost 'Kombucha Bottling 101 (Updated May 27, 2010)',
"Bottling, or a secondary fermentation, allows the yeast to feed on more of the sugar in your kombucha tea. This creates CO2, decreases the amount of sugar in your KT, and also makes your drink more carbonated and fizzy, which many people enjoy."
(http://www.kombuchafuel.com/2009/02/kombucha-bottling-101.html )

What additional steps could one undertake to LOWER kombucha's final sugar-content BESIDES these two actions you mentioned in the pair of prior postings I just quoted??

Oh and BTW, I like your suggestion of adding various and optional flavorings for the secondary fermentation, e.g. ginger.
In your 'Kombucha Bottling 101...' post, you also mention using fresh mint; another very intriguing idea!

Annabelle Ho said...

Thanks @itfactor36 for the comment! Playing with kombucha flavors is definitely fun, and there are so many possibilities!

My other suggestion to lower the final sugar content other than the ones that you mentioned would be to put less sugar in the original recipe. I feel that my sugar is already on the lower sugar side- For example, I add around 3/4 cup sugar per 3 quarts of water, while Happy Herbalist's recipe recommends around 1 cup of sugar per 3 quarts water. I'll let you know if any other ideas come to mind!

Unknown said...

Hi Annabelle,

I was at the demonstration last night, thanks so much, it was excellent. I took my mushroom home in a canning jar and put it in the fridge, but I forgot to loosen the cap. Do you think it will explode in the fridge during the day today while I'm at work?

Thanks, Hope

Annabelle Ho said...

Thanks so much for coming to the demo yesterday, Hope!

I think your jar will be fine in the fridge for a day, just loosen the cap when you get back home! :)

Joe said...

I'm new to the kombucha scene. I brew loose tea leaves, then I strain them. Inevitably, there are some fragments at the bottom of the kombucha's jar. Will this be a problem?

Annabelle Ho said...

I would strain the tea leaves out as best you can, but if there are a few fragments left, I think that should be ok!

Joe said...

Gotcha. Thanks.
Now I'm trying to nail down whether I can use sucanat instead of (Or in addition to) white sugar. What do you say about this?

Annabelle Ho said...

Yes, sucanat should be fine! Happy Herbalist also has an article on sweeteners for kombucha and other ferments http://www.happyherbalist.com/sugar.htm.