How do you make kombucha?

Our passion for kombucha brewing started at home, and our process today is not much different. We can talk endlessly with homebrewers about their kombucha, and are also happy to help them get started. You can use our Natural Beauty as a kombucha starter, with one bottle you can make more than 3 liters at home. Below we explain in detail how to make kombucha, which tea and sugar you use, and how you can add flavor. You will also find a simple recipe for 1 liter of kombucha. You can use the same kombucha recipe to make as much as you like. We also organize 'making kombucha at home' workshops , so you can learn it right in one go. You get your own kombucha and SCOBY to take home.

What tea do you use for kombucha?

For tea you can only use real tea, from the tea plant Camellia Sinensis. So green tea, black tea, white tea or Oolong tea. This contains the building materials that your kombucha needs. You will not find this in herbal teas such as rooibos and chamomile. Preference is given to organic tea, because pesticides may hinder the fermentation process. Also only use pure tea, so nothing with a flavor such as fruit teas and therefore no earl gray. Don't buy the most exclusive or expensive tea, because you will hardly find many of these refined flavors after fermentation. At Untamed Kombucha we use loose tea, because the quality is generally much better, and often not even more expensive.

What sugar do you use for kombucha?

At Untamed Kombucha we use organic, raw cane sugar. This contains more minerals, vitamins and other building blocks compared to refined sugar. That is good for the fermentation process. Other simple sugars also work fine, so if you have some white granulated sugar you don't have to go to the store specifically for cane sugar. Honey, agave, coconut, maple and palm sugar can also be used, but be careful. The taste of your kombucha will become much different, and the fermentation process will also become more unpredictable. If you want to try these forms of sugar, it is best to do it in a separate container. The recipe below provides a guideline for how much sugar to use to make kombucha. Depending on whether you have a sweet tooth, you can decide for yourself.

A kombucha SCOBY

SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. In children's language we explain it as a collaboration between yeasts and bacteria. The slippery mat that grows on top of your kombucha is often referred to as the SCOBY. This is partly correct, because the same bacteria and yeasts also grow there. However, you will find much more of this in the liquid. So you can easily make your first kombucha without that kombucha 'mushroom', by only using the liquid. In fact, it is cellulose, the same material that plants are made of.

SCOBY floats in a jar of kombucha with tap and tea towel

What is kombucha starter?

By kombucha starter we actually just mean slightly more acidic kombucha. At Untamed Kombucha we always use between 10% and 20% kombucha starter to make a new batch. And if we can reuse a SCOBY mat, we will. These proportions are also good to maintain at home. The main reason to use not only a SCOBY mat, but also the liquid, is to reduce the acidity. Malignant bacteria and fungi do not grow in an environment with a PH value of 4.6 or lower. You can provide this acidity by using 10% to 20% kombucha starter. If you are using kombucha as a starter, it is better to use a little more. You can use our Natural Beauty as a kombucha starter, you can make more than 3 liters of your own kombucha with one bottle.

Which jar to use to make kombucha?

Kombucha needs oxygen, just like humans do. So use a wide pot so that you get a larger surface area for your kombucha. Simply put, the larger the surface area compared to the volume, the better. Glass jars are the best for your home, and you can find them in sizes from 2 to 9 liters. If you want to make more kombucha, you also have food-grade plastic buckets that you can find in brewing stores. Don't just use any type of plastic of course, it has to be safe. If you want to do it professionally, there is also stainless steel, but in our view that is a waste of money.

Kombucha recipe for 1 liter

  • 3 to 5 grams of tea
  • 45 to 70 grams of sugar
  • water
  • 10cL kombucha starter ( Natural Beauty )
  • a wide jar (glass, food grade plastic or stainless steel)
  • a tea towel or coffee filter
  • a rubber band

Make kombucha in a few steps

The first step in making kombucha is always cleaning. Everything you use, your countertop, your hands, the pot, everything must be clean. Then you steep the tea for 10-30 minutes at 80-85°C. By steeping it longer than your normal cup of tea, you get more building blocks from the tea.

Remove the tea and add the sugar while your steeped tea is still warm. Make sure everything dissolves neatly by stirring well. Making kombucha is quite easy, so you've already completed most of the process. The next step is to ensure that the temperature of the sweet tea is below 35°C. You can simply wait a while, but a smarter way is to use only a small portion, about 20%, of the water at the beginning of the process. This way you can add the rest of the water to cool it down so you don't have to wait.

Pour the sweet tea into the clean pot, and then you are ready to add the kombucha starter. You can simply pour this in and then stir briefly. If you have a SCOBY mat, you can add it now. If you don't have one, a new one will grow automatically!

Making kombucha with tea, sugar, a scale and a bottle

How do you ferment kombucha?

And finally, all you have to do is put your kombucha away properly. This is in a warm place, without direct sunlight. For many people this means a kitchen cupboard or a place in the living room. In winter it can also be a bit cold indoors, and your kombucha ferments a bit more slowly. You may have electric heating mats for this.

Cover your pot with a tea towel and elastic to keep fruit flies, dust and anything else unwanted at bay. You can also replace your tea towel with a coffee filter or something else that breathes, but doesn't let anything through. Sometimes a cheesecloth is not fine enough, allowing fruit flies to get through. Don't put a closed lid on it anyway, because your kombucha will produce carbon dioxide and it will build up pressure.

How long should my kombucha sit?

After a week you can taste the kombucha. Too sweet, not sour enough? Then you leave it alone. Kombucha is ready when you think it's ready. You can drink the kombucha a little at a time while it continues to ferment, or you can put it in the refrigerator to pause the fermentation process. Don't drink it all so you can use a little as a kombucha starter for your next batch.

If you like a lot of flavor, or want to experiment, you can now pull out all the stops! You can bottle your kombucha and add herbal teas, fruits, spicy peppers, herbs or spices. No wonder someone has made kombucha like this before.

Kombucha with spark

Carbon dioxide is formed during fermentation. Because there is a cloth over your kombucha, this carbon dioxide can escape. By putting your kombucha in a sealed bottle, you can capture this carbon dioxide, which gives your kombucha a spark. Use sturdy bottles and refrigerate your kombucha after 2-7 days. If you keep it out of the refrigerator for too long, too much carbon dioxide can build up. Many a kombucha has ended up on the ceiling, and in the worst case scenario a bottle can burst. Tip: fill one in a plastic bottle, then you can see the pressure build up.

When you add fruit when bottling, you also add extra sugars. The more sugars in your kombucha, the more carbon dioxide can build up. And it often happens a lot faster with fruit juice, sometimes you have the desired effect after a day or two. On the other hand, it can also take a very long time if you do not add extra sugars. So do you want kombucha without any flavor, but with spice? Then bottle your kombucha when it is still a little too sweet for your taste.

Boy puts kombucha in a bottle so he can get a shot on it

Continuous brewing method

We all lead busy lives, and sometimes convenience is what we're looking for. There is a method we call continuous brewing . This takes much less time, and is therefore easier to keep track of. The idea is that you use an extra large pot of at least 8 liters with a stainless steel tap, and that you replace the kombucha you take out with sweet tea. So you don't have to make a new batch every time, which saves you a lot of pots, pans and cleaning. You could replenish it daily or, for example, weekly. Or you can refill in one go if you have drunk up to 30%. Additional benefits are consistent taste, and no fear of mold.

Where do I store kombucha?

Kombucha is stored in a glass bottle or jar. You can drink the kombucha directly from the jar if you have a tap attached to it. Otherwise it's probably easier to do a bottle first. If you do not want an injection, it is best to put the sealed bottle in the refrigerator. If you drink it straight from the jar, you have to keep in mind that it continues to ferment and therefore changes its taste. Do not simply store your filled and sealed bottles outside the refrigerator. The fermentation process continues, which also produces carbon dioxide, which can also be too much for your bottle.

How long does kombucha last?

You can store kombucha in the refrigerator for several months. In principle, kombucha cannot spoil, but it can change its taste. The taste also changes in the refrigerator, but very slowly. Because the pH value is low enough, no mold or other bad micro-organisms can grow in it. The longer you store your kombucha, the more sugars are converted into acids. So your kombucha will taste more sour and less sweet. You will also build up carbon dioxide in the refrigerator, but at a slow pace. So, how long can you keep kombucha? Because it cannot spoil, in principle indefinitely, as long as it is cool. Our bottles of Untamed Kombucha have a 'best before' date indicated on them.

Would you like to follow a kombucha workshop?

If it doesn't sound complicated, we would be happy to explain it to you during a 'making kombucha at home' workshop. You will learn to make kombucha flawlessly so that you can enjoy it for the rest of your life. You will also go home with your own kombucha with SCOBY and even a bottle of kombucha to which you have added your own flavor. It is a very nice hobby to have, and a workshop is always fun to do with a friend, partner or colleague! View the workshops we have planned here .