Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
March 31 2012

Refreshing Homebrewed Kombucha Tea

By Worker Bee
83 Comments

Not too long ago kombucha was a fringe beverage, a murky concoction brewing on someone’s kitchen counter or being sold in a few health food stores. In recent years, however, kombucha has gone mainstream. It’s now widely available in an array of eye-catching colors and flavors and sold in stylish glass bottles. Even at the price of nearly $4.00 for 16 ounces, people are regularly carrying cases of the stuff out of Whole Foods Market. So what’s all the fuss about?

There’s the not-too-sweet flavor, the carbonated zing and the potential health benefits. Kombucha is a fermented beverage (fermented tea, to be exact), which means it can introduce beneficial bacteria into your body. Once you get used to the somewhat vinegary flavor and as long as you watch the sugar content, kombucha is a refreshing and enjoyable drink. If you plan to drink it semi-regularly, then it makes sense to start your own brew at home.

Making kombucha is surprisingly easy, although getting started can be intimidating. As if the name kombucha weren’t odd enough, the brewing process involves watching a slimy, gelatinous disc of bacteria and yeast, called a Scoby, float around in a jar of brown liquid. It’s all very mysterious and science-projecty, and to be honest, not all that appetizing. But what’s going on in that jar of liquid is pure magic.

It all begins by brewing a simple cup of tea, adding sugar and a little bit of already brewed kombucha and then adding the really crucial ingredient, a starter culture. The starter culture is what digests the sugar and makes fermentation happen. In the case of kombucha, the starter culture is called a Scoby (also sometimes called a “mother”). Scoby is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. You can get a fresh Scoby from a friend who makes kombucha or buy a dehydrated Scoby online.

Once these four things – tea, sugar, already brewed kombucha and a Scoby – are in a jar together, you simply leave it alone, lightly covered, until optimal fermentation has been reached. This can take anywhere between 5-30 days. During this time, the Scoby does its thing, consuming sugar and producing acids, vitamins and minerals. In many cases, it will even give birth to another Scoby that will form on the surface of the tea. What you do with this second Scoby is up to you (give it to a friend, use it for a new batch of kombucha, compost it, let your kids play with it). What you do with the mildly sweet, pleasantly tangy, effervescent and probiotic-rich liquid it leaves behind is simple: pour into a glass and enjoy.

Makes 1 quart of kombucha

Ingredients:

You will need a glass jar to hold the liquid and a coffee filter or towel for a lid.

  • 2 1/2 cups hot (not boiling) water
  • 1/4 cup organic evaporated cane crystals (sugar)
  • 2 tea bags (black, oolong or green)
  • 1/2 cup already-made unflavored kombucha tea
  • Kombucha culture (Scoby)

About the Ingredients:

Do not use any other sweetener in place of white sugar or evaporated cane crystals and do not use less sugar than the recipe calls for. White sugar/evaporated cane crystals are the easiest for the Scoby to digest and insure a healthy ph level in the brew so that the kombucha does not go bad while fermenting. If kombucha is brewed long enough, most of the sugar added at the beginning is not present in the final beverage.

The more batches of kombucha you make, the more you can experiment with the type of tea used. When you first start, however, the best options are black, oolong or green tea.. For more specifics, check out recommendations on the Cultures for Health website.

If you don’t have already-made, unflavored kombucha (which can be bought at many health food stores and some grocery stores) you can use vinegar instead, although it will give the drink a stronger vinegar flavor. Use either white or apple cider vinegar, but do not use raw vinegar because the live cultures in raw vinegar won’t be friendly to the Scoby.

Instructions:

If you bought a dehydrated Scoby, follow the instructions you receive with it to re-hydrate the culture. Note that this process, although simple, can take several weeks.

Heat water. It shouldn’t be boiling, just hot enough to dissolve sugar and brew tea.

Pour sugar in a glass jar. Add hot water. Add tea bags.

Steep tea for a few minutes or up to ten minutes. Remove the tea bags. Allow the liquid to cool completely to room temperature.

Add the 1/2 cup of already-made, unflavored kombucha to the liquid in the jar.

Put the Scoby in the jar. Do not use anything metal to lift the Scoby – just use clean hands.

Cover the jar with a lid that allows airflow. A coffee filter or towel secured with a rubber band works well.

Let sit undisturbed at least 5 days and up to 30 days in a warm room (at least 70 degrees is ideal) but out of direct sunlight. Cooler rooms will slow fermentation.

When the kombucha is done brewing, cover with an airtight lid. You can drink it immediately, put it in the refrigerator to chill, or let it sit out with a lid for a few days to improve carbonation.

There are several ways to decide when your kombucha is ready to drink. Most people decide simply by tasting the tea. There are additional factors to consider as well.

  • The most precise way is to buy pH testing strips at the drugstore and stick one in the jar. When it shows a pH level between 2.6 – 4.0, the tea can be drunk at any time. Within this range, the tea is not too acidic too drink but acidic enough to prevent unwanted, unhealthy bacteria (mold) from being present.
  • The longer a jar of kombucha sits and brews, the less sugar will be present in the final tea. This is a good thing, and worth waiting for. After about 30 days, the Scoby has consumed all the sugar it can so it’s not really worth waiting much longer than that. Keep in mind that the tea will also taste less sweet and more vinegary the longer it ferments, and this can be an acquired taste.
  • During fermentation, a layer of film will develop on the surface that will eventually turn into a new culture (Scoby). If you wait for this Scoby to fully develop before drinking your kombucha, you can use it to make a new batch of kombucha (you can also use your original Scoby to make a new batch).

Kombucha often has stringy remnants of yeast particles floating on the bottom of the jar. You can strain this out before drinking if desired (don’t use a metal strainer, as metal will react with the acids in the tea).

Kombucha sold in stores is often flavored with fruit juice. This can increase the sugar level of the drink, so try drinking your homemade kombucha straight, without additional flavoring.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

83 thoughts on “Refreshing Homebrewed Kombucha Tea”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. re: Airtight lid after fermentation.

    I would be a bit cautious with this as the brew can continue to “work” and generate a good bit of carbonation even in refrigerated conditions. I had a batch blow its top once. Now I leave the lid slight cracked.

    …Tim

    1. If you use the 16oz flip-cap type bottles (generally sold at brew shops for beer) you should be able to close them up for the second fermentation without problems… I’ve been adding bulk sugared ginger to my brew and fermenting it for an additional 5 days @ room temp, then refigerating without any problems. When you open them there’s a nice pop, and good carbonation, but nothing beyond what the thick brown glass can handle.

      1. I brew mine in 16-oz flip cap bottles from a brew shop as well. I added a few dried apple pieces to two bottles for flavor. One of the bottles broke completely in half from the pressure. The other didn’t brake but spued half its contents on opening. On a less dangerous note, I gonna add hops to my next batch and see if it will hit the spot when I’m craving a beer.

        1. HOPS!! Brilliant! How did it turn out? We grow our own hops for my husbands home brew, but have put beer production on hold for a while since going paleo.

  2. I’ve just finished brewing my own mother scoby and am heading to the store today to get a gallon sized jar to start actually brewing the tea! Can’t wait to have an endless supply of healthy kombucha.

  3. Finally! Thank you so much for breaking this down for us. I needed another science project.

  4. About 10 years ago someone gave me a scoby (although she didn’t call it by name)and instructions for brewing kombucha. Over the course of a few months, my kitchen became a veritable kombucha factory. Anyone who has been gifted with a “friendship” bread starter knows what I mean. It is a living, growing thing and you have to feed it and nurture it to keep it going. I felt like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice after a while…it got out of control. I finally ditched the whole thing.
    That being said, I’m kinda tempted to try it again. Thanks for the memories:).

    1. I’ve felt like this too. If you want to take a break for a couple of weeks, just put your SCOBY with some fresh sugary tea into the fridge for a while. It will still ferment, but much more slowly. It needs to be kept moist, and with some sugar in the tea to keep it from starving. You can look online for more advice on this but it gives you a month or two off from kombucha brewing.

      1. Do not store Kombucha SCOBYs in the fridge. It’s unnecessary and can result in a moldy brew. Store at room temp in a dark, dry place for best results.

    2. Exactly what happened to me. I felt so bad ditching all those superflous “babies” as I called them, that I just gave up. But reading this it is tempting to start again.

      1. Chickens and compost heaps both love SCOBYS. Of course, the other alternative to throwing them out is to gift them to an interested someone. Join your local Weston A Price chapter for lots of traditional foodies, some who won’t have started brewing yet.

        1. Don’t throw them away. Try soaking in a 50/50 syrup of water and coconut sugar. Cut into small pieces and bake at lowest temperature overnight. Delicious candied scoby that kids love.

    3. I know what you mean about getting so overrun with SCOBYs and no one who wants them. I enjoyed the drink but never saw any improvement in health or weight loss. In September i decided to get rid of the SCOBYs but knowing they are living organisms, like a jellyfish, I felt bad when I took scissors to them to cut them up smaller clumps. But I did put them in by deep flower pots on balcony, to feed my little earth wormies. It’s now End of 2013 and I’ve the yearning for more Kombucha but won’t pay $2.99 bottle at Vons per bottle.. So I’ve just started creating 2 new SCOBYs. One from just 1/2 bottle of G.T. tea and nothing else (which did work when the tea seemed stronger) and the other from a start of tea, sugar and ACV. I just saw that the raw iACV isn’t recommended but I did use the BRAGG and in two days I saw a film beginning to form. whereas when I first did this from scratch, the way I was told to use regular organic ACV, it tooks weeks to form a SCOBY. I”m curios if a SCOBY is made from tea, sugar and ACV is it truly a SCOBY of MOV.

  5. Mark,

    Thank you so much for talking about this. Hannah of http://www.kombuchakamp.com got me hooked on kombucha this past winter during a 30 day challenge. It was too cold to try home brewing but I plan to give it a go this spring. Kristen at http://www.foodrenegade.com/how-to-grow-a-kombucha-scoby/ tells how to grow your own SCOBY using a raw commercial bottle of kombucha (my favorite, GT’s). I’m off to buy some today to start my little experiment. I have to limit myself to 3 bottles a week at $4 each. Time to brew!

      1. Based on the reasons stated in the article, it sounds like GT’s brand original, raw, organic kombucha should work fine.

  6. I’ve been posting about my adventures in kombucha making on my site, First Comes Health. Getting ready to crack open my first bottle as I sat down to read this. Weird!

  7. I’ve been home brewing some kombucha for a few months! It really is that easy. But I’ve been busy and kinda forgot all about it…. I may be kombucha wine by this point! I guess I better go pull it out and see if there is anything drinkable and/or if the scoby is still good and start a fresh batch!

  8. I’m a huge fan of Kombucha but have never made it myself. I go the lazy route and buy GT’s brand at health food stores. It’s expensive and thus a once in a while treat.

    I love it on it’s own. It’s weird, sure, but awesome. Great as a smoothie base!

  9. Years ago, back in the day when kombucha was a fad I brewed it in my microwave. I didn’t cook it, just stored it there to do its thing, since I almost never used the microwave. The tea took care of all my arthritis pain, but after a few months I started having back-to-back to yeast infections and had to quit drinking it. That took care of the yeast infections, but now I have arthritis pain again. Maybe I was using too much sugar? I don’t remember the exact recipe I used. Anyone have a suggestion?

    1. After the scoby or “mother” eats most of the sugar, it begins producing yeast. An older scoby will create yeast almost immediately. To avoid this, brew your booch for a shorter period of time (mine never go more than 2 weeks in the summer) and throw out the old scoby after two brews, keeping only the new layers that form.

  10. Hah! I have a gallon batch on my countertop, nearing completed brewing time. I swear sometimes MDA is stalking my kitchen….

  11. Thanks for the reminder to get back to brewing! I love the sour flavor of kombucha tea, and have success with many variations– my favorite was with a mango black tea from Trader Joe’s. My main issue now is that I live in an area of England where the water is very, very hard. Ironically, I have had the worst tea of my life while living in England! I have to buy bottled water to brew tea, which is of course a huge hassle! But it will be worth it!

    1. Very interesting find, Robert. Thanks for the extra info. I’ll have to keep an eye on the evidence for and against Kombucha as it seems rather wish-wash these days.

  12. If someone has candida in their gut, should they be drinking this tea?

    1. I too have issues with candida/fungus/mold infection of the sinuses. My homeopathic doctor said this is okay for me…….upping the good bacteria and the acids. I have been brewing my own for a few months now with a continuous brewer (2 gallons at a time) and drink an 8 ounce glass upon rising (like warm lemon water) and another before bed with no adverse reactions. I do let it ferment until quite vinegary to keep the sugar content down. Really refreshing over ice in the summer.

      Keep in mind that kombucha is a detoxifier of the body. So start with smaller amounts and drink plenty of fresh, pure water to help your body clean out the heavy metals and such.

      When I decant into bottles i add a couple pieces of ginger, fresh fruit, even greens powder (doesn’t take much) and let it ferment in the bottle (be sure to uncap once a day to release gas) and it makes a wonderful champagne type drink without all the guilt for special occasions.

      You can make it with just one type of tea or a blend to get all the different beneficial acids as different teas make different acids. I also use a special heating unit around my brewer to keep the temperature optimal (live in the NW) and keep it in an area that gets good clean air flow. Also cover your kombucha with a close weave cloth or coffee filter as Mark said to keep unwanted yeast/fungus from entering your brew. If at any time mold ever does grow in your culture (you can tell very easy, it looks just like mold), dump the whole thing and start over. Fortunately I have never had an issue, even in the damp NW.

      I bought my supplies and get great support from Kombuchakamp.com. Hannah knows her kombucha facts.

      I don’t know if it is the coconut oil I use inside and out or the kombucha, but since adding kombucha my skin, nails and hair have taken on a wonderful glow, strength, and shine. Wrinkles are less noticeable and to my amazement, my eyelashes have gotten darker and longer and being in my mid 60s this is quite a bonus.

      Thanks Mark for bringing this to others attention and I hope people will try it and enjoy.

  13. My favorite summer drink! Ice cold on a hot day. So refreshing. I make my own. Add a bit of blended strawberry to the finished brew. Yum! I also like to make it with green tea sometimes. Very zippy and fresh tasting. I have found scobys on Etsy, if you are looking to get started brewing.

  14. You don’t need the starter culture to make it work. I routinely use brewed tea with sugar, cooled, and add a cup or more of store bought GTs in place of the starter. It will form a nice scoby. You can use both the original formulation of GTs that now is only sold some places, or the other widely available formula called enlightened. Just use the plain/original flavor. This process, using the newer formula, resulted in a HUGE scoby of about 12 inches thick cause I didn’t prune it down. It def works! Watch the timing. More fermentation will give more acidic, less sugary flavor. Bottling in fridge will stop fermentation, and lots of people do a second ferment with a cracked open bottle cap on the counter for a few days to make it more effervescent.

  15. To wean off soda, I brewed kombucha in a double-ferment method. After the initial brew was complete, I’d remove the scoby and add freshly juiced fruit juice, at about 1 ounce to 8 ounces of brewed booch. This would sit out on the counter again for a few more days, allowing the ferment to consume some of the sugar. It would become more bubbly through that process, and be slightly sweeter than unflavored booch. Got me off soda in about a month and I never missed it once.

    If you have booch that’s more than a month old, DON’T THROW IT OUT! It makes a delicious probiotic-boosted vinegar for dressing salad! Old scobys are fantastic for the compost pile, too!

    1. You can dry the old scobys and give them to your pets to chew on.

      1. I heard that some people dehydrate the scoby and make jerky out of it, but I sure can’t get my mind around that!

  16. If also read sources that use kombucha bought from the store in order to grow a SCOBY.

    As seen here: http://www.foodrenegade.com/how-to-grow-a-kombucha-scoby/

    Has anyone tried this with success? Also, what’s the scale-up that should be used? For example, Mark’s recipe makes 1 quart. If I were trying to make a gallon using a big ol’ pickle jar, would I just compound the ingredients to quarts/gallon?

    1. i recently started making kombucha and my friend who gave me the scoby also gave me a basic recipe: 3 quarts of water, 1 c of sugar, 4 tea bags… i do the batch method and usually do 9 quarts at a time… just multiplying the ingredients.

  17. Wow, I had heard of Kombucha tea but I didn’t know that it involved bacteria. That was a very interesting explanation on how a person can make there on batch of Kombucha tea.

    Although I do wonder why do we need to touch the scoby with our hands? Will metal destroy the scoby?

    1. Touching the scoby is necessary to trim the old parts off and harvest the babies. Just be sure to wash your hands, scissors, and anything that comes in touch with your scoby with white distilled vinegar (not raw vinegar as Mark pointed out).

      The process of fermentation produces acids that can react with metal. So best to keep it away from your kombucha. Surprisingly kombucha is very alkalizing for our bodies like lemon and raw vinegar.

      1. Why would you need to trim ‘old parts’ off a scoby? How do you know which are the old parts? I’ve used the same mother scoby several times, and I usually throw away the babies because I have no other use for them, and we are unable to compost where we live.

        1. I think it’s best if you use the babies instead of the mother over and over. You should discard the mother every 2 batches. It’s best recommended.

  18. Funny you should post this – I was just thinking about Kombucha tea this morning!

    Back in the 90’s I had my culture going for quite a few years.
    One thing you didn’t mention – is that Kombucha tea can get just a tad alcoholic sometimes. Sometimes in the morning when I’d drink it on an empty stomach I’d get a slight buzz 🙂

  19. Finally a post about Kombucha! You don’t have to find a dehydrated Scoby either, you can use the remnants in the bottle of store bought Kombucha as the starter, just make sure you see stringy bits floating around- that’s the good part that’ll start your own batch. I also find using a suntea pitcher, with the spout on the bottom, is the best way to brew cause then you can dispense the Kombucha without disturbing the Scoby floating on top.

  20. A note about candida: everyone is different. I for one, cannot tolerated ANYTHING fermented right now, including kombucha.

    Which makes me sad, as I got myself a scoby about a month ago 🙁

    1. I had gone through 7 months of the candida diet and supplementation such as ADP and probiotics in the form of capsules before taking on fermented. I started with homemade sauerkraut, then a little raw milk yogurt and then kombucha. 4 months in and so far so good. Maybe this will offer you some hope and best of luck in combating your demon.

      I do agree everyone is different.

  21. I have been happily consuming my home brewed kombucha for about 3 months. It is an acquired taste!
    But I have also been wondering how these bacteria make it to my gut through the acid in my stomach. Doing a quick google search has not given me an answer. Does anyone here know? I periodically take antibiotics for dental procedures, and I face gut repopulation often enough to want an efficient process.

    1. According to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003883.htm gastric acid is between 1.5 and 3.5 on the pH scale. The bacteria in kombucha can definitely survive at the upper ends of that scale (otherwise you wouldn’t be able to get kombucha that acidic), and may survive closer to the bottom of the range as well.

      It’s difficult to change the pH of solutions that use a strong acid (like stomach acid): 250ml (~1 cup) of kombucha at a pH of 3 added to just 20ml of stomach acid results in a pH of ~2.76. At half the normal physiological concentration pH only rises to ~2.84. At 100ml of gastric acid, pH is ~2.38

      Since normal amount of gastric acid in the stomach is 20-100ml, that covers the normal cases.

  22. I just got the live Scoby I won on ebay earlier this week. I was really intimidated until I read this post. Thank you! I’ve got a batch started right now!

  23. You might also want to recommend that people use filtered or distilled water. The chlorine in tap water can harm the good bacteria.

    1. If you do use distilled water, you might want to add back in some mineral drops. A scoby won’t stay healthy for long in mineral-free distilled water. Drawing your water the night before and leaving it lightly covered on the countertop will allow the chlorine to dissipate.

  24. I’ve been asking everywhere (okay, just Googling it) with no luck and maybe you can shed some light on my question … can you drink the “kombucha goo”? I know they’re just cultures and probably like yogurt, but I didn’t know if it was okay to slug all of the culture down on a daily basis or not.

    Feel free to laugh at my kombucha ignorance.

    1. You mean the baby “floaters” or the scoby? The scoby is more solid so it would be more like “eat” than “drink.” I would not be interested in eating the scoby unless I found a very compelling reason to do so. Now the floaters? Sure, I do it all the time! It’s the real food equivalent to downing the worm in the tequila.

  25. I love Kombucha!
    You can also grow your own Scoby by buying a bottle of raw Kombucha and letting it sit out on the counter until it grows a Scoby on top. It takes longer than buying a dehydrated one but it’s much cheaper!

  26. I made this myself for a year when I lived in LA before I moved to NYC! I had a huge beverage jar with a spout at the bottom that I’d make it in. I’d just keep making batches! Then, right before we moved, we got an infestation of fruit flies and I had to clean out the jar. 🙁

    Since moving to NYC, I haven’t been brave enough to start a new one! But I did love the kombucha and enjoyed saving money! 😉

    1. I live in NYC too and am brewing my Kombucha just fine. The store bought is just to expensive compared to how cheap it is to brew your own. I love it 🙂

  27. Kombucha brewer here! It’s easy and delicious. I recommend this experiment (for it does begin as an experiment) to anyone with the inclination.

  28. I love Kombucha!!! real expensive and I haven’t taken the time to brew at home yet but you’ve inspired me so gonna give it a go soon!

    FYI I think Whole Foods discontinued selling it right about 2 years ago…Lawyers and raw food fears. Also they cut raw milk and other raw dairy too at Whole Foods sadly…

    1. WF took it off the shelves temporarily. I think there were some concerns with the GT brand — there was a batch that had fermented a little too long and had gone over to alcohol. (If I recall correctly…who knows what the real story was?)

      Anyway, they sell it again and all is right with the world. 🙂 (But even righter if you brew it yourself, since they charge about $3.50 for a bottle!)

  29. I love kombucha – but it gives me heartburn. Why?

    Also – it’s back on the Whole Foods shelf.

  30. I love Kombucha, got a massive scoby in my kitchen scaring my flatmates to death (I share a kitchen in a student accommodation…lol…). But – a word of caution – if you have other ferments going, don’t place them next to the kombucha! The scoby invades anything within close proximity! I made the mistake of putting a jar of lactofermented ketchup next to my kombucha and the scoby invaded my ketchup! careful!

  31. I used to make Kombucha years ago, before it was in the stores. I find one efficient way to do it is to get a very wide-mouthed, glass bowl (you don’t want to use anything other than glass as the acids will interact with metal or plastic and get crud into the tea – and weaken the culture). The wide top means the ‘mother’ that forms floating on the top will act MUCH faster on the brew than it will in a mason jar of any size, like the one shown in the article. Think maximizing surface area.

    Keep it warm (70 degrees +), and with this method I had fully brewed Kombucha in a week, every time. I would do a gallon at a time. Good luck!

    1. I agree with the wide mouth glass jar. We use a half gallon jar and in winter, put it on our radiator (doesn’t get much hotter than 75-80 degrees and I read that’s about the upper end temp you want for the brew) and it finishes in 1 week, 2 weeks tops.

  32. To avoid hassle at the house, I brew and store my kombucha in my desk at work. After a weekend without, the first thing I do Monday is chug a mug-full. I love it. I wonder where the tea flavor goes but love the apple-ginger ale -ish flavor.

  33. Anybody know how long a scoby lasts when not in use? I stopped brewing a few months ago when I sort of lost interest. I’d like to start again and my scoby has been sitting in the fridge by itself, in the covered glass jar I use for brewing. Is the scoby still good or do I need to start over?

    Random question: I always use the same jar to brew. Does anyone know if I should clean the jar between batches?

    1. I’ve heard from someone who gives classes in fermentation that a good scoby can last a looong time. White specks are okay, but if you see black spots (mold), toss it and get a new one! Better safe than sorry.

  34. Mark you gotta stop stalking me. First you post a post citing research that my friend was involved in, and then you post a post about kombucha on the weekend that I finally get my continuous-brew system to start producing.

  35. If I wanted to make bread, could I use some of this as leavening? If this bacteria will eat sugar, why wouldn’t it eat flour? I know, non-PB, but i’m epicurious.

  36. I will have to give it a try. Unfortunately, i saw the pic of the glass of tea right after reading about the urine soaked eggs, so it wasn’t immediately appealing. Bad timing on my part.

  37. I also started my Kombucha from a bottle of plain raw GT. It took a month to develop a good thick scoby, but the vinegar taste was strong. Subsequent week-long brews are perfect.

    Our house is really cold, so I use a small aquarium heater to keep the temperature optimal.

    As for flavouring, ginger and lemon are excellent, but my favourite is to add chai spices to the decanted brew. After a few days, it’s delicious!

  38. I’m glad you posted this. It’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while, but was nervous about. You’ve given me courage! Now wish me luck!

  39. @Noctiluca: Your kombucha will be extremely tart. However, you can just add more sweet tea, and let it ferment again. (Divide between two containers, if you don’t have enough room, and add your new SCOBY to the 2nd batch. or you can cut the old one in half w/ kitchen shears.)

    @Kiki: There’s lots of anecdotal evidence that kombucha helps pretty much any gut condition, including candida, even IBS and farther down the tract. But obviously YMMV. (Sorry, @Pat, for your difficulty!)

    @Norm: Yes, it’s easy to grow a SCOBY from unpasteurized, raw kombucha; it can take weeks. If you want to ferment larger batches, simply multiply ingredient amounts as appropriate.

    @Stephanie: You don’t need to trim a SCOBY… Some folks get freaked out by organic “weirdness.” (akin, I guess, to “manscaping”)

    @SueB: There’s lots of debate whether/how many probiotics survive gastric juices to actually make it to your gut. But there’s as much — if not more — anecdotal evidence of folks who’ve been helped by them! This is true for other ferments, too, incl. kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, homemade yogurt, etc.

    @Emily: You can chug the organic “oogies” in kombucha w/ no issue. (most of it is spent yeast.) A lot of folks believe it’s even good for you!

    @Chuck Currie: Maybe b/c of the acidity? Kombucha is very good at helping your body heal issues, however, so you might try changing the way you are using it. Try drinking a small amount (no more than 2 oz. a day), then increase dosage by 50% the following week. Continue dosage increase as desired.

    @Milla: Wild about the ketchup! I’ve made regular Paleo ketchup, but haven’t tried the LF version yet. You are right, however, about proximity. Always keep at least 3 feet between ferments of diff types, or they will contaminate each other.

    @Joshua: The type of tea you use (plus freshness/quality) makes a diff. If you use jasmine, for instance, you will *definitely* taste floral overtones in the finished kombucha!

    @Stephanie: SCOBYs generally last indefinitely, if you keep them covered w/ liquid. Don’t need to clean the jar, tho’ I do that every 6-8 months or so (b/c I get grossed out otherwise). Tho’ if you get big yeast build-up @ bottom, it can make your batch taste weird. Check Len Porzio’s “Balancing Act” page for deets: http://tinyurl.com/6nyazww

    @Joshua: I’ve read of someone who tried using spent yeast as leavening, successfully, but only once. Didn’t sound encouraging enough to try, and now w/ Paleo I have no use for it, lol!

    BTW, no worries about “spots” on a SCOBY, regardless of whether they are black! (often those are just tea leaves that didn’t get strained out.) The only time to worry is if you see perfectly round, fuzzy spots — usually green — which look like bread mold. Then throw out kombucha AND SCOBY, and clean the vessel well.

    You can add almost anything to kombucha to the 2nd ferment for flavoring, incl. herbs, spices, or fruit (fresh or dried). Tho’ Mark expressed concern about add’l sugar, additional fermentation can/will take care of that.

    PaleoVicki, who teaches kombucha classes in Orlando

    P.S. to all: If you use L8F’s recommendation to add GT’s *unpasteurized* kombucha, I highly recommend the original, NOT the “Enlightened.”

    Also, avoid using dried SCOBYs, as they are prone to mold (per Hannah Crum, of Kombucha Kamp). And NEVER ever refrigerate your SCOBY!!!

  40. Interesting. Being a brewer of the elixer of the gods (aka Mead) I have plenty of brewing equipment to try my hand at it. Will have to buy a bottle to see if I would like it first.

  41. Wow how funny – I was just about to get a glass! I brew in large quantities, wait till my container gets half empty, refill with 1L each organic black, green & white tea. Love the subtle flavour changes, have grown to enjoy the vinegary tang. Clean the container out every 3 – 4 months. Trim the scoby at that time. Current scoby is the size of a dinner plate, 1 1/2 inches thick. Also break a full glass down half and half with water keffir which I brew with ginger and figs. Yum. Grandson misheard so we call is Butcher’s Beer. All our grandkids love to drink it when visiting.

  42. I am super duper kombucha Brewer! We will be selling our Kombucha Home Brew Kits in stores shortly !

  43. I like kombucha. I grow my own. Too many scoby’s right now & haven’t set up a compost heap yet; no dog. Wish there were recipes for making a food from scoby’s. I have never been ill from drinking kombucha & it helped get my digestive tract totally regulated. I think it has helped my arthritis pains some. I have brewed kombucha since the early 90’s when a student from a cultural folk medicine class gave a report on it and brought her extra baby scoby’s to class as a free giva-a-way to anyone wanting the starter. taylor

  44. Hi!
    How much Kombucha can we drink a day on weight-loss Paleo?
    PLEASE & THANK YOU for your time with this!

  45. Hi, quick question…about how long does it typically take people to adjust to drinking kombucha? Since I started having 4-8oz of this homemade kombucha everyday I’ve noticed a very thick white coating on the back of my tongue and a huge bloated stomach . Kombucha is the only new things I’ve added over the past week to my paleo diet . Do you think it’s my body detoxing? Should I keep drinking it? Thanks in advance!

  46. I’ve heard home brewing kombucha can be dangerous and that several cases of sudden death in Asia were linked to homebrew kombucha. How can you make sure it’s safe? I love the store bought stuff but am nervous about making my own.