How To Make One-Gallon Kombucha
Anybody can learn how to make kombucha at home. Follow this easy step-by-step kombucha tea recipe designed for anyone who wants to brew up to a gallon in their first batch.
The gist is to make sweet tea, add the kombucha culture, and wait.
Brewing Homemade Kombucha Supply List:
To make kombucha tea, you will need a few specific supplies:
-Large one-gallon size glass jar or ceramic container
-Flip-top fermentation bottles
-Kombucha starter kit (optional)
How many tea bags do you use for a gallon of kombucha?
There are eight tea bags per gallon of kombucha. Black tea is by far the best option when it comes to brewing your kombucha.
It will surely provide a delicious base flavor for your kombucha tea, but it ferments easily and keeps your SCOBY happy!
How much sugar is needed for one gallon of kombucha?
You will need one cup of sugar per gallon of tea. Follow this 1:1 ratio for any size container you are using. Using a quart-size jar? Then divide by four. You get the idea.
SCOBY & Starter Tea:
The SCOBY, short for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast,” does all the work in making your delicious kombucha!
While kombucha starts as nothing but a sugary tea, the SCOBY feeds on the sugars, fermenting the tea and creating a deliciously fizzy, probiotic-filled beverage for you to enjoy!
If you don’t already have the starter tea or a SCOBY, you can order one from Amazon or Cultures for Health.
The culture will play a significant role in the flavor of your finished kombucha so you may want to experiment with cultures from various sources and see what you like the best.
The starter tea can be either 1 cup of liquid from a previous batch of kombucha for each gallon of sweetened tea or store-bought bottled kombucha (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored).
How to Grow a SCOBY or "Mother" for your Kombucha recipe
If you have access to Kombucha liquid from someone making it or store-bought, you can easily make your own SCOBY at home.
All you need to do is put the liquid (only use unflavored) into a jar like you'd use for brewing, cover it with the same type of cloth, and then wait.
A SCOBY will form on the surface of the liquid in about a week. Now you can start your first batch!
Large glass or ceramic container:
You can’t have kombucha if you don’t have a jar. You’ll need a large, food-safe glass or ceramic container to keep your kombucha in during fermentation.
It is best to contain at least one gallon of liquid, a spigot, and a wide mouth.
Add in your black tea and other ingredients, then relax, and let the SCOBY do all the work for you!
For tips on buying a fermentation vessel, check out our post: Best Fermentation Crocks Buyers Guide.
Cover for the Crock:
To ferment properly, the kombucha needs a breathable covering; A few layers of a piece of cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels will do the trick.
Flip-top fermentation bottles:
These bottles made by YEBODA are great for storing all the incredibly delicious kombuchas you’ve brewed.
Their tight-seal tops are perfect for keeping your beverage fresh and flavorful until you’re ready to enjoy it!
Check out my review of the best bottles for kombucha brewing.
Kombucha starter kit:
Kombucha starter kits are a great way to begin brewing your own kombucha from home, especially if you feel a bit overwhelmed by the process.
No need to stress- many kombucha starter kits have everything you need to start immediately without any hassle.
Most are incredibly affordable, so they’re a great option even if you think you have everything you need but still feel uncertain!
How to Make Kombucha:
To start the kombucha recipe, you will need a starter kombucha, a SCOBY, plain black tea or green tea, sugar, a pot to boil water in, and a one-gallon or larger container to ferment in with a cloth and rubber band to cover it.
Begin by brewing a gallon of sweet tea. I use 1 cup of sugar for one gallon (16 cups ) of tea, eight tea bags, or two tablespoons of loose-leaf black tea (or green tea).
Once your tea is brewed, remove the tea bags and let it cool to room temperature.
When thoroughly cooled, add the SCOBY and starter tea.
It’s essential to ensure the liquid is completely cooled when you add the SCOBY. You don't want to accidentally cook the SCOBY and kill it.
The SCOBY may sink or float, but it doesn’t matter. It will begin fermenting the tea regardless.
Cover the jar with a piece of cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels, and secure it with a rubber band.
Ferment for 7 to 10 days: Store the jar in a cupboard or pantry, out of direct sunlight, at room temperature.
Related: Best Temperature for Fermenting
You will notice that the SCOBY tends to move around during this period. It is normal to find it at the top, bottom, or sideways during fermentation.
Within a few days, a new layer of SCOBY will start forming on the surface of the kombucha. It might attach to the old SCOBY or be separate.
These are all normal signs of healthy fermentation.
Next is the hard part: waiting.
Taste and Bottle
It should take roughly a week to 10 days to finish fermenting, but this, like every other aspect of brewing kombucha, is up to your preference.
The longer you allow the tea to ferment, the more acidic and less sweet the final product will be.
Conversely, shorter fermentations leave more sugar unconverted and are less acidic. You want to find a happy medium.
Test your kombucha every few days to see how it tastes and decide when you’re satisfied with it.
If you are following a keto diet, check out my post on making kombucha keto-friendly. I share some great tips on how you can still enjoy kombucha while on a keto diet.
The kombucha is ready when it loses its sweetness, has a tangy taste, and fizzes as you pour it.
Once your kombucha is fermented, it is time to bottle it and store it in the refrigerator.
You can use a siphon or pour through a funnel, but make sure to leave around a cup of kombucha in the jar to start your next batch.
Avoid metal utensils when testing the kombucha since metal can react with fermenting kombucha and create off-flavors, among other problems.
Use a clean glass utensil to check the taste.
Use only glass bottles; I recommend swing-top glass bottles specifically for carbonated drinks.
Avoid using plastic bottles because they can easily be damaged, and scratches in the plastic can harbor foreign bacteria.
Plastic, even food-grade, may contain undesirable chemicals that can be harmful to the kombucha SCOBY.
One thing to consider when bottling is that while the kombucha remains at room temperature, fermentation will still occur even if no culture is visible in the bottle.
Because of the pressure, if glass bottles are kept at room temperature long enough, they can explode!
You can avoid that danger by putting them in the fridge after a few days to dramatically slow fermentation; it won’t stop completely and will resume once it warms up to room temperature again.
Related Topic: How To Avoid Bottles Exploding During Fermentation
Homemade Kombucha: Second Fermentation
The second fermentation is where things get exciting! You can play around with flavors and mix and match fruits, berries, herbs, peppers, and more, all to create your own custom-flavored homemade Kombucha.
Try our Kombucha second fermentation recipe.
Kombucha Recipe Notes & Tips
- Metal will react badly with kombucha, so do not use it. Use plastic or glass utensils and a plastic funnel.
- Sanitize your bottle with hot water or white vinegar. I ran mine through the dishwasher with no soap, just hot water.
- Before removing your SCOBY, sanitizing your hands with white vinegar is best. Do NOT use soap because it can kill your SCOBY.
- Lastly, kombucha offers a range of potential health benefits. If you'd like to learn more about those benefits, please read my post on What are the health benefits of Kombucha Tea?
Homemade Kombucha Tea FAQ:
What does kombucha tea taste like?
Kombucha is a fizzy, sweet, fermented tea that tastes like sparkling apple cider but is slightly sourer. Many describe the taste of kombucha as being somewhat "vinegary."
There are many different types of kombucha, and depending on what flavors you decide to add to your batch, it can take on more of a spicy, floral, or fruity flavor.
With so many flavor options for this versatile beverage, you are certain to brew a kombucha tea that will have you craving more!
How much alcohol is in kombucha?
While kombucha contains alcohol, commercial kombucha contains such a small amount (less than .05%) that it is considered a "non-alcoholic" drink.
However, homebrews can often contain up to 3% alcohol.
Several factors in the fermentation process influence the alcohol content of your kombucha brew.
Fermenting your brew twice or using yeast that ferments at a higher temperature can cause higher alcohol content in your kombucha tea.
Always follow the brewing instructions to know exactly what you're getting!
What are the side effects of kombucha?
While kombucha has many benefits, including settling an uneasy tummy, it can cause unpleasant side effects if your batch becomes contaminated.
Some side effects include nausea, vomiting, head and neck pain, yeast infections, allergic reactions, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin).
Due to the risk of contamination, kombucha is not recommended for those with compromised immune systems.
However, if you are a healthy adult, follow brewing instructions, and exercise caution, the risk of brewing a contaminated batch is incredibly low!
What are the health benefits of kombucha?
Kombucha offers many incredible health benefits. This fermented tea is rich in probiotics, healthy bacteria naturally found in the gut.
Consuming probiotics may help improve overall gut health and is even thought to assist in treating diarrhea and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
Additionally, studies have shown that kombucha may assist in preventing or managing cancer, heart disease, infections, liver health, and Type 2 diabetes.
This miracle beverage is believed to assist with weight loss and support good mental health!
Can you use no-calorie sugars such as Stevia and Splenda in kombucha?
Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners such as stevia and Splenda do not ferment well, so using them during the initial fermentation process is not a good idea.
You can add them during secondary fermentation, but remember, this will increase the alcohol content of your brew.
If you want to add a little extra sweetness to your kombucha and prefer to use no-calorie sugar, you can always add them when bottling.
Can you use decaffeinated tea to make kombucha?
The SCOBY, or "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast," that you will need to brew your very own kombucha at home requires caffeine to produce the kombucha.
However, because of this, the caffeine level in the tea will decrease as your kombucha goes through the fermentation process.
If you want to end up with a caffeine-free brew, it is recommended that you use two bags of caffeinated tea and six bags of caffeinated tea per gallon of water used to create your kombucha.
What kind of brewing vessel should I use to make kombucha? Plastic, metal, or glass?
Choosing the correct brewing vessel for your kombucha is a very important task.
While many types of kombucha brewing vessels are available, many find that the most ideal by far is a food-safe transparent glass container, preferably with a wide mouth and a spigot, that is at least one gallon large.
Traditionally, ceramic vessels were used to brew kombucha; While this method has become less popular in modern times if you're looking to get old school with your kombucha brewing, you can't go wrong with a large ceramic container.
Never get a container that is not "food safe," and stay far away from containers made from non-stainless steel, brass, aluminum, rubber, crystal, or homemade pottery pieces.
Should I rinse my SCOBYs to remove yeast between batches?
If you're new to brewing kombucha, you might wonder if it is a good idea to rinse off your SCOBY between batches- the answer is no!
When you rinse your SCOBY, you are rinsing off the microorganisms which assist in the kombucha-brewing process.
Rinsing your SCOBY can be harmful to your brew! It is always best to transfer your SCOBY directly from one batch of kombucha to the next.
How do I store my bottles of kombucha?
Once the fermentation process is complete, you must always keep your kombucha in the refrigerator, even if you have not opened the bottle yet.
Keeping your kombucha outside of the fridge can cause it to take on a foul taste and may also make you sick. This is not ideal for a beverage that is supposed to improve your health, so keep it nice and cold after bottling.
If you have decided to ferment your kombucha to get it a fizzier mouth feel, then cap bottles and store them in a warm, dark place for 2-3 days.
I stored mine in the pantry.
After 2-3 days, remove your kombucha from the pantry and place it in the refrigerator. If your kombucha developed a baby SCOBY in the bottle, remove, toss, and then drink.
You mustn't leave your kombucha in the pantry for the past three days. Moving it to the refrigerator is imperative to stop the fermentation process completely.
Can I reduce the amount of sugar in the finished kombucha tea?
If you want to reduce the sugar in your finished kombucha tea, the best way is to dilute it in sparkling water or juice.
While juice will add its sugars into the mix, it might just do the trick if you find you've over-sweetened your brew.
Otherwise, go with sparkling water to cut down on the sugar.
While some people will ferment their kombucha a second time to reduce the sugar content, this can increase the alcohol content of your beverage.
Why does my kombucha taste like vinegar?
The organic acids during the fermentation process cause kombucha to take on a vinegar-like taste. However, if the kombucha you've brewed comes out tasting overpoweringly like vinegar, you've accidentally let it over-ferment.
As the tea ferments, it will produce more and more organic acids; The best way to find your "sweet spot" in the future is to taste a bit of your kombucha daily.
Luckily, plenty can be done with over-fermented kombucha besides throwing it out.
Try blending the bitter batch with a new one or even use it to make salad dressing.
Why does my kombucha taste like alcohol?
If your kombucha ends up tasting like alcohol, it is probably because it contains a higher alcohol content than kombucha ideally should.
It is likely that the yeast became dominant and overpowered the bacteria. For your next batch, reserve the starter liquid from the top of the vessel only and avoid any stirring up of the yeast sediment from the bottom of the jar.
However, yeast can also congregate at the top of your brew; they look like brown strands or clumps (or a brain!) So, just avoid those pieces altogether.
Warmer temperatures can also cause yeast to become more dominant and reduce bacteria’s ability to acidify, resulting in a kombucha tea that tastes much stronger and like alcohol than in previous batches.
There are many fermented drinks beyond kombucha. Check out this article that gives you an in-depth look at fermented drinks worldwide.