Brewing Your First Batch of Kombucha With a Homegrown SCOBY

brew your own kombucha

Interested in brewing your own kombucha? It’s an easy and inexpensive way to enjoy that delicious, tangy, healthful, probiotic beverage!

In my last post, I explained how I grew my own SCOBY from a bottle of store-bought kombucha. (It’s absurdly easy). That was Stage One.

Next, I’ll explain how you can brew your first batch of kombucha with your brand-new, homegrown SCOBY.

After that, I’ll share what I’ve learned about flavouring and carbonating your kombucha.

Stage Two: Brewing Your First Batch of Kombucha

First, you’re going to need a vessel in which to brew your kombucha. To be honest, this was the trickiest part for me! It needs to be glass (NOT plastic or metal), it needs to have a large enough mouth to be able to transfer the SCOBY in and out, and it needs to be big enough to hold your whole brew for about a week.

I’ve found the best vessel for me is a 96-oz (a.k.a. 3/4 gallon a.k.a 3-liter) glass jar (i.e. a family-sized Vlasic pickle jar). It doesn’t need to have a lid. You could start with a quart-sized jar and work your way up to something bigger (just halve the recipe I offer below).

big kombucha jar

(To give you a point of reference when determining how much to make: I’m the only one who drinks it in my house, and I drink about a glass a day. I brew a new batch every week, to keep my SCOBY happy. This sized jar gives me more than enough.)

Once you’ve got your vessel and your SCOBY ready, you need to brew a batch of sweetened black tea. So you’ll need tea (in bags or loose) and white sugar (preferably organic). You can experiment with other teas later, but black works the best to start. You could try Ceylon, English Breakfast, or Darjeeling. (Learn more about tea options here.) I personally use mostly Ceylon with a little green tea. So far, I’ve just been using a cheap box of Lipton tea; I want to find something better yet.

And don’t worry about all that sugar — it will be eaten up by the bacteria, leaving you with a low-sugar beverage.

The proportions I personally use for the sweetened tea are as follows:

  • 10 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tea bags (I currently tend to use 5 black, 1 green)
  • 1 1/2 cups kombucha from previous batch (or the stuff you grew your SCOBY in)

With this, you will get a little over 2 liters (half a gallon) of finished kombucha to drink. (Some, you will have saved for your next batch of kombucha.) That’s more than enough to last me a week (until the next batch is ready).

Anyway, to brew the tea, I throw the first three ingredients into a big pot, stir it, bring it to a boil, and then let it cool to room temperature. I don’t even time it or anything. It might take a couple hours to cool completely. (You just don’t want it to be too hot and kill your precious SCOBY).

making sweetened tea for kombucha

making sweetened tea for kombucha 2

kombucha tea

Once it’s cool, Pour the sweetened tea, along with 1 1/2 cups of the old kombucha (in which you grew your SCOBY), into the big glass vessel. Then, with clean hands, place the SCOBY to float on top. (It doesn’t matter if it sinks; it’s just nice if it floats because then it will continue to get thicker. If it sinks, you’ll just get a really thin new SCOBY on top of the liquid which you could grow into a bigger SCOBY later.)

Cover your glass vessel with a kitchen towel, cheesecloth, or a coffee filter, and secure with an elastic. Then set it somewhere safe, out of direct sunlight, to ferment. The SCOBY will transform that sweetened tea into a delightful beverage.

brewing kombucha

Now you have to wait another week. Kombucha-brewing demands patience!

(Tip: Some folks will tell you to wait anywhere from 5-10 days; I have found that a week is perfect. That also makes it easy to keep brewing continuously — I know that I always brew a new batch every Wednesday.)

If all goes well, by the following week your tea mixture will have turned into a delightfully tangy, slightly effervescent drink reminiscent of  cider. Yummo!

You can drink it just the way it is, but you also might choose to chill, carbonate, and/or flavour your lovely kombucha. Whatever you do, be sure to save some kombucha for your next batch!

Come back tomorrow and I’ll share a few ideas to make your kombucha extra-tasty! (Along with some tips for continuous brewing.)

Did I miss anything? Do you have any tips to add?

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  1. This is absolutely fascinating. I’d never even heard of this drink before. Does it retain the caffeine after it is done brewing?
    Michele recently posted..Motherhood with a Toddler – Life in GeneralMy Profile

    • Good question, Michele. I hadn’t really even thought about caffeine until you mentioned it, so I had to look it up myself! There seems to be some debate about it, but the general consensus is that there is still some caffeine, though less than there would be in regular tea. I’m not very caffeine-sensitive, so I haven’t noticed anything when I drink it.

      You should try it! It is sooooo good!

    • John Miller says

      how can you create a scooby without buying anything at all? No store starter, or online bought scooby. You can make bread starter with flour, water, sugar, and natural airborne yeast with time… Can’t a scooby be made the same way or do I need to build a lab :-) and get a degree in genetic engineering?

      does this question make sense?

  2. Wonderful! I can’t wait to do this. I’ve just been a little intimidated of the process. My husband has sworn off kombucha on account of his tasting a bottle that had a “consistency of snot”. I’m no connoisseur, but I told him I didn’t think that sounded right. I would never drink anything that I had to suck down like snot and I’ve had it a few times in the past. I’ll have to make a convert of him yet. One question – once you are finished brewing the new batch and you are getting ready to drink it, what do you do with the SCOBY? Do I put it back in a smaller container with some of the new kombucha and leave it out?

    • Ha ha. I can assure you it does NOT have that kind of consistency. I don’t know what exactly he tried, but normal kombucha is a normal liquid. If anyone is very sensitive about consistency, they might be bothered by the few little strands of culture that can sometimes be floating around in some batches; but you can easily just strain them out before drinking. Just like you would loose tea.

      I wasn’t sure if I should address your question about the SCOBY in this post or the next — maybe I should have included it in this one. I just set the SCOBY in a bowl with a little kombucha until the next batch of sweetened tea is ready, and then pour it all back into the big jar and float the SCOBY back on top when it’s ready. Make sense? I’ll include pictures in my next post. :)

      • Thanks, Kathleen. I think that makes sense. Thanks for doing this string of posts. I’m excited about brewing my own.

        I do think I’ll opt to strain it out. Don’t want to scare my husband. He’s already pretty skeptical. Ha ha.

    • Probably had chia in it. Chia gets gelatinous. Really quite a disgusting addition to an otherwise great beverage.

  3. Hi! Thank you for posting this! I am almost done growing my first SCOBY, so I came back here to learn what to do next. I notice at the end of the post you say that we can choose to carbonate it. The store bought Kombucha that I drink is carbonated, or at least it tastes like it. Anyway, my question is, is home brewed kombucha different than store bought? And how would I carbonate it? Do you know?

    Thanks again!

  4. jennice says

    Hi I now have the Scoby forming and hope to get my new brew down as soon as its ready. I too am confused as to… do I put the scoby in the batch I am drinking or back in the jar I have it growing in with a bit of the tea.


  5. jennice says

    Oh sorry but how does it carbonate?

  6. jennice says

    Hi great news. I thought I had lost my newly forming Scoby when I moved the jar however I have just come home from two days away and there is a huge and I mean huge Scoby. I don’t think it is fully formed yet but so excited that I am in the very near future going to have my first batch to drink. Buying an organic unpasteurised bottle of unflavoured Kombucha worked perfectly and thanks for all the advice. No doubt I will be needing more. Jennice

  7. Making my first batch after growing my own SCOBY as you recommended. Excited. Will let to know how it turns out. My question, many people have told me yo be careful that I won’t poison myself with it. Your comments on that?

    • Hi Edna! I’m not a scientist, but I haven’t yet heard of anyone poisoning themselves with kombucha (or any other fermented food/beverage, for that matter.) With fermented things, you can usually taste and smell when something goes bad — it is BAD. Fuzz and mold will grow, and it will be so unbelievably awful that you woudn’t be able to bring yourself to drink/eat it. But if it tastes/smells pleasantly tart, it means the good bacteria have done their job.

  8. Hi Kath,

    Is white sugar a must, or is brown sugar ok too? Coz we only use brown sugar at home, which is supposedly “healthier”… or maybe just “less harmful”. ;)


    • Hi Ed! I honestly forget the reason, but I’ve read repeatedly that only white sugar works well/consistently. The health concerns with sugar aren’t really an issue with kombucha, since it’s mostly there to feed the scoby and will largely get eaten up and turned into gluconic acid.

      • A quick Googling of “brown sugar kombucha” returned some interesting results – one says brown sugar can be used & the resulting tea will be more tart, while another says brown sugar isn’t used due to the molasses interfering with the fermentation.

        Time again for you to experiment, eh? ;-)

  9. My kombucha came out great! Thank you for your help!! Now, I’m making my second batch. Do I put both the baby and the SCOBY together in the jar for the second batch? Don’t know what to do with the baby!!

    Thanks again! Great help!!

    • Hi Edna! Did your mother (original scoby) and baby (new scoby) separate on their own? Often, they stay stuck together, and you can just put them back in there together and keep reusing them like that. Just separate them when you want to (to give away, etc.). But if they’re already separated, you can choose what to do with the new one. If you don’t want the new one, you can just compost it (or compost the mother). Or you can give it away. OR you can put them both into your next batch and decide at another time what you want to do with it. OR (so many options!) you can create a “scoby hotel” where you store extras (just a smaller jar with a little bit of kombucha in it to store them until you want them.)They’ll always be reproducing, so you’ll probably eventually end up with more scobys than you need.

      Does that help?

  10. One more question. Even though it came out great, according to my last post, it tastes a little too much like vinegar. Could it be I waited a little too long to check it?
    Thanks again!

    • If it tastes to vinegary for your tastes, you probably let it sit too long. Just do a shorter wait next time. If you’re in summer right now (as I am), the process is probably going a lot faster than it would in winter.

  11. Thank you! I just checked it and it tasted better. Now to try and use flavors.

  12. Great – thanks again!
    One more question – I am on my 3rd batch and this time the mother sunk. Will it start to float or will it disintegrate?

    • Oh, that’s perfectly fine. It’ll either go back to floating over time or a new one will form on top. You can decide which one to keep using if that happens. No worries! Happens all the time!

  13. I’m growing my first scopy right now from raw store bought kombucha. Why aren’t you supposed to drink the liquid in this batch? Will it just not taste good or is it not safe. I was hoping I could just start drinking it. Thanks. :)

    • You don’t want to drink it because (a) you need it as your starter for your first batch made with sweetened tea, and (b) it will probably be very vinegary.

      • I added some of the starter tea that I grew my scoby in to my first batch of kombucha, but what do i do with the left over scoby tea?? can I put it in the fridge and use to for my scoby hotel? or should i dump it and just use some tea from the first batch of kombucha??

  14. Can you also teach us how to make Kefir or other fermented drinks and food? I need all the probiotics I can get. Thanks much.

  15. Donna Houchins says

    Thank you for this! I grew my first svoby from the kombucha I bought from the store and after poring over pictures of bad scobys and asking everyone and their mother about mine, I have ascertained that mine is neither moldy nor contaminated so off to the first brew! I don’t want to start with a gallon like every other blog suggests so thanks for the suggestion to halve your recipe
    Tea is brewing and I’m letting the water cool and will try a quart to start. Fingers crossed :-)

  16. I was wondering: Could you speak to the technique for double-fermentation to make the flavored, lightly fizzy Kambucha beverages? I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to post this tutorial. :) Namaste, Rebekah

  17. Thank you for the tips we just grew our first scoby and going to step 2! Can’t wait we want to try to make Ginger kambucha

  18. Do you leave the tea bags in the whole time it cools, or do you remove them from the hot water after several minutes?
    Also, my glass sun tea jar that I’m using has a plastic spout that extends into the inside of the jar. Should i be concerned about that at all? Thanks for the posts!!

    • I would be careful with plastic spigots, as kombucha liquid is very acidic, it can eat up the plastic or any washers that it comes into contact with.

  19. Thanks so much for posting this information. Greatly appreciate it. I just added sweet tea to my first homemade scoby and hope to maybe taste test in 3-4 days. I have a few questions/comments: reading others comments, could I actually make vinegar by letting my brew keep going? to use it for cleaning or cooking? I made my first scoby in the vessel I’m making the Kombucha in so I tilted the jar and poured in the sweetened tea on the side slowly. Of course it’s all cloudy now but the scoby and the original starter liquid with the brown sediment is all there. Scoby is still on top. Is that ok? The other thing you might want to mention in your instructions – the preferable temperatures to grow the scoby and brew the kombucha. It took 10 days to get my scoby to form and I think part of it was the fact at night it was in a 55-60 degree environment. The other part might be movement. I live on a boat so there is always movement. I make yogurt in my oven with a 25 watt bulb overnight but this takes a week so I think I’ll have to create a heat controlled area in my bilge to brew in. Thanks again for your info and tips!

  20. Hi, thx for the info and pictures. If I don’t mind a vinegary taste, can I drink the first batch or use it in salads?

  21. Hi there! I grew a Scoby in 8 days (live in southern Ca and it’s warm here). I just started my first batch of Kombucha, my Scoby sunk, but after 1 day I noticed white clouds of stuff floating about 1/4 inch below the surface of my gallon jug and the mother Scoby has the same white fuzzy stuff on it (NOT mold). I also noticed that the mother Scoby has some brown stuff…looks fluffy which is shedding. She has grown fat. They were small blobs and now after 2 days are growing. I noticed a thin film on the top of the tea approximately 24 hours after starting the Kombucha. I guess this is a new Scoby although it is clear and unlike how mom grew. Today, day 2, the mother Scoby is shedding more and the film on the top of the tea is thickening with bubbles and resembles more of what mom did when she first started to grow and mom is moving around. The moving around is wild! She sunk for half a day when I put her in the jar, then floated about 1/4 inch from the bottom then started to slant and now is standing on edge in the gallon jar almost as if she will flip herself over and completely float. Are the white blobs normal? The brown blobs? All smells great. Thank you and love your advice and comments.

  22. I purchased a case of 6 Ginger kombucha from Costco, not knowing how much I was going to enjoy this beverage. After the first bottle was done, I was hooked. Then I started to research the health benefits and found your post which also gave the best description for growing a scoby. I drank 4 more bottles, saving the dregs, which I then poured into a quart jar with the remaining bottle Tom my case. In two weeks, I had a 3/4 inch thick scoby and now, a few months in, I’m brewing two gallons at a time. It’s a fascininating process.
    One word of caution, as delicious as it is, don’t have too much kombucha on the first day. Introduce it gradually into your digestive system. There are some people who experience gas and bloating as their bodies adjust to fermented foods.
    Again, I found your website to have the easiest to follow directions. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  23. Hello
    Ok I am on day 4 . I see white specks or dots.
    Should I be worried of the white specks?

  24. Hi I went to check my second batch of kombucha and the scoby is at the bottom and looks fine but the top layer is all green mold. The rest of the liquid looks normal
    Is the scoby fine, is everything bad?
    Please advice thank you

  25. Hello. I grew my SCOBY from a raw store bought komucha. It took a couple of weeks but grew a beautiful SCOBY. I transfered a cup of the liquid and my new SCOBY to a new batch of cooled tea. My SCOBY growing liquid looks and tastes like a perfect batch of kombucha. So many people say to throw out that first liquid. But why? It seems to be full fledged kombucha to me.

    • Sam Phillips Sr says

      Hello Bridgette, would you tell me exactly how you grew your Scoby from store bought Kombucha? I do not quite understand how to do this. Thanks much.

      • I have grown a SCOBY from store-bought as well! I used the GT brand of plain unflavoured kombucha. What I did was take about 2 cups from the bottle added a little sugar, and made sure to get all the floaty bits from the bottom of the bottle. I put this in another jar, covered with a coffee filter and set it in a dark cupboard for a couple weeks. Im from Canada so the cooler temps meant it took longer for the SCOBY to form. But it did eventually! Then you can use this new little SCOBY and the liquid it is in for your first batch!

  26. Joanne Monaco says

    I have (2) 48 oz jars and 1 large scoby. May i cut the scoby in half and feed each jars 40 oz of new brew and half each of the scoby juice?

  27. Hi Kathleen,
    I want to thank you for your site & the knowledge you have for kombucha. Not everyone knows of someone that they can get a scoby from so you’re article on, “How to Start Brewing Kombucha Without a SCOBY” was very helpful. It’s getting me to go for it, making a scoby & then kombucha.

    Thanks Again for your site

  28. I understand that most of the sugar in the sweet tea is consumed in the initial fermentation process. What about the sugar in the fruit used for flavoring. Is that consumed during the 5 days it sits? I am diabetic and carb conscious. Thank you.

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