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Making kombucha

  1. Always keep your utensils and containers very clean. Soak in a bicarb solution or rinse with cleaning vinegar if in doubt. Rinse well. This applies to all the fermentation processes.
  2. Climatic conditions, temperature and quality of ingredients make a big difference to how the process works. Be very observant about what works for you, rather than what someone else says. For instance, a batch of milk kefir will be ready within 6 hours in hot climates, and might take 24 in cool climates.
  3. You will need a kombucha ‘mother’ or ‘scoby’ – symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts. Get your scoby from someone who is making successful kombucha, and you will be off to a good start.
  4. Brew at least 2 litres of strong tea. This can be black tea, or even rooibos tea. Allow to cool to room temperature, and add ¾ to 1 cup white sugar. Stir to dissolve well. The scoby feeds on the sugar and the tea in order to create powerful probiotics.
  5. Pour the sweetened tea into a large glass jar, and put your scoby on top. Secure a muslin cover with an elastic band, and leave at room temperature until the liquid no longer tastes sweet, but not too sour either! Experience will tell you the perfect time to bottle. This first ferment might take between 1 and 3 weeks.
  6. Leave the scoby and about 1/3 of the volume of fermented kombucha in the jar, and take the rest off. Make more tea, cool it, and add just as before. For this and subsequent ferments, the time will be much shorter. In Gordonvale in the summer it take a maximum of 48 hours, and sometimes less. In winter is might take 5 days. You get to be in tune with your living and willing workers, the scobys.
  7. Bottle the remainder of the kombucha, adding a second ferment if you like, just as described for water kefir. Secure the lid, leave at room temperature for a day or so, then refrigerate. It is best used within a month.
  8. This gives you all the information you need to get started. However, you can learn a great deal more about kombucha and other ferments on the internet, and there are many good sites. Here are a couple to get you started.

typical composition of the scoby

may [not always] include:

Bacterium gluconicum

Bacterium xylinum

Acetobacter xylinum

Acetobacter xylinoides

Acetobacter Ketogenum

Saccharomycodes ludwigii

Saccharomycodes apiculatus

Schizosaccharomyces pombe


Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Acetic acid

Acetoacetic acid

Benzoic acid

propenyl ester


Butanoic acid


Citric acid


Decanoic acid

Ethyl Acetate


d-Gluconic acid


Hexanoic acid

Itaconic acid

2-Keto-gluconic acid

5-Keto-gluconic acid

2-Keto-3-deoxy-gluconic Lactic acid


Nicotinic acid

Pantothenic acid

Phenethyl Alcohol

Phenol, 4-ethyl

6-Phospho gluconate

Propionic acid

Octanoic acid

Oxalic acid


d-Saccharic acid

(Glucaric acid)

Succinic acid


plus 40 other acid esters in trace amount.

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