Thursday, July 02, 2009

How to Brew Your Own Kombucha From a Store-Bought Bottle of the Same

Yes, you can use nothing more than a bottle of store-bought kombucha as a starter for your own never-ending supply of kombucha -- if you are patient and a little careful.

I'm not going to bother with the controversy over the health benefits of kombucha. It's a mysterious, ancient elixer fermented with a thick rubbery "mushroom" (the mother), which is actually a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (also called a SCOBY). Nobody has ever found a kombucha SCOBY in the wild, but it entered recorded history around 250 B.C. in China. The main thing is, it's a delicious, non-soda, (mostly) non-alcoholic, tart, fizzy, refreshing beverage.

The common wisdom is that to make your own kombucha, you have to buy a kombucha mother for a lot of money online, or acquire one from your housemate's boyfriend, who got it from a girl on Craigslist in exchange for a ride to Portland. Sadly, the girl on Craigslist may have a subpar kombucha mother. It's hard to tell, but not all kombucha mothers are the same. A neglected kombucha mother, or any of its descendents, will fail to produce delicious, fizzy, happy kombucha -- and it may even breed fruit flies.

Commercial kombucha brewers work with very high-quality kombucha mothers. You can propagate a high-quality kombucha mother of your own with just a bottle of raw kombucha from your favorite kombucha-brand, a little care, some sugar, and good black tea.

Here's why. Every bottle of raw kombucha has very small strands of kombucha mother in it. Your job is to feed those strands until they form a strong kombucha mother. Too much food, and the kombucha won't be strong enough to culture the substrate and it will mold. Too little food, and it won't grow.

Growing the Mother

First, select an excellent bottle of plain or gingered kombucha. It should have as many yeasty filaments floating in it as possible, and it must be raw. Heat kills kombucha. You can drink some of the kombucha if you like -- just leave all the sediment & stringy bits in the bottle, and at least half a cup of liquid. Next, ready the kombucha food.

In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup water to boiling. Add two tablespoons white sugar, and return the liquid to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and add one bag of organic black tea (or a tablespoon of looseleaf) and let the mixture cool at room temperature until it no longer feels the slightest bit warm to the touch. Remove the tea bag or strain the tea. Pour all the contents of the kombucha bottle into the sugar-tea -- the the sediment, the half-cup of kombucha liquid, and the stringy things (these will turn into the kombucha mother!), and put it all in a glass quart or pint jar. Cover the jar with a cloth and a tight rubberband to keep bugs out, and place it in a warm, dark, safe spot. Note that the kombucha liquid is necessary to keep the mixture sufficiently acidic. If the liquid is not acidic, mold will grow.

Keep an eye on the kombucha. In a few days or a week, it should star to grow a thin film over the surface. The film will thicken and become the kombucha mother. If any mold appears, discard everything and start over -- but that shouldn't even be a possibility if you have enough acid in the liquid.

When the film is about an eighth of an inch thick, you'll need to give it another little boost of food. It's not yet strong enough to culture a lot of kombucha for you to drink -- right now it's just growing.

This time, make a quart of tea. Heat four cups water to the boil, add 1/3 cup sugar, and steep with 2 tea bags or 2 tablespoons black tea. When the liquid cools completely, remove the tea leaves, put the baby kombucha and all the liquid and sediment in a large glass jar or bowl with the tea. Cover it tightly and watch it carefully. The kombucha mother should thicken significantly over the space of two weeks. When the mother is between 1/4 and 1/2" thick, you can use it to make yourself a batch of kombucha.

Making Kombucha

Heat three quarts water to the boil. Add 1 cup sugar, return to the boil until dissolved, turn off the heat, and add 4 tea bags (or 4 tablespoons looseleaf) black tea. Let cool completely to room temperature. Remove the tea bags or leaves, and put it in a one-gallon glass jar. Pour in a cup or two of finished kombucha liquid from the last batch (to keep everything acidic) and place the kombucha mother on top. It's okay if it sinks. Cover it securely with cloth and a rubberband, and place it in a warm, dark cupboard for a week or ten days. A new kombucha baby will grow on the surface of the liquid. When the kombucha baby is about 1/8" to 1/4" thick, taste the kombucha. If it doesn't taste too sweet, you can harvest the liquid (saving some for the next batch) and repeat the process.

And you can give the baby kombucha to a friend or someone who gives you a ride to Portland.

122 comments:

Mama JJ said...

Yes, but what does it TASTE like?

Ken Albala said...

I want a baby kombucha. I'd hug it and squeeze it, and make nice baby. Honestly still never tasted the stuff. Where do you find kombucha in the first place?

Rosanna said...

Mostly, one finds kombucha in places like San Francisco, where you can likely find a DJ swilling it on any street corner, a cigarette in his other hand.

It tastes kind of like light beer, and kind of like vinegar, and often comes flavored with ginger, pomegranate juice, or blue-green algae. The upscale & health-focused markets tend to carry it.

Anonymous said...

Sprouts Food Market has GT and High Country (both unpasteurized and plenty of sediment.)

But any whole foods place should have a bottle.

Anonymous said...

They sell it at Whole Foods in the section that has the Naked juices and things like that. It's tart and slightly sweet. It smells awful and yeasty, but doesn't really taste like it smells.

monteverdi said...

Sounds a lot like water (sugar) kefir, except water kefir is a whole lot easier to make (and doesn't smell strange) but is also a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

Jay said...

I'd suggest that if you're using tap water, let it sit overnight in an open container to dechlorinate first. That way it you won't be killing off the stuff you're trying to encourage.

Jana said...

I'm scared of the mother.

Staci said...

I LOVE store-bought kombucha...except for the price! It's outrageously expensive. I would love to learn to make it, but I'm afraid my husband would turn me out of the house for running a distillery out of our kitchen! :) He hates the smell of vinegar or anything else fermented. Is water keifer signficantly friendlier on the nose?

Rosanna said...

The water kefir I've tried does taste and smell milder than kombucha. But I don't think there are culture strands in commercial water kefir, so you would have to locate another source of water kefir grains. I think you can convert dairy kefir grains to water kefir grains, but I've never tried it!

Julip said...

It works! I read your blog and tried it at home and it came out great, I let it grow for about a month and had a beautiful hearty mother. Now I'm just about ready to harvest my first batch!
Thank you!

Kim said...

Hi! So I want to do this, but I'm wondering, would it save time if I took the strands out of a few bottles of store bought kombucha and used those together? I can find a lot of guides for brewing from store bought raw kombucha, but they always take from a single bottle, so I'm not sure if there's any reason to or not to mix multiple cultures from the same type and brand. Haalp? :) This will be my first time brewing, so I'm not sure I should be my own guinea pig ;)

Rosanna said...

Kim -- I can't see a problem with adding strands from other bottles. And it seems reasonable to think more strands might ferment more quickly. Tell me how it goes!

Kim said...

It worked brilliantly :D I'm shocked by how delicious my kombucha came out, and how fast the mother grew. I brewed the first batch too long so I kept that one for starter fluid (and hair conditioner!), but since then they've all been perfect.

I used the new "Enlightened" GT's, and wasn't sure whether I could make something as potent as their original from it, but it "feels" very strong, and is nice and fizzy so I think it's just fine. I've started adding slices of fruit once bottled for different flavors, and those have all come out great, too.

Laura said...

I also got great results using your method! I failed before using GTs so this time bought some homemade kombucha in, of course, San Francisco. ha ha. Also this time I put it in my closet so I wouldn't obsess over it all the time. I did my thing and it did it's thing and now I have a great Scoby. Thanks! Now if only I could make beet kvass taste as good.

Brandislee said...

I am mixing this up right now- do you have a general guideline for how long it takes to get 1/8 inch thick- like a week, two weeks, etc? I know this depends on a lot of things, but just a general time would be really helpful. Thanks!

Rosanna said...

Brandislee -- It takes about two weeks in winter. Less time if it's warmer.

V said...
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J. Scott said...
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J. Scott said...

Hello, all...I had started to brew my first batch of KT 11 days ago in a 2 gallon glass container. The first few days everything went quite well, but after day 2, It seems to have stopped progressing, visually speaking, though the smell had changed from a strong yeast odor to now a strong vinegar smell with only a bit of a yeasty smell, and this transition happened in just a day. No mold, just the initial bubbles with the milky substance between the "suds", which, as I'd stated already, is the initial stage, visually, but had not progressed into a scoby as yet. It is stored in a closet on a heating pad, which isn't all that hot even on its highest setting. Is it okay to still wait and see if it produces a mother?

Rosanna said...

J. Scott -- Sure, keep it going and see what happens. The mother often starts out looking rather ambiguously scummy. Sometimes you can't even see it until you poke it and realize there's a film growing over the surface.

J. Scott said...
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♥♥ said...

Thanks! I followed your instructions and I'm now starting my first batch. It smells wonderful and the mother looked really healthy. I started this batch from the new and tasteless GT's kombucha, simply because I miss the old, fizzy, potent GT's so much. I hope that I can make something comparable.
On that note, does anyone know the reasons for GT's downgrade? I assumed they changed their process because of alcohol content issues. It kept disappearing and reappearing from the store just before it started tasting bland...

stixx480 said...

thanks a lot for the directions! Thanks to people like you, we'll have a healthier USA/World that doesn't need to spend 3-4 bucks for every drink

LaVon & Janice clan said...

This method works soooo well! I first started a batch out of GT's multigreen and then thought "oh shoot, I should've used the original". So I just kept that multigreen start in my cupboard and started another one with original. Both worked! The original definitely grew faster, and I ended up chucking the multigreen because I don't really need 2 batches of kombucha going, but I was impressed at how foolproof this was. I'm so excited, thanks for your insight!

Sampson Brood said...

Do you guys know if I can use evaporated sugar cane instead of white sugar for my kombucha?

Rosanna said...

Yes, you can use evaporated sugar cane instead of plain sugar. The kombucha will be a little cloudier.

I've used both the original GT's and the new type. They both worked fine. Some places still sell the original, but they card you for it!

J said...

I almost have a nice looking "mother". What do I use as starter liquid for the actual 1st brew? Do I reuse the liquid I developed the mother in?

Thanks,
Jonathan

Rosanna said...

Yes, the liquid you grew your mother in should be pretty acidic. Add a cup or so to your first full-scale brew.

Nicholas Mom said...

I have a mother that is almost ready, but there are a few dark spots. They have been there for a couple of weeks. They have not gotten larger or spread at all. How do I know if its mold or not?
Does anyone have a cut and dry way to know. Thanks for the information.

Haley said...

I used your instructions and all seemed to be going well until about a week ago. It hasn't changed. I know part of the issue is temp and light. I've moved it now but read somewhere that I should be tasting it? I did and it was very vinegary. I still don't have a large enough mother so I'm confused on what to do next. Any ideas?

Rosanna said...

@Nicholas Mom: Kombucha mothers can certainly be blotchy. I have a mother right now that has a lumpy, bubbly texture. Mold, though, will grow, and tends to be strange colors (black, green, blue, white), whereas the kombucha mother is beige to brown. I hope that's somewhat helpful!

@Haley: Sometimes kombucha mothers seem to stall for a few days. If it's very vinegary, the mother may have consumed all the sugar. You could add another cup or two of sugar-tea mixture and see if that jumpstarts it.

Haley said...

Thank you! I went ahead and started over. I felt like I moved the first one too much. When I dumped it out, there was nothing that resembled a scoby - just some sediments at the bottom.
I followed your directions again and it's going MUCH better! I'll be doing the "boost of food" this week!EEEEK Excited.
Thanks you!

H.D. Shmer said...

Eeee! These directions look fantastic and I'm super excited to try my first batch. I have heard that you can use an organic green tea as well, but perhaps that is a rumor going around? Wanted to check before I try my first batch.

Rosanna said...

Yes, I've made green tea kombucha before. The main thing is that the kombucha metabolizes caffeine, so just don't go for decaf tea.

K Maeve said...

Thanks for posting this! This is the best set of instructions I've found online....I tried starting a batch a week ago, and I'm wondering if maybe I have mold growing. I used 1 cup of GT "enlightened" original kombucha, and made tea according to your instructions. I made sure the mason jar was very clean, and even boiled it before adding my kombucha mixture (I cooled it before adding the stuff). There is what looks like the beginning of a mother floating on the top, but it hasn't covered the entire surface of the liquid, and there are some dark spots on it. Should I toss it, feed it with more tea and sugar, or let it go for a few more days and re-evaluate?

I started a second starter jar today with some GT **original** original I was able to get a hold of :)

K Maeve said...

Thanks for posting this! This is the best set of instructions I've found online....I tried starting a batch a week ago, and I'm wondering if maybe I have mold growing. I used 1 cup of GT "enlightened" original kombucha, and made tea according to your instructions. I made sure the mason jar was very clean, and even boiled it before adding my kombucha mixture (I cooled it before adding the stuff). There is what looks like the beginning of a mother floating on the top, but it hasn't covered the entire surface of the liquid, and there are some dark spots on it. Should I toss it, feed it with more tea and sugar, or let it go for a few more days and re-evaluate?

I started a second starter jar today with some GT **original** original I was able to get a hold of :)

Siobot said...

Is it possible to use an alternative sugar like agave, honey, or rice syrup?

Rosanna said...

@Siobot -- I haven't personally experimented with these. Agave "nectar" is mostly made of fructose (far more than high-fructose corn syrup!) and kombucha mothers really thrive on the 50-50 mix of fructose and glucose found in ordinary table sugar. In fact, they require glucose to produce glucuronic acid (the detoxifying acid kombucha is famous for).

Honey contains antibiotic properties that tend to act *against* fermentation; pasteurized honey might work, but I haven't tried it. I haven't tried brown rice syrup, either, but it would certainly be worth experimenting with!

The critical thing, though, is that the kombucha mother almost completely transforms sugar into beneficial acids. Humans may want to avoid refined sugar, but kombucha mothers can eat it and still live long vibrant lives.

I have used rapadura (a type of evaporated cane juice), which is basically table sugar with extra minerals. It makes a cloudy, molasses-flavored kombucha; quite delicious!

john s said...

Can't wait to try this. I love kombucha and especially miss the old fizzy GT Dave's. Rosanna, where can you still get the old fizzy GT? Also, in your experience do your batches turn out fizzier the longer you let them grow? Thank you so much for posting this.

Rosanna said...

John S -- Not sure where you're at, but the Haight St. Market sells the old kombucha. They card you for it!

To get fizzy kombucha, you need to do a secondary fermentation. After the kombucha is done brewing, pour it into bottles. Add a teaspoon of sugar per pint-size bottle, and any flavorings you like. Cap tightly and leave at room temperature. If it's warm, check the kombucha after a day. If it's cold, it can take a week to get fizzy. The secondary fermentation is done when you can't taste any extra sweetness and the kombucha fizzes nicely. Be careful! If you add too much sugar (or extra fruit or ginger) and don't check it soon enough, you can get explosions!

Jennie C said...

I'm a first timer and I found your site WAY easier and more helpful than all the others I found. My mother grew a baby during the second round (the round where you're supposed to be getting the mother strong enough to brew) and it's bigger (HUGE) than the mother. Can I use this to brew my kombucha or still use the mother?

Rosanna said...

@Jennie C -- Thanks! It's fine to use the baby. Usually at that stage it's all one mother, but it's fine if it separates.

John-Paul said...

Hello,

I just started to grow the mother with GT Kombucha. I have a question. When feeding the mother a second time when it is about an 1/8" thick you said to cover the jar tightly when finished. Do yu mean to use a lid or to continue with the cloth?

John-Paul said...

no need to answer the last question. It's obvious, just wasn't thinking.
Thanks for sharing the info!

Michael said...

I started a mother a couple weeks ago and it looks ready. Can I drink the tea that I started the mother in or do I need to throw it out and start a new brew with the mother?

Rosanna said...

You can definitely drink the tea, so long as you save enough to start your next batch.

KentW said...

You can also use a loose fitting glass lid (I use an old fashioned cookie/pickle jar with glass lid) and not bother with the cheese cloth. I've brewed a lot of kombucha in the past; but it's been a few years. I haven't known where to get the starter, so THANK YOU for this information on using the store bought kind as starter. I can't wait to get started!

Marla said...

My mother seems to have stopped growing. It's been about 9 days, since anything has happened. Should I add sugar or more black tea, and how much? I don't want the tea too get too sweet. Help! It was getting along so fabulously...

erinmk said...

After the second feeding do you cover it with a cloth again or an actual lid?

AKMomAtHome said...

I found your directions to be very easy and helpful I was wondering what kind of things can I use to flavor the kombucha? I mde it with the ginger variety. I really love the blue-green algae variety. Any ideas from anyone would be appreciated.

invient said...

I'm working on my first batch, got it in a closet at 80 F. It's going well. I used table sugar, and pure glucose ( corn sugar ). I was hoping to make a liver tonic by increasing the Gluconic acids in the batch. I have some brown in the mother, but it's likely not mold because it has the leathery, rather than fuzzy, look.

Thanks for the guide. Now all I have to be is patient, and try to get my family into this stuff.

Erica said...

Hi, I just had to let you know that I have successfully created a mother from a store-bought bottle of GT original kombucha! I was going to buy a mother, but this works great! I gave her the first 'feeding' a few days ago, at which point she kind of sank to the bottom of the jar (I am using a large sun-tea type jar with a spigot at the bottom - hopefully this will work for a continuous brew), and now it appears that another baby is forming on the top! Thanks so much for the instructions. I was worried that it might not work for me because we live on a boat in Alaska, and sometimes struggle a bit to keep the temp up, but here in our salon I have kept the temp right around 69-70, and it's obviously enough! Thanks and happy mother/baby brewing to ya all!

Erica

mckenzie said...

Thanks for posting this. I'm excited to get started. By "cover it tightly" (the second feeding) do you mean with a regular mason jar lid or with the cloth and rubber band? Thanks!

cindy said...

So, how much liquid do you use in total (1/2c) to start the mother?
Thanks

Anna said...

how much sugar do I use to "feed" the kombucha after the mother has grown to about an 1/8 inch?

Rosanna said...

@mckenzie -- "Tightly" meaning with the cloth and rubber band.

@cindy -- 1/2 cup of liquid from the kombucha bottle plus approximately one cup of sugar/tea water.

@Anna -- 1/3 cup of sugar in a quart of water. See the last paragraph under "growing a mother" for more details.

Mantra Mike said...

Awesome set of instructions! My mother sank when I added the second round of liquid during the primary growth phase but the baby that formed on top has become vigorous and picture perfect. I used the sediment from 3 bottles of GT, botanic #3, #7 and the regular just because that's what we had in the fridge and it turned out fine. I am a wine maker who is usually averse to all acedic acid derivatives (= bad things for wine!), but this kombucha stuff is great. I just need to keep it away from my wine barrels. I disliked many of the varieties that my wife brought home and then got hooked on a few of the GT's and a local one called Revive. I used your directions and they have worked great to this point. Very simple and straight forward. I notice people here ask many of the same questions over again, most of your questions will be answered if you read this blogin it's entirety from the beginning + all the comments.Thank you!

Unknown said...

So I'm ready to feed my mother...can I just add the quart of sugar tea mixture to the container the mother is already growing in or is it imperative that I transfer it to another bowl/jar?

Tennille said...

Is there a reason I can't use brown sugar? I have organic green tea looseleaf, brown sugar, and two half bottles of kombucha from the store.

3foxart said...

question here: kombucha tea,sold at the local health food store,from what i have read heating kills the kombucha..so are
any of the benefits left in hot brewed teas?

Rosanna said...

@3foxart: Yeah, I've seen the boxed tea kombucha, too. It must be some sort of extract of kombucha. Certainly it wouldn't have any probiotic benefits, but perhaps it contains some of the liver-supporting acids that are in regular kombucha. Not sure I'd ever want to drink hot kombucha, anyway.

Unknown said...

Kinda low on money right now and your instructions were just what I needed. They really give you confidence to get started. I found a bottle with a lot of scoby in it and I started with the first step tonight.

Cheers!!!

Melaine said...

Hi, So I am in the process of growing my first mother via your instructions...so my question is, when I fed my mother it sank and it seems like a new one is forming on the top and has some bubbles in it. So is this normal? Do I continue or start over? And when I am ready to brew the real batch do I use both of them or just the new one? Thanks so much for all the help and instuctions!!

Live Free ~ Love Free. said...
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Live Free ~ Love Free. said...

So, it took a while but I finally found a store that carries GT Kombucha. The one was obviously flavored and without paying too much attention, I accidentally still got one with additives (No 9) because my 4-year-old was getting in to everything in this tiny little health store and I just wanted to get out quickly!

I see that other people have used flavored types with some success - so I'm still going to give it a shot. However, my house is very old and although we keep it at 70, I'd say the ambient temp is closer to 65-68 most days. Would it be a good idea to put my jar in front of a window that gets good afternoon sun so it's gets a bath of warmth most days or is it better to put it somewhere that would have a more consistent temp all the time? Also, would the sunlight itself affect the growth of the SCOBY and later the brewing process?

Thanks for your very informative post and all the help you offer everyone!

ETA: OK, I re-read the directions and see that you say warm DARK place. Hmmm... to me dark = cool. Maybe I'll try the top of the fridge and cover it with a dark towel - or on my dresser in the bedroom (it's upstairs so warmer, and usually dark-ish). :) Actually, maybe I'll make up two and let them "race." LOL

Rosanna said...

Melaine -- Yes, the mother usually sinks to the bottom. Bubbles are fine. I use the mother and baby together in the next batch until they get a few inches thick and are in the way.

Live Free -- Warm is relative. My house is usually less than 65 degrees. The warmer it is, the faster the kombucha ferments, but it's fine even in the 50s. Just slow.

Unknown said...

So far so good! I used the sediment and tendrils of 2 bottle of GT both had a good amount of material I also used plenty of the tea it came in to maintain acidity.

I has been about a week now and the beginnings of a mother are growing slowly due to room temp. May try to get it a bit more heat but satisfied overall with the process.

Really fun project!

Unknown said...

Still having fun the mother is growing well but slowly (fairly cool room). It slowed down and I fed it a little and it made a big difference (I had used a lot of the GT as starter.) It tastes like it is supposed to taste though too sweet because of the feeding stage. Acidity is still good though.

Lisa

Unknown said...

I now have a visible 1/16 of an inch mother an boy is she busy. I'm not keeping it that warm but she is going through a lot of food. I know this from drinking it. It tastes great, you can easily tell when it goes from too sweet to vinegary and needing to be fed. I'm very pleased.

Lisa

godschild4ever said...
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godschild4ever said...
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godschild4ever said...

Hi, I drank 1/2 of my store brought kombucha. (I wish I have read your post first.)

I covered it with coffee filter and secured it w/ a rubber band. I see a slight baby kombucha growing (very small.. been 8 days only).
Should I start the process like yours or wait a little?

B said...

First off. thanks for such a great resouce .. I started from a Gt bottle of raw organic and I have now tapped off my first bottle of KT homebrew! What a delightful surprise ! it is wonderful !
I have seen on other sites the discussion of yeast to bacteria ratio and was wondering .. how do you tell if one is too high or too low ?

Rosanna said...

@godschild4ever I don't see why you would have a problem. Just wait till the baby grows larger.

@B I suppose if there were too much yeast, the kombucha would be more alcoholic. If there were too many bacteria, it would be flat. I've never had cause to worry about the balance one way or the other.

Ryan said...
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Nxt Bloom said...

Hi, maybe you already answered this in another comment...
But here goes: when I reach the stage of actually making the kombucha brew by using the mother I've made, your directions say: "Pour in a cup or two of finished kombucha liquid from the last batch (to keep everything acidic) and place the kombucha mother on top."
"the last batch" leaves me confused. Does this step refer to the liquid that i've just generated while making the mother?
Thanks for any insight! Great post:)

butterfly44_31 said...

Any recommendation on how to store the mother after you have made it? Do I put in the frig?

Kimberly said...

I am having so much fun with this! Thank you so much for this post! I've started two babies so far. The first one seems kinda weak and slow-growing. I don't think it liked the tea that I used. The second one is beautiful! I'm about to start another baby and see what happens. :)

Fat Girl said...

This is my first try at making Kombucha. I love GT's Guava Goddess and used it as my starter. It has been about a week and I'm on stage 2 of the process. I have had it sitting on my kitchen counter in the corner, but after reading all of the posts I thought it might do better if I moved it to a darker place so it's now in my closet. I did want to ask though if I should use a different starter. From what I've read, I thought maybe I should have used GT's original or enlighten.

Beverly St Clair said...

This is my second season of brewing..I put up 36 bottles for this past winter...I am attempting to grow a scoby from one of my last bottles...started one last year from a store bought and it was great! so fingers crossed
I always bless it and say nice things (very important)

Cybrslug said...

I am still left with a few questions:

1. On the 2nd feeding you say to "put the baby kombucha and all the liquid and sediment in a large glass jar or bowl." So are we supposed to take our scoby out of the 1st tea, and if so what do we do with that tea?

2. Is there a way to just grow the momma keeping it in the same vessel with both the 1st and 2nd feeding teas and going straight to continuous brewing? It seems to me that if I already have a full bottle of original, plus the first & 2nd larger feeding batches in a gallon jug with a spicket, I am now at a halg gallon of liqiud and should be able to consume some of that liquid in a couple of weeks and then do a top off sweet tea. YES or NO?

littlegypsyau said...

Hello, am on the final stage of my Kombucha making, but am a little confused. What do I do with the liquid that is left over from the previous stages, please? Is this drinkable, or can I just add this to the final batch when ready for bottling?
So far, so good.. :) :)

littlegypsyau said...

P.S Someone mentioned using it for washing hair? Would like details please :)

Biochemist said...

The instructions and comments are all awesome! I'm making my own Kombucha now!!!

JibaraTaina said...

Yea! I have a little mother! So I'm on stage two. I was wondering when I move on to make the Kombucha can I just double the recipe and use a two gallon jar?

Rosanna said...

@littlegypsyau You can just add it to the next batch or drink it. It probably won't be fizzy. I sometimes use kombucha as a hair conditioner--it's very smoothing.

@JibaraTaina If the mother is big and strong, you can totally multiply the recipe to brew as big a batch as you like.

Lauren Ocean said...

When you are all done and ready to drink it how do you go about bottling it? Can you store in the fridge? Would my old GT Kombucha bottles work? I suppose I would add an extra teaspoon of sugar to those and seal them up and then put them in cold storage? How soon do I need to drink them after they are ready? Do you mix in the add as a last minute sort of thing or go ahead and bottle it in with the kombucha.... I guess I'm just wondering about the next steps. Where did you get your bottles how do you store the completed kombucha etc. Thanks!

Rosanna said...

@Lauren--Yes, I just reuse my old GT's kombucha bottles, add a teaspoon of sugar per bottle, and let it ferment at room temperature until fizzy enough (1-7 days, depending on how warm it is). Be careful; they might get explosively fizzy if you don't check them frequently. When they're fizzy, I store them in the fridge, where they keep for several weeks at least. They don't really go bad, just get too acidic.

dravens said...

It is about 2 inches thick now with multiple layers. Which layer do I keep? Can I just keep pouring off the kombucha and adding new tea and sugar. If I don't have anyone who wants a baby do I have to discard some?

Rosanna said...

@dravens--It doesn't really matter which part you peel off. Having a huge mother is not a problem, either, until it simply takes up too much space in your jar.

Gigi said...

I just harvested my first batch of kombucha. I found a jug with an infuser that I filled with raspberries, and put it in the final stage. The flavor is awesome. And there was a baby kombucha atop the raspberries that I enjoyed with my first glass. I used these directions throughout the process. This is so much fun. I poured the leftover momma/baby kombucha into my original container that already had a baby growing. Can't wait to see what it does next. Thanks so much for the process. I am in Kombucha Heaven!!!

Barry Weissman said...

Hey I just finished my first week or so of growing from a store bought kombucha bottle and I'm getting ready to add in the next step of nutrients. I have two questions; do I mix in the quart of tea with the old liquid and mother or should I put the mother in the fresh batch? It says "tighten" in the instructions: should I use a bottle with a screw on cap or should I keep using the rubber band and cloth to keep the O2 coming in?
Thanks for all your help!
Emmett

Whaddoiknow said...
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Whaddoiknow said...
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Whaddoiknow said...

I'm just wondering, are my chances of a good, solid mother forming (faster, also) greater if I combing the bits of kombucha from a few bottles? Should I see results sooner if there's more in there?

Kimberly Smith said...

I am growing a mother right now and it is about 1/4" thick, but there is a couple of black dots around the edge of the jar, touching the mother. I am thinking they are some black tea pieces that made their way in but how can I be sure? They don't seem fuzzy like mold.

Dana Smith said...

Oooh, so exciting! I just put my first kombucha in the cupboard to ferment. Thanks for posting these instructions, they are straight-up and easy to follow. Fingers crossed for it all working for me:)

Rachael said...

When you’re making the mother, it says to cover tightly. Does this mean air tight?

Miss Y said...

I am currently making the mother and will begin making a batch from the mother in about a week and a half. However, in the middle of making the batch, I will be leaving for 7 weeks and the place I live in is fairly warm and dry. What happens if I leave the batch brewing when I am gone? Will it dry out and die or can I cover it and hope that it won't die until I return? This is my first time making it and need some advice!

Laura N said...

Thanks for your post! I started my first batch a couple of weeks ago. I did the second step late last week (.4 cups water, 3 bags tea etc.). However. I think I messed up and added 1 cup of sugar instead of 1/3....

What should I do!!! Let it be? I was thinking of removing se of the fluid an adding steeped tea to it... Ahhhhh

Bobby Eccleston said...

Just wanted to thank you for your awesome page here and this growing kombucha from a bottle instructions. I just finished the growing steps (took a bit over three weeks) and I will be brewing my first full batch of kombucha tonight. The kombucha mother turned out beautifully. She's a 1/2 thick with a nice uniform color. I plan to keep her around as long as possible.

Thanks again!!!

BFoot said...

Just did this with a couple bottles of GT Dave's. Really easy process. I suggest mixing the original and the enlightened and doubling the recipe in a large sun tea jar.

Maui Momma said...
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marlabee said...

After buying my first bottle of kombucha I was pleasantly surprised at how much I like it! I didn't finish the bottle in hopes that I could start my own, did a search and found this post! I immediately made the starter. It's been two weeks and I don't seem to have that white film on the surface of the liquid. There is a white film growing on the bottom? Can that happen as well?? I followed all the instructions carefully. I'm just wondering if anyone else has had this happen. If I need to start over, or if everything is fine. Thanks!

Sharon W. said...

Hi - just ran across this website and thought I would try to answer the last poster Marlabee.

I've been making Kombucha myself at home since 1993 - got my first SCOBY from an Asian couple. This last year I didn't make it, but now want to again so though I'd do this method again - using a commercial bottle of RAW kombucha Vs buying a larger SCOBY. Takes more time and attention, but much cheaper.

So here's some important things to know to make sure your culture grows:

1) First, Marlabee, make sure you purchased a bottle of "RAW" Kombucha as this lady said in this article. "Raw" Kombucha has not been heat pasteurized so the bacteria & yeast are still living, and thus can give rise to another SCOBY if processed as this website says. I just purchased a bottle of "RAW" GTS Orgnic Kombucha, original (no flavorings) from Whole Foods, but they had other RAW kombucha from other companies as well. Check the dating.
2) The commercial glass bottle should say "RAW", (organic preferred but not required) and should show some stringy, gloppy-like sediment down at the bottom of the glass. If you shake the bottle the liquid will NOT be clear. Those "strings" are remnants of the live mother SCOBY - but the key is they are the living probiotics (bacteria and yeast) that will eventually form the new SCOBY.
3) Finally just then follow the directions on this site -- except I would NOT cover it with Cheesecloth as was recommended in the 90's. Too loose a cover and too likely for mold or fruit fly contamination. Use a "breathable" but tightly-knit fabric or paper towel.

4) The room temp is important. Bacteria and yeast have preferred growth temps between ~ 70-82F. I used to set my glass jars on the the bare top of my refrigerator for the extra warmth needed but can't with my new refrig, so now I use a SEEDLING Mat ~ 17 or 18 watts ~ 20" x 9" wide. This adds up to 10-20 degrees more than room temp - if your room is not warm enough for the culture to mature. Two brands to consider are Hydrofarm or Viagrow. Don't know which is better or if there's a big difference. Both are waterproof. Around $20 or so online at Amazon or Home Depot or Lowes or a garden store locally should have them.

So Just two tips here -- get the right bottled Kombucha - with LIVE cultures (RAW) -- and keep the heat under the growing culture in the 70-82+ degree range and you should be golden. Patience is key.

Hope this helps
Sharon

marlabee said...

Sharon,

Thank you so much for the detailed response. I actually did everything exactly as you said, I think I just had a batch that didn't make it. I even used the same exact brand you did.

I tossed the first one and started a second one that DID take off. The only difference was that I made sure I boiled the jars I used instead of just letting the dishwasher do the work.

Thanks for the great advice, I'm off to go and make a big batch right now! :D

Anna Lavender said...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

Audrey Hancock said...

My mother came out wonderfully my first go round. Your directions were very helpful, but I do have one question about after you complete the steps for making the Kombucha. You mention at the end you can harvest it, saving some for the next batch and repeat the process. What process do you mean? Just the part under the topic of making the Kombucha or from the beginning of growing the mother? My mother is beautiful so I'm just trying to figure out what I do after bottling. I don't want to through out something I'm supposed to use. Thank you!

Pamela Yeaton said...

In 1988 I was living in Eugene Oregon and a friend gave me a mother. She was so prolific that after a few weeks every glass jar I owned was filled with new babies making more kombucha. I couldn't get rid of it fast enough. Now I am in Hawaii and making it again. Ahhh, the circle of life.

Yvette Morales said...

Just wanted to say, this method worked brilliantly! I stopped obsessing over heat, time, etc., and just smelled and tasted it, then bottled it when it tasted right. I split the recipe and used two quart mason jars and coffee filters I kept in my closet, where temperatures ranged from 60 to 75 degrees. It takes about five days to produce to my liking. I used raw kombucha to start. I also did a batch with Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong tea, and the result was a light, slightly perfumy tasting kombucha reminiscent of champagne!

I have made approximately five batches with two mothers I split from the original. Any information as to how long a mother produces, and how to store my mother when taking a break?

lildree2 said...

For a long time I've made my own kombucha from a friend's baby, but with a year or so gap, I needed a new one. Before I read any of these extremely helpful comments, I started my first batch ever using just GT's original. It worked really well, but I did it the same way I always made my old batches with a full mother: brewed a gallon of black tea with a cup of white sugar, steeped it for several hours. When cool, I put it in my gallon jar (with spigot!) with about 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and about 1/2- 1 cup GT's original...with the most strands I could get out of one bottle. Covered with paper towel and rubber band. It took almost a month before it was no longer sicky sweet. Now it's perfect! I've just started my second batch. Cheers!

stephanie k. said...

I have a dumb question. Once you have the mother kombucha, the baby kombucha, and the tea, what do you do with the mother? Can you use the mother to make new/more kombucha, or just the new baby?

Ericka Reuteler said...

I have a bottle of GT's original Original with the over 21 labeling that I bought and stashed in my fridge nearly a month ago. After reading this I remembered it, held it up to the light because I remember it had lots of strands and there now seems to be a cute little SCOBY disk in there! It seems like good news to me, but not sure. Am I a lucky girl? Also do I need to make any changes to your recipe in order to encourage her growth? Thank you. I'm excited to get started.

Rosanna said...

Stephanie--you can use either the baby or the mother or both together in the next batch, or give one or the other away. I usually just keep them together until I have so much mother it fills up the jar.

Ericka--that's great; it's got a head start if it's already making a mother! You can proceed as described, though it may work faster.

The World According To Me said...

Help! I have my baby and in the post you said to cover it tightly. Do I use a cheesecloth again for this step (the one before actually making kombucha) or use plastic wrap?

Rosanna said...

@The World--cover tightly with cheesecloth. The "tightness" is just to keep bugs out, but you want airflow.

yuping chang said...

Just want to say Thank You!! I followed your instructions and harvested my first batch of Kombucha today. Super tasty!! It is like bubbly apple cider! I can't wait to start my second batch right away! :)

Mariah Warren said...

Hi! Read ALL comments, and didn't see this question addressed (but learned a lot!). I've started three batches, and one about five days old got a nice scum going on top. I showed it to my dad, who gave the jar a good swirl and disrupted the growth (dammit). Three days later: no progress, no scum on top, just murky at the bottom. Is this a serious setback? Anyone? My sister says I should have warned him: "Never, never, never shake a baby."

Rosanna said...

Mariah--It should be fine. It will take longer to build up a well-formed mother, but one shaking shouldn't fundamentally change it!

Julia said...

This is my third attempt at continuous kombucha. First one - pH was good, but no fizz. Second died of cold and neglect. I've been wanting to try again, but have been skittish.
I'm so glad to find this blog and all the CLEAR and LOGICALLY ordered instructions. THANK YOU!

notxaht38 said...

This works perfectly! I've used this recipe twice to make successful SCOBYs, which has resulted in some yummy kombucha. Added ginger to one bottle and apple cider and spices to the other. Thank you!