Although there are a lot of kombucha recipes on the internet, there's very few recipes or articles out there that tell you exactly what ingredients and equipment you need to brew kombucha.
I know a guide detailing everything you need to get started brewing would have been really helpful and saved me a ton of time at the beginning of my home-brewing journey, so I decided to create my own!
The 5 things you need to start brewing kombucha are:
2. A SCOBY
3. A Large Glass Container
4. A Funnel
5. Brewing Bottles
Before we get into the ins and outs of each item, we need to understand what kombucha is and how it’s made.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a probiotic drink made from fermented tea that has become quite popular in recent years due to its great taste and many health benefits such as improved digestion and gut health, detoxification, and immune system strengthening.
How Kombucha is Made
All booch begins as sweet tea. What turns this sweet tea into sweet and sour probiotic kombucha is a living culture of bacteria. This culture of bacteria, known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), eats the sugar and caffeine from the sweet tea and produces acids, carbon dioxide, and alcohol.
Once it has eaten enough sugar to make the kombucha bitter tasting, the SCOBY is removed and the 1st fermentation is complete. At this point the kombucha can be drunk, but it's not carbonated or flavored yet.
The carbonation and flavor is added in a 2nd fermentation. During this stage, the kombucha is sealed in glass fermenting bottles that are filled with fruit, juice, or herbs for flavoring.
Over the course of a few days, the kombucha in the bottles develops carbonation and flavor. It’s then refrigerated and ready to be drunk!
The 5 Things You Need to Brew Kombucha
Every great tasting kombucha starts out as tea. Most kombucha brewers, including myself, use a caffeinated black or green tea to begin our brew. Black tea is great because it gives the booch a ton of flavor, and green tea is great because of its antioxidant properties.
Whatever color of tea you use to brew kombucha, make sure it's caffeinated. Caffeine is an essential nutrient for the SCOBY.
Also make sure not to use any kind of flavored or spiced tea such as Earl Grey or Chai since they have oils and spices which will negatively react with the SCOBY.
If you want to keep brewing your kombucha easy and cheap, you can just buy a large pack of lipton black tea bags. They’re really cheap and come in huge packs. You can get some on Amazon here.
But, if you're looking to make the best tasting and healthiest booch possible, I’d recommend using a good quality loose leaf tea like Vahdam’s Premium Summer Black Tea. This tea is grown in the Himalayas, makes strong kombucha with a lot of flavor, and will give your SCOBY all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. You can find large bags of Vahdams 100% pure loose leaf black tea for a bargain on Amazon here.
If you don't already have a loose leaf tea strainer at home, you can buy one for cheap and with 1 day shipping on Amazon here.
You can learn more about how to which kinds of tea to use to make the best tasting and healthiest kombuchas in my article, The Best Tea for Brewing Kombucha - Black, Green, White, or Oolong? here.
2. A SCOBY
The SCOBY is the most fun and important item that we need to brew great kombucha.
It is possible to make a SCOBY yourself, but it will take almost a month before it's fully formed. So I recommend just buying a SCOBY online and with a click of a button you can have one delivered to you in less than a week.
This is what I did when I started making kombucha and it worked great. Now after dozens of brews that SCOBY is so huge that I can peel off layers to make into SCOBY treats or give to friends.
It’s really important to get a SCOBY from a good seller, or else you’ll waste time and money trying to make kombucha with a dead or inactive SCOBY. So if you decide to buy a SCOBY online, I recommend The Fermentaholics Kombucha Scoby. Their SCOBYs come delivered alive, with good size and only cost $13. You can check it out on Amazon here.
3. A Brewing Vessel
The brewing vessel is where we combine our sweet tea and SCOBY to form kombucha.
This container has to be a material such as glass or porcelain because they don't contain chemicals such as BPA that will react with the acidity of the kombucha and ruin the brew.
If you were to use plastic or metal containers during the brewing process, your booch would not only taste bad, but your SCOBY over time would end up eating the chemicals in the plastic or metal and die.
Some things to look for when buying a glass jar to brew in are size, shape, and whether or not it has a spigot.
In terms of size, I would recommend having the ability to make at least 2 gallons of kombucha. That could be two 1 gallon jars or one 2 gallon jar depending on your preference. I personally prefer to have two separate jars because then I can move them around and pour them out easier.
The reason I always make 2 gallons instead of 1 is that kombucha takes weeks to make. If you run out of booch to drink in between brews you may have to wait weeks before the next one is ready. So I think it's always better to have extra than not enough.
And if you do make too much, no worries because kombucha will stay good in your fridge for months. Or you can just give it to a friend.
Another important thing to look for when buying a brewing container is surface area. The larger the surface area of the liquid in the jar, the faster the kombucha is going to ferment.
This is because more surface area allows more oxygen into the kombucha. So something tall and narrow with a small neck like a coke bottle will ferment slowly if at all, while a short and wide container will ferment really quickly.
The brewing vessel I use is this pack of two 1 gallon glass jars from Amazon. They were really cheap and work great. You can check out there price on Amazon here
4. A Funnel
Getting your kombucha transferred from the large glass jar into smaller bottles is nearly impossible without a funnel.
If you don't have one already, you can get a funnel on Amazon here.
5. Brewing Bottles
Other than the SCOBY, quality fermenting bottles are probably the best investment you can make when it comes to kombucha brewing equipment.
Brewing bottles are specifically made for fermenting things like beer, kefir and kombucha and are designed to stay closed airtight and allow carbonation to build up inside them without exploding.
If you really don’t want to buy fermenting bottle you can use old store bought kombucha bottles or even wine bottles. But whatever you do, DO NOT use mason jars. Because mason jars have a flat top rather than a narrow neck, they have a lot of surface area that gives a lot of room for pressure to build up, which can result in a glass and kombucha explosion inside of your kitchen.
Investing in a set of quality brewing bottles will make it way easier to get your booch carbonated, and prevent kombucha and glass from exploding all over your kitchen walls.
The brewing bottles I use are a set of 6, 16oz high pressure bottles with ceramic lids and stainless steel closures.
A fun and unique thing about this set is that it comes with a dry erase marker. You can use this marker to write or draw whatever you want on the bottles and easily erase it after. I use it to write the flavor and the starting date of my second fermentation.
These bottles have served me well over dozens of home-brews and will serve you well too. If you’re interested you can check them out on Amazon here.
Extra: Nylon Mesh Strainer
A strainer definitely is not necessary, but can be useful when pouring your finished kombucha from the brewing bottles with flavoring in them into a glass, since fruit pulp or other pieces of the flavoring you used will be in it.
The pulp is fine to drink and some people actually enjoy it, but, if you’re someone who wants only pure kombucha in their glass, you should use a strainer. If you don't already have one pick up a Nylon Mesh Strainer for cheap on Amazon here.
Hopefully this guide could help you find everything you need to get started home-brewing kombucha.
Once you have all the right equipment and are ready to get brewing, head over to my article, How to Make Kombucha in 5 Easy Steps - The Ultimate Home Brewing Guide to learn how to use these things to make awesome kombucha.
And want to learn more about kombucha, how it relates to your health, and extra brewing tips, be sure to check out the rest of my website!