Originally published in February 2020; updated November 2021.
If you’ve been interested in making kombucha and don’t know where to begin, this guide will teach you everything you need to know about making the bubbly beverage at home. I’ve shared a recipe for my favorite apple cinnamon spiced kombucha using sweet Stemilt Honeycrisp apples for flavor. It’s the perfect refreshing drink!
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha or ‘booch’ is a carbonated beverage made by fermenting black or green tea and sugar with bacteria and yeast. It is sweet, slightly sour, and bubbly. It is the perfect drink for those look for an alternative to alcoholic beverages or those who just enjoy a bubbly beverage!
What is a SCOBY?
A SCOBY is a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. Meaning that the bacteria and yeast live together in a complex environment supporting and depending on each other. It is the most important part of brewing kombucha. In appearance, it is a thick pancake-size disc-shaped gelatinous structure. You can either purchase a SCOBY from a reputable manufacturer (this is my favorite SCOBY starter) or you can make your own at home. Once you’ve created a healthy SCOBY, it can be used for multiple kombucha batches. Your SCOBY will begin to create new cultures and multiply into new SCOBY’s over time. In order to survive and create new cultures, a SCOBY needs food in the form of sugar and nutrients found in the tea.
Why brew Kombucha at home?
The main reason to brew kombucha at home is because it’s fun! I love watching the SCOBY ferment the tea and sugar and grow a new healthy SCOBY over time. Taking care of your SCOBY is similar to taking care of a plant. You have to feed it and water it and make sure it has the right growing conditions. Being able to adjust and tweak the flavor by letting your kombucha brew longer or shorter and allowing you to narrow in on the perfect taste is also is an advantage. There is something so satisfying about being able to enjoy something that you put time and effort into making. Also, once you’ve bought your initial materials, brewing kombucha at home is much cheaper than buying kombucha in single-use containers.
Want to try a pears in kombucha? Look no further than Meg’s Chai Pear Kombucha recipe.
- 14 cups of filtered water
- 1 cup cane sugar
- 6 tea bags (black or green tea)
- 1 store-bought SCOBY kombucha live starter culture
- 5 Honeycrisp apples from Stemilt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 TBSP granulated sugar
- 2 cups of water
- Equipment: 1-gallon glass jar, tightly woven cloth (napkin, paper towel, tea towel, coffee filter) + rubber band, thermometer, pH test strips, towel, funnel, 6 - 16 oz glass bottles with tight-fitting plastic lids or swing-top bottles
Sweet Honeycrisp apples bring apple-y flavor to this homemade kombucha recipe. Once you get your SCOBY started, you can make this again and again!
- Bring 2 cups of filtered water to boil in a medium saucepan.
- Remove from the heat and submerge the 6 tea bags into the water. Let them steep for 5 - 10 minutes.
- Remove the tea bags from the water and discard. Add 1 cup of cane sugar to the tea and stir until the sugar has fully dissolved.
- Add the sugar tea water to the clean sterilized 1-gallon jar.
- Then add 12 cups of filtered water, ensuring that you leave enough space, roughly 3 - 4” at the top of the jar to add the starter culture.
- Check the temperature. It should read 75 - 85ºF before you can move to the next step.
- Add the entire contents of the SCOBY starter culture to the 1-gallon jar and stir to combine.
- Take a pH reading. The pH should be below 4.5. If it is not, add 1 tbsp of distilled white vinegar and retest.
- Place the woven cloth or similar material over the opening of the 1-gallon jar.
- Secure it with a rubber band. Place the jar in a warm area, between 75 - 85ºF. I like to place mine in the cupboard above the fridge wrapped in a towel. It is important that you place the jar in a warm area. The colder it is, the greater the chances that mold will grow.
- Let the Kombucha sit anywhere from 7-21 days. On day 7, you can start to taste the Kombucha by pouring a little out of the jar.
- When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is ideal for your taste, you are ready to bottle it!
- With clean hands, remove the SCOBY from the Kombucha and place it into a clean jar. Measure 2 cups of Kombucha from you This will be the starter for your next batch of Kombucha.r jar and add it to the SCOBY.
- Start brewing the tea and repeat steps 1 - 4. If you’re not ready to make a new batch right away, store the SCOBY submerged in a fresh batch of tea base or the previous Kombucha in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, in the fridge. Change out the tea for a fresh batch every 4 to 6 weeks.
- To make the homemade apple juice, peel, and core 5 Stemilt Honeycrisp apples. Chop them into small pieces and add them to a medium saucepan.
- To the apples add 1 tbsp of cinnamon, 2 tbsp of sugar, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 20 - 25 minutes until the apples are soft. Remove from the heat and let cool. Once the apples are cool, in two batches, place the apples plus their juices into a cheesecloth and strain into a clean jar.
- Using the funnel, divide the apple juice into the 6 bottles. Top the bottles with the Kombucha, leaving 1-2” of headspace at the top.
- Seal the bottles and store them at room temperature for 1 - 3 days. During the course of the next few days, carbon dioxide will build up in the bottles creating that wonderful fizz. Each day, pop the lid off the bottles to release the gas and pressure.
- When you are happy with the fizziness and flavor, place the bottles in the fridge and enjoy!
- Calories: 60
- Fat Content: .2g
- Cholesterol Content: 0mg
- Sodium Content: 26mg
- Carbohydrate Content: 15.9g
- Fiber Content: 2.2g
- Sugar Content: 12.7g
- Protein Content: .2g