Kombucha Reload or How to restock your fermenter

Time for a Kombucha Reload.  I’ve got a pretty good routine for keeping myself in kombucha.  I managed to generate a gallon-sized SCOBY and I’ve worked up to a good mash to make to feed the SCOBY.  Here’s my recipe for kombucha.

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 8 bags black tea

Living in the District of Columbia suburbs has its perks, but the water really sucks.  I like to boil it hard for 5-10 minutes before any fermenting projects.  It drives out the chlorine that would kill my good bacteria and yeasts.  I think it also helps with the strong sulfur nose that doesn’t lend much to the finished product.

homemade kombucha

Hard boil for kombucha

Here’s my main fermenter.  I’ve already siphoned out a couple of glasses to drink, but I’d like to get a little bottled for the fridge and I have to make sure I leave some for the next batch.  I’ve had good results with leaving the SCOBY floating in a pint of the last batch and then adding 3 1/2 quarts of sweet tea.

homemade kombucha

Half drunk kombucha

Very gently, I stick a siphon hose half-way into the fermenting jar.  From there, I can siphon out clear kombucha until there’s nothing left in the jar, except the sots and the SCOBY.  Once I’ve saved off the drinkable kombucha, I funnel that into flip tops for the fridge and then clean out the fermenter.  Hint:  Leave the freshly bottled kombucha, sealed in the bottles, out of the refrigerator for a couple of days to ferment a little longer and gather up some carbonation.  This is the same method I use for fermenting my ginger beer.

Despite the health benefits of ingesting the spent yeast cells that collect on the SCOBY and pile up in the bottom of the jar, personally, I think they’re gross and like to get rid of them.  So I rinse out the fermenter jar and wipe off the SCOBY.  Don’t be tempted to rinse anything under the faucet!!!  Remember the chlorine in the tap water???  Certain death!  A clean towel removes the bulk of the gunk.

homemade kombucha

This is my SCOBY. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My SCOBY is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

The boiled off water gets 8 tea bags and 1 cup of cane sugar.  I guess you could, and a lot of people do, use white sugar.  I like the raw stuff.  There’s a little more flavor in it that adds a nice tone to the kombucha.  The white stuff is just sweet.  The raw stuff is sweet, but there’s flavor, too.  I found some real cheap black tea at the Asian market.  A couple of dollars bought me a hundred bags of fairly delicious tea.

Update 7/14/17:  I’ve been warned against using cheap imported tea because of the flouride content.  Better to get some high quality tea: http://amzn.to/2sYubuU

homemade kombucha

Some cheap tea is delicious

Leave the tea to brew while the water cools.  Use a Thermapen and wait until the brew is under 100 F before you pour it into the fermenter.  Cooking your precious SCOBY would be a very bad thing.  So, pour the cooled tea into the fermenter and put it back in the warm, dark cupboard and wait a week or two for the next batch…


About John MacDowall

I was born in Poughkeepsie, NY. We moved to a farm during middle school where I learned about raising animals and growing food. Now, I live in the affluent suburbs of Washington, DC and wonder why people eat the way they do.


  1. Pingback: Homebrewed Kombucha - Better Done Yourself

  2. I am so excited- tried my first Kombucha today. It was pricie, had to see what it would taste like. I love
    this. Happy to find this recipe!!! have to work for the next couple of days,but then I’m on a mission. I’ll let you know how it works for me. Thanks for the statt!!!

  3. I purchased some organic raw Komucha called Gingerade that has sediment at the bottom. Can this sediment be used or cultured? or doesn’t it have enough microbes in it. Never done this before and so I’m in the dark. Thanks

  4. The sediment is spent yeast cells. They’re harmless and useless.

  5. Like this Idea. how long have you used the same scoby? I may do this along w the “SCOBY hotel” idea. thanks

  6. I enjoy your site, thanks for the info. I’m relatively new to making kombucha, I’m on my 5th batch and doing four gallons at a time now. Looking into info on a SCOBY hotel. Thanks for your guidance.

  7. LOL John, I had my first kombucha yesterday and have started growing my own personal pet SCOBY. I have quit alcohol due to an aggressive high grade cancer battle. It was high time anyway. So I plan to brew my own kombucha, bottle it and drink it every night as I did white wine/champagne/sparkling. It looks the part, tastes great and doesn’t end the evening with my eyes rolling around in my head.

    • Mintaka, I quit drinking alcohol 8 years ago and the kombucha has been an amazing replacement. The fizz and the tart flavour have replaced the alcohol “taste” and they say it might be good for me!

  8. John, thanks. I am thrilled that we have started our first batch of kombucha. We started it New Year’s Day, and it is 5 days old now. We tasted it this morning, and it is still somewhat sweet so will leave it another day. I want to know how fast it goes from sweet to sour. I bought some dried elderflower to make the second ferment. We have a 2 gallon continuous brew started and should be able to pull of 1 quart (1 L) at first, then do a second ferment. In a week or two’s time, we will be able to pull off 2 L or more per day!
    I can’t see going back to drinking champagne or white wine, or any alcohol. I feel brilliant without it. The elderflower/sugar/lemon juice second ferment is supposed to come out tasting a bit like champagne.

    • How did your Kombucha come out? I would make an infusion with the elderflowers and add a little sugar and then add some to each bottle of kombucha that you decant and then seal for a second ferment. In a couple days, you should have a nice carbonation going!

  9. Interesting,..

  10. John, what’s your recommendation for the flavoring during a second ferment? My first batch I added fresh lemon zest and dried lavender flowers directly to the thick glass latch top bottles and left at room temp for 2 days. It was my first batch with a SCOBY I got on Amazon, so it was weak and I may have pulled it too early, it developed almost no carbonation 🙁
    My question is this: For fresh juiced ginger or other flavorings for my next batch, should I flavor the entire vessel with or without the SCOBY in it or add the flavoring to my bottles?
    Thanks! By the way my second batch is much stronger due to the kindness of another boocher who shared a healthy BIG Scoby with me! 🙂

    • You need to add some sugar with the second ferment: either a tsp of white sugar or a couple ounces of sweet juice. Never add flavor to your first ferment vessel, just setl sweet tea and your SCOBY.

  11. hello,
    my kombucha is coming out very bubbly after the second fermentation. I put a little bit of fruit in for the second fermentation. I love it and it tastes great, but it fizzes and spurts all over the place when I open the bottle. Any suggestions on how to manage the fizzing issue?

    Also, I wanted to comment to those people who are using this as a substitute for alcohol….doesn’t kombucha have alcohol in it? After the fermentation? Maybe that’s why it is such a good substitute – because it actually IS alcohol!

    • You ARE chilling the kombucha before opening, right? Have you ever opened a warm beer? Were you surprised?

      There very little, if no, alcohol in kombucha. Alcohol fermentation is much slower. The bacteria in kombucha take over before the yeast gets much of a chance to make much alcohol.

  12. holy bubbles!!!! most interesting video – and story!
    I have one question: can you cold brew the tea? (I know, not with your water), but does it have to be brewed tea? Some people warn about the fluoride in tea – would that be less in a cold brew? If you know, would you share, please?

    • I have discontinued the use of cheap imported tea. Tea contains a ton of antioxidants that counteract the effects of the flouride. Find a high quality tea that you like. You also need to boil the tea to extract the tannins that the kombucha needs to florish.

      • thanks! will brew again, though it seemed to do well with the cold brew but I do not want to mess up my scobys! I have 2 going, and need to park a few sooner or later 🙂 LOVE it! hoping to convince hubby to switch to this, he is ok with the taste, but it is not easy teaching an old dog new tricks LOL
        Thanks for all your info!!!

  13. How much is too much kombucha? I have a set of instructions that says “don’t drink any more than 1/2 cup per day (1st thing in the morning on an empty stomach). That’s fine except that I usually want to drink some more in the evening. What is the down side of drinking too much?

  14. How on earth do you get that much fizz??

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