I recently started brewing my own kombucha at home. It is healthy and delicious, but can get very pricey to buy at the store (i.e. $4-5 per bottle!). I needed a SCOBY, which stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast, to get the whole things started. At first I planned to purchase one online, but then wondered (as I often do) if I could grow one from scratch using raw, store-bought kombucha. It worked! Here is how I did it:
Supplies & Ingredients
1 Bottle of raw, unpasteurized, unflavored kombucha (I used GT’s Original)
1 Pot or Pan
4 cups of purified water (in most cases tap is fine)
½ cup of organic cane sugar (FYI: other sweeteners unfortunately CANNOT be substituted when making kombucha)
4 black tea bags or 1-2 Tablespoons of loose black tea
Half Gallon Jar
Cheesecloth or a cotton kitchen towel
1. Combine the sugar and water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes.
2. Add the tea bags to the water or use an infuser if using loose tea.
3. Allow the tea to steep for at least 15 minutes.
4. Pour the sweet tea into your half-gallon container.
5. IMPORTANT: Wait for the tea to cool completely. If it’s too hot the raw kombucha will get cooked and will no longer contain the live cultures needed to grown a SCOBY. Once cool, add the entire bottle of raw kombucha.
6. At this point you can add cool water to fill the jar, leaving 1-2 inches of space at the top
7. Cover the jar with 2 layers of cheesecloth or a piece of a cotton kitchen towel and secure with a rubber band.
8. Place the jar out of direct sunlight, somewhere relatively warm (I put it on top of my refrigerator).
9. Wait patiently for 2-4 weeks for the SCOBY to grow! Ideally, it should be at least a ¼ inch thick before you use it to brew your first batch of kombucha from scratch.
The process of growing a SCOBY will likely also ferment the sweet tea into kombucha. After you’ve saved 1 cup of this liquid and the SCOBY for your next batch, you can drink the kombucha that has brewed in the jar. See my upcoming article: How to Brew Kombucha Tea to get started brewing your next batch!
Since kombucha is a live food, it can be temperamental, and some people may have trouble growing their own SCOBY from scratch. If all else fails, Cultures for Health sells dehydrated SCOBY’s that can be purchased online. Happy brewing!