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How to Make Kombucha

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Kombucha Ingredients / Supplies, Plus How to Get a SCOBY
An image of a Kombucha Mother.

Also known as a SCOBY, a kombucha "mother" is what ferments sweetened tea into effervescent kombucha.

Lindsey Goodwin
The first step to making kombucha (a.k.a. "vinegar tea" or "mushroom tea") is gathering everything you will need. For your first batch of kombucha, you'll need the following ingredients:
  • A kombucha culture, or SCOBY *
  • 2 liters of filtered water
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons of loose-leaf tea, or 3 to 4 teabags **
  • 10 tablespoons sugar (such as white sugar, raw sugar, coconut / palm sugar or honey)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
You'll also need the following equipment:
  • A sanitizer, such as apple cider vinegar (See Step Two)
  • A one-liter or larger pot
  • A measuring cup
  • A large mesh strainer
  • A three-liter jar or bowl
  • A long-handled spoon (preferably wooden or plastic, not metal)
  • A bandana, a tea towel, a clean dish rag or several paper towels
  • A strong rubber band large enough to fit around the lip of the jar or bowl
  • A piece of cheesecloth (or another clean bandana or dish rag with a fairly tight weave)
  • (Depending on the sizes) about five used glass bottles or jars with plastic-lined lids or wooden corks
* A SCOBY is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, and it's what ferments your sweet tea into kombucha. It's also known as a kombucha "mother" or a zoogleal mat, and it looks a bit like a mushroom (hence kombucha's nickname, "mushroom tea").

You can get a SCOBY one of several ways. If you know someone who is making kombucha, they will likely be glad to provide you with a kombucha "baby," which is a piece of their kombucha "mother" that can be grown into a new "mother." You can also buy a SCOBY online, or at some health food stores, and many restaurants and cafes that sell kombucha will give you a kombucha baby for free. If you keep making batches of kombuacha and you are careful to keep your workstation and brewing materials clean (to prevent bacterial contamination), you can reuse your kombucha culture over and over as it grows, so this is a one-time acquisition.

** Black tea is most commonly used, but you can also use white tea, green tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea or even tisanes to make kombucha. Be sure to use more volume for white tea or tisanes.

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