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Save Money by Homebrewing Your Own Kombucha

October 19, 2020

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Move over, sourdough starter, kombucha is the new homecraft food. And you don’t have to pay $7 per bottle.

This guide will help you become a master kombucha homebrewer.

And when you brew your own booch at home, you can make your favorite flavors with ingredients that cost next to nothing.

So let’s take a peek at what this bubbly drink can do for you. 

The benefits of booch

Kombucha is a drink that’s made by fermenting simple ingredients. 

That fermentation process creates a beverage that’s got a ton of health benefits. Those include:

  • Better gut health (thanks to the probiotics in kombucha)

  • Healthier cells (thanks to the antioxidants)

  • Reduced risk of cancer

  • Reduced risk of heart disease

  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes

Not bad. 

Basically, if you’re looking for a way to give your health a boost, kombucha delivers.

The only problem? Store-bought options are anything but cheap.

That’s where homebrewing comes in. But be ready. It can get a little weird. 

That basics of booch

At its core, kombucha is pretty simple. Combine tea and sugar with one other ingredient.

The special ingredient is called a SCOBY, or symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. 

The SCOBY is a weird-looking, rubbery disc made mostly of cellulose. 

When you add sugar and tea into a container with a SCOBY and let them all chill for a few weeks together, the magic happens.

Over time, the SCOBY’s yeast and bacteria break down the tea’s sugars and turn them into something else. That fermentation process yields health perks like probiotics and antioxidants. 

And the SCOBY does all the work for you. Really, if you can make a cup of tea, you can make kombucha. Let’s get to the details. 

How to homebrew kombucha

First, you’ll need a few things:

  • A glass one-gallon jar 

  • A piece of cloth to serve as your jar’s lid

  • A rubber band or string to hold the lid down

  • 12 cups of water

  • 8 tea bags (black or green)

  • 1 cup of sugar

  • Your SCOBY and its starter liquid

Now, you can make your own SCOBY, but it can be tricky. It’s easier to buy one. You can usually find them at health food stores. 

Or if you’ve got a friend who’s already homebrewing, ask them for some of their SCOBY. The SCOBY grows over time, so it won’t be any skin off their back to share. 

However you get your SCOBY, make sure it comes home with at least a couple of cups of starter liquid. 

Once you have that, you’re ready to get started. 

  1. Gently transfer your SCOBY and its starter liquid to your gallon jar. 

  2. Bring the water to a boil in a big pot. 

  3. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves completely.

  4. Turn off the heat and add your tea bags. You want a really strong tea here, so let them steep for at least 20 minutes. If you forget about the tea as it’s steeping, no worries. 

  5. Let your tea mixture cool to room temperature.

  6. Gently pour it over the SCOBY into your gallon jar. 

  7. Secure your lid over the top of the jar and put it in a place that doesn’t get any sunlight and that keeps a pretty consistent temperature. 

  8. Wait three weeks.

Once the three weeks are up, you’ve got a base kombucha. Pour 12 cups from your jar, leaving some liquid in with the SCOBY, and you can repeat the above steps over and over. 

Your homebrew setup is the gift that keeps on giving. 

You’ll probably want to strain what you take from your gallon jar before diving in. 

Now, technically, you’ve got booch. But a second ferment will make it taste much better.

Going the extra mile

If you’re purely looking for a health drink, the above process might be enough for you. 

But if you want kombucha that tastes like the store-bought stuff, you’ll need a second ferment. 

For this, you’ll need a couple of things:

  • Two cups of the chopped fruit of your choice (e.g., strawberries, blueberries, pineapple)

  • Airtight containers like mason jars or growlers

Then, follow these steps. 

  1. Transfer your strained kombucha to your airtight containers, leaving some space at the top. 

  2. Distribute your fruit evenly among your containers. (If you’re feeling fancy, you can add in other stuff for flavor, too. Strawberry and lavender makes for a great summer brew, while apple and cinnamon are solid choices for fall.)

  3. Put your containers in a dark, temperature stable place.

  4. Wait a couple of weeks. 

  5. Be careful when you open the containers. They probably have some built-up pressure from the carbonation inside.

  6. Strain your second-brew booch. 

You can drink it right away, but it will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Store it in airtight containers to preserve the carbonation. 

For the cost of a little bit of tea, sugar, and fruit, you can keep a continuous kombucha brew going. You’ll get all those gut-healthy probiotics without the sticker shock of store-bought booch. 

Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of Varo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC (“Bank”).. Bank is not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

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Kacie Goff

Kacie Goff

Kacie Goff has over five years of experience writing personal finance content for a wide range of audiences. She's always loved taking complex concepts and distilling them down so they're more accessible to others. As she creates content, she aims to educate and engage, helping people discover that successfully managing their money can be easier than they ever imagined. Over the last five years, she’s also covered personal and commercial insurance, home design, health and wellness, and more for publications including Bankrate, Freshome, The Simple Dollar, and websites of a broad variety of businesses. Her brand is Jot Content (

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