Fashion & Beauty Health

DIY Basic Kombucha with a Second Fermentation

Let’s just say I have a few fermentation books. Wild Fermentation, Nourishing Traditions and Mastering Fermentation. I think I’ve even gotten rid of a couple. Plus there’s other cookbooks that have sections on it. So when I saw Fermented: A Four Season Approach to Paleo Probiotic Foods at the library I flipped through it, checked it out, but didn’t think I was going to learn that much.

I was WRONG. I love this book. Might even buy it, but for now I’m just really enjoying fermenting out of it. Jill Ciciarelli, the author, really breaks stuff down into information my brain has been able to absorb. As a result I was finally able to brew kombucha in my little kitchen without issue and get bubbles. Not just some bubbles, but effervescent like GT’s bubbles.

This is huge for me. I have quite a kombucha habit. I use it as a reward for going and braving the crowds at Wholefoods. Or for a pick me up. I think it costs me about $20 a week. That adds up friends.

Hopefully I can share what I have learned.


Get one from a friend ( thx Shelly ). Or purchase a Kombucha Brooklyn Home Brew Kit.

Starter Tea
You need a small about of kombucha to brew a fresh batch. Hopefully your friend gave you some with your SCOBY, but if they didn’t get some plain kombucha from Wholefoods or some other retailer. I would suggest getting GT’s original in the brown containers.

Glass Jar for Fermentation
From 1 quart to a gallon. If you are local you can grab a one gallon jar from the Fermenter’s Club or at Peoples. You can also order online.

Almost any tea will do, as long as it’s actually tea from the Camellia sinesis plant ( with rooibos being the exception ). I will suggest that you start with black tea to build your confidence. Black teas are great. Assam, darjeeling, ceylon. Green Tea. Oolong Tea. White Tea ( I wouldn’t use this until you are ready to go pro ). Rooibos Tea or Red tea. Unflavored is best. Try to always use organic teas because the pesticides from conventional teas can mess with your SCOBY’s ecology and frankly your body’s ecology. You can get nice quality teas online or from a local retailer.

Plain, ol’ white sugar works nicely, but if that gives you the creeps, use organic raw cane sugar. I use organic raw cane sugar and so far, so good.

Cover for Jar
You can use coffee filters, thin dish towels, old handkerchiefs, muslin, or linen napkins. Just don’t use cheesecloth because fruit flies are bastards and they will mess with your Mother. Don’t mess with Mom. Secure cloth of your choice with a rubberband.

I use old GT bottles because I have them and they are easy to clean. You might like flip-tops. I like 16oz bottles because the serving size is just right for Josh and I.

Funnels, Straws and Juicers
Funnel for bottling. Straws for sipping to see if your brew is ready. Juicers for well… juice. All of these are nice for obvious reasons, but not necessary.


1 gallon of filtered water
⅓ cup of loose-leaf organic tea or 6-8 tea bags
1 scant cup of sugar
½ – 1 cup of starter tea

1. Heat water to just shy of boiling.
2. Brew tea. Usually 3 to 5 minutes, but it depends on your preference and the type of tea you are using. Remove Tea.
3. Add sugar and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
4. Cool tea to room temp. ( your tea needs to be cool or it will kill your SCOBY )
5. Pour the tea into glass jar.
6. Add SCOBY and starter tea to tea sugar mixture. Secure cover with rubberband.
7. Put jar in a well-ventilated, warm ( 70ish degrees ), dry place that’s not dark. Light and warmth will aid the bacteria and yeast in their sugar eating dance.
8. Let your kombucha sit out for anywhere from 5 days to a few weeks to ferment. I start checking at 5 days. I taste to see if most of the sugar has been eaten and if it’s tart enough for me. You can also test with ph strips and when they read 4.0 to 5.0 it’s done.
9. Bottle and reserve a cup of tea to start your next batch.


Doing a second ferment will enhance the flavor of your kombucha and hopefully give it some fizz. You can add another ½ teaspoon of sugar or the equivalent of 2 grams of sugar in juice form to 16 oz of finished kombucha. For instance 2 teaspoons of raw orange juice or 1 tablespoon of pear juice. This is where you get to be creative. Leave out on the counter for 3-5 more days. Refrigerate. Enjoy.

Be careful opening after a second fermentation because pressure can build. You can open over a sink to be on the safe side. I haven’t had one explode, but I don’t want to have it happen either.

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  • Reply
    October 28, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    Desi, did you add fruit juice in second fermentation? I have only added sugar but next round I want to add juice too…

  • Reply
    Desi McKinnon
    October 28, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    I haven't used juice yet. I think the key is to make sure there's the same amount of glucose in the juice as in the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.

  • Reply
    October 29, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    I tried brewing a batch a few years ago but had to toss it due to mold. I was so discouraged, I never tried again. I have a pretty expensive habit myself, so maybe it's time to try again…

  • Reply
    Desi McKinnon
    October 29, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    I had the same issue. This time around it's been much easier.

  • Reply
    December 17, 2014 at 7:45 PM

    After conquering a silly SCOBY fear (ha! turns out they're not gross at all), I've got a continuous brew system going here. My only issue so far is not getting the second ferment to bubble. I used juice (so, imprecise glucose amount–(although the same kind/amount makes my water kefir fizzy)) and only let it sit out for 3 days. Going to trouble-shoot it with plain sugar and 5 days on the counter. You are a wealth of info, my friend 🙂

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