Crazy for kombucha

My roommates had plenty of questions when I first started brewing kombucha in the dorms.

Was I secretly a witch? Was that floating mass in the jar a fetus? Was I making moonshine in disguise? Was it even safe to drink?

I assured them it was safe, and that the strange mass was a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, otherwise known as a SCOBY. And that I wasn’t a witch. But I could still detect their skepticism.

Fast forward four years and now everyone embraces this probiotic beverage like it’s last year’s kale salad, and for good reasons. It’s nutritious, fun and an exciting science experiment all wrapped into one big, veiled mason jar on your kitchen counter.

From improving your digestive system to delivering more energy to your body (probably via sugar), there seems to be little that a shot of kombucha cannot cure.

The defining element of kombucha is its SCOBY, which is basically a floating organism of bacteria and yeast that does some crazy fermentation action on your tea. The SCOBY is responsible for giving your tea that fizzy carbonation and for delivering a powerhouse of healthy probiotics (aka “good” bacteria) to improve your digestive system.

Additionally, it’s highly versatile and delicious to drink at any hour of the day.

While I cannot say that my regular consumption of kombucha has turned me into a superhero, I can attest to its exceptionally refreshing flavor. It’s like healthy soda without the explosive amounts of sugar. Or the chic beer that won’t leave you groggy and hung over but is still totally cool to drink.

The one major downside to kombucha is buying it. Those bottles of bacteria bliss don’t come cheap. In fact, at $4 a bottle, it’s probably cheaper to buy a tub of actively cultured yogurt.

Fortunately, kombucha is easy and cheap to make once you get in the rhythm of making it. Your friends and roommates may still think you’re bizarre — but secretly they’ll envy your talent (and your kombucha).

Hibiscus green tea kombucha

Photo credit: Grace Kerfoot



  • 1 gallon-sized Mason jar (cleaned very well)
  • 1 very large pot to boil water
  • water
  • 1 cup of raw cane sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of your favorite loose-leaf tea (I recommend hibiscus and green tea) or 8 tea bags
  • 1 viable SCOBY. Snoop around online or better yet, start asking other kombucha makers.


  1. Bring the water to a boil in your large pot.
  2. Add in the 1 cup of sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Then pour the water into your large, cleaned Mason jar.
  3. Add your tea bags and cover the jar with a light tea towel (or a very clean T-shirt). Brew the tea until the water is completely room temperature (at least four hours). With clean hands, give the tea bags a good squeeze, remove them from the jar and discard or compost.
  4. Gently pour in your SCOBY and recover the jar with your tea towel. Secure it with a rubber band.
  5. Tuck your kombucha into a room temperature place, away from direct sunlight (I keep mine in the corner on my countertop) and leave for seven to 14 days. Fermentation speed and readiness depends on the temperature, the mood of your SCOBY and your own flavor preference.
  6. Check after seven days by simply taking a little out with a clean spoon — don’t worry about disrupting the SCOBY. Make sure not to let it ferment for too long, as it will eventually turn unpleasantly vinegary. Once it tastes ready to you, enjoy at your own leisure.

For more information about making kombucha, storing your SCOBY and troubleshooting click here.

Grace Kerfoot can be reached at [email protected] or @gracekerf on Twitter.