Making kombucha tea requires five simple ingredients: water, tea, sugar, starter tea, and a kombucha starter culture (SCOBY). You have lots of choices for each ingredient, but using the right ingredients for your kombucha creates a healthier environment for the SCOBY.

With hand-picked ingredients and supplies for reliable results our Kombucha Tea Starter Kit was designed to make home kombucha brewing as easy as possible. Just add water to get started.

While it is possible to switch up the tea and sugar you use to change the flavor of your finished kombucha, we recommend you wait until you have a baby SCOBY or two to spare before experimenting with different tea and sugar combinations.

Choosing Water for Making Kombucha

What To Use

Kombucha cultures best when you use water that is as free from contaminants as possible. A high mineral content is not particularly important for kombucha, unlike other fermented beverages. In fact, it may be harmful to the SCOBY if the water has too high a mineral content.

Basic, inexpensive spring water is fine to use, but a water that claims to be "mineral water" or has a high mineral content should be avoided if possible.

 

How to Remove Contaminants

We recommend using filtered water to remove as many additives, chemicals, and contaminants as possible.

If your water contains chloramines, it must be filtered. Removing fluorides also requires special filters. Check your filter instructions to check what contaminants it removes.

If filtering is not possible, at the very least, aerating or boiling the water for 20 minutes may remove the chlorine. Letting the water stand for 24 hours will also allow chlorine to evaporate.

What to Avoid

Water that is structured, alkalized, or pH-adjusted is not appropriate for making kombucha.

If you are still uncertain about the best source of water for making kombucha, you can learn more about choosing the right water for culturing here.

Choosing Tea for Making Kombucha

Brewing kombucha requires real tea (camellia sinensis) for both minerals and nitrogen.

The type of tea used to brew kombucha can affect the health of the SCOBY as well as the taste of your finished brew. If you're just getting started, we find that plain black tea works best for making kombucha. We also recommend using organic tea whenever possible, to avoid chemical contaminants.

It's best to wait until you have a healthy SCOBY and have made at least 4 batches of kombucha before using some other teas. Follow the guidelines to experiment with flavors AND keep your SCOBY happy and healthy.

Type of Teas for Kombucha

  • Types: Ceylon, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, etc.
  • About: Fully oxidized tea leaves; provides all the nutrients for the SCOBY; Best choice for activating a SCOBY and making kombucha regularly.
  • Flavor Impact: Makes a bold, fruity-tasting kombucha
  • Special Notes: Avoid Earl Grey and other black teas containing oils and added flavoring.
  • About: Partially oxidized tea leaves.
  • Flavor Impact: Makes a milder flavored kombucha, somewhat fruity and grassy
  • Notes: A CFH favorite for brewing kombucha! Works well for activating a dehydrated scoby and making kombucha regularly.
  • Types: Jasmine, gunpowder green, etc.
  • About: Withered and steamed tea leaves; minimally oxidized.
  • Flavor Impact: Makes a lighter, softer kombucha.
  • Notes: Avoid green teas with oils or added flavoring. Use in combination with black tea or on its own.
  • About: Baked and dried tea leaves, minimally oxidized.
  • Flavor Impact: Creates a flowery and delicate flavor.
  • Notes: Use in combination with black, green, or oolong tea. Not recommended for activating scoby or making first 4 batches of kombucha.
  • About: Baked and dried tea leaves, minimally oxidized.
  • Flavor Impact: Creates a flowery and delicate flavor.
  • Notes: Use in combination with at least 25% black tea for brewing kombucha. Not recommended for activating scoby or making first 4 batches of kombucha.
  • About: Made from plants other than camellia sinensis.
  • Flavor Impact: Flavor varies depending on tea.
  • Notes: Use in combination with at least 25% black tea for brewing kombucha. Avoid herbal teas containing oils or added flavoring. Not recommended for activating scoby or making first 4 batches of kombucha.

A Note About Caffeine

If caffeine is a concern, you can use decaffeinated tea for making kombucha.  (While it was previously believed that most of the caffeine is released in the first few minutes of steeping tea, this idea has proved false.)

Choosing Sugar for Making Kombucha

While it can be tempting to try to find ways not to use sugar in recipes, sugar is required for the fermentation process and cannot be bypassed or substituted. Using less sugar than required may starve the SCOBY.

Keep in mind that the longer the kombucha is fermented, the less sugar remains. Brew from 7-30 days, tasting along the way, to find the best balance between sugar and flavor.

Sugar

Description

Results

White cane sugar Pure white, free of minerals Good choice for brewing kombucha
 Organic Cane Juice Crystals  Unbleached white sugar; very low mineral content CFH best choice for brewing kombucha.
 Brown, raw, or whole cane sugars  Sugar that is less refined and contains molasses Hard on the kombucha scoby. Produces a yeasty kombucha and may shorten the scoby's life. Not recommended.
Honey  Natural sugar from bees; may be raw or pasteurized Results may be inconsistent; If used, always have a back-up scoby available.
 Agave, Maple, coconut, palm sugars or syrups  Sugar extracted from various plants or trees  Results may be inconsistent and hard on the scoby. Not recommended.
 Stevia, xylitol, or Artificial Sweeteners Sugar substitutes Do not contain nutrients or proper food for the kombucha scoby. Not recommended.

Choosing Starter Tea and Vinegar for Making Kombucha

The addition of an acidic liquid is critical to the health of the SCOBY and the safety of the batch of kombucha. The most desirable acidic liquid to use when brewing a batch of kombucha is properly brewed kombucha tea from a previous batch.

If starter tea is not available, there are two options:

  1. Use a bottle of store-bought raw, unflavored kombucha tea.
  2. Use white distilled vinegar. Vinegar can make up all or part of the acidic liquid portion needed to brew a batch of kombucha.

Obtaining a Kombucha SCOBY

A healthy kombucha scoby is important to making a good batch of kombucha tea. If you do not have a healthy scoby, try our Kombucha Tea Starter Culture or check our our information on obtaining or growing a kombucha scoby.

What's Next?

Now that you know more about the ingredients for making kombucha, make sure you have all the supplies you need to get brewing.Then watch our How-To Video on making homemade kombucha to get started. You Can Do This!