What the Heck is Kombucha?

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Over on my Facebook page, I am always talking about Kombucha. I am a Kombucha addict. I love it. I love the taste, the smell, and the squishy SCOBY’s that I use to make the drink. It is my drink of choice.

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I get so many messages and comments from people who have never heard of it. Well, here is my little bit of knowledge on the health benefits of Kombucha.

Kombucha is an ancient elixir that has a history of starting in China and, somehow, made it’s way over here to America. It is a sort of “tea” that is infused by fermentation with beneficial bacteria, probiotics, and yeast and is great for your gut and overall health. It is made from either using black or green tea, and some herbal teas, some sugar (which the yeast feeds on), and lots of patience.

The SCOBY (“symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”) looks like a flat mushroom but solid and squishy. This SCOBY is actually alive and feeds on the white sugar that is in the tea. Wait, WHITE SUGAR?!?! Yes, plain old white sugar. It may be the only thing I buy white sugar for, but my SCOBY’s thrive on it. After fermentation, which usually takes around 7-10 days, the SCOBY is then taken out of the tea and the tea is then bottled and refrigerated and ready to drink! Or, you may choose to do a second fermentation which is just for a few more days. The purpose of the second fermentation is to create more “fizz” (Kombucha is naturally carbonated because of the fermentation) and, also, a time to add any kind of fruit flavorings that you may want to the tea. My flavoring of choice is Pom juice. I add a few ounces to every 16 ounce jar and it gives it a delicious taste.

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Taste. What does it taste like? I get this question all the time and it’s really hard to describe the taste. To me it taste like something between a hard cider and champagne. But, no, Kombucha is not alcoholic.

Why do I drink it? Well, first of all, I’m cheap. I am a self-proclaimed cheapo and the cost of probiotics is just ridiculous. The cost to make a gallon of Kombucha is around $1! The cost to buy a 16 ounce bottle of Kombucha from a health food store is $4!!! The cost to buy a bottle of probiotics is $40! Hmmm, tough decision but I’ll stick with my cheap Kombucha!


How I make it:

Step One: Boil 2 quarts of water and add 3 family-size tea bags and 1 cup of white sugar. You can use organic sugar and organic tea if you would like, but it is not necessary.

Step Two: Once the tea is cooled (not hot, you could kill your SCOBY) add it to a gallon glass jar. Must be glass. Then add 2 more quarts of filtered water and 1 cup of starter liquid (which should have come with your new SCOBY).

Step Three: Cover the jar with a coffee filter or cloth and set aside to ferment for 7-10 days. Taste it every other day or so and you will learn about the process of how the SCOBY alters the taste.

Step Four: Take the SCOBY and the new baby that may have formed on the top of the liquid and put them aside.

Step Five: This is personal preference now, as I mentioned above. Either bottle it up and put the Kombucha in the fridge or do a second fermentation. I don’t do a second fermentation. I just bottle it up, add a few ounces of Pom juice to the bottles and put them in the fridge. Make sure you keep 1 cup of the Kombucha to put in the next batch. This is your starter liquid which will get the next batch going.

Step Six: Repeat steps 1-5 and drink up!

Where can I get Kombucha?

You can either buy Kombucha at health food stores, or you can easily make it yourself at home!

Click here to get Kombucha cultures to make at home.

***I’ve been told that you should start slow with drinking Kombucha because it is a natural detoxer. I started drinking a cup a day and then gradually increased it. I, now, drink about 32 ounces a day and enjoy every sip of it!***

Please note: Products mentioned in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information on this page are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This website is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, psychological, or psychiatric problem, or a disability that requires medical attention, then you should consult your licensed medical doctor or appropriate health care provider. Always consult your medical doctor regarding your medical care. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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58 Responses to What the Heck is Kombucha?

  1. Lori Winters January 17, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    what do you do with the Scoby betwean batches? keep in fridg or just on the counter?

    • The Paleo Mama January 17, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

      The scoby goes right in the next batch. As I’m bottling up the old batch, I am also brewing a new batch. I keep it going cause we will run out. I have 3 gallons going at a time.

      • Tiffany January 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

        And if you aren’t making that much of it what do you do with the SCOBY in between, please?

        • The Paleo Mama January 17, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

          You put the scoby in a glass jar and cover with Kombucha liquid. Keep a coffee filter or a cloth on top of the jar so it can breath. Make sure it stays wet until you are ready to use it.

      • Tiffany January 17, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

        Thank you!!!

  2. Leslie January 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    Try pineapple-ginger. It’s to die for!!!!

    • The Paleo Mama January 17, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

      I love ginger-lemon!

    • Sharon D. January 17, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

      what do you add for your pineapple ginger flavor? Thanks!

      • The Paleo Mama January 17, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

        I have used Pineapple juice (100%) and cut a few matchsticks of ginger and threw them in there. Then you seal the lid (I probably should add that to my post) and let it ferment die a few more days. Everyday you should release the seal during the second fermentation or the jar could explode on you!

  3. Sharon D. January 17, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    do you still get the same health benefits without the second fermentation?

    • The Paleo Mama January 17, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

      Yes! The second fermentation is mostly so that the flavorings you add, distribute throughout. Also it creates more fizz, if you need that POP

  4. Jennifer January 17, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    Thanks for the info! Does kombucha have caffeine? I suppose this depends on what tea you start with.

    • The Paleo Mama January 17, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

      Yes it has a little bit and varies from about 5mg-10mg per 8 ounces. If you make your own kombucha, you can decaffeinate your tea before making kombucha out of it. Steep your tea for 30-60 seconds in water, throw out that water, then steep in fresh water for the kombucha.

  5. Jennifer Fountain January 18, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Suggestions for where to get a gallon glass jar? How much do you give the kids a day? I was thinking of starting the triplets off with an oz of first-batch mixed with water…?

    • The Paleo Mama January 18, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

      I use old gallon pickle jars! It was cheaper to buy pickles than to buy a plain glass jar! However Walmart has glass jars I think. My kids prefer it straight up mixed with some Pom juice. You could start with an ounce or two mixed with some fruit purée or juice!

  6. peggy Schuneman January 19, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    I am watching my carbs….any clue how much are in it?

    • The Paleo Mama January 19, 2013 at 9:37 am #

      About 7g per 8oz of raw, plain Kombucha. When you add fruit juice (which you don’t have to) then you add more carbs. We drink ours plain a lot of the time!

  7. southbeachprimalRachel January 22, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    Just started my first Kombucha experiment. I got the start up scoby online and we are using the continuous brewing technique. I’m so excited to try it! I like that you add Pom juice too, I think that sounds good.

    • The Paleo Mama January 22, 2013 at 9:37 am #

      Oh fun!!! We love experimenting with different flavors! My almost 4 yr old requests Kombucha with Pom juice over anything else!

  8. Theresa February 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    Do you happen to have any extra scoby’s that you wouldn’t mind shipping? I’d be happy to pay you.

  9. Jennifer February 23, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    Can I use decaf tea for this? We are sensitive to caffeine :) Thanks!

    • The Paleo Mama February 24, 2013 at 2:29 am #

      Yes you can!

      • Jennifer February 25, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

        Thank you, I just got a baby scboy. I’m wondering if I need to make a half batch? Since the SCOBY is so small? Mine is about the size of a half dollar. Does that matter?

        • The Paleo Mama February 26, 2013 at 1:11 am #

          Yes, I would make it in a quart jar until you grow it to be bigger. Won’t take long!

  10. Trish March 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    Odd question maybe, but once it gets larger, how do you get the scoby in and out of the jar? Do they never get larger than the opening at the top of the jar?

    • The Paleo Mama March 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

      They grow to the shape of whatever jar you are using! So, no it won’t get wider than the width of your jar.

  11. Tara Sotelo March 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    I tried the bottled kombucha from Whole Foods once and it was so disgusting that I poured that stupid $4 drink down the drain…which I never do, so it was BAD. Before I go investing a bunch of time and energy into making this stuff…how similar is the taste of the homemade to the stuff in bottles at the store??

    • The Paleo Mama March 5, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

      I always tell people you either love Kombucha or hate it. Homemade and storebought taste very similar. Sometimes my homemade is even stronger cause it ferments longer.

  12. karolina donald April 9, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

    is it normal for the stringy stuff to be more of a grey colour? i know it isnt mould because it is in the actual liquid itself and not on the top. Could the grey matter be dead parts of a scoby i put in with a full scoby?

    • Beth September 15, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

      Yes, strings of grey,, brown or just strings are normal….Mold is not normal!

  13. Lisa April 17, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    I’ve reading that this drink does contain alcohol due to the fermentation process. What are your thoughts?

    • The Paleo Mama April 25, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

      True! But, it’s a natural fermentation so I don’t see the harm in it.

  14. Kristi Atchley July 17, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    What kind of jars do you use to bottle it up after its ready?

    • The Paleo Mama July 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

      I use old recycled glass bottles that have a good lid. Sometimes even pint size mason jars!

  15. PappaSky September 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    I see the pic of your little one holding a GT bottle of “brew”. Just kills me to spend $3 (on sale no less) a bottle for this, but I too am addicted…..sigh. Kombucha is just so darn yummy!!!!

    I am checking locally (Palm Springs) and am not able to locate a SCOBY that comes with any starter liquid. All the offers I see say that it is vacuum packed and sealed. I am a bit suspect of these and hesitant to purchase them. Do you have any local SoCal contacts who would like to part with a baby? I will even drive to get it……

    I am an old guy raising a grandchild and a single parent. Gotta be careful with the dollars and rely on the advice of another parent like you to point me in the right direction. Thus far all the info, recipes and advice you have posted on FB has hit the mark so hoping you can point me in the right direction on this one!

    I have everything else assembled and ready to go…….

    Thanks so much on behalf of me and the little guy for all you do. Your expertise and wisdom are VERY much appreciated.

    • The Paleo Mama September 3, 2013 at 11:43 am #

      Thank you! I don’t know anyone local who is selling one. Did you check Craigslist?

      • PappaSky September 4, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

        I did check CL and that is where I saw the vacuum packed listings. Thanks for the response. Will keep looking.

        • Beth September 15, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

          Check out Wild Fermentation Facebook page & Fermenters Kitchen Facebook page…this is how I got mine!

  16. Tracy Turner September 2, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Do you know if I can make Kombucha out of herbal teas?
    Specifically Licorice Root, Rooibos, Dandelion Root, Tulsi?
    Hope you can answer for me? I have hypothyroidism and stay away from black & grren tea because they affect my problem.

    Thank you,
    Tracy

    • The Paleo Mama September 3, 2013 at 11:42 am #

      Some herbal teas you can and I’m not sure which ones. I’ve only used black and green tea so I’m not really sure. Maybe you can google it and see what you can find!

    • Beth September 15, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

      Kombucha is best when done in Black(best) or green tea…Make sure no oils are added, this can cause mold. Which you do Not want. NON-organic tea is best too, because for some reason it has been known to also cause mold. Kombucha thrives more better in black tea…I personally do a gallon of each, Black, & Green.
      I also deal with Hypothyroidism, I drink kombucha daily. Without issues, but as you know everyone is different :) When starting out, I recommend only drinking 2-4ozs a day!

      • Mark March 9, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

        How do you ensure no oils are added? What do you do if mold starts to develop?

        • The Paleo Mama March 12, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

          If you get mold you throw it all away and start over. It rarely happens though.

  17. yvetteD September 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    This may seem like an odd question, but how or under what circumstances do you get rid of the “mama” Scoby? Does it ever go “bad” or stop doing what it is suppose to do? when you have babies do you just throw them in the trash? disposal? what is the correct way to dispose of them? can you tell I am a massive “newbie”!? : )

    • The Paleo Mama September 7, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

      You can sell it, give it away, throw it away, or compost it. You can also try to give it to your dogs, if you have any! But, yea, I keep my mommy scoby and give/sell the babies.

      • yvetted September 17, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

        Thanks for the reply! I actually have 4 dogs! Thanks for the tip : )

  18. Beth September 15, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    I brew my own Kombucha, and we Love it! My son who is 4 ask for it daily :) If you are looking for a scoby check out Wild fermentation Facebook page or Fermenters Kitchen Facebook page..That is how I got mine! Here is Healthy Living!

  19. Beth September 15, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    Paleo Mama,
    I have been looking for Water kefir grains, with no luck…You know of anyone that has some? :)

    • The Paleo Mama September 16, 2013 at 5:43 am #

      Cultures for Life is where I got mine several years ago. They are a great company

      • Beth September 17, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

        Thanks! I will have to check them out :)

  20. Tracy Turner September 27, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

    I have made two good kombucha batches and my third looks different than the first two. I used the baby scooby but it is more brown and lumpy than the mom scooby I used for the other two batches. Is this normal? There is no black and does not smell ranci but since it looks so differnt I wanted to check to see if this is ok. Thanks for all your help!

  21. Bonny Ducklow December 5, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    I’m considering ordering a Scoby through the mail but with this cold weather it likely will freeze. Wil that damage or kill the Scoby?

    • The Paleo Mama December 5, 2013 at 9:39 am #

      What company are you going to order through? You can always just check with them first to see if they think it will be ok!

  22. Mark March 9, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

    How do you know whether or not your tea brand has added oil? And, what do you do if the baby scoby (the one that starts growing on top) develops mold?

  23. Dawn June 27, 2014 at 6:11 am #

    Have you tried Jun yet? It is like Kombucha, but uses honey to sweeten. I like it better because it has a milder flavor. My daughter however, loves Kombucha best.

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