How to Feed Kombucha

A quick look at Kombucha

Kombucha has quickly become a fan-favorite beverage for many, thanks to its delightful taste and numerous health benefits. This fizzy, sweetened tea is the product of a fermentation process using a combination of tea, sugar, and a SCOBY – a group of beneficial bacteria and yeast that work together. The fermentation for making kombucha usually takes about a week to ten days, depending on factors like temperature. The result? A tea loaded with probiotics, antioxidants, and organic acids.

High-Level Summary:

Feeding Kombucha is a crucial part of the brewing process, as it involves providing sweetened tea for the SCOBY to consume. By focusing on using top-notch ingredients, keeping a clean environment, and carefully monitoring the fermentation process, you’ll be able to create a tasty and healthy Kombucha.

Table of Contents

Why feeding Kombucha matters

Taking care of your Kombucha during the fermentation process is essential, as it directly affects the taste, quality, and health perks of the final product. Your SCOBY relies on sugar and other nutrients to grow and do its job, making sure that your Kombucha ferments the right way. When your SCOBY is well-fed, it creates a balanced mix of acids, yeasts, and bacteria that give Kombucha its unique flavor and helps to support a healthy gut for those who enjoy it. In this article, we’ll dive into the ins and outs of feeding your Kombucha scobys, discussing the best types of sugar, when to feed it, and tips to keep your SCOBY happy and healthy.

The Importance of Feeding Kombucha

Sugar’s part in Kombucha fermentation

Sugar is the unsung hero in the Kombucha fermentation process, as it keeps the SCOBY well-fed and happy. When you mix sugar into the tea, the yeast in the SCOBY gets to work, breaking it down into ethanol and carbon dioxide. Next, the bacteria turn the ethanol into helpful organic acids, like acetic, gluconic, and lactic acids. These acids, along with the carbon dioxide, give Kombucha that distinct tang and bubbly texture we all love. Choosing the right type and amount of sugar is key because it keeps the SCOBY healthy and ensures a perfectly balanced Kombucha.

Tea’s part in Kombucha fermentation

Tea is the backbone of Kombucha fermentation, providing crucial nutrients and compounds that support the SCOBY. The type of tea you pick influences both the taste and nutritional makeup of your Kombucha. Black, green, and white teas are popular choices, each bringing their unique flavor and health benefits to the table. Tea supplies nitrogen, minerals, and a variety of organic compounds that nurture the SCOBY and maintain a balanced environment for fermentation. Make sure to use high-quality, chemical-free tea leaves for a healthy SCOBY and a tasty final product.

How feeding affects Kombucha taste and flavor

The way you feed your Kombucha and the ingredients you pick have a direct impact on its taste, flavor, and overall quality. Factors like the type of sugar, tea variety, and feeding frequency can dramatically change the final product. Feel free to experiment with different sugars and teas, as well as adjusting fermentation time, to create a range of flavors and profiles—from sweet and fruity to tangy and robust. Just remember to stick to a consistent feeding schedule and use top-notch ingredients to keep your SCOBY in tip-top shape, guaranteeing your Kombucha remains a delicious delight.

What to Feed Kombucha

Picking the perfect sugar for Kombucha

Sugar varieties

Finding the right sugar for your Kombucha is crucial for both a thriving SCOBY and a tasty brew. White granulated sugar is a go-to choice, as it’s easy to find and simple for the SCOBY to break down. But don’t be afraid to try other sugars like raw cane sugar, brown sugar, or even coconut sugar—each can add a distinct flavor to your Kombucha. Be cautious with sugars like honey or maple syrup, though, as their antimicrobial properties might not agree with your SCOBY.

Deciding on sugar quantities

The amount of sugar you add depends on your taste preferences and the size of your batch starter tea. Generally, you’ll want about 1 cup of sugar for every gallon of tea. Feel free to adjust based on your desired sweetness level, but remember not to overdo it or skimp on sugar, as this can throw off the fermentation process and harm your SCOBY.

Picking the perfect tea for Kombucha

Tea varieties

The tea you use can significantly impact your Kombucha’s flavor and nutritional content. Black, green, and white teas are all popular options, each offering unique flavors and health benefits. You can also experiment with oolong or pu-erh tea for something different. Just make sure to avoid teas with oils or artificial flavorings, as they might not sit well with your SCOBY.

Deciding on tea quantities

How much tea you use depends on your batch size and desired tea strength. A good starting point is 3 to 5 tea bags or 1 to 2 tablespoons of loose-leaf tea for every quart of water. Feel free to adjust based on your preferences, but avoid using too much or too little tea, as this can impact the fermentation process.

Extra ingredients to boost Kombucha flavor

While tea and sugar are the building blocks of Kombucha, you can also add some optional ingredients to enhance its flavor and nutritional value. Popular additions include fresh fruit, herbs, spices, or even fruit juices. Add these ingredients during the second fermentation to let the flavors meld with the Kombucha without interfering with the initial fermentation. Have fun and get creative with different flavor combinations, but always keep your SCOBY’s health in mind when introducing a new batch of ingredients.

How to Feed Kombucha

A step-by-step guide to feeding Kombucha

  1. Boil water: Start by boiling enough water for your Kombucha batch. Aim for 1 quart of water per 3 to 5 tea bags or 1 to 2 tablespoons of loose-leaf tea.
  2. Brew the tea: Once the water is boiling, take it off the heat and add your preferred tea. Let the tea steep for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how strong you want it.
  3. Mix in the sugar: After removing the tea bags or straining out the loose-leaf tea, add the right amount of sugar to the hot tea, stirring until it dissolves entirely.
  4. Cool it down: Allow the sweetened tea to cool to room temperature. This is crucial because adding the SCOBY to hot tea can damage it.
  5. Bring tea and SCOBY together: Pour the cooled, sweetened tea into your fermentation vessel. Add the SCOBY along with at least 1 cup of starter liquid from a previous Kombucha batch or store-bought Kombucha (make sure it’s unpasteurized and unflavored).
  6. Cover and let it ferment: Cover the container with a clean cloth that can breathe, securing it with a rubber band to keep any nasties out. Put the container in a warm, dark spot and let the Kombucha ferment for 7 to 10 days.

When to feed Kombucha

Feeding your Kombucha means adding sweetened tea to the SCOBY, which typically happens at the start of the fermentation process. Over 7 to 10 days, the SCOBY will feed on the sugar. The exact fermentation time can vary based on factors like temperature, humidity, and your taste preferences. You can taste your fermented Kombucha only occasionally, and when it reaches the perfect balance of sweet tea and tangy for you, it’s time for the next steps, like bottling or adding flavors.

Monitoring Kombucha fermentation

Keep a close eye on your Kombucha during the first fermentation, to ensure a balanced brew. Here’s what to watch for:

  1. Temperature: Keep a consistent temperature between 68-80°F (20-27°C) for the best fermentation results.
  2. SCOBY growth: A healthy SCOBY will grow in size and might even form a new layer. This means your Kombucha is fermenting just right.
  3. Smell: The aroma should be pleasant and slightly vinegary during proper fermentation. Any foul odors could mean there’s a problem.
  4. Taste: Start taste-testing your Kombucha after about a week. When it reaches the balance of sweetness and tanginess that suits you, it’s time for the next steps, like bottling or flavoring.

By following these tips, you’ll make sure your Kombucha fermentation stays on track, resulting in a delightful, healthy drink.

Tips for Successfully Feeding Kombucha

Opt for high-quality ingredients

To make your Kombucha taste its best, choose top-notch ingredients. When it comes to sugar, use high-quality, unrefined varieties when possible. For tea, pick fresh, chemical-free leaves. Remember, better ingredients make for a more delicious and nutritious Kombucha.

Maintain a clean and sterile fermentation environment

Keeping your fermentation area spotless is essential for a healthy SCOBY and a successful kombucha brew. Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling any equipment, and sanitize all tools and containers with hot water or food-grade sanitizer. A clean environment helps prevent contamination and ensures a delicious, worry-free Kombucha.

how to clean kombucha bottle

Stay consistent with feeding and fermentation time

Consistency is key when it comes to feeding your Kombucha and allowing it to ferment. Stick to a regular feeding schedule and try to maintain consistent conditions, like temperature and humidity, during fermentation. This helps your SCOBY stay healthy and active, ultimately producing a well-balanced, fresh batch of Kombucha.

Keep an eye on pH levels during fermentation

Monitoring the pH levels of your Kombucha is crucial for a successful fermentation. The ideal pH range for brewing Kombucha is between 2.5 and 4.5. Start by testing the pH after adding the sweetened tea and SCOBY to ensure it’s within the safe range. As fermentation progresses, the pH should decrease, becoming more acidic. This acidity helps ward off harmful bacteria and creates the tangy taste we love in Kombucha. Using pH test strips or a digital pH meter, you can easily track the pH levels throughout the fermentation process.

following these tips and focusing on quality ingredients, a clean environment, consistent feeding, and pH monitoring, you’ll be well on your way to brewing a delicious and nutritious Kombucha.

Ph level of Kombucha

Common Mistakes When Feeding Kombucha

  1. Forgetting to use clean and sterilized equipment: Always sanitize your equipment and tools before starting the Kombucha brewing process. Neglecting this step can introduce harmful bacteria or contaminants, which can spoil your Kombucha or even damage your SCOBY.
  2. Relying on low-quality or contaminated ingredients: Using poor-quality or contaminated ingredients can lead to an off-flavored Kombucha or an unhealthy SCOBY. Always opt for high-quality, fresh ingredients to ensure a tasty and successful brew.
  3. Failing to monitor the pH levels properly: Keep an eye on the pH levels throughout the fermentation process. If the pH is too high, your Kombucha can become susceptible to harmful bacteria. If it’s too low, the Kombucha may become too acidic and unpalatable.
  4. Cutting the fermentation time short: Not allowing enough time for fermentation can result in a too-sweet Kombucha that hasn’t developed its characteristic tanginess. Be patient and let your Kombucha ferment for at least 7 to 10 days, or until it reaches your desired flavor profile.
  5. Neglecting proper storage and preservation techniques: Store your Kombucha and SCOBY in a clean, airtight container in a cool, dark place to maintain freshness and prevent contamination. Proper storage ensures a longer shelf life and better-tasting Kombucha.
  6. Dealing with an improperly forming SCOBY: If your SCOBY isn’t forming correctly, it could be due to factors like temperature, poor-quality ingredients, or contamination. Double-check your brewing conditions and ingredients to ensure optimal SCOBY growth.
  7. SCOBY not floating on top of the liquid: A sinking SCOBY isn’t always a cause for concern. Sometimes, a healthy SCOBY may sink or float sideways. As long as it’s not discolored, slimy, or moldy, your Kombucha should be fine.
  8. Kombucha tasting too sweet or too sour: This issue often comes down to fermentation time. If your Kombucha is too sweet, let it ferment longer. If it’s too sour, try shortening the fermentation time for your next batch.
  9. Kombucha not carbonating properly: Carbonation issues can arise from not sealing bottles tightly enough during the second fermentation or not adding enough sugar to fuel carbonation. Check your bottling technique and sugar ratios for better results.
  10. Fixing overfeeding and underfeeding Kombucha: If you’ve overfed your Kombucha with too much sugar, try diluting the mixture with more tea or allowing extra fermentation time. For underfed Kombucha, carefully add more sugar and give it more time to ferment.
Issue & Common Mistakes Cause Solution
Not using clean and sterilized equipment Neglect in sanitization Sanitize equipment and tools before starting the brewing process to prevent contamination
Using low-quality or contaminated ingredients Poor ingredient choice Opt for high-quality, fresh ingredients for a better-tasting Kombucha
Not monitoring pH levels properly Inattention during fermentation Regularly check pH levels to ensure a healthy fermentation environment
Not giving enough time for fermentation Impatience Allow Kombucha to ferment for at least 7 to 10 days or until the desired flavor is achieved
Not following proper storage and preservation techniques Improper storage Store Kombucha and SCOBY in clean, airtight containers in cool, dark places
SCOBY not forming properly Issues with temperature, ingredients, or contamination Double-check brewing conditions and ingredient quality
SCOBY not floating on top of the liquid Natural variation in SCOBY behavior As long as the SCOBY is not discolored, slimy, or moldy, the Kombucha should be fine
Kombucha tastes too sweet or too sour Inappropriate fermentation time Adjust fermentation time according to taste preference
Kombucha not carbonating properly Loose bottle seals or insufficient sugar Ensure tight seals during the second fermentation and check sugar ratios
Overfeeding and underfeeding Kombucha Incorrect sugar amounts Dilute overfed Kombucha with more tea or allow extra fermentation time; add more sugar to underfed Kombucha and allow more time to ferment

Common Myths and Misconceptions About Feeding Kombucha

  1. Kombucha requires expensive or rare ingredients to ferment: You don’t need pricey or hard-to-find ingredients to make Kombucha. Regular black, green, or white tea, and simple sugar sources like cane sugar or honey, can yield a tasty and successful brew.
  2. Kombucha must be fed with specific types of tea or sugar: While some teas and sugars work better for Kombucha fermentation, you can experiment with various types to find the ones that suit your taste preferences. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to tea and sugar choices.
  3. Kombucha can’t be fed after a certain point: Kombucha is a living culture that can be fed and fermented indefinitely. As long as you provide the right conditions and ingredients, your Kombucha will continue to grow and ferment.


How often do I need to feed my Kombucha?

You’ll want to feed your Kombucha every time you begin a new batch, which generally means giving it some sweetened tea for your SCOBY to work on. Most fermentation processes take around 7 to 10 days, so that’s about how often you’ll be feeding your Kombucha.

Is there a specific type of sugar that works best for Kombucha?

Kombucha can ferment with a variety of sugars, but it’s a good idea to stick with unrefined sugars like cane sugar, raw sugar, or honey. Steer clear of artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes, as they may not ferment properly and could even damage your SCOBY.

My SCOBY isn’t floating at the top of the liquid. Is something wrong?

Not necessarily. A SCOBY that isn’t floating on the surface isn’t always a problem. Sometimes, even a healthy SCOBY might sink or float sideways. As long as it doesn’t look discolored, slimy, or moldy, your Kombucha is likely fine.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations for Feeding Kombucha

Don’t be afraid to try new things and learn from your experiences. The more you experiment, the better your Kombucha will become. Keep exploring and discovering new flavors, techniques, and ingredients to make your Kombucha journey enjoyable and rewarding.

Summary of key points

  • Use high-quality ingredients
  • Maintain a clean fermentation environment
  • Monitor pH levels and fermentation time
  • Experiment with flavors and ingredients

Feeding Kombucha is a rewarding and exciting process. As you hone your skills and knowledge, you’ll be able to create a delicious, healthful beverage tailored to your tastes. Embrace the journey, and enjoy the art and science of brewing delicious Kombucha here at home.