What I Learned Between My First & Fifth Batches of Kombucha

updated May 1, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
A glass of ginger kombucha, garnished with an orange slice, with two more glasses in the background

I thought about making my own kombucha for a long time. The thing that finally threw me over the edge was seeing Kitchn’s recently published videos for making both a scoby and kombucha. I pored over the written instructions more times than I care to admit, but actually seeing someone go through the steps made it seem easy and gave me that extra bit of confidence I needed.

Nevertheless, I approached my first batch with all the uncertainty (and panic) I’m sure first-time brewers feel: Should those floaty things really be in there? Is that brown splotch okay or is it mold? But five batches later, I’m way more laid-back about brewing kombucha, and I learned a few lessons along the way.

1. It’s taught me to have more patience and take my time.

Brewing kombucha is not a fast process. Literally, nothing about it is quick. The tea takes hours to cool and then days to ferment. As someone who enjoys projects with instant gratification, this one is teaching me the value of patience. And the fizzy reward is totally worth it.

2. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

Like most people, I followed the instructions to the letter the first time I made kombucha. But I’m learning that there’s no one right approach; experimenting is key, and the possibilities are nearly endless. It’s really a matter of trial and error. I’m trying out different blends of tea and fermentation time to brew the kombucha that tastes best to me.

3. Labeling the jars is always a good idea.

I consider myself to have an extremely good memory. Yet just days after tucking my first batch of kombucha into the closet, I could not remember how long it had been in there. Clearly a better system was in order — especially since I had my sights set on brewing a couple batches simultaneously. Now I label the jars with the date when the tea was brewed.

4. The scoby is surprisingly durable.

Confession: I was terrified the first time I had to touch the scoby. After weeks of watching it grow, I was convinced I was going to destroy it on contact. I was on high alert and handled it as delicately as I possibly could, still certain I’d tear, drop, or otherwise break it. But none of that happened.

A couple batches in, when my scoby was thick enough to be peeled in two, I finally felt comfortable I wouldn’t ruin it. These days I pluck it out of the jar without the gentle hand I once had.

5. There’s no need to wait until the second fermentation for flavoring.

I went a little off course with my most recent batch of kombucha. I had my sights set on making lavender kombucha, and instead of flavoring it during the second fermentation, I steeped the dried flowers along with the tea. Of course, the only caveat with infusing flavor from the beginning is that the scoby picks up the scent (and color if you’re using something like beets). The flavor is super fragrant and more present than previous batches I’ve made.

Are you a kombucha brewer? What do you wish you would have known when you made your very first batch?

Your Kombucha Questions Answered