$5 Friday: Kombucha

Fermented foods that are good for your gut are all the rage at the moment.  I’ve been making my own yoghurt for years, and over the last year have been experimenting with things like soy sauce, German sour dough friendship cake, sauerkraut, rice wine, wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar.  And now I a experimenting with kombucha.

To be honest, I thought kombucha was a bit of an overpriced hipster fad at first. I mean, my local IGA sells 750ml of the stuff for around $8!  I can buy a bottle of wine that is cheaper than that.  (Choice magazine also notes that many kombucha products are over-priced.)  Kombucha is now morphing into a multi-million dollar (perhaps billion dollar) industry.  I was curious so I decided to try it, and in the process, I discovered that I (and my family) quite like it.  And of course, I wanted to learn how to make it cheaply at home.

My Neil was filled with heavy duty antibiotics while he was in the hospital for 18 days over Christmas.  It takes its toll on your body.  In particular, your gut loses a lot of the good bacteria so it kind of affects your system in a bad way.  This can, for instance, negatively impact on your immune system (plus other bathroom aspects I won’t go into here).  Probiotics, such as those contained in kombucha, can help rebuild the good bacteria in your gut so I was keen to make it for him.

The essential thing to making kombucha is the SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).   This is a gelatinous, abalone, UFO looking thing that floats on top of the liquid (I’m not making this sound sexy).  These are expensive to buy.  But the trick to making kombucha really cheaply is to be gifted one by someone else.  This is in part because they can be divided and they multiply very quickly. In this sense it is a bit like a sourdough starter; it can keep going for ages and you can share it with others.

This is what the SCOBY looks like

I was gifted mine from someone in my local Buy Nothing Project. I must say it looked dreadful when I picked it up, and smelt a little sour. I was doubtful.  Neil was even more doubtful. But …. over time we have begun to like the slightly fizzy, slightly sour taste.  I like the fact that it contains less sugar. I also like the fact that it is cheap to make and has more health benefits than most fizzy drinks.  Why don’t you try it and see if you enjoy it as much as we do?

I bottled up some kombucha to put in the fridge – as you can see it is slightly fizzy


2 litres water
2/3 cup sugar
2-3 tea bags
Up to one cup of kombucha liquid


  1. Boil the water and add the tea and sugar.  Cook until the sugar has dissolved, and until the tea is the desired strength (we like strong).  Allow to cool down to at least lukewarm or cooler.
  2. Pour the sweet tea mixture into a large glass jug or jar.  Add the SCOBY on top and pour in the mixture.
  3. Top with a piece of natural cloth such as muslin or cotton.  Tie with a rubber band and allow to sit for around seven to ten days. (OK, I couldn’t wait that long and drank it after around three the first time. It wasn’t fizzy yet, but already had a slightly sour taste).
  4. Strain off into a glass.  Add ice-cubes, drink and enjoy!


Water – free (well, I won’t factor in water and sewerage costs)
Teabags – 5c
Sugar – 15c
SCOBY – free

Total:  20c


    1. Hi there, I will defer to others who know more about fermentation than me. But my understanding is that the SCOBY feeds off of the sugar somehow.

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