Benefits of Kombucha Tea & How to Make it At Home

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There are many benefits attributed to Kombucha – an age-old fermented tea drink that has been around (in various forms) for centuries in many different cultures.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a traditional fermented drink made of black tea and sugar. It contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and enzymes and has been prized by traditional cultures for its health-promoting properties.

More specifically, Kombucha is a sweetened tea that is fermented with a SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) to become a nutrient-rich beverage. The fermentation process takes 7-12 days depending on temperature and the strength of the SCOBY. The SCOBY consumes over 90% of the sugar during fermentation, resulting in a low-sugar finished product. This process is similar to what would happen in sourdough bread or milk/water kefir.

Once a very obscure drink, Kombucha is now a popular beverage that is available at most health food stores and many local grocery stores. Many people also brew at home using various methods including the batch method and continuous brew.

The SCOBY: a Colony of Microbes

The SCOBY, or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, is the collection of microbes responsible for turning sweet tea into a probiotic beverage. Essentially, it is a living colony of beneficial organisms that turn sugar into healthful acids and probiotics.

SCOBYs are often called “Mushrooms” and are the reason Kombucha is sometimes called “Mushroom Tea.” On a practical level, a SCOBY is an unattractive rubbery disc that covers the surface of the brewing liquid to seal it off from the air. This allows fermentation to happen in an anaerobic (air free) environment.

You may also hear a SCOBY called “The Mother” as it is the parent culture that creates the tea. During the brewing process, the SCOBY also often creates a “baby” or secondary culture on top of itself, which can then be used to brew other batches.

If properly taken care of, a SCOBY can last for many years. In fact, I know a couple of families that have generations-old strains of SCOBYs that have made many babies over the years.

What is a SCOBY- symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast

Kombucha Nutrition

As mentioned, this tangy fermented beverage contains beneficial probiotics and acids. It is lower-calorie than other carbonated beverages like soft drinks, with only about 30 calories per cup (8 ounces). Kombucha is fat-free and does not contain any protein.

One cup does contain about seven grams of carbohydrates and about 20% of the daily value of B-Vitamins, according to the label of the popular GT brand. Eight ounces also provides:

  • Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086: 1 billion organisms
  • S. Boulardii: 1 billion organisms
  • EGCG 100mg
  • Glucuronic Acid 10mg
  • L(+) Lactic Acid 25mg
  • Acetic Acid 30 mg
Kombucha Nutrition Facts

What Does it Taste Like?

This fermented tea has a slightly sweet and slightly tangy flavor, reminiscent of a shrub or vinegar based drink. The flavor varies widely by brand and homebrew method. Finished kombucha tea can also be flavored in a process called secondary fermentation by adding juices, fruit or herbs.

Kombucha Benefits and Probiotics

This ancient health tonic is attributed with several health benefits. The nutrients it contains are wonderful at supporting the body in various ways. It is important to note that while there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence from avid supporters, studies about kombucha are lacking. But then again, so are studies about flossing, but everyone seems to be pro-flossing.

To be clear- it isn’t some magic pill or silver bullet, but it may help the body function well by supporting:

  • Liver detoxification
  • Increased energy
  • Better digestion
  • Helps nutrient assimilation

These benefits could be partially due to the concentration of beneficial enzymes and acids present in kombucha, including  Gluconacetobacter, Lactobacillus and Zygosaccharomyces.

1. Improving Digestion

The research is still out on the specific way Kombucha affects digestion, but we do know that it contains probiotics, enzymes and beneficial acids and these have been researched for their health benefits.

Harvard Medical School explains that a healthy gut will have 100 trillion + microorganisms from 500 different identified species. In this sense, we truly are more bacterial than human. There has been a lot of emerging research on the dangers of an overly sanitary environment and how overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial soaps and products is literally changing the structure of our gut.

Drinks like Kombucha, Water Kefir, Milk Kefir, and fermented foods like sauerkraut contain billions of these beneficial bacteria, enzymes and acids that help keep the gut in balance.

2. Natural Detoxification and Liver Support

The liver is one of the body’s main detoxification organs. Kombucha is high in Glucaric acid, which is beneficial to the liver and aids its natural detoxification.

As Kombucha also supports healthy gut bacteria and digestion, it helps the body assimilate food more easily and provides quick and easy energy without caffeine.

3. Immune Boost

Kombucha is naturally high in antioxidants and supportive of the immune system. Again, there is no magic pill or silver bullet when it comes to immune function- it is best to support the body in its natural immune process.

It contains a compound called D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone (or DSL for short) that has amazing antioxidant properties. This compound is not present in unfermented teas (though many teas are high in other antioxidants). DSL has been specifically identified as beneficial for cellular detoxification.

4. May Support Joint Health

Kombucha is a natural source of compounds called glucosamines, which are often recommended for joint health and to alleviate joint pain. Glucosamines naturally increase hyaluronic acid in the body and helps protect and lubricate the joints. In some trials, hyaluronic acid provided relief similar to over the counter pain killers.

5. More Nutritious Alternative to Soda

Kombucha is a great alternative to sugar-laden drinks like soda. It is naturally carbonated. This means that the secondary fermentation process naturally produces bubbles and carbonation. Sodas, on the other hand, are artificially carbonated by forcing carbonation into the liquid.

This fizzy fermented tea is an attractive alternative to other carbonated beverages and provides probiotics and nutrients not present in soda. Kombucha also contains less sugar than soft drinks. The sugar in the recipe is simply the food for the beneficial bacteria and is largely consumed during the fermentation process.

Important Caveat About The Benefits

I originally wrote about this age-old brewed tea drink years ago, and since that time, I’ve seen thousands of posts claiming it cures everything from cancer to wrinkles. It is important to note that there are no confirmed studies about kombucha’s benefits and safety.

At the same time, there are anecdotal reports of its benefits and many people love its taste and the energy it gives them. Don’t expect kombucha to solve your health problems, but it is a great refreshing drink with some added probiotics.

The benefits of kombucha- digestion - immune support-detoxification-weightloss

Potential Risks and Side Effects of Kombucha

I love this ancient fermented tea and drink it often, but there are some cautions and side effects to be aware of when consuming it.

Kombucha Risks and Cautions

  • Pregnant and nursing moms and anyone with a medical condition should check with a doctor before consuming. It contains both caffeine and sugar, which should be limited during pregnancy.
  • Some people experience bloating from drinking it. This may in part be due to the presence of Probiotics and potential changes in gut bacteria. Anyone with a digestive disorder should consult a doctor before consuming.
  •  If kombucha is made incorrectly, it may contain harmful bacteria and could be dangerous. This is rare but is more common with home brews. If you brew your own, be very careful to keep the environment clean and brew correctly.
  • Preparing kombucha in a ceramic vessel may be dangerous as the acidic brew can leach any lead from this vessel into the finished drink.

Oral Health Concerns

The most logical concern I’ve seen with Kombucha is its potential to cause dental problems. Since it is high in natural acids (but still lower than most sodas) it can be harmful to the teeth. OraWellness wrote a great article on the specific way kombucha affects teeth and how to consume it without harming your teeth.

These steps may also help reduce the potential for the acids in kombucha to affect teeth: drink it all in one sitting, don’t sip it throughout the day, and swish with clean water (don’t brush) right after.

Caffeine Content

The base for kombucha is black tea, and some people have concerns about its caffeine content. The amount of caffeine in kombucha varies quite a bit based on the type of tea used and the steep time. In general, it is considered to have less caffeine than soda or coffee. Caffeine content also decreases during fermentation, so the longer the ferment, the less caffeine typically left in the brew.

If caffeine is a concern, there are several ways to reduce the caffeine content:

  1. Use a mixture of teas with as little as 20% black tea and lower caffeine teas like green or white to make up the difference.
  2. Try herbal teas along with 20% black tea since herbal teas are caffeine free.
  3. Dump the first steep of the tea and use the second for kombucha. In other words, steep the tea bags or leaves you will use for kombucha in a cup of boiling water for about two minutes. Then, pour this liquid out and then add the tea to the liquid you plan to use to make kombucha. Since the majority of the caffeine is removed during the initial steep, this greatly reduces the caffeine content of the finished product

It is generally not recommended to use decaffeinated tea for kombucha as the caffeine is often removed through a chemical process and the residue may kill the kombucha SCOBY.

Sugar Content

Sugar is used in making kombucha, and for this reason many people are concerned about the sugar content in the finished tea. Fortunately, the majority of the sugar ferments out during the fermentation process. Because the sugar is the food for the bacteria, it is not possible to make without any sugar at all. For this reason, sugar substitutes like stevia and xylitol do not work either.

Alcohol Content

Kombucha does contain a very small amount of alcohol, which has been a source of much controversy in recent years. Sources estimate that store bought brews contain 0.5% to 1.0% alcohol. To put this in perspective, a person would have to drink a six pack of kombucha to approach the alcohol in a single 12oz beer. In fact, a bottle of kombucha would have a comparable alcohol content to an over-ripe banana.

Store bought brew containing over 0.5% alcohol must be labeled as such and often an ID is required to purchase it. Homemade kombucha also typically contains more alcohol than store bought, though still not much.

How to Make Kombucha

If you decide to venture into the world of homebrewing kombucha, the process is simple, but nuanced. Check out this full tutorial for a full explanation of the process and other methods.

how to make kombucha easy recipe

How to Make Kombucha at Home to Get the Many Benefits

Kombucha is an age-old fermented tea drink that may help improve digestion and is a natural source of antioxidants and benefitical enzymes. Make kombucha at home with this easy recipe. 
Calories 240kcal
Author Katie Wells




  • 1 gallon of brewed sweetened tea ratio: 1 cup of sugar per gallon of tea 
  • a SCOBY and 1 cup of liquid from a previous batch of kombucha


  • Sterilize all equipment and wash hands thoroughly.
  • Make 1 gallon of tea using black tea or a mixture of black tea with green/white tea or herbal teas.
  • Add 1 cup of natural sugar. Honey is not recommended and other sugar substitutes do not work.
  • Let the sweetened tea cool and place in a 1 gallon or larger glass jar.
  • Add 1 cup of brewed raw kombucha (or 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar).
  • Carefully place the
    or "mother" on top of the mixture, ideally floating it on top to seal the mixture off from air.
  • If the SCOBY is not the same size as the container, don’t worry. It will grow to fill the container as it ferments.
  • Cover the jar with a
    cheesecloth or piece of organic cloth and a rubber band.
  • Let sit at room temperature for 7-12 days to desired tartness.
  • Remove the SCOBY and 1 cup of finished komobucha to start a new batch and repeat steps 1-9.
  • If a fizzy finished drink is desired, pour finished kombucha into airtight jars or bottles and add organic juice or fresh/frozen fruit. Add 1 part juice/fruit to 4 parts kombucha.
  • Cover tightly and let sit an additional 1-2 days until carbonated.
  • Store in the refrigerator in airtight containers until consumed.


Nutrition Facts
How to Make Kombucha at Home to Get the Many Benefits
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 240
% Daily Value*
Carbohydrates 56.3g19%
Sugar 16.3g18%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Like this recipe? Check out my new cookbook, or get all my recipes (over 500!) in a personalized weekly meal planner here!

Where to Get a SCOBY and Supplies:

If you decide to make your own, it is important to get the SCOBY and supplies from a high-quality source. Find a local friend who already brews and ask for an extra SCOBY. I also highly recommend Kombucha Kamp, a small family-owner company run by my friend and affiliate partners Hannah and Alex. They carry SCOBYs, tea, sugar and all necessary supplies.

Where to Get Kombucha

Don’t want a jar of fermenting tea sitting on your counter perpetually? You’re in luck.

Kombucha has gained popularity in the US recently and is now available in many stores. There are dozens of really good brands and if you choose to buy it, just look for an organic variety without a large amount of sugar or added ingredients. Some of my favorite pre-made brands are:

Probiotic-Rich Kombucha Alternatives

As I mentioned, kombucha contains probiotics and beneficial acids, yet it also has some cautions and side effects. There are many other foods and drinks that are natural sources of probiotics and that don’t carry the same risks.

While kombucha is delicious, I’d also suggest branching out into other healthy probiotic foods and drinks like: sauerkraut, water kefir, beet kvass, or homemade ginger ale. These are all great probiotic foods to add to your diet:

Top Probiotic Foods to Add to Your Diet

Bottom Line

Many people love Kombucha because of its taste. The internet abounds with anecdotal stories of its benefits. Research doesn’t yet support its health-promoting properties, but it is generally considered safe to drink if from a reputable source.

We do know that it is a good source of probiotics, enzymes, and beneficial acids, and a decent source of B-vitamins. It can be made at home or found in many stores. It may not be a silver bullet for health, but it sure is tasty!

Like with any raw/fermented product, those with any health condition or who are pregnant/nursing should check with a doctor before consuming.

This article was medically reviewed by Madiha Saeed, MD, a board certified family physician. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Kombucha Benefits and Facts Infographic

Do you drink it? Do you make it? Have you experienced any benefits from taking it? Share with below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


141 responses to “Benefits of Kombucha Tea & How to Make it At Home”

  1. Lori R Avatar

    I listened to the summit on dementia and Alzheimer’s recently hosted by Jonathan Landstrum. One of the presenters said you should not drink kombucha because of the yeast content. I make my own and this is the first I have heard of something negative. I am interested in your feedback regarding this.

    Thank you so much,
    Lori R

  2. Michele Avatar

    I’ve been making Kombucha for nearly a year now – yet everyone I have talked to has said that mine is weak, too light in color. How do I change that?

  3. Lisa Avatar

    Does kombucha make your body too acidic? How many ounces do I drink a day for a beginner?

  4. Heather Wood Avatar
    Heather Wood

    I’ve read that kombucha is actually bad for candida overgrowth, as the yeast present in the kombucha can have an adverse affect on a body already fighting candida yeast overgrowth. Most articles I’ve read agree on this point, though some do say that cultured foods containing lactic acid bacteria does help kill off candida. Just from what I’ve been reading it sounds like there are a lot of varying opinions on the subject, as if everyone one knows candida is there, and some have done research on it, but nobody actually agreed on the results.

  5. Chelsea Avatar

    Is it ok to drink kombucha while pregnant or breast feeding? I’ve read that since it detoxes your body that the toxins get in the breast milk and that’s bad for the nursing child.

  6. Amy Avatar

    How do you feel about homemade kombucha while pregnant? My husband just bought a home brew kit but I’m worries that it may not be safe while pregnant. I’m reading a lot of conflicting opinions. Thank you in advance! 🙂

  7. Stephanie Avatar

    I was given a baby scoby in a small mason jar mixed with some kombucha tea to start a batch. It has been about three weeks and I haven’t used it yet. It is sitting in my fridge. How long do baby scobies last? Can I still use it?

    1. Bonny Avatar

      First take it out of the fridge, scobys shouldn’t be refrigerated as it can damage the bacteria & yeast eventually. It’s probably just fine though for that short of time. They will store forever at room temp as long as they’re fed and not allowed to dry out. I’ve not been making it for almost 2 years. I have thrown away about 4 gallons of scobys as they just keep growing! I have neglected mine for 6 months even and they had almost no tea left, I have three 1 gallon jars, I disposed of the top ones which had dried out and carried on. Since I didn’t have starter tea I bought a store bought gt to use in one and then pasteurized white vinegar in the other two for starter. Don’t ever use apple cider or un pasteurized as it can lead to ‘vinegar eels’. The starters purpose is to make the fresh tea acidic enough to prevent mold as it ferments. Unpasteurized vinegar would also add cultures you don’t want in your KT. Best group for learning about fermenting is ‘Wild Fermentation’ on FB which is based on Sandor Felix’s book of the same name. He is the undisputed expert and many people who’ve learned directly from him and or with decades of experience (and worldwide too) are on there.

  8. Diana Avatar

    Maybe someone can offer advice:

    For almost a year I attempted very diligently to brew kombucha that had CARBONATION (fizz) like what is present in the Synergy brand.

    I had no success. What did I do wrong????

    1. Bonny Avatar

      If you’ve not found your answer Google ‘kombucha balancing act’, you should find a webpage with a chart that explains what you need to do to re-balance your KT.



    1. Melissa Venn Avatar
      Melissa Venn

      My bff from Jr. High and I both have MS! We were both busy with our lives, that we lost track of each other for awhile, but we both surprised that we both ended up with MS….she had been making her own kombucha for a long while, and told me how to make it. Neither one of us suffered, but have felt much BETTER! Only my experience, but I plan to keep making and drinking it!

  10. Stephanie Avatar

    Just a side note: morning sickness is actually a very good thing! It means you’re body is ridding itself of toxins and generally speaking women with morning sickness have healthier babies. Be careful of introducing too many new bacteria into your gut flora during pregnancy though – even good bacteria can travel to the heart and cause dangerous complications – rare but it can happen. Ask you MD’s first and most likely they will tell you to eat yogurt during pregnancy if you want some good probiotics. Kombucha is good for developed GI systems but babies are still evolving and therefore it’s prudent to layoff the Kombucha until after pregnancy and after you’re done with breastfeeding too.

    1. Bonny Avatar

      Moms with morning sickness is from ridding themselves of toxins & they have healthier babies?! Please show me the scientific evidence of this, seriously.
      Many midwives recommend continuing
      KT during pregnancy and as the baby receives its nutrients through blood in utero it’s not affecting it’s gut. And breastmilk is made from blood- so again what mom eats/drinks isn’t going into baby’s stomach. Yogurt in particular is recommended for pregnant women as it’s been shown that regular consumption during pregnancy lowers your chance of a positive strep B test.

      Listen to your body, I quit KT during pregnancy because it increased my heartburn. But I know women who’ve used it to prevent their morning sickness. KT isn’t the miracle elixir some claim but neither is it a dangerous drink as others claim.

  11. Adele Avatar

    An interesting read! I’ve drank kombucha everyday for around 2 years, and continued to drink everyday throughout my pregnancy. Although the woman in my family have a history of horrific sickness throughout pregnancy- I have never felt better. Not a single ailment throughout my whole 9 months, and full of energy everyday- still swimming and having 2 walks a day into my 39weeks+. I cannot recommend this life changing elixir enough !!!

  12. Patricia Avatar

    I believe I am ADD. Have difficulty staying focused. I make my own Kombucha and try to drink it daily. It decreased my appetite and lose the craving for coffee.

  13. Fiona Avatar

    Just finished brewing a batch of ‘koffeebucha’ – kombucha made with coffee. It fermented quickly but I have to say I wasn’t too crazy about the taste. .Somehow the two flavours don’t go together for me although I know there are other people who like it and it contains the same amount of probiotics.

    It seems that it, since it sugar that the scoby is interested in, almost anything can be ‘buched’. I think regular black tea tastes the best.

  14. Amanda Avatar

    Is it ok to drink kombucha while nursing? I just started drinking it and feel great! But I noticed my nursed 8 month old spitting up today and he never does ????. I know it detoxes your body so are the toxins coming out in my breast milk??

  15. Amy Avatar

    Hello Katie, I’ve been making my own kombucha since November. My husband and I enjoy it every morning. Is it safe for children? I’ve let my 7 year old taste it and she liked it a lot, but I’m wondering if it’s safe for her to have a small glass with us every morning? Thanks and I’ve pretty much been glued to your blog since I discovered it!

    1. Mary Avatar

      Just keep in mind that is has 0.5 percent alcohol, and sometimes more if it brews a long time.

  16. Chantale Taillefer Avatar
    Chantale Taillefer

    The new growths are baby scobies
    Do not worry about them. Every time I add ginger or fruit or fruit juice, and even on my tea bags, there is always a new formation of scobies.
    I always use tongs and remove/detach them safely and use them for more brews. They will get bigger as they are used and fed sugars. With regular kombucha making, you will soon have many scobies available which you can use, give away to others, and/or hibernate them u till further use.
    It takes a little getting used to the visual side of fermentation. Even brownish spots are nothing to fret about as they usually are just yeast formation.
    Don’t throw away your baby scoby or your kombucha batch!!
    Hope this helped!
    And there are thousands and thousands of people worldwide that can vouch for the benefits of fermented foods and beverages (and I am one of them) so don’t listen to “some doctor”! God knoes many of them are just as clueless as the average Joe especially when it comes to alternative medicine and science! 🙂

  17. Missye Avatar

    So, I am very new to this and I may have messed up my scoby. I was told to use apple cider vinegar for my starter when I poured out my starter by mistake. I used the raw kind with the mother because this is what I drink. I am noticing my second brew has a lot of stuff growing in it. I looked through the different recipe options and saw that it was suppose to be pasteurized. Can I just pour everything out and start over with distilled vinegar and tea? Can my scoby be saved?

    1. Bonny Avatar

      You can try to save it of course! The bacteria in ACV may have over run it but it may just take a few batches before it gets back to normal. Even when I’ve used white vinegar (my hotel was severely neglected & my starter dried up) it took awhile before my flavor & carbonation was back how I liked it. Your scoby takes on the yeast & bacteria in your environment anyway and that’s why no two people’s are the same. Mine tastes different then the person’s KT I obtained my mother from.
      your yeast & bacteria ratios may get off and that may need tweaking each batch. Even different amounts of tea (I can’t recall but I think its less) can allow yeast to overgrow-thats the brown stringy stuff.
      Scobys are very resilient! There is 2 FB groups i recommend, kombucha nation & wild fermentation. Hopefully it’s ok to post a link, this explains how to rehab your Scoby.

      1. Missye Avatar

        That explains the brown stringy growth. Thanks! I will research these sites.

  18. Missye Avatar

    Ok, so I just started making kombucha and let my first batch ferment a little longer than a week. It’s been slightly cool in the house anyway. I separated out a second brew with cherry juice and ginger and it is growing stuff. Not sure if it is a baby scoby or something nasty. Not sure if I sure just filter it out or throw the whole thing out. Is this normal? I’m also a little concerned with some of the comments above about the doctor saying it was the worst thing anyone could drink. Since I am new to all this I don’t know how to determine if what I’m growing is beneficial or evil bacteria. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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