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. Divina Avatar

    Can someone help me please? I don’t know if I’ve accidentally killed a scoby, or two. Last week, after a week of fermentation, I realized that one of my batches wasn’t growing a new baby so I thought, “Well, perhaps it will have one if I toss in another one. ? Today is a week later and it still didn’t have a baby. ? The tea seems to taste okay but I’ve removed the scobys.

    When I looked up why they didn’t have babies, there were a few reasons why that happened. One of them is “don’t use antibacterial to wash the equipment used for fermenting” and I did do that. ?
    So, my questions are, “Can I drink the tea; can I use the scobys again?”

    By the way, the scobys, although they didn’t have babies, still look healthy.

  2. Lori Castillo Avatar
    Lori Castillo

    Please explain step #3. You posted “Add 1 cup of natural sugar. Honey is not recommended and other sugar substitutes do not work.” It says to add honey, then says honey is not recommended. I’m confused.

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      In other words, only natural can sugar works. Honey and other sugar substitutes will not work for fermentation and can’t be used. It doesn’t say to add honey, only to add natural sugar.

  3. charity chukwuma Avatar
    charity chukwuma

    Is kombucha recommended for those trying to conceive

  4. Sherry S Avatar

    Is it really folic acid in the kombucha? Is it not folate? Folate is the natural form of B9. Folic acid is the synthetic form. People with MTHFR gene mutation cannot take folic acid, but need the the natural form, folate. Could you please clarify? Thank you.

  5. Sandra Avatar

    Does anybody knows if you have to rinse your scoby after make your tea and before start another one? thanks!

    1. Chantale Avatar

      Never rinse your scoby: you should always let your scoby sit in at least a cup of the liquid when your pour some for drinking. It contains the. U.K. tired bacteria. Should you drink it all and start from scratch every time, your culture would be very weak and not very acidic and there are les health benefits as well as it weakens the brew to bacteria growth

  6. Lily Avatar

    I looooove Kambucha BUT i find i get quite gassy when i drink it…
    does this happen to anyone else??

  7. Fiona S Avatar

    I have made kombucha successfully in my one gallon continuous brew container many times with only one cup of the tea. Have also regularly given a scoby with one cup of tea to friends who have made large amounts with great success. Have been making it for years.

    It’s not the amount of starter tea that causes mold.

  8. Tracy Avatar

    I have only one thing to disagree with in your article….. No.5 in your “How To Make” section!! You need TWO cups of starter tea (Kombucha) for a one-gallon brew. And also, do NOT use apple cider vinegar. ACV has a completely different set of bacteria and yeast than Kombucha and is not healthy for the Kombucha SCOBY (an ACV SCOBY is not the same as a Kombucha SCOBY). If you MUST use vinegar, use WHITE vinegar…. BUT it is far better and more productive to use a bottle of GT’s raw Kombucha if you don’t have enough starter tea!! Make sure TWO cups of starter tea is used to brew a gallon…. Not enough starter tea will produce mold on the SCOBY!!

  9. Leandra Avatar

    I am very new to kombucha, and I think I made a bit boo-boo. I put my scoby it freshly brewed tea. Within minutes, I remembered this was not good, and removed the scoby and placed it in a cool jar, but I’m terrified the few minutes it was in the hot water will have killed it. Thoughts?

  10. Sara Avatar

    I am not sure why the nutrition facts list “Folic Acid.” Folic Acid is a synthetic form of Vitamin B9. It should say, “Folate.”

  11. Paulien Brierley Avatar
    Paulien Brierley

    I have consumed KB 60ml a day for for 16days now and I still experience very strong negative emotions and low mood. Is this normal? I consider quitting as I do not know how much longer I can bear it. I have hashimoto’s disease.

    1. Lisa Avatar

      Don’t wait for someone to validate your physical state…if something makes you feel bad after that many days…STOP…you don’t need someone to tell you to Kombucha and hashimotos to see if anyone has had your same reaction? Blessings

  12. Stacey Avatar

    I see you mentioned folic acid is in this. Is it from the tea? Or …naturally occurring? Is there a way to make it without the folic acid?

  13. Yvonne Avatar

    I’ve been making Komucha lately for about 3 months. A friend who lived in South America introduced it to me about 28 years ago, called it Schemmel. The Chinese love eating the actual SCOBY, Magic Mushroom, Schemmel. I have been experimenting with Jun, the version made with Green Tea and honey. I love it. It has a mild, pleasant taste.

    I wonder how much is too much to drink.

  14. Linnea Lahlum Avatar
    Linnea Lahlum

    I’ve been making and drinking milk kefir for about 4 years. Does kombucha have any benefits that milk kefir does not have? A different nutritional profile?

    The milk kefir is just so simple to make. I am wondering if making kombucha is worth the added effort. People talk about it as a substitute for soda, but I don’t drink and never have liked soda or sweet drinks anyway. Besides water, we drink just coffee, tea, or milk.

    Sometimes I do a second fermentation of my milk kefir with blenderized fruit. That also makes a fizzy drink. But it quickly becomes very sour and alcoholic tasting if I don’t finish it within a day.

  15. Pam Avatar

    How do you tell if the mushroom is still good? I have had one in a jar covered by a coffee filter and haven’t made kombucha forover a year. Was wanting to make a batch.

  16. Motto Nakajima Avatar
    Motto Nakajima

    It was rather recent that I found Kombucha is quite popular among those who are healthy food minded people in the US. But, at the same time, I was puzzled every time I drink it, because it is a totally different drink from what I grew up with. Kommbu-cha is a Japanese name, which means kelp (Kombu) -tea (cha), and nothing to do with black tea, sugar and fermentation. I have no idea who modified, invented and/or inspired, or simply adopted the name to American Kombucha, but its origin and difference between two should be cleared to avoid any confusion and misunderstanding. By the way, I do love both, but, I definitely prefer American Kombu-cha, except its outrageously high price.

    1. Katie Avatar

      It comes from Korea or N. China, hence d why “cha” is the same. I am an American who was living in Japan when my sister in the US Asked me about kombucha – so I went through this confusion too!

    2. Katie Avatar

      I got a diagnosis of IBS this July, due to severe anxiety that I was having. I began making kombucha at home. I only drink a little daily – maybe half a cup or even just a sip (although I’ll down a whole bottle occasionally). I feel like drinking a lot is overkill, the bacteria will reproduce in your gut anyway. I stopped eating most sugar and refined breads (switched to sourdough, homemade) and my symptoms are pretty much gone for both IBS and anxiety. I would recommend it IN MODERATION for people with IBS (die-off can be real painful though). I can’t imagine it would work well with a bad diet, but if you make those changes then having kombucha will really help gastrointestinal problems in a medicinal way. I have used it to control flare ups and now use it more as preventative medicine. I also began taking fire cider daily at this time which has been really helpful for the heartburn I was having. I also drink hot ginger tea daily, and peppermint tea. The fire cider tastes nasty but other than that, the drinks I used as medicine for my IBS were honestly so delicious!

      Never bothered with the second ferment, will try it in the future. I did combine it with the ginger beer recipe on here once and that was amazing.

      1. Fiona Avatar

        Really liked your comment, Motto. Seems that moderation and a healthy diet are the keys to kombucha working for you.

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