The best kombucha brew kit: build your own!

Pre-made starter kits just aren’t worth the money...

Lots of websites try to sell kombucha brewing starter kits, and while there are definitely some decent ones, I don’t think you need to shell out upwards of $40 or more for a kit with limited ingredients when the materials are so cheap to assemble yourself.

Most starter kits only come with one glass jar, a SCOBY and enough tea and sugar to make one batch of kombucha. Those are such affordable ingredients that you’re really just paying for them to package it up for you in a cool box with instructions. And you still have to buy a bunch of other materials (not included in the kit) to really get brewing. 

Basic Materials*

 

  • French press

    • This is on the pricier side, but I use it for coffee too and it’s great. You could also save money by using any pot to boil your water and steep your tea. Then use a strainer to get the leaves out if you like!

  • Fine-weave, unbleached cotton cloth

    • But if you have a spare clean old t-shirt, just save your money and just cut it up to make your covers! Or bandanas or coffee filters work well too.

  • Rubber bands

    • The thick rubber bands that come “for free” on bunches of fresh asparagus from the grocery store are the perfect size for my brew vessels! Save your money if you can. No one should have to pay for rubber bands, but the link’s here in case you need it.  

  • Stick-on temperature strips

    • These aren’t required if you already have a kitchen thermometer. These are great for measuring average room temp. as your brew ferments.

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  • A SCOBY (I like this one)

    • You can read more about how to acquire a quality SCOBY here. You can also grow your own from a store-bought bottle of unflavored kombucha.

    • Regardless of whichever SCOBY you purchase or acquire, if you have less than 2 cups of starter tea, just halve or quarter the recipe to accommodate for however much starter tea you have. If you really want to make a full gallon of kombucha, you’ll need to purchase some raw, unflavored kombucha from the store to increase the amount of starter tea you use in your first batch. Remember starter tea = unflavored kombucha. So just add enough to get to the 2 cups I recommend. This will acidify it to a safe level and get it fermenting properly.

    • If you see any instructions that say to use vinegar, regardless of where you get your SCOBY, ignore them. Instead, buy a bottle of store-bought plain, unflavored, raw kombucha and use approx. 1 cup of plain kombucha for every ¼ cup of vinegar recommended by their instructions.

      • Learn more here and here about why vinegar should never be used in kombucha. And you can read my instructions on how to properly brew 1 gallon of kombucha here.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Advanced Materials / Accessories

 

These aren’t necessarily required for brewing kombucha. But these are items I use to help take my kombucha brewing to the next level.

 

  • The Kombucha Crafter's Logbook

    • I've created this custom tracker for your home-brewed kombucha adventures, so you can make each batch your best yet. This specially designed journal has space for every detail from ingredients to tasting notes, taking each of your brews through first and second fermentation to the delicious final result. I'm a firm believer in taking notes on each batch so you can adapt your process and get better with time. I modeled this after my own journals and logbooks as I built up my kombucha knowledge over the years! And I hope it's helpful for your kombucha brewing journey!

  • Electric hot water kettle (or just use any pot you already own!)  

    • I've been using this one for almost 2 years. Very reliable and affordable.​

  • Loose-leaf tea steeping pitcher (here's another good option and here's a smaller one if you want to steep smaller volumes)

    • I use this over my french press when I'm steeping enough tea to brew 3 gallons worth of kombucha at one time. I like the 100 oz. ones but the pitcher in the first link comes in a few size options if you want to go smaller. 

    • If you watched the Pro-Tips for High-Volume Brewing video above, and you're wondering where that plastic steeping pitcher went: Since I filmed that video, I actually upgraded my materials to these glass pitchers I linked above. Glass is a much better option compared to the plastic one, since to avoid cracking the plastic one, I could only fill it with boiling water until the halfway point, then fill it up the rest of the way with cool water. These glass ones are great because you can even boil water in them on the stove (as long as you keep the lid off)!

      • If you really, really want that OG plastic pitcher, you can find it here. It's great for cold-brew tea steeping! But I love my glass ones which can do both.  ​

  • Probe kitchen thermometer

    • You don’t necessarily need this if you have the stick-on temperature strips. But I use the two for slightly different reasons. I like to use this probe thermometer to check the temperature of my liquid before adding my SCOBY and starter tea. I use the temperature stickers I mentioned above to monitor room temperature as my brews ferment. This one is super precise and lasts longer than other thermometers I've used. It's good as a meat thermometer as well, so it's not a unitasker!

  • Small strainer

    • Good for straining yeasty bits out of the brew before bottling. Or for straining pulp/baby SCOBYs out of bottles before drinking. ​

  • Rubber grippers

    • These ensure you get a super tight seal if you’re using bottles with screw-on lids (like if you reuse store-bought kombucha bottles)

 

 

  • pH meter

    • Same note as the pH test strips above.

 

 

  • A blender

    • I prefer to puree fresh fruit to flavor my kombucha. I use a Nutri Ninja Blender. (I know it’s pricey, but it works wonders!) I like that it has smaller vessels I can use for puree-ing smaller amounts of fruit for kombucha. But Ninja has other affordable blender options so do some browsing to find something you're comfortable with - any blender you like will work just fine!

 

 

  • Juicer/Extractor

    • Totally not necessary, but if you like juicing anyhow, the Breville Juice Fountain is great. I have the older (discontinued) model, but this is the updated version. You can use any juicer you like, but they're great for high-volume juicing for big kombucha batches and for juicing pulpier/more fibrous fruit. I use it for juicing greens, pineapple, ginger, beets, apples, carrots and so much more - since I prefer to flavor kombucha with those ingredients freshly juiced as oppose to pureed. 

  • Activated charcoal sachet

    • Super helpful for neutralizing acidic/pungent odors from your brew vessels/SCOBY hotels without releasing any harmful ​chemicals that hinder fermentation! Watch my video here for more tips on dealing with smelly kombucha brew vessels.

  • Germ Guardian Air Purifier

    • Works​ similarly to the activated charcoal sachets above, but this uses UV light to neutralize odors instead.

  • Small sticker labels

    • I like to use these different colored labels to help me remember different kombucha flavors. Fair warning: these are ​very small since I like mine to fit on the top of my kombucha caps (and I have very small handwriting). Amazon has lots of larger label options if you prefer to stick your labels on the sides of your bottles. 

  • Mini Keg / Pressurized Growler

    • This is great for force-carbonating liquids. And keeping carbonated liquids fizzy. I use it whenever I go to a brewery to take home beer fresh from the tap (it keeps beer carbonated for a couple weeks -- much longer than non-pressurized growlers last). You can also use it to carbonate flat beverages. It carbonates kombucha in a couple days (make sure you pick up some carbon dioxide cartridges). ​And be sure to strain liquid before you put it in the mini-keg (since cleaning fruit pulp and sediment from this thing is a pain in the rear!)

    • I use the copper 64 oz. one and love it. If you want a more affordable option, I recommend this one

  • BONUS: Interested in making homemade CBD kombucha? Check out my how-to guide + recommendations here.

* Full disclosure: I use affiliate links, so I may get a small commission of Amazon's profit if you decide to purchase my recommended products. It won’t cost you any more than you’d normally pay for the item! If you feel comfortable purchasing from these links, thank you! I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error and spent quite a bit of $$ to find reliable products that can save us all money. I would never recommend anything I can’t vouch for in my own personal home brewing process. I'm also constantly updating this list with more affordable, more reliable options as I discover better products. Otherwise, feel free to purchase from wherever you like. No hard feelings. You do what you’ve gotta do for your bucha! :)

 

If you're new to brewing kombucha, you can get your instructions free of charge right here at YouBrewKombucha.com! And buying your own materials is the cheapest and best way to do it if you’re serious about brewing kombucha.

So why buy a starter kit when you can make a starter kit yourself? You probably already own a lot of these materials so you can just pick and choose whichever ones you want to purchase.

 

Most materials are readily available at most grocery stores, but since people always ask me what my favorite materials are, I've provided links to buy them online here. This list is helpful for new brewers or experienced brewers who want to upgrade their kombucha materials!

Note that these are affiliate links, so I may get a cut of the seller's profits if you choose to buy from them. I only recommend materials I've purchased and tested (and continue to use!) myself!

Experienced brewers can jump down to the Advanced Materials section below for tips on upgrading your brew materials!

​© 2020 by You Brew Kombucha

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