The BEST Kombucha Ratio for a Tasty Brew

2 bottles of kombucha, a measuring cup of water, a cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of tea sitting on a kitchen island
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The key to a tasty brew is getting that kombucha ratio just right!

You’ll find many different kombucha ratios on the internet, but how do you know which one is best?

My recipe has been perfected over many years of brewing with careful attention to all of the factors involved.

Am I just lucky? Nope! My recipe has been duplicated in many, many households with great success. I’m confident that my secret to the BEST kombucha ratio will work for you, too!

Let’s get to it!

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented tea beverage that has been consumed by humans for centuries and it’s certainly not going out of style. It has become the fastest growing product in the functional beverage market! It is filled with gut-healthy probiotics, plus all of the health benefits that are traditionally obtained from brewed tea. 

The process of making kombucha involves microorganisms – specifically the action of a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY). The SCOBY is a gelatinous, mat-like film that sits on top of your brew and makes the magic happen.

SCOBY sitting on a square white plate

What does the SCOBY do?

  • The yeast present in the SCOBY is in charge of converting the fermentable sugars into ethanol (AKA alcohol) and carbon dioxide (hello fizz!) (Kapp, 2019). 
  • Then, the bacteria present in the SCOBY then takes over by converting the ethanol into organic acids. These beneficial bacteria also inhibit the growth of any pathogenic bacteria (AKA the “bad bugs”)(Kapp, 2019).
  • In the end, you have a low-sugar, low-alcohol tasty beverage that is good and good for you! 

The BEST Kombucha Ratio

Vessel Size

Tea + Water

Sugar

Diluting Water

Starter Liquid

1 Gallon

3 Tbsp Tea    (9 tea bags)

4 Cups Water

1 Cup

7 Cups

1 Cup  

2 Gallons

6 Tbsp Tea (18 tea bags)

4 Cups Water

2 Cups

14 Cups

2 Cups

1 Cup

1/2 tsp Tea (1/2 tea bag)

5 oz Water

1 Tbsp

9 oz

1 Tbsp

Kombucha Tea Ratio

This is where it all starts! You can’t have kombucha without tea, and you definitely need to have a balanced amount to produce a smooth brew. 

A tbsp full of oolong tea

How much tea should I add to my kombucha?

  • 1 Gallon (most common): a strong tea using a mixture of 3 Tbsp of loose leaf tea (or 9 tea bags) in 4 cups of boiling water. Steep for 6 minutes, then discard the tea leaves.
  • 2 Gallons: use 6 Tbsp of loose leaf tea (or 18 tea bags) in 8 cups of boiling water. Steep for 6 minutes, then discard the tea leaves.
  • 1 Cup: use 1/2 tsp of loose leaf tea (or ½ a tea bag) in 5 oz of boiling water. Steep for 6 minutes, then discard the tea leaves.

What kind of tea should I add to my kombucha?

This is where you can really start to customize your brew to develop a flavor that you love! It’s important to choose organic tea leaves so that you can limit contaminants or chemicals. 

Both loose leaf tea and pre-packaged tea bags are acceptable, however I prefer loose leaf tea in a reusable tea bag. It’s often cheaper this way, plus I like that it’s a more sustainable option (no packaging!).

You can make kombucha from the following types of teas, according to Cultures for Health:
  • Black Tea – bold and fruity (don’t use Earl Grey or any others with flavoring/oils)
  • Oolong Tea – sweet, fruity and smooth; Oolong is my personal favorite (see link below)! 
  • Green Tea – light and soft
  • White Tea – flowery and delicate (not recommended for beginning batches and will need mixing with black tea)
  • Rooibos Tea – flowery and delicate (not recommended for beginning batches and will need mixing with black tea)
  • Yerba Mate or other herbal teas – fruity and smooth (not recommended for beginning batches and will need mixing with black tea)

Buying the right tea will really make or break your brew! I experimented with several different brands of oolong tea and was disappointed until I found the tea below. It’s a complete game changer! I will seriously cry if it ever goes off the market. I’ve had many people tell me they don’t like kombucha, but when they try my brew using this tea, they are SOLD!

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks

This is THE best tea out there! Besides the intoxicating smooth and sweet flavor, Tie Guan Yin is also popular because of its numerous healing properties. When you combine a great tasting tea classic, pleasant fragrance and the health benefits, you can see why this tea is so sought after!

Kombucha Sugar Ratio

Yes, sugar! You absolutely cannot skip this part. Your SCOBY needs sugar, otherwise it will starve.

Don’t worry, though! Nearly all of this sugar will get converted into organic acids by the end of the fermentation period. The longer you let it go, the less sugar there will be. 

Therefore, if you prefer a tart brew, let it go 2-3 weeks like I do! If you like it sweet, stop it early at 1-2 weeks. However, this time period is heavily dependent on your brewing environment, room temperature, and how active your SCOBY is, so always do a taste test before bottling.

1 cup of sugar sitting on a kitchen counter. Overhead view.

How much sugar should I add to my kombucha?

  • 1 Gallon (most common): Add 1 cup of sugar to your 4 cups of freshly brewed tea.
  • 2 Gallons: Add 2 cups of sugar to your 8 cups of freshly brewed tea.
  • 1 Cup: Add 1 Tbsp of sugar to your 5 oz of freshly brewed tea.

What kind of sugar should I add to my kombucha?

Just like with the other ingredients we have discussed, you want as clean of a product as possible. You technically can use basic white sugar, but I recommend organic cane juice crystals. This is the one that I use:

The Homesteading RDs's Product Picks

USDA Certified Organic Cane Sugar

This Organic Cane Sugar is made by squeezing and evaporating the juice from freshly harvested organic sugar canes. This results in a golden sweet crystal that is as sweet as... well, sugar.

Do not use the following for brewing kombucha according to Cultures For Health:

  • Brown sugar, raw sugar or whole cane sugar
  • Honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, palm or syrups
  • Stevia, xylitol, artificial sweeteners

Kombucha Water Ratio

Once you’ve made your tea and dissolved the sugar, it’s time to dilute it down further before adding your starter tea and SCOBY.

How much water should I add to my kombucha?

  • 1 Gallon (most common): Add 7 cups of cold water to your sugar-tea mixture.
  • 2 Gallons: Add 14 cups of cold water to your sugar-tea mixture. 
  • 1 Cup: Add 9 oz of cold water to your sugar-tea mixture.

What kind of water should I add to my kombucha?

  • Well-water: You can use water straight from the tap. 
  • City water: You’ll want to use filtered water to avoid contaminants, chlorine and fluoride. If you don’t have access to filtered water, let your water sit out for 24 hours to allow the fluoride to evaporate.

Kombucha Starter Tea Ratio

The addition of starter tea (AKA pain kombucha) to each brew is essential to reduce the pH a bit and give it a head start on fermentation. Without it, you risk your brew fermenting too slowly and developing the growth of pathogenic bacteria.

A white square plate with a SCOBY, a gallon vessel filled with kombucha and a 1 cup measuring cup with kombucha stater tea all sitting on a kitchen island.

How much starter tea should I add to my kombucha?

  • 1 Gallon (most common): Add 1 cup of starter tea to your diluted sugar-tea mixture.
  • 2 Gallons: Add 2 cups of starter tea to your diluted sugar-tea mixture.
  • 1 Cup: Add 1 Tbsp of starter tea to your diluted sugar-tea mixture.

Where can I find starter tea?

  • If you buy a kombucha starter kit (see my recommendation below!), then it will arrive with a package of starter tea for you! This is the same kit that I bought many years ago; it’s awesome!
  • Find a friend who is brewing kombucha and see if they’ll give you a cup.
  • Buy a bottle of PLAIN kombucha at the store.

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks

This is the same kit that I started with and it has everything you need to get started except for the bottles. The cultures are grown in their Madison, WI brewery using triple filtered water, high-quality sugar and loose leaf tea. They guarantee your first batch to ferment or they'll send you a free replacement. What a deal!

Kombucha Add-Ins Ratio

Once your kombucha has finished brewing, it’s time to add some flavorings to empty 16 oz bottles and fill them up with kombucha! You always want to use your flavor add-ins at bottling time (not during your first fermentation) so that your SCOBY remains pure and unadulterated. 

You can do the same flavor for all of your bottles, or try a different flavor for each one. This is where it gets super fun!

5 glass 16 oz swing-top bottles filled with flavorings at the bottom

How many add-ins should I add to my kombucha?

  • Fruit juice: ¼ cup per 16 oz bottle
  • Fruit: chopped and filled to ¼-½” of the bottom of the bottle
  • Ginger: chopped into matchsticks to ⅛”-¼” of the bottom of the bottle
  • Herbs: 2-3 tsp, to taste

What kind of add-ins should I add to my kombucha?

The options here are limitless! However, these are my favorite combinations:

  • Strawberries + Basil
  • Mango Juice
  • Ginger
  • Strawberries + Lemon (think strawberry lemonade!)
  • Mint + Lime
  • Pomegranate Juice

How to Put the BEST Kombucha Ratio Into Practice (1 Gallon)

  1. Boil 4 cups of water
  2. Add 3 Tbsp of loose leaf tea to a reusable tea bag (or use 9 tea bags). 
  3. Once boiling, turn off the heat and add the tea bag(s). Let steep for 6 minutes.A copper pot brewing kombucha tea. A timer set to 6 minutes sitting in front of it.
  4. After 6 minutes, remove the tea bag and stir in 1 cup of organic cane juice crystals. Set aside to cool.
  5. With clean hands, remove SCOBY from the brewing jar and place on a clean plate
  6. Reserve 1 cup of kombucha. Set aside. Set out clean bottles to begin filling.Vessel of kombucha, scoby and 1 cup of kombucha starter tea all sitting on a kitchen island
  7. Fill clean bottles with add-ins of your choice (see above for ideas!)
  8. Fill bottles with kombucha using a funnel and close the swing-top lid. Set bottles aside.5 glass swing-top bottles being filled with kombucha using a funnel
  9. Next, clean empty brewing jar and then fill with the sugar-tea mixture
  10. Add 7 cups of ice water to dilute the sugar-tea mixture (ice water is necessary if the sugar-tea mixture is still hot. You don’t want to fry your active cultures!)A vessel of kombucha with freshly added ice water sitting next to bottled kombucha
  11. Add the reserved 1 cup of kombucha and place the SCOBY on top
  12. Cover kombucha jar with a piece of tightly woven cloth and secure with a rubber bandBottles of kombucha sitting next to a 1 gallon vessel of brewing kombucha
  13. Place kombucha jar and filled bottles on a shelf (dark, warm place) to rest and start fermenting
  14. After 2-3 days, move your bottles to the fridge and now you can drink them!
  15. After 1-3 weeks, your kombucha brew will be ready to start the process all over again! Give it a taste to determine when you want to stop the brewing process and start bottling. The longer it sits, the more tart it will be with a lower sugar content.

What Supplies Do I Need to Brew Kombucha?

Kombucha supplies sitting out on a kitchen island

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks

This is the same kit that I started with and it has everything you need to get started except for the bottles. The cultures are grown in their Madison, WI brewery using triple filtered water, high-quality sugar and loose leaf tea. They guarantee your first batch to ferment or they'll send you a free replacement. What a deal!

Perfect for kombucha, beer, kiefer, soda, or any other homebrew! Includes collapsible silicone funnel and replacement high-pressure gaskets. The glass is rated for 58 psi (twice as much as required by heavily carbonated beer.) These bottles are specifically made for carbonated drinks.

This is THE best tea out there! Besides the intoxicating smooth and sweet flavor, Tie Guan Yin is also popular because of its numerous healing properties. When you combine a great tasting tea classic, pleasant fragrance and the health benefits, you can see why this tea is so sought after!

This USDA Certified Organic Cane Sugar is made by squeezing and evaporating the juice from freshly harvested organic sugar canes. This results in a golden sweet crystal that is as sweet as... well, sugar.

Feeling Crafty?

Try making my DIY Whipped Tallow Balm or Lip Balm DIY Recipe!

Hungry?

Then you’ll definitely love my Gluten Free Quiche with Garden Veggies and Homestead Refried Beans!

Conclusion

Kombucha is a tasty beverage that is not only healthy for you, but it is fun and super easy to make! Why shell out $5 per bottle at the store, when you can make your own for a fraction of the cost?  Plus, the sustainability of being able to reuse your own bottles is an added bonus.

Now that you know my secret to the BEST kombucha ratio for a tasty brew, what are you waiting for?!

If you have any favorite flavor combinations, please share them below!

Thanks for reading signature

2 bottles of kombucha, a measuring cup of water, a cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of tea sitting on a kitchen island

The BEST Kombucha Ratio for a Tasty Brew

The key to a tasty brew is getting that kombucha ratio just right! My recipe has been perfected and duplicated in many households. Yum!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Fermentation Time 14 d
Total Time 14 d 30 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 5 16 oz bottles
Calories 80 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Gallon Kombucha Jar see kombucha kit suggestion below
  • 5 16 oz Swing Top Bottles see bottle suggestion below
  • 1 Funnel
  • 1 12"x12" tightly woven cloth for covering the kombucha jar

Ingredients
  

  • 3 Tbsp Oolong Tea (or 9 tea bags); See tea suggestion below
  • 1 Cup Organic Cane Juice Crystals See sugar suggestion below
  • 1 Cup Kombucha Starter Tea See kombucha kit suggestion below
  • 1 SCOBY See kombucha kit suggestion below
  • 1 ¼ Cup Fruit juice or chopped fruit See recipe ideas in article above

Instructions
 

  • Boil 4 cups of water
  • Add 3 Tbsp of loose leaf tea to a reusable tea bag (or use 9 tea bags). 
  • Once boiling, turn off the heat and add the tea bag(s). Let steep for 6 minutes.
  • After 6 minutes, remove the tea bag(s) and stir in 1 cup of cane juice crystals. Set aside to cool.
  • Next, fill your clean, empty 1 gallon brewing jar with the sugar-tea mixture
  • Then, add 7 cups of ice water to dilute the sugar-tea mixture (ice water is necessary if the sugar-tea mixture is still hot. You don’t want to fry the active cultures that we're adding next!)
  • Once the ice has melted and the solution is no longer hot, add 1 cup of kombucha starter tea and gently place the SCOBY on top (it's ok if it floats, sinks or flops sideways! Just let it do its thing).
  • Cover kombucha jar with a piece of tightly woven cloth and secure with a rubber band
  • Place your 1 gallon jar of kombucha in a dark, warm location where it will be undisturbed.
  • At 1 week, do a taste test and see what you think. Still too sweet? Let it go for another week and test again. Most people brew in the timeframe of 1-3 weeks. It all depends on how active your SCOBY is, environmental factors and your taste preferences. The thicker your SCOBY becomes, the more active it will be. I've found that a thickness of about 1" is perfect for my brew, so I pull off extra layers when it gets too thick.
  • Once you're satisfied with the taste of your kombucha brew, bring it back to the kitchen and complete steps 1-4 again to make the sugar-tea mixture.
  • Now that you have a full gallon jar of finished kombucha, there are a few more steps to add on!
  • With clean hands, remove SCOBY from the brewing jar and place on a clean plate
  • Reserve 1 cup of kombucha. Set aside. Set out clean bottles to begin filling.
  • Fill clean bottles with add-ins of your choice (see above for ideas!)
  • Fill bottles with finished kombucha using a funnel and close the swing-top lid. Set bottles aside.
  • Pick back up with steps 5-9 to make the next batch of new kombucha.
  • Now, place the bottles of finished kombucha and the 1 gallon jar of new kombucha back to the warm, dark location where it will not be disturbed. 
  • After 2-3 days, move the bottles of finished kombucha to the fridge and now you can drink them!
  • After 1-3 weeks, your 1 gallon of kombucha brew will be ready to start the process all over again! 

Notes

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks

This is the same kit that I started with and it has everything you need to get started except for the bottles. The cultures are grown in their Madison, WI brewery using triple filtered water, high-quality sugar and loose leaf tea. They guarantee your first batch to ferment or they'll send you a free replacement. What a deal!

Perfect for kombucha, beer, kiefer, soda, or any other homebrew! Includes collapsible silicone funnel and replacement high-pressure gaskets. The glass is rated for 58 psi (twice as much as required by heavily carbonated beer.) These bottles are specifically made for carbonated drinks.

This is THE best tea out there! Besides the intoxicating smooth and sweet flavor, Tie Guan Yin is also popular because of its numerous healing properties. When you combine a great tasting tea classic, pleasant fragrance and the health benefits, you can see why this tea is so sought after!

This USDA Certified Organic Cane Sugar is made by squeezing and evaporating the juice from freshly harvested organic sugar canes. This results in a golden sweet crystal that is as sweet as... well, sugar.

Nutrition

Calories: 80kcal
Keyword beverage, fermented, kombucha, probiotic
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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16 thoughts on “The BEST Kombucha Ratio for a Tasty Brew”

  1. We’ve been thinking about starting up a batch of kombucha, but we’re hesitant because we don’t know if we’ll like it or not. We want the health benefits, though. Would you recommend starting with a store-bought bottle of kombucha to try first before buying anything to start our own?

    1. I think starting with store-bought is a great place to start, but of course keep in mind that home-brewed (like with all things) always tastes better. I think the GT brand is the best. Another option is to find a friend that brews kombucha and try some of theirs 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    What a helpful post!! I’ve been making my own Kombucha for a few years now, but I haven’t strayed much from the basic version. I’m SO excited to dig in here and try something new

  3. I should definitely try to make Kombucha at home, I’m such a big fan! Thank you for explaining how to regulate the sweet flavor, I’m not a fan of sugary drinks. So happy I found this article 🙂

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