Introduction: Starting Your Own Kombucha Mother

Picture of Starting Your Own Kombucha Mother

Kombucha, like any other living thing, has a strong will to survive. If you start out with a bottle of store bought raw, unpasteurized Kombucha (you know the kind), you can get a fully functional mother culture within a week. It's cake. In fact, you would probably have to try pretty hard to NOT get a fully functional mother.

Also, if you are into things like taking down the man and Thoreau, this is a baby step to self reliance. Almost.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

1. A bottle of raw, unpasteurized Kombucha. I won't name names, I'll just say avoid the kind with juice added. I started mine with the ginger flavored one, but that wasn't my first choice.

2. A clean glass jar, preferably rinsed out with boiling water prior to use. Preferably a small one with a rather narrow throat.

3. Tea. Black or green, as long as it's got no additives. I used some kind of green tea in a tin with no English writing, and it worked just fine. My last culture I did with black tea, worked just fine.

4. Sugar.

5. Cheesecloth or similar cloth. I use sterile gauze I pilfered from a first aid kit and it works just fine.

Step 2: Step One: Make Sweet Tea

Picture of Step One: Make Sweet Tea

Make sweet tea. Brew some tea like you normally would for yourself. Teabags, loose-leaf...whatever.

In the jar you intend to start your culture in, pour in a few tablespoons of sugar

Step 3: Add Your Tea to Your Kombucha

Picture of Add Your Tea to Your Kombucha

Dump your entire bottle of store bought kombucha into the jar you plan to keep it in.
Then, fill up the jar with the sweet tea from the previous step. Add as much tea as you need to get the level of the liquid somewhere within a half- to quarter-inch of the top. As close to the narrowest part of the jar as possible.

Sample the concoction, make sure it tastes properly sweet.

Top with cheesecloth and put it in a warm or at least room-temperature place where it can sit undisturbed for a while.

Step 4: Wait Wait Wait

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After a few hours, all of the gunk that you normally see at the bottom of your kombucha bottle will begin to organize into larger clumps and float to the top. Overnight this foamy thing will turn into something not unlike a man-o-war jellyfish. If you poke and prod your little jellyfish you'll notice that it's spread out across the entire surface of the tea with little a little invisible film. In the next couple of days this film will get thicker and thicker and take on the appearance of the familiar mother culture you've all seen pictures of on the internet.

Within the week you should have a small but thick and durable culture. In colder climates this may take longer, but that's remedied by just keeping it in a warm spot.


Step 5: A Summary

Honestly, if you don't want to follow all those steps just open a bottle of kombucha you got from the store, secure a piece of cloth over the top with a rubber band, and let that sucker sit around for a week or two. That will do essentially the same thing, only I like to think the extra tea and sugar speed things up.

Step 6: Brewing Future Kombucha Batches

Picture of Brewing Future Kombucha Batches

Since I always just go with my gut instincts when mixing my tea and sugar, I get radically different results with each batch of kombucha I make. Before moving your tiny culture into a larger container(where it will get HUGE by the way) I recommend looking at other instructables for a good, consistent recipe.


MelindaG (author)2015-03-14

I'm trying to research making it without a mother or store bought raw kombucha ....It started somewhere without those two things. Can anyone post a link to this information?

I've been looking for weeks now.....PLEASE HELP !!!!

mhdguy (author)MelindaG2017-03-26

the translation wins up rather odd but this should help if you or anyone else happens to still be looking

GGLLWW (author)MelindaG2015-04-12

Hi Melinda , me too. A scoby must be possible to make without purchasing starters. I see someone recommended buying a book. DiDyou come right? Is it easy , can you share please?

janos.serfozo (author)2014-12-18

Does anyone know how to grow/make a SCOBY with out having to buy a store bought bottle Komucha, a freshly bought SCOBY online or a Dehydrated SCOBY???

I want to know how you grow/make a SCOBY from scratch.

I mean our ancestors didn't have a store to buy a bottle or "Fresh" SCOBY online option.

How did they do it?

Everything online says to use a store bought bottle or buy a SCOBY online.

I'm not interested in that.

Again, without a store bought bottle or buying a SCOBY online.

Anyone, anyone at all?

Everything online only gives me these options.

Thanks and much love.

chadfeyrer (author)janos.serfozo2016-11-20

I was just talking about this today! The guy below, who makes scoby for a living, clearly didn't make his very first scoby from scratch, otherwise he would have revealed it. My mother used to make this, but I couldn't remember the exact process, I remember vinegar being involved... I suffered from the same frustration, so I used 3-3.5 cups water, brewed my tea, added 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar. As I'm sure you've read, everything should be sterilized to prevent contamination. I don't know if yeast Is necessary, as it should create its own naturally, but leave It covered for about a month in a cool and dry location. You should see results, and can also use the scoby topically, and to grow new layers of skin.

NanetteK (author)janos.serfozo2016-04-07

Yes im wondering this too... i fermented some sauerkraut and one jar has a nice yeast bloom on top... can i take some of this and the ferment juice and add it to the sweet tea???

SummerA3 (author)NanetteK2016-06-09

A kombucha scoby is a baby, of sorts. Have you ever tried to have a baby without a mother? It would be impossible, as the baby is originally a part of the mother. That is what you are asking to do.

The easiest way to get a kombucha scoby without paying anything for it is to find someone who has one and get a baby for free. Kombucha scobys grow a baby monthly and anyone who makes knombucha has tons of extra scobys. Look for it on craigslist if you need to!

Disclaimer: I produce kombucha scobys and sell them for a living.

mygal_1 (author)janos.serfozo2015-07-22

it is the same as making your own vinegar = once you have made your apple cider vinegar with the skins & cores of 12 apples , it makes it's own scoby plant , so you will have the (jelly scoby plant ) in the vinegar , just break it in half and use it to make your Komucha scoby, I also make my own kefir I started from the store tablets , & my own sour bread , cheers Faith qld Australia .

MarkeaQ (author)mygal_12015-11-16

One- that is not a true vinegar, it's called apple scrap vinegar.
Two- a mother of vinegar is a pessicle. Not a scoby. They are completely different.

mygal_1 (author)MarkeaQ2015-11-16

this recipe is out of a vinegar book ! also look up on you tube on how to make Natural vinegar .

SigitaK (author)mygal_12015-09-12

thank you very much!

tintino (author)janos.serfozo2015-06-27

A Kombucha scooby is a live animal.... so you need to source the proper
bacteria somewhere (buy a scooby, or get it free from someone) Sure it's found in nature.... so you can go look for
it in nature :) Google "kombucha bacteria strains"

GGLLWW (author)janos.serfozo2015-05-10

hi Janos.

Me too , it must be possible to grow it hour buying a store products?

Did you find out how ?



PaulaC82 (author)2016-08-31

Will this make kombacha too? Can you drink the liquid as

Kombacha? Or should the liquid be discarded after the scoby forms fully?

NicholasB37 (author)PaulaC822016-09-29

the liquid that is left after growing your first SCOBY will be mostly acetic acid and very strong (almost unbearable). However, don't discard the liquid. Use a small amount of the reserve liquid, the SCOBY, tea, and whatever fruits or herbs you want to make your first batch of kombucha.

MattM284 (author)2016-09-18

Does anyone know the exact ingriedients of a scoby like half a cup of yeast- i just dont want to buy a bottle as it is apparently dangerous

TeresaD12 (author)2015-09-27

I brewed a batch of sweetened Dilmah tea in the hope of making my own scoby. It worked, I think, but my scoby is probably contaminated! There is nothing in cyber space that i can find on creating your own scoby from scratch.

TeresaD12 (author)2015-09-27

My homegrown scoby is black!

hikerchick (author)2015-02-01

I'm trying to find how to grow a mother without buying a pre-made bottle. Is it possible to grow a mother without buying a mother or getting from a batch of kombucha? How did our ancestors start a batch when they didn't have one???!!!

denise.kelsey.10 (author)2015-01-05

The price is now 5.98 on Amazon. The book title is The Essentials of Kombucha (the Manchuria Mushroom. I purchased it in 2012 after loosing mine then it was 2.50 i hope this helped

Make the tea let it sit for 2-3 weeks and you will grow a scoby, tea must be covered.

denise.kelsey.10 (author)2015-01-05

Yes use apple cider vinegar. If you purchase the kombucha. Book wtitten in i think 1976 is has all the information you will need it is a paper back blue and white on Amazon. For about $2:50

Apple cider vinegar with the mother or scoby particles

Bella DonnaS (author)2015-01-03

janos... i have been asking the EXACT same question on all the search engines with no luck! maybe i'm using the wrong words? our ancestors made kombucha somehow. it has to be possible to make it without a store-bought or a pre-made SCOBY. i used to brew when i lived in the states, and i started from a store-bought bottle, but that was easy cuz i lived in the states... i am in south american now, and kombucha is nowhere to be found! there has to be a way.... please update me if you find anything... i will do the same. :)

AlexP3 (author)2014-08-17

Do you guys think it's better to add the yeast first to make the alchol then add the whey?

AlexP3 (author)2014-08-17

Here is what I did, I just boiled some fruit, water, and sugar, after it cooled to warm temperature I added whey strained from kefir. I then added a tiny bit of yeast from a dough starter. I also added green tea at room temperature.

SnazzyButterfly (author)2013-08-15

i'm being nosey, but which brand did you buy to start your mother culture? We have a brand called reed's culture club and it's raw and organic and has the "floaties"on the bottom. I'm safely assuming that it's unpasturized because it says raw.

cassioppe (author)2012-12-20

now how does one makes its own kombucha mother WITHOUT having to buy a bottle of kombucha.....does anybody know?

kaijne (author)cassioppe2013-05-15

You need to by the culture from some place else; here's one example

FireSBurnsmuP (author)2011-03-30

Hey, I'm curious as to the longevity of the mothers produced in this method... Does anyone have times on how long they've been using a strain made from commercial kombucha?

lolifer (author)FireSBurnsmuP2011-03-30

I am still using the scoby I made for this instructable, so I'd say at least 2.5 years.

FireSBurnsmuP (author)lolifer2011-04-04

Alrighty, giving it a shot! Thanks for the instructable, I wouldn't have thought of this on my own.
... [several days later]
And, going pretty slowly. Started it up about 4 days ago, and the colony didn't grow much (it was already growing in the bottle, a few days past expiration). Probably needs a warmer climate...
It smells right (like, dead on), but the white clumps worry me. It should be fine, but I might try for a second one while I'm waiting.

Alright! Going well. I left the first batch in too long, so I'm on a my second. Mother is getting very motherly, but my kombucha isn't very fizzy... (used 5 tea bags, 1 cup sugar, around 64 oz container) I might add another bottle of commercial kombucha just to be sure I got the symbiosis right.

2 questions for anyone out there:
1) Is there a good way to increase the fizziness? That's one of the best parts for me.
2) I read somewhere that keeping the top moist is important to avoid contamination. Is this true, and what is the best way to go about doing this?

1 lingering concern:
My mother, towards the end of the first batch, ended up with what looked like wax or plastic that had been melted on top of it. Anyone know what that is? I know nothing dripped onto it.

To make it fizzy, you need to seal the container for a day so it builds up pressure.

KorduroyTV (author)2012-04-02

Good tutorial. Honestly, you don't want to use cheese cloth. It is too porous and can be susceptible to flies. If you want to know more about how to brew your own Kombucha, we have created this all inclusive video (except we don't say how to make your SCOBY)...

oddartist (author)2012-03-17

Kombucha as art:

DickWolf (author)2012-01-30

Thanks for the instructable! It took about two weeks for my mother to get nice and hearty but its flourishing now. Tomorrow I'm moving it to a gallon jar, I'll post pics.

madenairy (author)2012-01-13

any body know where i can get a bottle of raw, unpasteurized Kombucha in scotland? ive tried holland & barrett, no joy!

totszwai (author)2011-07-30

What is this "mother culture"? Google came up with: "A mother culture is a term for an early people and their culture, with great and widespread influence on later cultures and people. Though the original culture may fade, the mother culture's influence grows for ages in the future. Later civilizations either learn and build upon their old ways, or can learn them through peaceful or military assimilation."

jongscx (author)totszwai2011-07-30

snoclone (author)2011-04-13

Thank you very much for the info. I'm leaving work right now to try it :-). Maybe I could have my biology students make some . . .

Rahdzhillaxxx (author)2009-10-25

I'm interested in this but what of the bottling process? or cross contamination? what of green tea or willany tea suffice?
Does this have any alcohol content? I dont need to start up any old bad habits;) and what about a "sun tea jar" with a spigot?could you just keep adding tea as you siphon it off?
Lots of ideas already. Would other fungi cultures work? reshi is a good medicinal type.

lolifer (author)Rahdzhillaxxx2011-03-30

Sun tea jars aren't recommended unless you can find one with a stainless steel spigot. Kombucha is somewhat acidic, and tends to leech from the plastic.
I'm not really sure about how to bottle it. It keeps pretty well in swingtop bottles in the fridge, but I've never kept it bottled for very long because I've heard lots of stories of exploding bottles and jars.

The Kombucha isn't a true fungus -- it's a bacteria and yeast colony -- while the ganoderma is a real mushroom. I don't think it would work quite the same way.

it has trace alcohol (around 0.5%), minors can buy it and i have had several bottles and not even felt a slight buzz. so basically it is like trying to get hammered off old Milwaukee (that would be non-alcoholic beer) or trying to get high by bonging' some hemp twine. it won't be enough to start up any old habits!

weaponscollector94 (author)2009-11-15

that does not look very motherly to me! i am going to try and make one! wish me luck! also can you cut the thing in two and just keep multiplying it?

Yep! It multiplies on its own by forming layers you can peel away, but if you're in a hurry you can just slice off a wedge.

no, you don't nee to slice it. it will divide itself and grow a second mother on top of or underneath itself

Corvis (author)2010-01-05

o.o  it looks like the evil flying brain cells from star trek...

becauseican (author)2009-10-12

i have a slowly growing mother  made from bottled kombucha and it smelly very yeastie

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