Best Kombucha Starter Kits

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best kombucha starter kits

Last Updated August 2019

If you’ve always wanted to wade into the home-brew craze – but with a healthier edge – a kombucha starter kit is for you. People have been drinking kombucha (pronounced kôm-BOO-cha) for some 2,000 years, and it offers a number of benefits. Kombucha is packed with antioxidants and probiotics and low in both sugar and calories. It has also become much more widely available than it was even a few years ago.

While easily found, kombucha is also on the expensive side, with a bottle costing $3 to $5 or more. Enter the kombucha starter kit. These kits contain all the items you need to easily whip up a batch of the fizzy, healthy drink in your own kitchen. After the initial price of the kit, each bottle will cost you around $1, a considerable savings over store-bought kombucha. And once you have the kit, your only expenses will be tea, sugar, and whatever flavorings you want to add.

The rising popularity of kombucha has brought with it a wealth of DIY kits that can be found online. This guide will introduce you to some of the best starter kits out there and provide some pointers on what your kit should contain, what specifications the parts should meet, and what you can expect to pay for a kit. We’ve included some kombucha kit recommendations, too.

According to ancient lore, kombucha got its start in ancient China where it was first enjoyed by the Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259 to 210 BC).

Key considerations

Brewing jar

The reusable brewing jar is the primary place where all the kombucha magic takes place. Every kit should contain a durable one.

  • Size: The best jars hold between one and two gallons. The rule here is, the larger the brewing jar, the more kombucha you can create at a time.

  • Material: Glass brewing jars have a number of features that make them preferable to jars constructed from other materials. Glass contains no BPA or other toxins that might be present in a plastic jar. And unlike a ceramic jar, you can easily use a grease pen to write and erase batch details, such as dates and pH levels, on the glass jar. You can also keep an eye on your brew as it progresses.

  • Lid: The jar may ship with a lid to keep all the additional kit parts together, although you will only use it for storage, not brewing.

  • Tap: Some brewing jars have a built-in tap, a helpful plus when it comes time to bottle your kombucha.
     

Bottles

Speaking of bottling…once you’ve brewed your kombucha, you’re going to need to do something with it. Pricier kits usually ship with a variety of bottles in which to store your finished product. If your kit doesn’t include bottles, prepare to spend a little more to buy them. Swing-top stopper bottles are ideal for storing kombucha.

SCOBY

The symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) is the heart of any kombucha brewing operation. This unappealing disk contains all the bacteria and yeast that work to give kombucha its tang and fizz. If you’ve ever made sourdough bread using a starter, the SCOBY “mother” performs a similar role for kombucha.

The SCOBY that ships with your kombucha starter kit should be fresh, active, and grown from all-natural ingredients. When your kit arrives, note how long the SCOBY will be shelf-stable. Be sure to use your kombucha starter kit shortly after receiving it because the SCOBY has a limited shelf life.

Sugar and tea

Besides the SCOBY, these are the two primary ingredients in your kombucha kit, and the two ingredients you’ll want to keep in stock to create more kombucha going forward.

  • Sugar: This is usually granulated white cane sugar. Organic sugar is preferable, and most kits include it. While it might seem like you’re using a lot of sugar to start your batch, the SCOBY will eat a fair amount of it during the brewing process. And while it might be tempting to ditch the sugar and go with a sweetener like stevia, don’t. The bacteria and yeast that are crucial for the brewing process feed on the calories in the sugar, something they can’t do with a non-sugar sweetener.

  • Tea: Black tea is usually used to brew kombucha, and again, organic is preferable. Other tea types aren’t as effective because they don’t release enough tannins, which the SCOBY needs to work. Some kits have a black/green tea blend, which also works fine.
     

Starter tea

One final addition to your batch is starter tea, which is kombucha from an older batch. It helps to drop the acidity of your new batch and create a suitable environment for your kombucha microbes. You only need about a cup of starter tea, and it should arrive either packaged separately or combined with the SCOBY. If you find yourself without a starter tea, you can substitute a tablespoon of vinegar or some raw, unfiltered, store-bought kombucha.

Testing devices

In order to monitor your kombucha during the brewing process, your kit includes a couple of different testing devices.

  • Temperature: The first is some form of temperature gauge or sticker. The ideal temperature for kombucha is between 75°F (24°C) and 85°F (30°C). You can verify that your batch is within this range by using the gauge or sticker.

  • pH: To measure the acidity and health of your batch, you need pH strips. Using pH strips is the easiest way to tell when your kombucha is done.
DID YOU KNOW?

If the SCOBY dies, you can easily create a new one using tea, sugar, and a little store-bought raw, unflavored kombucha. Growing your own SCOBY takes around two to four weeks.

DID YOU KNOW?

While kombucha does contain caffeine, the amount is lower than in traditional tea because the SCOBY consumes about two-thirds of it during the brewing process.

Other items

While kits vary in what they contain, some common tools and add-ons include the following:

  • Strainer: Your kit should include cheesecloth or some other filtering material to place over the top of the brewing jar with a rubber band to hold it in place.

  • Pipette: This tube provides an easy and sanitary way to test your batch.

  • Other tools: These can include stirring spoons, funnels, strainers, and bottle brushes. Avoid using metal spoons or other implements because the metal can react with your kombucha.

  • Instructions: Step-by-step instructions – preferably illustrated – should be included that walk you through both the brewing process and what to do when your batch is finished, such as bottling tips and SCOBY handling, for example.

Kombucha starter kit prices

While you will save money over time bottling your own kombucha, you need to spend something before you ever taste your first sip of home-brewed tea. The price of a starter kit ranges from $40 to $50 for an introductory kit up to $200 or more for a premium kit. With more expensive kits, expect to receive more ingredients, additions such as bottling supplies, and the capacity to brew a larger batch at one time.

EXPERT TIP

A SCOBY will not only help in the fermentation process of your kombucha but it will also protect your brew by physically blocking bad bacteria.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Take advantage of free customer service. If you’re new to brewing kombucha, consider buying a kit that includes free customer service so you can easily call for tips at any stage of the brewing process.

  • Sterilize your tools and wash your hands before handling the ingredients. Regardless of what you’re brewing, the process is one involving bacteria growth, and the conditions that allow good bacteria to grow are also perfect for bad bacteria. Be sure that all brewing tools and implements are sterilized, and always wash your hands before handling your SCOBY or other ingredients. Throw out any batch that forms mold of any kind. Mold is not normal to the brewing process, and this is a sure sign that the batch is off.

  • Don’t brew kombucha in direct sunlight. This creates temperature swings that will negatively affect your brew. Indirect sunlight and room temperature are the preferable brewing conditions.

  • Try coffee filters. Some kombucha brewers think that coffee filters work better than cheesecloth for covering the brew container. The finer mesh of the coffee filter allows in air while keeping out more bugs and bacteria than cheesecloth can.

  • Don’t disturb the kombucha as it brews. Once your kombucha is pulled together and set aside to brew, don’t touch it! Jostling the container can disturb the culture and keep it from doing its job.

Other products we considered

There is a wide variety of kombucha starter kits now on the market. In addition to the ones we highlighted above, we want to share a few more that we like. The Bucha Brewers Kombucha Starter Kit ships with all the items you need to brew your first batch of kombucha, all at a low, low price. We also love the 80 included pH strips, which will keep you in acidity tests for a while. The Humble House Kombucha Sauerkrock Tap is available in both black and white finishes and includes a durable stainless steel spigot for easy bottling after brewing. Finally, the Brindle Southern Farms Kombucha Making Kit is an excellent and inexpensive choice if you already have a brewing jar. This option only ships with green tea, however, so we recommend mixing in some of your own organic black tea before attempting to brew a batch.

Kombucha can be flavored in a number of ways: you can start with a different type of tea, change the fermentation time, or add flavorings after the initial fermentation process.

FAQ

Q. What are some of the health benefits of kombucha?

A. One of the biggest is probiotics, which can infuse your digestive system with helpful bacteria. Kombucha also contains antioxidants and a variety of vitamins, including several B vitamins. People who drink kombucha regularly say they have more energy, a stimulated immune system, and lower cholesterol.

Q. Does kombucha contain alcohol?

A. As a fermented product, yes, although the amount of alcohol is fairly low. Store-bought brews are highly regulated and have under 0.5% alcohol. Home-brewed kombucha generally has a higher alcohol content, usually up to 3% or more.

Q. How long does it take to brew kombucha, and how long will it last once brewed?

A. While it can vary some depending on temperature and other factors, kombucha generally takes up to 30 days to brew. After it’s finished, kombucha will remain drinkable for several weeks or months if it’s properly bottled and stored.

The team that worked on this review
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    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
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