Can You Still Make Kombucha From One You Buy At The Store?


A couple of months ago, kombucha frenzy was getting out of control in my house.  An inclination that just started with me escalated to the whole darn family.  That’s an expensive habit.  Even if it be a good one.  I mean, better than a Starbucks latte.  But who happily pays for five people to drink a coffee shop latte?  Not this mama.  Man.  You KNOW how expensive those things are.  Do you ever wonder why we pay those prices for that vice?  Because they make us beautiful?  Because they make us skinny?  Because they make us happy?  (Mmmm.  Got me on that one.)

I had to contain costs.  I like to go on vacation, and as much as my yahoos were drinking, they were going to dip into my vacation kitty.  Time to make my own. Why not just use the store brand?   I Googled it.  Our store carries GT’S brand of kombucha.  Somewhere it said you couldn’t start kombucha from GT’S brand anymore due to some changes somewhere in the recent decade.  Skip that thought.  Won’t waste my money on trying that way.  But I wanted to do this.  So, one day, I had five minutes to try to order a kombucha SCOBY or in real words, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.  That’s the disgusting thing that floats in kombucha.  It’s alive.  Of course, there was a glitch and I couldn’t get PayPal man to do the deal.  So the deal blew up.  Over.  The window of opportunity missed.  Money kept flying out the window.

Who cares what the internet says?  Who cares what anyone says for that matter?  I marched into that big tall refrigerator at the store, and I bought myself the original, unflavored kombucha bottle with the biggest, nastiest looking floatie in the case.  I looked through them all.  That was the one.  If it was going to blossom, this was the bottle to do it.

I brewed up a gallon of green tea, because well, you know green tea is supposed to be super good for you.  And in a glass jar because you know plastic is bad for you.  I had some leftover sugar from my childhood.  I poured a cup in there to feed the beast.  I let my brew sit till it was room temperature so I didn’t kill that big nasty.  Then I realized I poured in too much tea and had no room for my kombucha.  So I dumped some out, getting sticky all over the counter.  Nothing I hate more than sticky floors and counters.  But now I had just enough room for the store’s kombucha and poured ‘er in.  I covered it with a paper towel and rubber band.  Perfect.  And let it sit.  It went through some ghastly changes, requiring me to Google “mold on kombucha” and “kombucha looks bad.”  I sat it out.  Apparently, some scoring action was going on in there and it was just making baby SCOBYs, which are uglier than their mothers.  Since it was cold still here on the tundra, I let it brew a long time till the SCOBY looked good and healthy.  No less than three weeks.  Then, we drank it.  It was good.

But there was fear from within my crew.  Are you sure it’s safe to drink?  (As safe as your germ laden tooth brush growing colonies in the dark medicine cupboard.)  Is it okay?  Why isn’t it bubbly?  It’s too sweet.  It’s too sour.  I don’t like the floaties in it.  I like it best carbonated.  Geesh back to the bubble thing.  Guys!  Come on!  Stop the mutiny!  No wonder it’s so hard to save money in today’s world.  Spoiled brats.

So I strained out the floaties.  I poured it into a GT’S bottle.  Put a little more sugar, lemon juice, and ginger in there.  Capped it tight.  Let it sit on Store klmbuchathe counter a few days to see if the thing would bubble in its new package.  Then stuck it in the fridge.

Mmmmm.  That’s good the family all says.

Thank you.

So, the moral of this story is that you CAN make kombucha using the SCOBY in GT’S brand still.  Maybe not consistently.  Maybe only from the original flavor.  Maybe only if you’re patient enough.  Don’t know.  But it can be done as of June 15, 2015.

Aside on kombucha:  I like the taste of kombucha.  I appreciate how many B vitamins are in there.  The B vitamin content is darn good.  I love the byproducts the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii makes which helps us and our GI tracts.  However, all things must be evaluated on an individual basis, especially in people who are pretty immunocompromised.  Really would be best for these people to talk with their doctor before using it.  Personally, I just don’t feel tops drinking kombucha regularly.  I don’t know if it’s a cross-reaction between the yeast and something my body doesn’t like.  Or if it’s too much B vitamin activation going on for me.  Or changes in my bacterial flora as an effect of the kombucha.  Or if I’m just a crazy woman who thinks food can make me grow wings.  Or toxify me.  Anyhow, my family likes it and seems to do well with it.

Do you want a little science on this matter?  Here’s a link to an article about Saccharomyces boulardii (usually the main yeast in the SCOBY) helping mice reduce weight and inflammation:  Saccharomyces boulardii Administration Changes Gut Microbiota and Reduces Hepatic Steatosis, LowGrade Inflammation, and Fat Mass in Obese and Type 2 Diabetic db/db Mice. 

This is only a personal anecdote and not a how-to on making your own kombucha.  Go elsewhere for that!  But, for the record, growing your own SCOBY from a bottle of Original GT’S can be done.  Anyone else try their hand at making this stuff?  How’d it go?  Anyone die?  Anyone cure leprosy?

Today is Monday.  Mondays can be hard.  Hope yours is a good one!





14 thoughts on “Can You Still Make Kombucha From One You Buy At The Store?

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      It WAS scary watching that SCOBY grow, wondering if it was normal. Kind of embarrassing, actually, when guests came—um that’s tea there. Lol! (Don’t drink tea at her house!). How is summer? Ours is great!


      1. mommytrainingwheels

        Our summer is on the cool side, but we haven’t had an insane amount of rain so it’s all goo in my books. Glad to know your summer’s great. Hope you’re making the most of it!

  1. Terri

    There are lots of YouTube videos and websites that show you how to make kombucha. I bought my SKOBY online. There are now dozens at my church making kombucha… all to help with gut issues. The more you talk to people about gut issues, the more you realize that almost everyone eating the Standard American Diet has the… gut issues. Word of warning… introduce any new probiotc or fermented food slowly as it takes a while for the bacteria in the gut to adjust to their new friends.

    I have been making 2 gallons a week for almost a year now. All except one of our grandchildren love it. I also make water kefir, milk kefir, fermented dill pickles, tomatoes, berries, yogurt and the list can go on regarding fermenting fruits and veggies. I use sea salt for the veggies and whey dripped from my yogurt for the fruit. Again, introduce slowly with small amounts, and gradually increase.

    I eat SCD, which keeps my gut in good shape – no grains, sugar, starch or processed foods… or I soon regret it. A z-pack for a sinus infection changed my life several years ago and I can no longer eat wheat, grains, starch or processed foods. Thank you for spreading the word about eating right.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I need to master the double fermentation to get better bubbles.—I wonder how each SCOBY influences flavor and nutrients. It would be so much fun to have a batch from home analyzed, wouldn’t it!?—I am so sorry about the antibiotic which changed things for you. And it is crazy how many people have gut issues when you talk to them. So many. So sad. And all these traditional ideas and diet changes could definitely benefit so many. We started with GAPS/SCD and have tweaked.—What sweetener do you use in your kombucha? I am trying maple syrup now.—Thanks, Terri, for sharing. I like your name. 🙂


  2. EmilyMaine

    Interesting. I am not sure about kombucha, I must admit. Eric went through a big phase with it for awhile and bought it by the crate load. I saw it had sugar in it which seemed weird to me but I think that’s the same as putting sugar in coconut cream when you make yoghurt – the bacteria eats the sugar. Is that right?

    I also wasn’t sure about growing something like that and eating it – it’s not pasteurised and that freaks me out a little especially when trying to get pregnant to grow a baby. But that clinic that I did the DNA testing with told me I should drink it so I guess it can’t be too bad. I’m still sitting on the fence. 🙂

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yep! The bacteria and yeast “eat up” the sugar–so not much residual sugar left.

      Theoretically, there are concerns of yeasts and bacteria causing infections, but my reading indicated that the concerns only seemed to transpire in immunocompromised individuals (think cancer chemo, HIV, drugs for immune suppression, leukemia, and issues along these lines). One of the byproducts they make is vinegar, and that may be why pathogenic bacteria don’t grow in it and cause documented problems, due to the pH. Would be a fascinating topic to spend hours reading about!

      In my mind, it goes along with brewer’s yeast/supplemental yeast, except the products are live and raw. But the benefits would be similar.

  3. andthreetogo

    I loved drinking kombucha before I got pregnant… then for some reason I lost my love for it and haven’t been able to drink it since. GT’s used to be my favorite though. I am so impressed with your fortitude making it yourself… they really are expensive in the store. 🙂

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hey–in some matters, like kombucha drinking, you gotta’ listen to the body. (Others–you gotta’ control it! LOL!)

      It just got out of hand with those things (buying kombucha). Much cheaper to make it! Better for me? Dunno! LOL! I need an analysis lab in my house for ferments I make, water, supplements, etc. What’s REALLY in that stuff? 🙂

      1. andthreetogo

        We all need an extensive testing set-up for the food we bring into our homes don’t you think? Wouldn’t that be awesome (and scary) to see what really is on or in our food?

  4. H. L.

    I have not made kombucha, but I drank it regularly while on antibiotics and then after I finished, and took probiotics too. I was very sick from either my infection (T.O.A) or the antibiotics or both, together with my severe fatigue disorder, so I was wiped out and could barely move for a few weeks while this was going on. I not only didn’t prevent problems, but I had severe gastroenteritis for a few weeks, eventually diagnosed with abdominal thrush (perhaps secondary to the original gastro problem.) I worry that actually the kombucha hurt me because I was so weak.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      That is/was so much for the body to take on at once! TOA is quite serious, and I’m glad you are “okay.” (Although it sounds like you had a big setback. I’m so sorry.) The antibiotics needed to cover TOA are “big” ones, some with many side effects. I’m sure you know all this, and that’s why you took the probiotics and kombucha to try to keep some of the damage to your bacterial flora at bay. But, H.L. is correct in that people with severe underlying disorders may run into problems with probiotics. There is potential in someone with severe increased gastrointestinal permeability (leaky gut) to have the live probiotics actually make it across the gut barrier, which could lead to blood infection (sepsis) or just a bad inflammatory response. It’s a two-edged sword, trying to help with something that can hurt. I’d definitely listen to your suspicion here and steer away from it. I wonder if your body would be flared up to yeasts in general. I wonder if leaky gut plays a role here.—Regardless, good point that kombucha, even though it’s sold at your supermarket (or brewed on your counter), can be fraught with ill effects for some. I hope you get to feeling stronger and stronger.—Terri


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