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How to make Kombucha in the Tropics

F72FA940-F72A-4052-ACC3-2DA2052A03A1.pngI first started making Kombucha tea (KTea) in the early ’90s, and like a lot of things, once we moved to Darwin Northern Territory Australia, I forgot about it. Fast forward to 2009 when I was reminded during a health crisis of the benefits of Kombucha and I quickly fanned the flames to reignite my old love! There was only limited research publicly available in 2009, and of course there were plenty of articles about the

horrors of adverse reactions to or over abuse of Ktea aka kombucha. Fortunately, the world has changed a lot in the last 5 years and I’m over the moon at current research on pubmed clearly indicating benefits of the elixir. I’m not going to go in to the health benefits here though I encourage you to do your due diligence and research benefits of kombucha for yourself. I’m a believer and trust what my body tells me as well as the research! Just be mindful of the quality of tea, water and sugar you use to best suit your health needs.

Here’s what you need to  get started:

Make a basic brew of
2 green 2 black tea bags,
2 litres of filtered water
160g sugar
1 SCOBY plus about a cup of starter tea (Ask whoever you get your SCBOBY from for enough starter tea to make your first brew)
1 glass or pottery container big enough to house your tea with room to breathe.


Make your tea and leave sit until cool - DO NOT ADD SCOBY or starter tea to this mix.
Once tea has cooled down, add SCOBY and starter tea, cover with a clean linen cloth or paper towel.
Important things to remember 
Allow your brew to sit undisturbed in an area where there's good air flow away from household fumes etc for 6 - 14 days. I find during the wet season in tropical Darwin, a brew can be ready within 6 - 8 days.

Never ever ever use metal when brewing, straining or bottling Kombucha.

Kombucha looks weird as it forms a film on the top of the liquid, but that’s exactly what it needs to do.

Clear glass jars are great for beginners so you can see the activity but may frighten youngsters!  The benefit of clear glass, is that it allow you to witness the activity of the SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), and the fermentation process – bubbles and floatie oogilies. However, make sure your glass jars are covered and away from direct sunlight.

Use wide mouth vesels to brew your Kombucha – it allows for more oxygen to activate fermentation.

Caution: If you are doing a second ferment, always burp your bottles – open the lid of your bottles enough to release built up carbonation and be very careful if using glass as there have been known to be explosions.


This little beautie on the left has about 5 SCOBYs in it and has quite a lot of activity happening. The cotton cover is to allow the Ktea to breath though paper towel can be used instead. I usually secure my cloth with a rubber band or upcycle pretty ribbons, but make sure the cloth is secure.

I also prefer to decant my Kombucha for a second fermentation process (more about that another time). After the initial 6-14 days of fermenting, I pour off most of the tea into recycled sealable bottles. If I use bottles that have metal caps I cut parchment paper to fit over the mouth of the bottle and after adding flavours, I then secure the lid.

I like to play with bumping up some extra goodness such as grated ginger, turmeric, hibiscus, jackfruit, passionfruit, chia seeds, rose petals and anything fresh and organic I can get my hands on. This heightens the flavour, reduces the minute remaining sugar content even more, produces carbonation and provides a constant variety of flavours and health benefits.

Be sure to let me know how you go making your kombucha. I’m in the process of providing mini workshops in tropical Darwin Northern Territory and Cairns Far North Queensland, so feel free to let me know if you’d like to join ok?

Here’s to your good health!



  1. Kathleen on April 24, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    So looking forward to having a go! Just sound so fascinating. Xo

    • Bronwyn on April 24, 2014 at 4:47 pm

      I can’t wait for you to start playing with this Kathleen – your girls are going to love it! ps I’m happy to make you a pot of kefir – just let me know if you can pick it up before I fly out on Monday xx

  2. Amanda on August 14, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Hi, I have been making kefir for about a year and lately im having trouble with it separating and going really sour really quickly. Any tips? I also have found that it’s not multiplying but appears to be disintegrating, ever encountered this?

    What benefit does kombucha have that kefir won’t offer? Antioxidants??? How do I get started?

    • Bronwyn on November 10, 2014 at 9:21 am

      Hi Amanda
      My apologies for not getting back to you sooner – you’ve no doubt found some answers by now. I’ve had some dreadful tech issues and have only just now been able to sign in to this blog after months of no access 🙁
      Are you fermenting in the tropics? Milk kefir will separate and go sour if it ferments too quickly so you might want to move it to a cooler place to ferment?
      I haven’t ever encountered milk grains to dissintergrate – water grains yes, but milk no. What kind of milk are you using?
      Kombucha has a different chemical composition to water kefir – though some similarities the probiotic contents also differ. Let me know which part of the globe you’re in and if you haven’t already got started, I’ll see if I can point you in the right direction ok?
      Again, my apologies for such a late reply.

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