Hibiscus Kombucha SCOBY Brewing, How too

Hibiscus Kombucha Culture

Hibiscus kombucha is the kombucha culture acclimated to hibiscus tea dried hibiscus flowers) instead of the normal use of green , black, white or oolong teas.  Kombucha requires tea tannins during fermentation, hibiscus tea provides the tannins just as well as the other teas. The difference it creates a wine colored tea with a slightly different taste (some think berry or floral like).
The kombucha second ferment recipes I share on my blog can also be used for second fermenting hibiscus kombucha as well.

This is a nice strong healthy strain of kombucha scoby I sell, the starter tea is from the very batch the scoby came out of.

S.C.O.B.Y.: Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast

I am always happy to help you in your Jun Journey, so reach out & ask questions if needed.

I still have pictures & info on what the kombucha looks like day to day as it is making & lots of info here from my days as ebay seller Stichingtime. These same pictures can be used to see what a growing hibiscus SCOBY looks like, the only difference is a color difference. check it out, lots of great pictures & info.

Please READ if you received a scoby through the mail: Your scoby is in the baggie floating in the starter tea, Don’t throw out the starter tea you will need it.IMG_2421

What to do with your culture & starter tea on arrival: Read all of this info. Have all supplies ready before you start. If you aren’t going to start now, leave the culture in the bag with starter tea.

I have sold living cultures for years & grown & used them even longer, I was even a ebay power seller of living cultures at one time . (I have more info here & here).

 About the kombucha cultures & starter tea purchased from me: I use 100% organic teas, organic sugar & filtered water from my own system. My home is free of harsh cleaners, chemicals & smoking.

All cultures & starter tea are grown by me, my daughter & son in law.I love teaching others about these cultures,It is my pleasure to help you.

I am happy to now be offering these hibiscus cultures for you to buy. 

Hibiscus kombucha tea directions(Recipe) 


Please read all info below before you start *Don’t boil the culture or the starter tea, & don’t add them to sweet tea that is still to warm*

~What you need

  • See info for what is acceptable for all these items
  • Stainless or glass pot for boiling sweet tea
  • Stainless or plastic spoon
  • Pure water
  • Organic sugar (or plain white sugar)
  • Hibiscus tea bags or loose leaf tea (the dried hibiscus flowers)
  • Glass jars
  • Rubber bands
  • Breathable covers (like coffee filters)
  • Plastic strainer or colander
  • Distilled white vinegar.

Even if you have made kombucha before another way, please follow directions.

For 1 Quart of  hibiscus kombucha Tea;

  • 4-6+ tea bags (or 4 to 6 tea spoons loose leaf)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup fermented hibiscus starter tea
  • 1 quart pure water (a little less to make room for starter, culture & growing culture)
  • hibiscus Scoby

For 1 Gallon of K-Tea;

  • 8-15+ tea bags or 8 to 15 tsp loose leaf hibiscus (depending on your taste)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 to 1 cup starter tea
  • 1 gallon pure water
  • 1 to 3  Jun cultures

For pint use 1/2 of the QT amount~for 1/2 gal use 2QTS~for 2 gal use 1 gal x 2, etc~

Treat  kombucha & tea like any other food product

  1. Clean hands & rinse w/distilled white vinegar.
  2. Put proper amount of water in stainless steal/glass pot. Rinse pot in distilled white vinegar before every use (don’t rinse vinegar off).
  3. Bring water just to a boil
  4. Stir in sugar
  5. Turn off burner.
  6. Remove from heat
  7. Add tea bags,stir
  8. Cover
  9. Steep 20 min
  10. Remove lid & tea bags.
  11. Let the sweet tea cool to room temp.
    (the culture & starter will harmed if added to tea still to warm)
  12. Add baby  kombucha culture & starter tea to the glass jar rinsed w/distilled white vinegar.
  13. Pour the cooled sweet tea into the jar leaving room for the baby kombucha to grow. (Add culture & starter tea to the sweet tea in under 8Hrs to prevent bacteria growth in sweet tea).
  14. Put breathable cover on jar & secure cover with a rubber band.
  15. let the tea ferment in a dark room temp spot 75-85 degrees. -lower temps only cause slower ferments, So if its cooler in your home give the batch an extra day or so to ferment depending on your taste .A dark cupboard works great.
  16. Let tea sit undisturbed & patiently wait, DON’T STIR IT & its best not to move the jar around at all. 
  17. You can taste at 5 to 10 days, use a straw & try to not disturb the baby to much whentasting. (use a straw & stick between jar & baby, trying to not disturb baby to much, put finger over straw & draw out some tea to taste, pictured).
  18. At the end of the fermentation time you will have the original culture & a well formed or thin a new baby culture, with clean hands remove the cultures from the hibiscus kombucha tea, separate if needed. It is best to only touch cultures w/clean hands,plastic strainer/colander or dump into bowl. IMG_2420
  19. Save enough un-strained starter tea to restart, just repeat above steps
  20. Start both cultures together in same jar or 2 jars with one in each jar, or store extra cultures by putting it in a sealed glass jar w/some starter tea.
  21. Now strain the kombucha tea if desired into a clean glass jar .(use a plastic mesh strainer) If jar has a metal lid, cover top of jar w/plastic wrap before screwing on the lid.
  22. For storing the  kombucha tea in fridge glass is recommended,Tupperware or food grade plastic is OK but can alter taste & cause tea to become acidic. 
  23. Keep  kombucha tea in the fridge or second ferment, you can start drinking the kombucha tea immediately.
  24. As the tea sits in the fridge it continues to”live”you may want to strain the slime strings again before drinking.

As when starting any new product Drink plenty of pure water when drinking kombucha tea. 

Hint~For cooling sweet tea either make & let cool or make some  tea ahead of time & freeze in ice cubes/chunks,add this frozen tea to warm sweet tea after removing tea bags,

Hint~If you don’t have a dark room temp spot to ferment kombucha tea, Just sit on the back of the counter etc & totally cover with a towel. Or put in a box & cover with a towel.(box method also helps in cold houses) 

let it ferment until your desired taste. Usually best around 5 to 10 days  days.It can on the 1st batch or during cooler weather take longer to be done. The new baby  culture will grow across the surface of the tea like a skin layer to the size & shape of the jar. 

Note: make sure the breathable cover is secure on the jar, If bugs get in they will lay eggs in the fermenting tea causing larvae to hatch, this will ruin everything (cheesecloth allows bugs in so isn’t recommended). If you find larvae dump everything & start over.

Note: Save old cultures for burns,acne etc,

Go here to my blog post Second Fermenting: Kombucha tea Recipes for more info & these same recipes can be used for hibiscus kombucha

Do you want more fizz?: Try fermenting at steady higher temps (86 degrees) or try longer second ferments. 

Flavor infusing info: To infuse flavors in your finished  kombucha tea try using dried/fresh fruit,dates,fresh ginger,any teas or flavored teas (such as berry teas or ginger tea etc),juices or fresh lemon/limes etc(or combos of flavors).use your imagination & experiment.

Now you have 4 options. 

  1. Just add the flavors you want to the secondary fermentation noted above. (Watch CO2). 
  2. Add flavors to jar while in the fridge wait & drink as normal. 
  3. Pour your K-tea into your glass to drink add teas, juices,honey,kefir water or vinegars. 
  4. Drink warm by adding to warm cider, vinegar/honey water, herb teas or lemon water etc 

Don’t add flavors like~soda,carbonated water,Crystal light,Kool-Aid & gatoraid etc,for optimal health & they cause poor results.

Never use any of the kombucha tea that had flavors added as starter tea & never use any cultures that might form during secondary fermentation to make kombucha tea. 

What to buy needed supplies (on Amazon)

What tea? You can use hibiscus tea bags or loose leaf hibiscus, dried hibiscus flowers & can even use hibiscus you dry yourself.


fast tips:

  1.  (if your culture was mailed to you) Due to mailing conditions, some of the starter tea may have evaporated or leaked out, it should still be fine, if most leaked out make a pint batch to start off.
  2. Any clear,dark sludge or slime etc that might form in the bag on culture & in starter tea during mailing is safe & should be added in the batch with the culture & starter tea to help jump start the 1st batch.
  3.  Using Flavored tea for your sweet tea is bad. Make sure there are no added oils or flavors in your tea before you buy it & use it. All oils,extras or flavors even natural can alter the make up of your culture & tea while fermenting. Never use teas with any extras,natural extras or flavors,oils,sage,mint,orange,etc. You can however add flavors & these other teas etc to your  tea after the tea has been fermented & you have removed/harvested your cultures.
  4. Make sure to save some finished fermented tea from each finished batch as your starter tea for the next batches.
  5. Don’t ever use any  fermented tea you add flavors etc to as a starter tea, flavors can gradually put PH out of balance eventually causing the culture to mold or kill it,also causes the composition of the culture to be changed.
  6. Cultures (scoby) won’t always look perfect,As a matter of fact they can have imperfections, Such as gas bubble holes,ridges,slime,brown spots,transparent areas & other holes or discolorations & still be healthy.
  7. You can put a kombucha culture in the jar of tea either side up,it really doesn’t matter,It also doesn’t matter if the culture sinks,floats,hangs sideways or floats up & down.
  8. Always use Distilled white vinegar as the final rinse before using anything that will come in contact with cultures the sweet tea or the fermented tea(don’t rinse vinegar off)you can allow the vinegar to dry on jars etc if so desired.
  9. Never use apple cider vinegar before the fermentation or near the culture, However it can be added to your glass of K-tea just before drinking,as it has many health benefits. Raw vinegar causes cross contamination & can cause vinegar eels.
  10.  A Kombucha culture not mushrooms as they are sometimes called. They are a scoby.S-C-O-B-Y stands for:Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeasts
  11. Never use honey, artificial sweeteners,sugar substitutes in fermenting kombucha, if you want to use honey I do sell honey jun starters.
  12. Never touch kombucha tea or the cultures with any metal, Including Strainers,utensils,lids,jewelry or Pots etc.
  13. How to tell a culture has gotten to old to useAs the culture ages it changes.When its old the culture turns brown &/or is very limp & slimy.(usually from 3 to 8 ferment’s/batches ). 
  14. Store all unused cultures in a sealed glass jar covered w/starter tea &/or distilled white vinegar,can last up to 2 months (best not to store for more than a few days though).
  15. If you store culture or starter tea in the fridge for any length of time,the fermenting can go slower. The longer it’s stored the longer it’ll take to ferment.If you stored the culture &/or starter tea 10 days or under allow extra 1 to 4 days to fermenting time etc. Make sure that the culture stays covered with jun tea or distilled white vinegar while stored in the fridge.

Additional Info

Pot for boiling sweet tea- ONLY use a stainless steel or glass pot for boiling tea. Don’t use pots such as: Aluminum,Teflon,Cast Iron etc for boiling tea, they add dangerous toxins &/or elements into the water while using that can kill or alter the kombucha. 

If you don’t have 1 of the right pots: (This is untested by me,but buyers report good results from this method)Some buyers who don’t have the right pots have used a microwave safe glass container with 1-2 cups of water & brought it to a boil in the microwave then made their tea.

Fermenting containers,jars & breathable covers

  1. Only use clear glass when fermenting (& storing) as kombucha will detoxify its container,Don’t use plastic,pottery,ceramic,crocks”glazed or unglazed”,Jars or older crocks,colored glass or crystal containers (all lead dangers), Kombucha tea will leach toxins from these that will harm the cultures & you.The babies grown & tea will be contaminated.Reusable glass Jars of: mayo,apple sauce,spaghetti sauce,pickle or canning jar etc work great.
  2. Use a coffee filter,paper towel or cut up cloth etc for breathable cover. Makes sure the cover won’t allow bugs in.(Cheesecloth is not at all recommended) 

Fermentation time & how to taste-straw

  1. The 1st batch fermenting for 5 days or so
  2. To start tasting kombucha tea to know how long you want to ferment to your taste, Stick a straw in it put your finger over the end & draw a little out.(Try not to disturb the baby culture to much,put straw between the baby culture & the side of the jar.) Pictured.

Smell,bubbles & yeast cells-

  1. During the fermentation process,you may smell a vinegary/kombucha smell in the area.
  2. Not all batches will have visible fermentation gas bubbles(fizz,CO2).~So you may not smell anything or see bubbles with every batch.
  3. Yeast cells or slime strings in the finished tea are fine to consume, however, many people prefer to strain these out before drinking tea. IMG_2419

Starter tea,K-tea & kind of vinegar-The term starter tea just means fermented kombucha tea. Don’t use anything other than fermented kombucha tea as ‘starter tea’.
Or distilled white vinegar if an emergency & no fermented tea is on hand. Distilled white vinegar is acetic acid with no remaining mold or yeast cells. Most of the other vinegars can contain mold or yeast spores, Distilled white vinegar is a germ fighter, antibacterial, anti-fungal,& as a added benefit rinses soap & Chlorine residues off.Other vinegars also change the kombucha cultures PH balance & composition. 

Growth of original culture “mother”-The original may seem bigger w/a baby on it,but cultures don’t continue to grow after they are pulled from jars they grew in.Once a baby is in its own batch of sweet tea it is a “mother” & will grow a baby. IMG_20170728_125025990

A thin/clear or blotchy baby culture.-The 1st batch may be like this, But if it grew even a thin layer or blotchy baby culture all is OK,

The brown slime strings & sludge that forms in fermenting tea-All of the slime,sludge,globs(spent yeast cells & tea tannins) that forms in fermenting tea are safe to drink if you want,you can strain them or drink them. If you do not drink them use the sludgy part in the bottom of your batch of  fermented jun tea in the starter for the next batch. 


What about rinsing or washing the scoby culture in water?- No don’t put any water on the culture,even pure water can put the PH out of balance increasing chances of mold.If you feel you must rinse the culture put distilled white vinegar in a bowl with the scoby & clean with hands. Using this method &/or leaving to soak overnight in bowl can help if/when the PH of the culture does get out of balance, but as a general rule cultures do not need cleaning. 

What should I avoid having near kombuchas that can kill or cause to mold

  1. Never use any vinegar other than Distilled white.
  2. Don’t use sweet tea that is still to warm,
  3. Don’t have where anything is sprayed or near: chemicals,cleaners,bug sprays,Fragrances,paint fumes,fire places.
  4. Don’t have to close to where grease is cooked.
  5. No smoking,
  6. No chlorine water,no anti-bacterial soaps to clean utensils or jars etc.(alternative to harsh cleaners is distilled white vinegar, It kills 99% of bad germs/bacteria leaving the good)
  7. You can gradually kill a culture over successive ferments with ginger,cinnamon.Any herbs/spices should only be added in secondary fermentation,never allow them in the starter or near cultures.
  8. Always do the final rinse on anything you’re using for kombucha with distilled white vinegar to remove contaminants. 

Do I have mold? 

I see dark slime,spots,strings,clumps is this mold?-

  1. Sometimes the yeast cells or tea tannins get caught in the forming culture & causes grayish, brownish &/or greenish slime that can be seen on/in the tea,or on/in cultures,it is all OK.
  2. It may look like mold.But if its wet,slimy bubbly etc or under the surface of the tea its not mold.
  3. 90% of what beginner jun makers think is mold is the newly forming baby culture as it starts growing across the top of the tea &/or tannins or yeast cells,slime strings forming in/on the tea.
  4. The culture protects itself from mold when healthy fermentation is taking place,it possesses great skill in the killing of molds.
  5. However it can sometimes occur.A mold spot resembles the mold you find on a piece of bread-green,pink,grey & is dry,powdery,fuzzy,spiny,hairy in look.
  6. If you get mold throw out & start over completely.Discard culture & Don’t drink tea from that batch.
  7. Remember mold will be on the surface not  below in the tea.
  8. During fermenting you might see a spiny,hairy,web like formation coming from the bottom of the tea or cultures, this is OK & part of the process of the tea fermenting & baby forming. 

What does the forming “baby” culture look like?-The baby culture will look like a layer of skin growing across the surface of the tea to the size & shape of the jar or a membrane floating on the top of the tea & may look like mold at first, So don’t dump your jun tea.The new culture forming can look cloudy/clear or be a creamy redish & whiteish &/or grayish skin,film/layer across the top of tea until formed,sometimes w/foam &/or bubbles & brownish spots.(sometimes it will be clear,slimy or blotchy)This is normal.The baby will only be attached to the mother if the mother is floating on the surface during fermentation, when they are attached just peal them apart if desired.If the mother sinks the baby will be separate already. 

My original culture sank to the bottom,or is sideways in the jar, Why?-Just remember the culture is living, A scoby that falls to the bottom is fine even if it stays there or moves back up anyplace the original culture wants to be in the jar during fermentation is fine,it makes no difference at all.Its all OK.(I prefer the batches where the culture stays on the bottom of the jar) However you really don’t want the forming baby culture to fall under the tea, because then it will stop forming. 

Can I eat the cultures?: They are perfectly fine to consume if so desired, You can eat them for more probiotic benefits. IMG_20170728_125040131

More info

What kind of water do I use for the sweet tea? does it matter? The water is very important,Use only water such as: Purified,filtered,RO,(never use Tap water w/out 1 of these systems) or good well water.You can buy Jugs of spring or purified water etc. Don’t use Jugs of “Drinking” water or City or County water they have Chlorine & Fluoride in them & will kill &/or mold cultures.  

Hibiscus culture info

Can I ferment  hibiscus tea in Plastic?- Never ferment in plastic of any kind.Storing the finished  tea in Food grade plastic is OK for short periods of time,but is not recommended as it causes the tea to get more acidic & alters the taste & PH levels.

How many cultures per jar or size jar?: Its OK,If you want to use more than 1 culture per fermenting jar,or if you don’t want to remove the baby culture from the mother culture.You can have multiple cultures in 1 jar or a kombucha colony/stack.

What is the difference between a mother & a baby culture?: A kombucha baby is the newest formed culture from the batch but it is the same as a mother & becomes a mother as soon as its put in its own jar of sweet tea.The mother is the original that you placed in the sweet tea. So the terms mother/baby are all referring to the scoby culture & are the same. 

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