Chai Kombucha Recipe
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Chai kombucha is both nourishing and refreshing. Even if you think you don't like kombucha, this version will change your mind!
Well, I finally did it! I finally figured out how to make a flavor of kombucha I really really like.
I often use kombucha in condiments, in salads, and in other beverages to add a probiotic kick, but I've been most ambivalent about drinking it plain. At various times, I've played around with flavors and come up with a few that I've nominally liked, but this one… ho ho! It's good!
What's extra-fun is that my two-year-old would rather drink this kombucha than apple juice. Score!
- Update: I've finally created another flavor of kombucha I simply can't get enough of! It's Grapefruit Ginger Kombucha and you can see the recipe at Traditional Cooking School. Get the recipe here.
How to Flavor Kombucha: A 2-Step Process
For those who are new to kombucha, making a flavored kombucha is a two-step process.
You first brew your kombucha using a sugary tea solution and a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), which takes 1-4 weeks, then you pour your kombucha into bottles, add flavorings, and let it sit for an additional 24-48 hours.
Even though the brewing process can sometimes look like a mad scientist's research gone wrong, the results are absolutely worth it.
What all that means is that: you're not making chai kombucha from scratch. You're first brewing kombucha, then with that finished kombucha, you're flavoring it to make chai kombucha.
Okay, before we get to the recipe, let's clear up a few other questions that tend to get asked about making chai kombucha.
FAQ: How do I make chai kombucha?
Can I use chai teabags to make kombucha?
For the first fermentation, no. The essential oils that are naturally in chai spices (as well as added by some manufacturers) can affect the health of your SCOBY and interfere with the brewing process, causing an unsafe final product. I always like to use pH test strips to make sure my batches are safe – if your kombucha is less than 4.0, you know you're good to go.
That said, if you're an experienced kombucha brewer and know what to look for, Cultures for Health has some excellent tips for how to experiment with chai teabags during the primary fermentation.
Can I use chai to make chai kombucha?
No. To add the chai flavoring, you want to use simply chai spices to get the delicious chai flavor. Using previously brewed chai not only waters down the kombucha, but it creates an imbalance with the amount of bacteria in the kombucha. This may cause an unsafe kombucha as well as interfere with making your finished chai kombucha fizzy.
Should I use green tea or black tea in the primary fermentation to make chai kombucha?
You may do your primary fermentation with either green tea or black tea. Black tea will provide a more robust flavor for the plain kombucha, while green tea will provide a smoother, lighter flavor. Both finished kombuchas will pair well with the chai spices in the secondary fermentation to make chai kombucha.
Word to the wise: kombucha packs a probiotic punch – so much so that it needs to be treated a bit like a medicine. If you've never drunk kombucha before, don't drink more than one cup each day of this yummy blend for the first few days.
Kombucha is a fantastic detoxifier and weight loss aid and it can cause colonic distress if introduced too quickly. Personally, I get a headache that feels a bit like an alcoholic hangover from the effects of over-detoxification if I drink too much kombucha, particularly if I haven't been drinking it regularly.
Click here to see how to get more fermented foods in your diet.
Love chai? Try these!
Chai Kombucha Recipe
Per quart of chai kombucha:
- 1 quart plain, unflavored kombucha, (see how to make kombucha)
- 10 whole cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 inch fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
- Combine the kombucha and spices. Pour the plain kombucha into a quart-sized mason jar with a tight fitting lid, leaving at least 1 inch at the top. Add the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and fresh ginger.
- Ferment the chai kombucha. Let the jar sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours, keeping it away from direct sunlight.
- The chai kombucha may be enjoyed at this point, but for a fizzier kombucha, continue with the recipe:
- Pour the kombucha into bottles. Strain out the spices, then pour the flavored kombucha into multiple bottles with tight-fitting flip-top lids (such as old Grolsch bottles).
- Let the kombucha become fizzy. Let sit at room temperature for an additional 2-7 days until they reach the amount of fizziness you desire.
- Chill and enjoy. Move to the refrigerator to chill, then enjoy right away or store in the refrigerator for several months.
I have a love affair with chai and kombucha and this is the best recipe I have seen for combining the two! Trying to ASAP! Thanks!
I have everything on hand to try this! It looks yummy. I’d love it if you’d share it on my new blog carnival, GAPS Friendly Fridays!
Sure! I’ll link up right now… 🙂
Can the spices be used for a second batch?
I’ve never tried, so I can’t give a review on how strongly they would flavor a second batch, but I myself would tend to shy away from reusing the spices. When I pull the spices out of my batches, they tend to be pretty “used up,” especially the cardamom, and slightly slimy from the yeast die-off in the kombucha.
However, since the spices are only in the kombucha for a day or two, you could certainly try and see if you like it! There is the slight chance of cross-contamination if certain bacteria got into one batch which would then be transferred to a subsequent batch, but I would think the chances of that would be relatively low since the kombucha would have already brewed successfully in the first fermentation stage.
Good luck! Please let us know if you do try the spices in a second batch – I’m curious what your results would be. 🙂
Hmmm, now I’m feeling a little nervous. A friend gave me a kombucha scoby in a bag filled with chai kombucha. I have no idea if she made it using chai tea bags, but I suspect she did. I also saw she was brewing a flavored white tea kombucha in another jar on her counter. I’m now skeptical about how safe her scoby might be, since it sounds like the oils and spices could be interfering with the scoby. I see at Cultures for Health they just recommend using only black or green tea to brew kombucha, and say using other varieties could interfere with the pH of the product as it brews. What do you think I should do? Should I just toss this scoby and order another one to get a proper start?
No, don’t feel nervous. The “interfering with the health of the scoby” is a long-term thing, not something that will necessarily take effect over one brewing period.
As for pH, if it affects the pH of any one specific brew, you’ll be able to tell, either by the visible growth of molds (orange, black, yellow, or green), or by the smell.
So, thank your friend for the scoby, choose whatever tea you would like to use for brewing, and brew with confidence! And enjoy! 🙂
Oh, and if you’re really wanting “proof” that the brew is safe, get some pH test strips from a winemaking store, a compounding pharmacy, or from Cultures for Health. A finished, safe kombucha will read under 4.0.
Could I use cardamom seeds instead of pods? If so, how many would I use?
Yes, absolutely! I would use however many typically fit inside a pod and multiply it by 10. I haven’t cracked open a cardamom pod for a long time, so I don’t rightly remember how many there are….
Hope that helps!
What kind of tea do you use to make your plain kombucha that you use for the chai kombucha? I need a mild flavored decaf tea to use for kombucha.
I use either Sencha green tea or just plain black tea, but the green has a lower caffeine level when it’s finished. I try to use organic tea, if possible, but I’ll be totally honest – I’ve used just plain inexpensive, bagged tea before when I didn’t have any other on hand, such as Lipton.
Here’s the best article I’ve read on brewing decaf kombucha – I hope it helps! http://www.kombuchakamp.com/2011/03/kombucha-and-caffeine-explained.html
Is it possible to use ground cardamom seeds?
Well, yes, but your final beverage will be flecked with ground cardamom, so unless you’re able to strain it through a cheesecloth or you don’t mind a bit of texture to your brew, I would recommend sticking with whole cardamom pods.
I started my first kombucha tea last night 5/10/15. I didnt have enough green tea bags so i used 2 green tea bags and four stash green chai tea bags. After reading that Chai tea bags were not ok to use i need your advice. Did I ruin my scooby? Are there any steps I can take to save my scooby? Should I remove it from my container asap? I realy I hope I didnt ruin it Ive been so excited to brew my own batch of kombucha.
Thanks in advance for all your help.
Well, your scoby won’t be ruined automatically by brewing using a tea with added spices – you just have to watch it and see. 🙂 If at any time you see green, yellow, orange, or black patches of growth, things probably went sideways and you should get rid of it and start over. However, otherwise, just watch it and smell it – if it seems fine, it likely is. 🙂
For these kinds of occasions I like to have pH strips on hand, as if there’s no visible mold and the pH is under 4.0 after 2+ weeks of brewing, I feel confident that the kombucha is safe to drink. I usually get my pH strips through Cultures for Health, but they might be available elsewhere as well.
Good luck and enjoy that yummy kombucha!
I have been brewing kombucha for 6 months now and the combo black,green and chai seem to work best for scobys and bottles. Taste with the extra spice from the chai kicks butt over just green and black. I also wanted to share I also have been home brewing beer for 15 years and that experience has paid off.One other thing I get my blood drawn 1 time a month and my sugar levels and cholesterol levels have dropped to normal levels. I have used tea bags in the past but, you are getting the left over crumbs from the tea leaf.I don’t think there is as much benefits out of the tea bag than loose leaf tea.
My thought is this :
Only wait 1 week for 1st ferment otherwise your kombucha turns to vinegar/ extra carbonation never use more than halve chai on your recipe~ the use of cardamom is cool.I just don’t like emptying anything out of the bottle like strawberries,cinnamon sticks,ect.. Blend or juice everything is in my opinion the best way for 2nd ferment. Cheers
Not sure about the Kombucha you are referring to as the first ingredient of the recipe. Could you tell me the name and brand and where it may be bought. Also, I love a good chai, but I love it with milk; can milk be done with recipe or is it a major no, no?
“Kombucha” is the type of drink, like “tea” or “coffee,” so there is no particular brand to recommend, although there are many brands out there and you can also certainly make your own. Any health food store will have kombucha and more and more “mainstream” groceries are also carrying it. You’ll likely find it in the refrigerated drinks section.
As for the “chai” portion, that simply refers to the spices used to flavor it. It’s not a recipe for masala chai, which uses black tea and milk (and which I love love love), but a recipe for making a flavored kombucha. So, no, I would not recommend adding milk, if for no other reason than the pH of the kombucha may make the milk curdle. The flavor of the chai spices is lovely as is if you’re wanting to enjoy a flavored kombucha.
I hope that helps!
This was so yummy! I adore chai and this is just like G.T.’s.
I like the sound of the Chai flavoured Kombucha, I’ll try it with my next brew.
Does putting it in the fridge stop the 2nd ferment, or will it start to ferment again if removed from the fridge.
That’s a great question! Putting it in the refrigerator slows the fermentation to a halt, but it doesn’t stop it, simply because the yeast and bacteria are still present. However, that doesn’t mean it would start fermenting again in the same way if you remove it from the refrigerator, as the yeast/bacteria and their food (sugar or anything you’ve added as flavoring) won’t necessarily be in the best balance for proper fermentation.
I hope that helps!