I’ve tried some delicious cannabis kombucha brands here in California, where adult use of cannabis is legal. Commercial brands mix a THC-infused emulsion into kombucha that’s already brewed.
I hadn’t heard of anyone including cannabis in the fermentation. I wasn’t sure what would happen. Would the SCOBY be okay, or would it get paranoid and climb out of the jar? Would it ferment? I used vegetable glycerin to emulsify the THC into the simple syrup. I read that glycerine is bacteriostatic (a compound that freezes the metabolic action of bacteria, without killing them). Would this throw off the fermentation in any way? Only one way to find out!
UPDATE: After experimentation, I concluded that it’s preferable to simply infuse the cannabis syrup into a secondary kombucha fermentation. See notes at bottom of this post for the original experiment.
I found that the secondary fermentation with cannabis syrup is slower than with other adjuncts I commonly use (fresh squeezed fruit juice, dried or fresh herbs, ginger), so I adjusted the length of time to reflect that.
The syrup I made used some old trim for which I did not know the THC content, so I had to estimate the THC content.
Kombucha (primary fermentation) with cannabis syrup
In order to test whether the fermentation affects THC content, I tried a scientific-ish experiment. I tasted a spoonful of cannabis syrup mixed in with regular kombucha, and then studied the effects. Then I tried an equivalent amount of syrup in the fermented-with-cannabis batch. The effects of the fermented batch were indeed more mellow. So it appears that the fermentation process reduces the THC content at least a little.
The effects of the cannabis when it’s been fermented in with the kombucha are noticeably more subtle than when consuming the syrup without fermentation. The finished kombucha has a really nice aroma (subtle terpenes), and is quite tasty. Many testers report that they couldn’t detect any flavor of cannabis. I’ll keep working on the recipe. Most would therefore argue that it’s not a good technique because it is loses potency during fermentation. That could well be true. I still enjoy drinking the kombucha and its light effects. I will continue the experimentation again using more and stronger syrup.
Always store scobys used in this recipe separately from other “non-cannabis” scobys. Best is to store them in their own jar (always at room temperature– never in the refrigerator!) in a little of the reserved liquid from the last batch you make. Keep a cloth lid on top of the jar to keep out flies and allow the scoby to continue to breathe. It doesn’t need much liquid to hang out– just enough to keep it submerged.
Eager to hop on the hops bandwagon, but not wanting to suffer the consequences of drinking beer (which my body has, in not so subtle ways, recently told me to give up), I wanted to see if kombucha could be hopped in a similar way to beer.
I use whole leaf, dried hops so far and have had great results. Hops is also sold in “nuggets”, whereby the flower is compressed into pellets or nuggets. I have not yet used these, mainly because I like the results from using whole hop flowers.
After a few experiments, I found that the flavors indeed work well together.
You can customize the hoppiness to just your liking. Mild variation. 5-10 hop flowers per quart. Ferment at room temp 3-4 days. Hazy AF variation. Double the amount of hop flowers (20 flowers per quart of kombucha). After fermenting at room temp 3-4 days, bottle condition another 3 to 5 weeks in the refrigerator. Aromas are dank, lemony, piney. Flavors are bitter, sour, chalky, hoppy.
Check out that haze! (this is the 30 day hopped variation.)
Cannabis has been coming back into its rightful and honorable place as sacred plant medicine, after having been outlawed for most of the 20th century in most of the world. It has begun its slide towards decriminalization and/or full legalization (9 states plus DC and counting!) in earnest. To celebrate, we want to provide you with a lovely suggestion on how to enjoy your probiotics and cannabinoids at the same time!
You can use almost any bud, from top-shelf flower to old shake. Edibles like this recipe are a great way to use trim (leaves and stems other than the flower, which still have a good amount of trichomes, the sticky resin which contain the active ingredients). Near zero waste! The syrup I made used some old trim for which I did not know the THC content, so I had to estimate that. 
This cannabis-infused syrup can be used as a sweetener for cocktails, a way to relax with a cup of hot tea, or really any recipe calling for sugar, including making a secondary fermented cannabis kombucha!
♪ Just a spoonful of medicine helps the sugar go down! (wait, is that how it goes?) ♫
You can customize the potency of the syrup to your liking. Try out our handy canna-calculator below.
Notes & Assumptions
Cannabis is legal in your state or jurisdiction, and/or it is legal for you to consume (you are over 21 and/or have a medical registration card to legally possess).
To maximize the effects, decarboxylate cannabis plant matter first (by low roasting) before making edibles with it. This converts THC-A into THC and increases the psychoactive effect significantly. Decarboxylation is not necessary if you are beginning with oil or concentrate.
It is believed that extraction efficiency (the rate at which cannabinoids and terpenoids are retained) is 50% for fat-based infusions (THC levels drop from plant form to syrup by 50% during the infusion process). We hold the same assumption for this syrup-based infusion. Calculations incorporate this assumption.
Got any extra pineapple scraps lying around? Why not make some tropical kombucha? Inspired by tepache (a Mexican boozy pineapple based beverage), using scraps such as cores and peels infuses very well into kombucha in just a few days.
There are an infinite number of ways to flavor kombucha.
There are an infinite number of ways to flavor kombucha. Here is a seasonal (autumn/winter) idea using pumpkin puree, as well as the classic “pumpkin spices”: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ginger. The flavors balance well, especially the sweetness of the pumpkin against the tart kombucha base!
Kombucha (kahm-BOO-chuh) is a fermented tea drink that probably originated in ancient China over two thousand years ago. The active culture which transforms the tea into kombucha is a complex Symbiotic Culture (or Colony) ofBacteria and Yeast which is held together in a thick, gelatinous biofilm. That’s a mouthful, so it’s commonly referred to by its acronym– SCOBY (SKOH-bee). It is rubbery and slippery, resembling the texture of a squid. It may also be called a kombucha culture, pellicle, zoogleal mat (impress your friends!), biofilm, mother or mushroom (although that last term is not quite accurate, because even though the yeast that comprises the colony are in the fungus family, they are not mushrooms).
Fermenting Containers and Primary fermentation
When looking for a fermentation vessel in which to make kombucha, select a non-porous, non-metallic material. Glass or ceramic work best. Plastic is okay, but some people prefer to avoid all plastic when fermenting. The SCOBY organisms need air. And the wider the container, the bigger the SCOBY can grow. When considering the diameter of a vessel, think Texas, not Manhattan.
Brewing Safely and pH
When you start your brew, sweet tea has a pH of about 5. In order to make the brew safe (that is, less prone to pathogenic microbes), you need to decrease the pH (that is, make it MORE acidic) to at least 4.6 at the beginning of the fermentation. That’s why it’s important to add a cup of mature kombucha to the starting tea. Once fermentation starts, the pH will continue to lower.
The pH, or measure of acidity, of finished kombucha should be around 3 to 3.5. At a minimum, it should drop to 4.6 in order to be considered safe. If you’re brewing at home, you can use pH strips to measure pH. It’s not super precise– if you’re brewing commercially or want more accuracy, you can obtain a pH meter.
1 one-gallon/4L or larger glass jar or ceramic container (preferably with spigot at bottom, but not essential)
Bottles to hold secondary ferments; pint-, quart-, or half-gallon sized-- bottles with tightly sealable caps, such as growlers, recycled mineral water bottles, or Grolsch-style swing-top bottles
Swatch of cloth to cover the opening-- dish towel, tea towel, or paper coffee filter to cover the container's opening (not cheesecloth--flies can get through!)
Funnel (for bottling)
Make Sweet Tea
NOTE: You want the new SCOBY to form as large in diameter as possible. It forms at the top of the liquid, so if you're using a one-gallon container, be sure you fill the container to just below the neck of the jar (no higher). You might not use the full gallon of sweet tea. You can either brew a little less tea than shown in the recipe, use the extra for another purpose, or even reserve for the next round of 'buch-making.
Boil 1 quart of filtered water (in a tea kettle or 1-gallon or larger pot).
Add tea bags (or if using loose tea, add tea to muslin bags or tea ball) to pot.
Pour boiling water into pot. Add tea. Let steep for 10-15 minutes.
Remove tea bags from pot. Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
Pour remaining (unheated) filtered water into pot. Wait until the temperature drops to 100°F/38°C or below (otherwise you might kill the SCOBY). Tea is now ready
Dispense tea into the glass or ceramic container.
Rub your hands with vinegar or some of the starter liquid before handling SCOBY. Carefully add the SCOBY to the jar. Pour the starter liquid from the SCOBY on top of the contents.
Cover with a cloth and secure with a rubber band. Store in a dark, well-ventilated area (keep out of direct sunlight). If using a transparent container, wrap a towel around it to minimize light.
Give it some good vibes, and your newly created universe will prosper!
Taste a bit after 7 days by dispensing some from the spigot. If using a container without a spigot, gently insert a straw into the jar (pushing the SCOBY aside). If it's too sweet, let it ferment longer. If you like the taste, it's ready for secondary fermentation and bottling (see next section). If you don't plan on a secondary fermentation, then move it to the fridge (to stop further fermentation) and enjoy!
If it's too tart, then adjust the time next batch. If it's WAY TOO TART, then you can use it as vinegar.
Flavoring & Bottling (aka Secondary Fermentation)
Add various flavorings to a clean glass bottle (that has either a swing top or one with a cap which can tighten.)
Top with plain mature kombucha. Leave no more than ½" of head space in the neck of the bottle. Close tightly.
Ferment an additional 1-7 days in the bottle, depending on the weather (cooler= longer, warmer=shorter). Note that carbonation will build up, so burp bottles occasionally (over the sink) to release gas buildup.
Move to refrigerator and enjoy (or swap with your fellow Fermenters)!
When you like the taste and texture (i.e. bubbles), move to refrigerator.
After the primary fermentation, flavoring and bottling (aka the secondary fermentation) is when you can really get creative with your ‘booch! You can use any combination of fresh fruit, fruit juice, veggies, ginger or other herbs and spices. Remember: a little goes a long way, but you should still play around with the quantities needed to achieve the desired level of sweetness or strength. Some ingredients will lend more carbonation. Here are just a few combinations we’ve tried.
Kombucha Flavor Gallery
Keeping Flies Out
You can craft a simple fly trap to lure vinegar flies away from the good stuff.
Mail Order: From a Kombucha specialist. I got my original culture from Kombucha Kamp and love it! It has made dozens of babies. They ship nationwide, too (Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Kombucha Kamp, meaning I get a small percentage of sales made if you click these links and buy from them).
From a health-food store: Many local or regional brands now offer starter kits.
Craigslist or local classified ads- People are always giving them away (you’ll know why after your first batch!)
Ask for one on our Facebook page (indicating where you are located). Chances are other Fermenters in your area will be happy to give you one.
Storing SCOBY babies/ Taking a Break
If you decide to take a break from making kombucha, or you have extras (because a new SCOBY is made each time you make a batch), you can store your SCOBY (always at room temperature– never in the refrigerator!) in a little of the reserved liquid from the last batch you make. It doesn’t need much to survive, just enough to keep it wet. You can even build a SCOBY hotel by adding multiple cultures to a single container into a “hotel”, like so:
How much should you drink?
Kombucha, like any other fermented food, should be taken in moderation. While it is good for us (being a much healthier alternative to soda drinks), it is acidic, which can upset your stomach. It also contains sugar and caffeine (although it is believed the SCOBY consumes most of the caffeine, leaving about 1/4 the amount in an equivalent portion of brewed tea). There can be “too much of a good thing.” I’ve read that 4 to 8 ounces, twice a day (for a max daily intake of 16 ounces/2 cups) is a safe limit. Personally, I only drink max 8 ounces a day (and not every single day). You’ll have to experiment and pay attention to your own body, and as always, Trust your Senses.