Is the cost of store-bought kombucha starting to add up? Ever think about making kombucha at home? Let’s go over the cost of each and see how they stack up. Let’s find out what is right for you.
The secret’s out and kombucha is here to stay. Most will find themselves hooked after they try this slightly sweet and tart bubbly drink. If the taste isn’t enough, the health benefits of kombucha are another reason some are drawn in. With all the pros of kombucha, the one con that kombucha addicts find is the cost. Once you’re hooked, you’ll notice rather quickly the cost of store-bought kombucha can start adding up.
How Much Does Store Bought Kombucha Cost?
Depending on the kombucha brand, it can cost anywhere from $3 to $5+ a bottle. This is for one 16 ounce bottle and is the price at the time of writing this article. To make things easier, let’s call it $4 a bottle. Now, let’s say you’re drinking four bottles a week? That’s $832 a year. Now, if you’re heavy kombucha drinker, like me, you’re drinking at least a bottle a day. This would cost you $1,460 a year going the store-bought route.
Why is Store-Bought Kombucha So Expensive?
Kombucha is a live fermented beverage. It’s not made as quickly as soda, where you simply carbonate water and add syrup. Anything fermented is going to take time and adds to cost. Also, once bottled raw kombucha requires refrigeration, which also drives up the cost.
How Much Does Homemade Kombucha Cost?
There are two expenses when brewing kombucha. The first is an initial investment in brewing supplies, and the second is your brewing ingredients. So the cost really depends on what you already have on hand. It could cost as little as $15 to get going or up to $80 if you are looking to get fancy.
Cloth Cover – You will need to cover your kombucha brewing jar to allow it to breathe and keep bugs out. You can find high-grade muslin kombucha cloth covers here, or a coffee filter secured with a rubber band will work just fine.
Kombucha Bottles – Any airtight bottles designed to hold pressure will work. Swing top kombucha bottles or kombucha stout bottles work best.
Kombucha Jar Temperature Strip – kombucha doesn’t like it cold. This style temperature strip sticks to the side of your brewing jar and lets you know your kombucha is brewing at the proper temperatures.
Initial Brewing Equipment Cost: The cost of this will depend on what you already have on hand but can range from $0.00-$80 if you’re looking to get fancy.
Now that we have all of our equipment. Let’s take a look at the ingredients needed to make kombucha. Kombucha is fermented sweet tea made with four ingredients – water, sugar, tea, and a kombucha SCOBY.
SCOBY – Our Classic Kombucha SCOBY, this is the driving force behind kombucha. Without a SCOBY, you just have sweet tea. When taken care of properly, the SCOBY is a one time purchase.
SUGAR – Cane sugar is best! While we recommend organic cane sugar. All cane sugar works, the kombucha won’t care either way. Non-organic cane sugar is readily available for as little $0.39 a pound. A four-pound bag of sugar is enough to make nine gallons of kombucha.
TEA – Traditional kombucha is made with black tea, but we like to blend in some green tea as well. Any black tea will work fine. If non-organic tea isn’t an issue, right now, you can find 10g of tea, the amount needed to brew a gallon, for as little as $0.40. You can also find our organic black tea for kombucha here and organic green tea for kombucha here, and our full line of kombucha tea blends here.
WATER – bottled or filtered tap water works great. If you have any other questions on this subject, see our post on suitable water for kombucha brewing.
FLAVORING – Once your kombucha has finished the primary fermentation, here’s our guide on how to brew kombucha and how to brew jun kombucha, which will get you to this stage; it’s time for the second fermentation. This is the stage where you bottle, flavor, and carbonate your kombucha. There are few rules when it comes to flavoring kombucha. Common flavoring options include juice, fruit, fruit, spices, herbal teas, to name a few. You’re only limited to your imagination. The cost to flavor kombucha is what you make it; you can use scrap strawberry tops to fresh strawberries. So the price is up to you. If you’re looking for ideas, check out some of our kombucha recipes, which should get your imagination going with kombucha flavors to try.
Cost Per Gallon: Once you have a SCOBY, it can cost you as little as 0.79$ a gallon plus the cost of your flavoring.
Using the above examples, if you were to drink a bottle of kombucha a day from the store, you’re looking at $1,460 a year. For home-brewed kombucha and for comparison purposes, let’s max out the investment cost and brew a gallon a week, this will yield seven 16 oz bottles and is the same as drinking a bottle of store-bought a day. Okay, so you spend $80 on the initial brewing equipment and a SCOBY, our kombucha kit here is about half this cost, and you brew a gallon a week. A gallon of kombucha a week can cost you as little as $0.79 plus flavor – let’s round up to $1. With this example, it would cost $52 a year in kombucha plus brewing equipment.
So Should I Make Kombucha or Buy It?
We say both, from a cost perspective, you can really save yourself quite a bit of money by brewing kombucha at home. Also, you are in complete control of your brew when going this route. You can design and make any kombucha flavor combination you can think of, not limiting yourself to what is available on the store shelf. You can also make it as sweet or as tart as you like and even make it alcoholic. There are advantages to brewing kombucha at home. Store-bought kombucha is convenient and can be picked up when needed. We find that most people shift to mostly homemade kombucha and enjoy store-bought kombucha here and there when convenient. If you are thinking about brewing kombucha, we recommend that you check out our kombucha brewing guide and well as our brewing supplies for kombucha.