How Long to Steep Tea for Kombucha?

As someone who loves kombucha, I’ve invested countless hours perfecting my brew. One crucial aspect of making kombucha is steeping the tea, as it influences the flavor of your final product. 

In this article, I will share what I know about how long you should steep the tea for kombucha. I will also offer my view on whether steeping the tea for longer makes sense. 

So, how long should you steep tea for kombucha? Here’s a quick guide:

  • Black tea: Steep for 3 to 4 minutes. Black tea is the most popular choice for kombucha, providing a classic taste.
  • Green tea: Steep for 2 minutes. Green tea produces a lighter flavor and a paler color in kombucha. As green tea leaves are more delicate, they require cooler water and shorter steeping times.
  • Oolong tea: Steep for 1 to 5 minutes. Oolong tea falls between black and green tea in terms of oxidation, offering a unique flavor profile. Experiment with steeping times within this range to find the taste you prefer.
  • White tea: Steep for 4 to 5 minutes. White tea is the least processed of all tea types, yielding a delicate flavor. 
  • Pu-Erh tea: Steep for 3 to 4 minutes. Pu-Erh tea is a fermented tea variety known for its earthy flavor. The recommended steeping time ensures the kombucha acquires the right taste without becoming too bitter.

Remember, these are merely general guidelines. You might need to adjust the steeping times slightly to achieve the flavor you prefer for your kombucha.

Homemade kombucha

How Long to Steep Black Tea for Kombucha?

Black tea is the most popular choice for kombucha, providing a classic taste and an ideal food source for yeast and bacteria. 

When steeping black tea, you should aim for 3 to 4 minutes

It’s essential to use a temperature between 206 and 210 degrees Fahrenheit. Overly hot water can be detrimental to the tea leaves and lead to the extraction of more tannins, making the brew bitter.

How Long to Steep Green Tea for Kombucha?

Green tea is another great choice. It results in kombucha having a lighter taste and a paler color. 

Green tea leaves are more delicate, requiring cooler water and shorter steeping times. Steep green tea for no more than 2 minutes, as anything longer can produce a bitter taste. 

Maintain a water temperature between 150 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can I Make Kombucha With Herbal Tea?

Yes, you can make kombucha with herbal tea, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind.

To steep herbal tea for kombucha, follow these general guidelines:

  1. Temperature: Heat water to around 190°F (88°C). Avoid boiling the water, as it can potentially damage the beneficial bacteria and yeasts in the kombucha culture.
  2. Steeping Time: Steep the herbal tea for about 10-15 minutes. This duration may vary depending on the specific herbal tea and your taste preferences. Some herbs may require longer steeping times to extract their flavors fully.

Remember that certain herbs may have stronger flavors that can influence the taste of your kombucha. It’s a good idea to experiment with different herbal teas and steeping times to find the flavor profile you enjoy the most.

Should I Use Tea Bags or Loose Leaf in Kombucha?

As for tea bags versus loose-leaf tea, I see little difference in the final product. Some tea lovers argue that tea bags can bunch up the leaves, reducing their surface area, but I haven’t found this to be a significant issue. 

The steeping times remain the same for both options. 

If you’re using tea bags, avoid squeezing them after brewing, as this can release bitter tannins.

What Happens if I Steep for Too Long?

We’ve all been there – accidentally steeping the tea for too long and ruining the flavor. Don’t worry. You can still salvage the tea. 

If you’ve over-steeped your tea, add more sugar to balance out the bitter taste. Alternatively, you can use sweet fruit, like pineapple and ginger, to mask the bitterness during the second fermentation. If neither of these options works, you might have to discard the tea and start again.

Is It Healthier to Steep Tea Longer?

While steeping tea for longer may release more beneficial compounds, the excessive release of tannins can make your kombucha taste bitter. The key is to find a balance between extracting the health benefits of the tea and maintaining a pleasant taste. You’ll get the best of both worlds by following the steeping times I recommended.

Final Thoughts

Making kombucha yourself is a great alternative to store-bought options. It offers control of the brewing process and ingredients and is usually more cost-effective than buying kombucha at your local store.

Mastering the art of steeping tea for kombucha takes time and practice. Still, it’s an essential skill for producing a delicious and satisfying brew. 

Keep experimenting with the steeping times and temperatures until you find the perfect combination. Remember, the guidelines provided in this article are merely guidelines. Feel free to adapt them to suit your preferences, and enjoy the rewarding process of making your very own kombucha. 

Happy brewing!


What Is Kombucha Starter Tea?

Kombucha starter tea, also known as “starter liquid” or “mother tea,” is a mixture of previously fermented kombucha tea and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). It is essential for brewing kombucha as it introduces beneficial bacteria and yeast, acidifies the new batch, enhances flavor, and speeds up the fermentation process.

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