How we do it


The key ingredient of Babs’ Buch is an Oolong tea called Ti Kuan Yin. We currently make one large batch and one small batch. Here is our recipe:

Large batch:

  • 29 cups (brew 24 add 5)(1.8 gal) water (1.6 x small)
  • 48 grams tea (52 grams new tea)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups starter buch

Small batch:

  • 18 cups (brew 16 add 2) (1.125 gal) water
  • 30 grams tea (New tea 33 grams)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups starter buch

Washing and Steeping

  1. Bring water to boil in a large pot
  2. Remove from heat and bring water temp down to 195-200 degrees (hotter for black teas, a little cooler for green)
  3. Stir in the tea, cover and wait about a minute to let the leaves unfurl
  4. Stir and re-cover, steep for 30 minutes
  5. Add the sugar to the glass jar and strain the tea into the jar, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  6. Let cool to room temperature.
  7. Add additional water to bring level in jar that leaves room for starter buch and SCOBY
  8. Add starter buch (fermented tea from the previous batch) and transfer the SCOBY

SCOBY Transfer

  1. Carefully lay the SCOBY on the surface of the tea, cover with a clean cloth or coffee filter and a rubber band to keep the fruit flies out.
  2. Put the jar on a shelf and leave undisturbed for 7-10 days according to taste and ambient temperatures. The thickness of the developing baby SCOBY is a good indicator of the rate of fermentation.
  3. Start tasting after about a week and harvest before it gets too strong and vinegary for you. You’ll notice how the remaining sugar is being consumed rapidly by the SCOBY family. Bottle your harvest with any flavorings desired and maybe some additional sugar for sweetness and fizz. We’ve been using 1 tsp to 1 tbsp depending on what flavor we are making and how strong the buch is.
  4. Let ferment in bottles for 7- 21 days if plain (we’ve been letting the plain go for 2 fermentation cycles), 5 days when using fruit juice and 2-3 days when using fresh fruit. The length of the second fermentation is key to how fizzy it is. The length of time will vary greatly depending on the added ingredients. Let fresh strawberry go longer than 3 days and you’ll have a volcano on your hands. The plain on the other hand takes 2+ weeks. It takes a lot of trial and error to get it just right but if you stick with it you’ll be making buch that is far superior to anything you can buy. Enjoy!

Lessons Learned

  • It’s important to taste the first fermentation and harvest on just the right day. You want it still a little sweet and flat. It will get more vinegary in the second fermentation. You don’t want it too flat but you don’t want it too strong either. It varies with ambient temperature so be careful to modify your first fermentation period as temperatures change.
  • The amount of sugar to add for 2nd fermentation is tricky. Babs is happy with 1 tsp for the plain but we’ve been doing 1/2 – 1 tbsp for the flavored. When harvesting we need to taste the flavoring as well as the buch itself to determine how much sugar to add.
  • If you let it go a little too long in first fermentation and it seems powerful on harvest, you’ll have to reduce the second fermentation time, possibly at the expense of fizz. This is why it’s important to harvest on the early side, so that it doesn’t get too strong and dry.


Lately we’ve been using more bottled fruit juices than fresh fruit as this allows us to better control the second fermentation (fresh fruits can result in impressive explosions on opening). However when we are careful not to let fresh fruit infusions go more than a couple of days and drink it fairly soon after refrigeration, the fresh fruit recipes are delicious. Here are some flavors we’ve done in the past…

Blackberry Ginger

  • 1/4 cup fresh blackberry puree
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp sugar

refrigerate after 5 days


  • 1/4 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 tbsp sugar

refrigerate after 3 days

Honey Vanilla (Honey Badger)

  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp sugar

refrigerate after 9 days

Blueberry Cinnamon

  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sugar

refrigerate after 4 days


  • 1/4 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 tbsp sugar

refrigerate after 3 days

Raspberry Ginger (Razzmatazz)

  • 1/4 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp sugar

refrigerate after 3 days

(ginger seems to overwhelm the sweetness of the raspberries)


  • 1/4 cup pineapple puree
  • 1 tbsp sugar

refrigerate after ? days

Grape Ape

  • 1/4 cup grape puree
  • 1 tbsp sugar

refrigerate after 5 days

(can use concord grape juice)

Acai Guarana

1/4 cup Superfruit Pack from WF (Acai berry with guarana)

1 tbsp sugar

refrigerate after 4-5 days

note: didn’t like it

Honey Ginger

  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sugar

refrigerate after 9 days


  • 1/4 cup watermelon puree
  • 2 tsp sugar

refrigerate after 3 days


  • 1/2  tbsp sugar

refrigerate after 9 days