Citrus & Hops Kombucha

Citrus Hops Kombucha by An Unrefined Vegan

Are you a kombucha fan? I unabashedly and enthusiastically am. I love the stuff. If the first and last time you tasted kombucha was a couple of years ago when it was decanted from the murky brew found at your co-op – and it tasted like sucking on gym socks – then you need to give it another try. The flavor world of kombucha has opened into a vast universe. Commercially-made kombucha is sold all over – even at Walmart – and you can sample so many flavors: cherry, peach, mint, ginger, even spicy pepper. Tastes so good you barely detect the kombucha in the kombucha!

Citrus Hops Kombucha by An Unrefined Vegan

I discovered Brew Dr. kombucha on a trip to the east coast and I was blown away by their unique flavor combinations. I can’t get Brew Dr. locally, but I can read a label, so I set out to make my own version. 

The hops give this brew a lovely hint of beer without the bitterness. Orange? It’s a natural fit with hops. I picked up Willamette hops online at Freshops. A little goes a long way, so buy a pack and keep it in your freezer. When you’re ready to make kombucha, just take out the quantity you need. One additional ingredient note: normally I use demerara sugar in my brews, but its light brown color darkens the final beverage. Out of pure vanity, I want a clear, bright orange color so I go with organic pure cane sugar for this flavor combination.

In the coming months, look for my Rosemary-Mint kombucha – also inspired by Brew Dr.

Some helpful links:

  • See my kombucha post from 2013 for a lot more detail on brewing. 
  • My e-book, TEAse Me, features a recipe for Passionfruit-Berry Kombucha. Get the 15-recipe book for free when you subscribe to my blog, or plunk down a mere $5.99 here.
  • Buy a kombucha starter kit, or just the SCOBY from Brooklyn Kombucha or Oregon Kombucha.
  • Find loose Assam black tea here and TAZO Refresh tea here.
  • Need a 4-liter glass jar? Try this one.

Citrus Hops Kombucha by An Unrefined Vegan


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Citrus & Hops Kombucha

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  • Author: Annie
  • Yield: 14 1x


A light and refreshing beverage with hoppy overtones.




  • 4-liter glass jar (for initial brew)
  • Large/long metal spoon (do not use a wooden spoon)
  • Clean cotton cloth
  • Rubber band
  • Funnel
  • Glass (drinking) bottles or jars, with lids (for second brew, storage)
  • Large/long metal straining spoon


  • 1 cup organic pure cane sugar
  • 5 Tbsp. loose black tea (I use Assam)
  • 1 Tbsp. hops
  • 1 Tazo Refresh teabag, string snipped off
  • 5” – 6″ peel from orange
  • 4 Cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 cup kombucha*
  • Mother* (a.k.a. SCOBY)


  1. Bring 7-8 cups of water to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, rinse out the large jar with hot water and assemble everything else you’ll need for the initial brew. (You will not yet need the bottles/jars. You’ll also be using additional orange peel – but that will be for the second ferment.)
  2. Add the sugar to the jar and pour in the boiling water. Using the metal spoon, stir until the sugar has dissolved. Now add the loose black tea, the hops, the teabag, orange peel and cardamom pods. Stir again. Add another 6-7 cups of room temperature water to the jar (you want the water to come to about 2-3 inches from the top of the jar). Let the jar sit, uncovered, until it has cooled to room temperature. Now stir in the 1 cup kombucha and with CLEAN HANDS gently transfer the SCOBY to the jar. It will likely fall to the bottom. Later it will come up to the top of the jar.
  3. Cover the jar with the cloth, secure with the rubber band, and place the jar in a warm spot. I place mine on top of my refrigerator. The amount of time the batch needs to brew depends on the season/temperature (and personal taste preferences). Summer batches can take as little as a week; winter batches may take twice as long. It’s important to occasionally taste your brew – using a METAL spoon – so that you can end the first ferment when it tastes good to you.
  4. Once the brew has reached that point, it’s time to bottle it for the second ferment. You’ll want to get everything you need assembled before you start, so have your CLEAN jars/drinking bottles ready, a funnel and some paper towels or clothes to wipe up any spills. You’ll also want a small, CLEAN mason jar or other glass container in which to store the resulting SCOBY + the old SCOBY + about 1 cup kombucha. So you can make more batches of kombucha!
  5. With clean hands, remove the SCOBYs and place them in a glass mason jar. Add about 1 cup of your kombucha to the jar, cover and store until needed in the refrigerator. Now, as best you can, strain out the hops, cardamom pods, and tea from the jar using the large metal straining spoon. You won’t be able to get everything, but that’s okay. Compost or discard the solids.
  6. Place a funnel in one of the drinking bottles and slowly and carefully pour in some kombucha. It will probably bubble up so watch carefully. I leave about 1-inch at the top of each drinking bottle. Continue with the remaining bottles/kombucha. You may wish to use a metal strainer for the last few cups of kombucha.
  7. Before closing up the bottles, add a 1″ – 2″ strip of orange peel to each. Close the bottles and leave them out at room temperature for a few days. I usually let them sit between 4-5 days. This increases the bubbly factor. Place them in the refrigerator and they are now ready to consume!


  • *If you haven’t made kombucha before, you will need to get SCOBY and a little bit of kombucha to get started. Once you get into the process, believe me, you will have more SCOBY than you know what to do with! I purchased my first SCOBY and starting liquid from Brooklyn Kombucha, but there are many other vendors. Links in post.
  • Be careful when opening the drinking bottles – kombucha can get very bubbly.


  • Serving Size: 12
  • Calories: 80
  • Sugar: 17
  • Sodium: 1
  • Fat: 0
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 20
  • Protein: 0
  • Cholesterol: 0

Citrus Hops Kombucha by An Unrefined Vegan Citrus Hops Kombucha by An Unrefined Vegan

Citrus Hops Kombucha by An Unrefined Veg

23 thoughts on “Citrus & Hops Kombucha

  1. Cathy

    You’ve made this sound very easy. Yep, I still am dying to make kombacha. Thanks for this great information!

  2. Kayse

    This looks fabulous! I just did a batch of orange infused black tea in my last batch of kombucha, and I loooove it! I want to try this, sounds great!

  3. mydarlingvegan

    This looks great, Annie! I’ve tried to make kombucha once or twice many years ago. It did NOT turn out well which kinda scared me off from the whole thing. I’m gonna have to face my fears and try again with this recipe.

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      It is intimidating for a while – – I was scared I’d accidentally poison myself when I first started! Turns out, it’s pretty forgiving. But, I understand shying away after a negative experience. I find it really fun to play around w/ the flavors and I hope you give it another try :-).

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    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      Hi Ev! Yes, I do leave in the ingredients. I used to remove them, but in doing some reading/research from other kombucha-makers, I decided to try leaving them in during the first ferment. I found that the flavor was deeper – with no adverse effects. If you are uncomfortable with leaving the tea, etc., in, by all means scoop it out and ferment away :-)!

  6. Grizz

    I am looking to make a hop flavored brew, but was under the impression this should only be done in the second ferment during the bottling. The oils in the hops and citrus can be harmful to the health of the SCOBY, and the tea leaves shouldn’t contact the SCOBY for the same reason. I have read conflicting information about using metal spoons as well, as they can harm the SCOBY. I assume you would still avoid adding actual juice to the first ferment though.

    From what you have said based on your experience, this will simplify the brewing process considerably. I only started brewing my own Kombucha about 3 months ago, but have had great success with practically any combination of flavoring as long as it includes a citrus base. I am eager to try out this alternate method of infusing flavors as it helps eliminate the ‘floaties’ in the bottled end product.

    Your recipe sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing your insights.

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      Hey Grizz! From my experience, there ain’t much that harms my SCOBYs :-)! When I first started brewing I was very careful to remove the tea, etc., before setting the batch aside for its first brew. But I discovered that other blogger brewers were leaving the tea and additions in and I appreciated that it simplified the process while perhaps imparting deeper flavors. If I were more methodical I’d run a side-by-side experiment, but I don’t have much patience for things like that! Maybe you do, and if you do, please report back on the results :-)!

      As to using a metal spoon, I base this solely on the rather severe instructions I received with my very first kombucha kit. It scared the b-geezus out of me! My guess is that a wooden or plastic utensil might harbor bacteria where a clean metal spoon won’t (much like coins are cleaner than paper money…). Anyway, it’s worked for me. I can tell you that out of the tens of batches I’ve brewed over the past 8 years, I’ve only had one that I tossed out – and that was because it tasted bad, but not Bad, if you know what I mean.

      Interesting that you’ve found using a citrus base seems to be a key of success. Must be some chemical thing going on there that is beyond my pay grade. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and happy brewing!

      1. Grizz

        I guess the only draw back of adding flavors in the first ferment is that the Kombucha saved for the next batch will contain a trace of that flavor instead of just raw Kombucha. After doing more reading about metal vs wood spoons, I see that this makes little difference, as it has more to do with the brewing vessel than what touches the SCOBY here and there.

        My comment on citrus was more that flavor pairs well with Kombucha. I tried a vanilla raspberry which was good and I have tried a vanilla fig (Dr Pepper attempt). The raspberry was quite nice, but the fig reminded me of cough syrup. Perhaps I used too many figs. The vast majority of other flavors I have tried have focused on lemon, lime, grapefruit or orange. I really like ginger lemon raspberry or lime mint. The grapefruit raspberry and grapefruit blueberry were both quite good. I have had good success with peach mango as the only option outside of citrus that I consistently enjoy. With all the natural sugars, the carbonation builds up quickly, which I really enjoy.

        I have a few bottles of lemon hops in their second ferment at the moment. I decided to start with my usual process of flavoring the second ferment during bottling. I used 4 large chunks of lemon rind and 5 cones of Citra hops. Very much looking forward to trying it, although I may need to try it again with some additional sugar to help the carbonation. I will be trying your flavor combination of orange hops and cardamon next. While I like the idea of flavoring the first ferment for convenience, I believe this will limit the following batch as I don’t have multiple batches going at a time.

    2. allisa

      i’m interested in hearing how your hops batches have faired; just came across some fresh hops and want to try it out in the 2nd ferment… i make a cinnamon/ginger/turmeric tea that i usually add with a few blueberries to the 2nd ferment that is divine, but the hops sounds fun & tasty!

      1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

        Hi Alisa – I like the hops, but I’ve learned a little goes a long way :-)! I’ve been on a blueberry kombucha trend lately and have been very happy with the results. I haven’t tried turmeric – – do you use the root or powder?

      2. Steve A Carter

        I haven’t tried using hops in the primary brew because I don’t want the flavor to linger in future batches, but I did make a few batches with the hops. The first time I put two cone hops in each bottle with a teaspoon of lemon zest and 1 tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon. It was tasty, but the hops took some effort to filter before drinking.

        The second time I boiled one cup of water, dissolved 2 tbsp of sugar in it (to help carbonation speed up), then used 6 cones of Citra hops and the peel of one navel orange. I let it steep for about 15 minutes. After cooling it, I strained the contents and divided this between six bottles and used the juice from the orange to top up each bottle (about 1 tbsp each). I didn’t have any cardamon, just I used a touch of allspice which was interesting.

        Both batches had a very complex flavor. I feel like the lemon was a bit tastier but I am not convinced I have had the best of the hops. I enjoyed both batches, but I am not certain when I will make it again. I love experimenting with new flavors and I have a few standby’s that my daughter will drink which I rotate in every few weeks.

  7. Susan

    Looking forward to trying this! I am brand new to hopped kombucha, but I love hops and grew some of my own this year. In your recipe, you mention 1 Tb of Hops, any suggestions for the quantity when using fresh hops?

    1. An Unrefined Vegan Post author

      I’m jealous! I’ve tried growing them but apparently Oklahoma isn’t the best spot for them (or I have a “black thumb”… ) I would start with 1 or 2 buds and see how that goes.

  8. Cynthia Robinson

    I made the Citrus and Hops kombucha. I was so excited with the results. I had a tasting and people LOVED IT!


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