Making Kombucha with Cascara (coffee fruit tea)

We have been playing with our Kombucha with Cascara recipe for a few months, and now we are ready to share. The rise and rise of Kombucha and other fermented drinks have become quite a phenomenon. There are many approaches to making this drink, and ours may not be the definitive way, but we love the results.

A few notes

Starter SCOBY or Mother SCOBY

Getting your starter SCOBY can be a challenge. We started our first tests after being gifted a SCOBY. Unfortunately, while we were doing our second ferment, someone (no names here) decided that the strange thing in the fridge had to be thrown away. After researching starting our own SCOBY and finding a number of the on-market Kombucha have no live cultures, we bought one from Faithful to nature. You also can purchase one here… (no referral fees are charged)

So, the recipe we have below uses this SCOBY, and after the first ferment, saves it in an old Quaffee bag for next time.


When we were in Colombia, we bought a bag on Panela. Panela is an unrefined brown sugar. We will have to use something from now on unless we can find some more. So instead of unrefined brown sugar, we used Panela. You need sugar to create Carbon Dioxide. The SCOBY feeds off the sugar. We have seen honey recipes but have not tried using that yet. By the end of the second ferment, your sugar levels should be insignificant. If you want your Kombucha sweeter, you may need to add more.

Second Tea

Some people make a second tea for their second ferment. And we were sent an example of one. For personal tastes, I found I preferred our method. But in case you are interested, the first tea was either a Rooibos or a Ceylon, and the second was the Cascara tea.


Our ingredients to make just less than 5 litres of Kombucha (depends on how much tea is with the starter Scoby/ Scoby mother:

  • 7+10 cups water
  • 1 cups Panela (or unrefined brown sugar)
  • 1 cup cascara (you can get from us here…)
  • 1 SCOBY mother

Equipment required

  • Medium pot
  • A container that takes at least 5 litres (glass preferred)
  • Sieve
  • Funnel
  • Bottles for the second ferment (we use old bottles from beverages we had consumed). We recommend they have screw tops.
Ingredients at the ready


First ferment

  1. In a Medium pot, bring 7 cups of water to a light boil
  2. Add the Panela (unrefined brown sugar) and stir well until dissolved
  3. Now add the Cascara.
  4. Turn off the heat.
  5. Steep for 5 minutes
  6. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  7. Add Scoby mother into the container (with whatever liquid is with it)
  8. Place the sieve over the 5-litre container.
  9. Add the tea mix to the SCOBY.
  10. Add the remaining 10 cups of water to the mixture
  11. Cover the container with a cloth, so the mixture can breathe.
  12. Seal the cloth around the container’s rim with a rubber band or tie it with a string.

Allow to sit for approximately 3 – 5 days. The mixture should be kept in a dark cupboard, and the temperature should not be too cold or too hot. Taste test with a wooden spoon after three days have passed. When slightly naturally carbonated but not vinegary, this stage is finished

Cascara Kombucha ready to ferment

Bottling and second ferment

Once the mixture has lost most of its sweetness, it shows some carbonation; if this is not the case, then either the Scoby mother had an issue or (more likely) the temperature was too hot or too cold.

  1. When slightly naturally carbonated but not vinegary, funnel into sealable glass bottles so each bottle is full.
  2. Remove Scoby mother, place in Quaffee packet or similar, in the fridge, for next time (or start your next brew).
  3. Set aside bottles for an additional 2 – 3 days in a place with moderate temperature.
  4. When carbonated, store the bottles in the fridge.
  5. Enjoy when Kombucha at the temperature you like.

Alternative approach

One of our regulars, Heinrich, also had a go. From his email:

For the first fermentation, I made the Kombucha, usually without any Cascara, and then added the Cascara for the second fermentation. I tried 10 g and 15 g cascara per 750 ml kombucha; I think the 10 g worked well. It has a subtle cascara taste; the 15 g version was slightly bitter. 

His first fermentation:

  • Steep 4-5 tea bags in 4 cups boiling water for ~15 min
  • Add 3/4 cup white sugar and dissolve
  • Add 8 cups of cold water 
  • Add 2 cups of starter tea (from a previous batch or your “SCOBY hotel”) and SCOBY when the tea has cooled to ~30 C.
  • Leave to ferment for several days until the taste is fermented and slightly acidic, but still a little bit too sweet for your taste. 

His second fermentation:

  • Add 10 g cascara to 750 g kombucha and seal. I like to use a plastic bottle for experimenting because you can feel when the pressure has built up.
  • Leave to ferment and carbonate for another 2-3 days or until the bottle is stiff.
  • After that, transfer to the fridge to stop/slow down the fermentation.

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