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Carbonating your Kombucha - Tricks of the Trade

 

Kombucha has a lot of things going for it. Many people drink it based on potential boons to health - these can include improvement of digestion, prevention against oxidative stress, activity against acid reflux and inflammation, as well as its richness with probiotics, antioxidants and amino acids - to name a few.

 

 

It can be tough to eat or drink something for its health benefits when it's a stretch to find it palatable. I'll wince and bear eating a few oysters (many thanks to Brooklyn Oyster Party's hospitality at Smorgasburg), and though they're starting to taste better, I don't seek them out. Noni is considered a superfood that grows wild in tropical climates that many regard as having a scent and flavor reminiscent of feet and parmesan cheese - not exactly on my snacking radar.

 

Flip-top bottle, left, alongside a KBBK growler and fresh, carbonated 'buch Flip-top bottle, left, alongside a KBBK growler and fresh, carbonated 'buch

I feel like kombucha is similar for a lot of people. One of the big problems is simply that it's difficult to find truly tasty kombucha in a bottle - it's very hit-or-miss. Potentially off-putting aspects of kombucha are easily countered in a home-brewing situation with a little knowledge and instruction, and the effects of carbonation and temperature can greatly increase palatability. For someone new to kombucha, like one of your friends or relatives you'd like to enjoy your home brew, making the best 'buch possible is important - it's powerful to provide a positive kombucha experience to newcomers, and ideally it will keep them coming back for more, or may even start them brewing their own.

 

Carbonating your kombucha - a 'buch brewer's seal of excellence

 

I've posted a few blogs that focus on the flavor of kombucha, which is an immensely broad category still open to even more experimentation. There's a measure of success that can be very easy to achieve, and is a milestone for brewers of every size - when you realize your home-brewed kombucha tastes much better than what is available at the store. Many people that have great success with flavoring can have issues with something else that's very important - carbonation - and it can mean the difference between brewing a dud and hitting a homerun.

 

While carbonation affects the delivery and sensation of flavors, and can possibly even affect our physiology, for the sake of discussion today it's a physical characteristic; there's something very pleasant about a cold carbonated beverage that has me clamoring for 'buch first thing in the morning. In its affiliation with kombucha, carbonation is something that is desirable - but that can cause a multitude of headaches for the home brewer.

 

As the primary fermentation process for kombucha is essentially open-air (there is a free exchange of gases taking place between the culture and the outside environment), your kombucha will not inherently retain carbonation. The CO2 produced by your SCOBY's yeast will for the most part be released to the environment. That is, until you bottle it.

 

Secondary fermentation

 

Bottling your 'buch has the effect of allowing CO2 to build up in a closed environment (provided you've used a vessel with a tight-fitting lid). This will happen to the greatest extent in a warm environment - most simply, for a home brewer, at room temperature.   Just like in primary fermentation, during "bottle conditioning" (or what we call secondary fermentation), yeast will continue to consume nutrients - it's the amount of sugar in your brew that has the greatest effect on the production of CO2 during this secondary fermentation. One rule of thumb I like to use is that once your kombucha has achieved a pleasant balance of sweetness and acidity, it's ready to be bottled. You must keep in mind, however, that the residual sweetness of your brew when you bottle it plays a major role in the production of CO2, and thus that delightful effervescence we love in 'buch.


Here's a quick overview of the secondary fermentation process:

  1. Bottle your kombucha in containers with air-tight lids
  2. Allow your filled bottles to sit at room temperature, generally for 1-2 weeks*
  3. Once it's been decided that enough carbonation has built up, place the bottles into the refrigerator and start drinking them as soon as they are cold

*This time frame depends on your room temperature and the tea/sweetener you've used


Post-primary flavoring

 

Left: Lemon and spruce are unsweetened flavorings; Right: mango and elderberry puree are sweet flavorings Left: Lemon and spruce are unsweetened flavorings; Right: mango and elderberry puree are sweet flavorings

Any flavoring you add to your brew during bottling can potentially contribute to the amount of fermentable sugars available to the yeast. As your kombucha is still raw when you bottle it at home (unless you've pasteurized it, but who would do such a thing!?), yeast will still be present in the bottle and still be voracious for more sugar to eat. This is a very important fact to keep in mind - if you are adding a sweetener to your 'buch when you bottle (think fruit juice, but really, anything that is sweet), carbonation will build up more quickly than if you had left that sweetener out. Combined with the leftover residual sugars (primarily fructose) from your primary fermentation, you're potentially creating a very volatile situation. Hungry yeast + sugar = CO2. The buildup of gas in an enclosed space definitely gives our 'buch that delightful effervescence, but can also potentially create volcanic 'buch that erupts when you open it, or in extreme circumstances, can cause bottles to explode from the pressure.

 

Bottle explosion Higher summertime temperatures will speed the buildup of CO2!

If you want to prevent carbonation, place your kombucha directly into the refrigerator after bottling


 

We've all experienced that excitable bottle of 'buch that can no longer handle being all cooped up -

 

You've just stepped out of your local natural market with a bottle of your favorite 'buch. You get into your car, roll down the window, and turn on that hot summer track from the week's big artist. Time for 'buch! Only not how you expect. You unscrew the lid, and instead of befriending your belly, your freshly-purchased kombucha instead befriends the totality of the inside of your car.

 

Sticky 'buch everywhere, not to mention chia seeds, if you're so inclined to enjoy the style. A day-changer, for sure, but not something that can't be changed with a little know-how.

 

Tips for bottling your kombucha and achieving transcendent effervescence:

 

1. Bottle when there's a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. This will help to ensure that your 'buch isn't a sugar bomb. I've found that when there is a balance of these two factors, 1-2 weeks is plenty of time to build up a nice amount of carbonation. You will also notice some differences based on the type of tea you used in primary fermentation; take notes when you notice these types of things, it will only improve your brewing skills.

 

2. Bottle into one plastic bottle at the same time you fill your glass bottles. This will be a model help you to know when a good amount of CO2 has built up, based on your environment (temperature) and the unique qualities of your brew. Your plastic bottle will tell you there's carbonation when it's very tight, and thus clearly pressurized. So, when you know your plastic bottle has carbonation, your glass bottles will too. This will also ensure that you aren't wasting carbonation every time you open a glass bottle to see how much has built up.

 

3. Don't leave much headroom in your bottles. An inch or so is just fine - you don't want excess oxygen in your bottle, as that takes up space that could otherwise be CO2. It will oxidize your brew, and make it more likely that bacteria are still active, thus creating more acids, potentially contributing off-flavors. It's also important to note that chia seeds expand immensely in the bottle, so you'll want to leave quite a bit more headroom than usual if you're bottling with them.

 

4. Invest in good bottles. My favorite bottles are the 32 oz Amber Growler available on our website. They're strong, opaque to UV, and have great caps that form an excellent seal, locking in 'buch and your precious carbonation. Keep an eye out for flip-top bottles as well, these can be great for home-brewing escapades and are also very good at holding tight under pressure. We always recommend bottling into glass instead of plastic.

 

Lids for our growlers: Cone-shaped plug is forced into the neck of the bottle, creating an airtight seal Lids for our growlers: Cone-shaped plug is forced into the neck of the bottle, creating an airtight seal

 

5. Open any extremely carbonated bottles into a large pitcher. This is especially easy to do with flip-top bottles. Take a large, empty pitcher, slowly invert any bottles you've detected to be highly effervescent, and use both hands to open the cap of the bottle when it's as deep as possible in the pitcher. Your pitcher will quickly fill with 'buch foam (which you will shortly see is still kombucha) and subside within a minute or so. Your 'buch will be delightfully bubbly, and it's now ready for you to drink, or pour back into your bottle and put in the refrigerator. It won't build up pressure like that again, and it's fine to drink without fear of volcanism ;-).

 

There you have it! This post highlights thoughts from many years of kombucha trial and error, and the techniques will hopefully be easily replicated in your home brew situation.   Please feel free to comment and offer any insight.

 

Happy brewing!

171 thoughts on “Carbonating your Kombucha - Tricks of the Trade”

  • […] important things to take into account (see the earlier blog post about bottling and carbonation here). Our favorite vessel to bottle our homebrew is a 32 oz amber bottle. Not only does it keep […]

    Reply
  • Mike

    This is my first batch! I mistakenly put the bottles into the fridge directly after bottling. If I take the cold bottles out of the fridge and leave them at room temperature, will the secondary fermentation still occur, even though the bottles got cold first? Does the chill damage any of the bacteria that would produce carbonation? I have 3 sitting out just to test them, but I'll pull the rest out if they'll still be fine... Thanks!

    Reply
    • William Donnelly

      Hi there Mike!
      No worries, you can always bring them back up to temperature for secondary fermentation. Any real damage only occurs during proper freezing where the physical SCOBY structures are broken by the water molecules.

      Reply
  • […] being pasteurized, the culture will continue to proliferate, given the right conditions (warmth), inside a closed bottle. It is this aspect of bottling that caused issues in 2010 when kombucha everywhere was pulled off […]

    Reply
  • Jennifer

    thank you going to bottle my first batch tomorrow :)

    Reply
  • Megan

    Hi there, I just finished my first two batches of kombucha and both had problems. I fermented the first batch too long but good decent carbonation with its second fermentation. And with the second batch I did the first fermentation properly but my second fermentation didn't produce any carbonation. I got little scobys in the bottles that I'd added juice to but no bubbles. I only left them out for 3 days before refrigeration though. I'm not sure if my error was in the tine of second fermentation.... thoughts?

    Reply
    • Chris

      3 days won't always be enough time for secondary fermentation. Try a longer secondary and you should be able to see progress. Use the plastic bottle trick. Make sure your lids are tight!

      Reply
  • Jamie

    I am finding that scobys are forming in my bottled kombucha. Is there a way to minimise this (I have tried filtering through 50 micron mesh)?

    Reply
  • Naomi

    So after my second fermentation, when I opened up my airlocked bottle, the contents exploded all over the place. I lost half of the contents and created quite a mess in my kitchen. Any ideas on what I did wrong, should I refrigerate before I open next time? Less fruit, less in the bottle, any tips would be helpful don't want to keep losing half my batch to explosion of this sort.

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hi Naomi - Read the section of the blog titled: "Tips for bottling your kombucha and achieving transcendent effervescence." Happy brewing!

      Reply
      • amber

        Oops, I just left a comment meant for you on another comment. so here it is again- During the second ferment, I keep my bottles in a wine box with the separators in it and a folded towel in the bottom. This minimizes the mess, if there is an explosion.

        Reply
  • tom

    hey there, great words. I just had a bottle explode on me. MASSIVE stickiness adn shards of glass EVERYWHERE! I was not home and it was not my house either, my sister's house where I am staying for a bit YIKES! I have been asked not to brew buch anymore : ( So my question: If I fridge my scoby, how long will it last in a dormant stage?

    thanks!

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hi Tom, you can fridge your SCOBY submerged in kombucha, in a covered container. It'll last indefinitely!

      Reply
    • amber

      during the second ferment, I put my bottle in a box with a towel in the bottom. This will at least contain any explosions.

      Reply
  • Megan

    Thanks for the tip, next time I'll let it go longer for the 2nd ferm.

    Reply
  • Lara

    I'm doing my secondary ferment with pieces of ginger, and a half a raisin for carbonation in glass bottles. I'd like to remove the flavorings before I send it out, but I've capped it with a capper. Do you have any ideas for temporary tops in the glass 'beer' bottles? It's simpler for me if I don't have to bottle in plastic and then transfer. I'm trying to keep the steps down.

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hi Lara, try using flip-top bottles if you'd like to get into the bottle to remove these things. I'd suggest leaving them in though!

      Reply
  • Lara

    Hey, soul sister! I'm a Lara, too! We Lara's have to stick together!

    Reply
  • Ridiculous Lara
    Ridiculous Lara May 11, 2015 at 11:14 am

    I'm such a dope. I didn't realize that it was my own post! she says, walking away embarrassed.

    Reply
  • Lara

    If you store your scoby's in the fridge, do they need an acclimation time before they can we used?

    Reply
  • Hannah

    Hey there! I enjoyed reading your knowledge on buch. I need some advice... I did my second ferment for 3 days in borrowed amber growlers from a friend, but they didn't have the rubber seals :O! I put a little but of my remainig batch that didnt fit into a glass mason jar (also to see the difference) and this portion was way fizzy and effervescently scrumptious. I was disgruntled that the majority of my 1st batch was limp! So what I did from here was bottle the batch again but this time in mason jars with sealed lids. Hoping that it will double ferment even though the carbonation was seeping into the atmosphere. Is carbonation that is lost in the beginning, lost forever, or does this batch have potential to get just as bubbly? Also, I bought some frozen figs from TJ's and sliced them and placed them in these sealed mason jars... If things go as I hope, fizzy and delicious, do I have to remove this fruit so it doesn't rot or get too fermented before I refrigerate it? What are your thoughts about this? THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
    Hannah in Philly

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hi Hannah, mason jars don't reliably hold a good seal, but that's not to say that they won't at all. Any time your 'buch has readily fermentable sugar remaining and is in a sealed container and is warm, you can produce carbonation. You don't have to remove the fruit, it won't get rotten - it's sitting in what is essentially vinegar. I like to keep the fruit in the 'buch. Happy brewing!

      Reply
  • MidwestBuchFan
    MidwestBuchFan May 19, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Hi - I've recently switched to continuous brew. Everything seems good but my second ferment is not working. Do I need to pitch everything and start over?

    Reply
  • […] Carbonating your Kombucha – Tricks of the Trade | Kombucha … – Jul 11, 2014 … It can be tough to eat or drink something for its health benefits when it's a stretch to …. You get into your car, roll down the window, and turn on that hot … Your pitcher will quickly fill with 'buch foam (which you will shortly see is … […]

    Reply
  • […] has built up a good amount of pressure, indicating that your glass bottles will be carbonated (read here about secondary fermentation). Generally this will take 1-2 weeks, but this step is also totally optional - non-carbonated […]

    Reply
  • Lara

    Ok lots of questions today. How about doing the secondary ferment in screw top mason jars with a saran wrap type barrier between the jar and cap? Or how about a mason jar that can be sealed with a vacuum sealer? I know it's not sealed enough for true canning, but well enough that pantry moths can't get into jars of grains and such.

    Reply
  • Lara

    If I'm bottling 22oz jars for a secondary ferment, how much maple syrup would you drop in? I love the syrup over the raisin idea. In terms of extracts, how much would you put into individual bottles?

    And on the bottling front, will a soda bottle give enough of a seal? I'm deciding between secondarily fermenting in individual bottles or in huge batches and then bottling. I'm doing three gallons at a time. I guess I'm wishing there was a well sealed gallon or bigger option I could use. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • Annette

      Hi Chris... this blog was so very helpful! A lot of different information out there,gets confusing. 1) how much kombucha can I drink daily - how much is too much. 2) I let the first brew stand for 7 days then flavor for 2nd fermentation. How long can I let it stand before having to refridgerate? I'm using flip top bottles, but it isn't getting very fizzy. Goes flat after opening. Dead flat after refridgerating.

      Reply
      • Chris

        Hi Annette! Your body will tell you if you're drinking too much - everyone's physiology is so different that there's no surefire way to know what's the right amount for everyone. As far as secondary fermentation, you can let it sit for as long as you can stand not drinking it. Popping a bottle every day will eventually leave you exhausted as you're sacrificing the built up CO2 and waiting longer and longer until it's "ready" to drink. This is one of the most finnicky parts about brewing kombucha! Consider using a plastic bottle model so you can tell when a good amount of carbonation has built up. Happy brewing!

        Reply
  • Deidra

    Great article! I recently started brewing Kombucha and learned a lot here...thanks a "booch"! Haha

    Reply
  • Lara

    I'm wondering if there would be any problem with placing the flavorings in to the first brew. I flavor with ginger and I'd like to reduce steps by putting it in the first brew. Any thoughts on how to maximize the flavor? And would it jeopardize the scoby in any way?

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hi Lara, great question. I have usually stayed away from putting flavorings that might be chunky or are too far away from what tea actually is - leaves. However, I've seen some things work very well. You might have the same luck with ginger!

      Reply
  • Mona

    Hi,
    I recently brewed my first batch of Kombucha with one of your scobies. After a week the balance of sweet and tart was to my liking and I bottled it in a growler and two glass jars. Because it was barely sparkling I left them out on the counter to second ferment. I put orange slices in one of the jars to flavor it.
    I tasted and smelled the kombucha right after the initial fermentation. It tasted good and had the usual slightly vinegar scent to it.
    Yesterday I removed the orange slices and put that jar in the refrigerator. It smelled fine at the time. I left the other two out because I wanted more carbination.Today when I checked on them they had a slight rotten smell to them. Help, what did I do wrong? They were only out for 4 days. Your advice would be appreciated.
    Thanks

    Reply
  • Steve

    I've been brewing kombucha for about 6 months now and have a pretty good handle on it. I usually let the first fermentation go for 7 days. I put it in bottles with berries, ginger, orange slices, etc. I let the secondary fermentation go for about 3-4 days. My problem is that the kombucha is nice and fizzy at room temperature but once I cool it down it is no longer fizzy. If I let the cooled bottle come back up to room temperature it is fizzy again. Any ideas as to how I could keep it fizzy when cold? Am I not letting the secondary fermentation go long enough? Thanks for this great resource!

    Reply
  • Steve

    Mostly reusing GT bottles and caps but I have a few flip top bottles (750ml and 1L) that I have tried and it doesn't seem to make a difference

    Reply
  • Jeremy

    Hi!
    I just bought a corny keg and I was wondering how I could give some foam to my Kombucha ?

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hi Jeremy, you can plug your keg into your CO2 regulator, set your regulator to 30 PSI and let both sit in the refrigerator for a few days. Or you can plug your keg into the CO2 with the regulator at, say, 40, 50, 60 and shake the heck out of the keg. That will carbonate it really quickly!

      Reply
  • Jeremy

    Ok, thanks! And I'll get a nice foam like a beer ? Kind of foam that will stay for a while ?

    Thanks Chris!

    Reply
  • Summer

    Hi. I have some kombucha tea mixed with unfiltered berry juice. There is something that looks like foam on top in the middle of the bottle. Is this safe? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Chris

      Provided it's not dry / fuzzy (which would indicate mold) you should be fine, but as with everything, you decide your own level of involvement!

      Reply
  • Disa

    Hi Chris,
    I LOVE your articles! On my second batch. The first was awesome, though I am also having the same deal with fermentation 2. Great and amazing at room temp... less but still effervescent in fridge. Using Gt's bottles... but I am considering the bottles you recommend. I am not concerned, just a learning curve.
    I am curious.. my second batch is going to town!!! I made a short video yesterday, because the bubbles are really cranking. You can see the ALIVENESS! WOW!
    The first batch (I made my own SCOBY from scratch) took longer to get cranking, but this one is WOW!
    Does this mean I should bottle it quicker?
    I use organic granular cane juice and organic black tea. Only the best!
    Wish I could send you the pics/video.
    Anyway I am a total bucha head now.
    Fantasizing about a starting a buch cafe... do you want to branch out into Framingham, Boston??? ;)
    Thanks Again!
    Disa

    Reply
  • Brandon M.

    Hi there, I am currently on my first batch of kombucha and couldn't be more motivated and excited to do good and enjoy my healthly drink me and my new scoby friend made.
    I have bottled 2 gallons of kombucha of two different scobys ( one that is brewed only with green tea and one that is 85% black 15% green) I have done 10 different flavors as I am a chef and want to try every flavor possible and figure out which one is best.
    I have one big question for my plans though. I am at the 2nd day of 2nd fermentation and when I go to put these bad boys in the fridge i would like to strain out the solids i put in them. Will i completely lose carbonation if i strain quickly, then rebottle, let it build carbonation for a day again and then go back into the fridge? any recommendations or tips will help.
    Thanks!
    Brandon

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hey Brandon! Good question. You'll likely need more time than that for secondary fermentation. You won't completely lose carbonation, but I'd think you wouldn't have much built up after just 2 days at all. If you really want to strain it so there's just 'buch in chilled bottles, I'd still recommend you let your brew go longer. In the future, bottle into plastic at the same time with each flavor so you can get a good idea of the carbonation building up without having to sacrifice it by burping your bottles everyday. Hope this helps! Happy brewing!

      Reply
  • LeRai Frank

    Hi

    Another person indicated that his fuzziness went away after he refrigerated it. I am having the same problem. I am using sling back bottles and am filling. Them clear to the top. Any suggestions on what may be going on.

    LeRai

    Reply
  • Ashley

    Hi, I've been brewing kombucha for about three months now, and recently on my second fermentations (last two batches) my kombucha tastes rotten and smells awful. I'm wondering if this might be due to higher room temps (80-85 degrees) or could it have been contaminated? I don't want to start all over, but I'm thinking I might need to. I have two, one gallon continuous jars going. I appreciate my thoughts.

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hi Ashley - higher temperatures will make your cultures process nutrients very quickly. Try not doing continuous, just use the batch method and see if you get the same result!

      Reply
  • Eleanor

    To the 'buch brewers above asking about airtight jar alternatives: a quick and easy workaround might be to place a layer of saran wrap over the jar, then screwing the lid over it. That's a tip from my grandma!

    Reply
    • Karren

      Hi All, so I tried the syran wrap (plastic food wrap) last night on my 2nd fermentation and the acid of my kombucha at it up.. So because I know I must throw out (don`t feel like eating plastic) I tried it again. An hour later, plastic again starting to fall apart. So maybe not such a great idea. Thankfully I only lost a small amount.
      Cheers

      Reply
  • Jamah

    Hi Chris, I appreciate your detailed post. I recently relocated from San Diego (ideal brewing conditions) to Lake Tahoe, and my kombucha has suffered greatly. I now live at 6700 feet (vs sea level), and our temperatures dip to 50 degrees every night, even in the summer. I have lost all carbonation, I will attempt to leave the 2nd bottling longer. I am noticing though that my 1st fermentation is turning to vinegar very quickly (like 5 days in). I use pre-used Synergy kombucha bottles & locking tin top juice bottles. Any high altitude ideas? (my recipe: 2 1/2 gallons h2o, 6 bags green, 6 bags black & 6 bags oolong tea, 4 2/3 cup sugar).

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hi Jamah, try using 2 of each of those tea bags per gallon (6 total) and 1 cup of sugar per gallon. See how the primary progresses now, on much less sugar, and get back to us at info@kombuchabrooklyn.com or here! Happy brewing!

      Reply
  • Jim

    Thanks for the information!

    Reply
  • Chad

    Hi, I'm playing around with making Kombucha with only "tea based" flavoring and as I haven't reached the state of a finished primary fermentation ( in 3 days hopefully ), I am wondering about the carbonation. I am assuming that I would still have to bottle and leave at room temp for the suggested time of 1 to 2 weeks BUT since I am not adding additional flavors at the bottlling stage, should I maybe initially add more than 1 cup of sugar so that the yeast has something to feed on?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hi Chad, I wouldn't add more than a cup per gallon for primary, I'd just stop primary fermentation while there's still some residual sugar left for the yeast to feed upon in secondary. Taste it every day after 4 days so you can be sure to stop it at this point! Cheers!

      Reply
  • Joy

    Hi! I need to buy bottles & trying to decide what size. When you use a 32oz bottle to carbonate, are you drinking all of the 'buch at one time? Or can you pour into a glass, put back in refrigerator and it will keep it's carbonation for the next pour(s)? We I'm ready to drink I open my bottle, then I recap and turn upside down several times to get the stuff stuck on the bottom mixed in. But if you are pouring a few out of the same bottle would you not do that? Or do you ever get the stuff off the bottom? (looks like "mother" in ACV bottle)
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hi Joy, a 32 oz bottle will still hold some of the carbonation in, but you're replacing kombucha with air, and so you will with time end up losing carbonation. I sometimes drink a whole one, sometimes half, and don't mind the lack or lessening of carbonation in the 2nd half. I like the stuff at the bottom, and usually swirl > pour. Happy brewing!

      Reply
  • Lyndsay

    Hello thanks for the info! I must just be impatient because though I follow these rules I probably refrigerate my bottled buch after only 3 days or so. I'll have to try longer. My question is about the mother that continues to grow after the kombucha is bottled. I always strain as I'm bottling but sometimes when I go to drink it I have to strain again into a glass because there is a slimy bit floating around. In store bought buch, I've seen floaties but they mostly stay at the bottom of the bottle. Mine tends to hang around the top almost like another scoby...resulting in a not so pleasant surprise when you sip from the bottle. Any thoughts?

    P.s. Thanks to this site for a much help in my brewing ventures. I'm on maybe my 5th batch..trying to expand and work out my timing so I always have some on hand. So far it's been a waiting game.

    Reply
  • Ken

    Great blog Chris !!

    I'm on my 2nd fermentation and have bottled in flip top glass bottles. I added blueberry and chia seeds and some of that stuff has risen to the neck of the bottle and seems to be a solid mass of fruit and chia. Is this OK? Also I was expecting the chia to be more "gel" like - like what you see in the store?

    Thanks for any advice in advance !
    Ken

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hi Ken, I find it useful to soak the chia seeds first, in some of the kombucha, and then add them to the bottle. That way there's no volcano-inducing expansion of chia and you can be sure they're stirred enough to be totally separate rather than a glob at the top of your bottle. Cheers!

      Reply
  • Ryan

    Hello. I have been using flip-top bottles for a secondary fermentation and am finding it difficult to control the carbonation. Depending on the flavor, some end up a seemingly endless stream of foam when I pop the top.

    I am planning on using a 5-gallon corny keg to do the secondary fermentation. Is this possible? Can I keep the keg at room temperature to carbonate, chill, then dispense in bottles when needed? Is there a way to figure out when to chill it and stop it from carbonating?

    Or, is my only option to force carbonate?

    Any help you can give to keep me from giving kombucha foam grenades to my friends would be appreciated!

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Chris

      It can be quite the dance with carbonation, which is why I open flip-top bottles into a large tea pitcher if they're overly active. A small price to pay for effervescent 'buch. You should be able to do secondary in a keg, and you can easily monitor the buildup of CO2 by quickly pulling on the CO2 release valve. You could force carb as well, then fill bottles and refrigerate. Happy brewing!

      Reply
  • Christy

    Hi Lyndsay - I am having the same thing happen with the mini SCOBY forming. And my bottles are ready and rock hard carbonated after just one day of mixing in my juice and bottling. Maybe if I strain it through a gold filter (for coffee) before I bottle it will clear more of the bits that are forming together? Or will they form no matter what?

    Reply
    • Chris

      Christy, your bottles are getting some good carbonation due to the amount of sugar you're adding for secondary. I'd say either use less juice, or allow your primary ferment to go longer so there's very little sugar inherently in your kombucha.

      Reply
  • Rebecca

    I am trying to secondary ferment with herbal flavors, such as rose and lavender. These have no inherent sugar in them, and therefore I'm not getting carbonation as desired. Do I need to add sugar to my bottles during secondary fermentation if I'm not using a natural sugar based item? Should I add raisins, cane sugar, or agave to help get my herbal booch carbonated? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hi Rebecca, you can add sugar, sure, but ideally you would end primary fermentation while there is still some sugar in it, that will act as catalyst for carbonation in secondary, regardless of if your herbs have sugar in them or not. Happy brewing!

      Reply
  • […] go on and on about flavoring kombucha, and have covered both pre- and post- fermentation flavoring. We've espoused a different approach than, generally, store-bought kombuchas […]

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  • Margareta

    Newby to brewing kombucha. The scoby that I purchased...can it be used over again to keep brewing additional batches? Sorry if this is an elementary question.

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  • Anthonie

    Hi Chris, I have been researching bottling kombucha and I like the recommendation of a growler. My question is if there is different types of growlers or different types of caps? I had been given a gallon growler with a simple screw-top cap that I had stored beer in. The growler worked well when the beer was first put in but then went flat very quickly once it was stored in the refrigerator (after approximately 3 days). My concern is that if I use this growler (of course after cleaning it) that the kombucha will become less carbonated quickly. Maybe it has to do with the style of cap or seal?

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  • Cynthia Green

    Have you ever heard of using Calcium Carbonate to keep the scobby from getting to large? The place I work starting selling a Kombucha that has calcium carbonate in it and they say it is to keep the scooby from getting too think. I have made Kombucha and drink it regulary and have never heard such a thing. I think they are scamming to public as this Kombucha does not taste like any kombucha I have ever tasted. It is mild and sweet and while it tastes fantastic it just does not taste like real kombucha. I think they are scamming the public personally. Can you give an opinion.

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    • Chris

      Hi Cynthia, great question - it would appear Calcium carbonate is used to alter water in beer brewing. As for its use in kombucha - that would be a question for the company. I'd love to know what company is selling this product, and may have some insight into the unnatural taste of their 'buch. Feel free to send an email over to info@kombuchabrooklyn.com with more information! :-)

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  • Mary Huber

    I just read everything on this site and I have my scoby and the bottles with pressure seals. Ready to start! However, I am VERY nervous about the bottles exploding. Is kombucha that is NOT carbonated as good for you as the carbonated kombucha? Does carbonation add only a delightful "mouth feel" or does the carbonation enhance the health properties of the kombucha? So sorry if this is an ignorant question!

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    • Chris

      Hi Mary! That's actually a great question. Carbonated water doesn't have any recorded affect on health, but as for the presence of it in kombucha - the studies done testing carbonated beverages that aren't water have found issues with health concerns, though these were in the presence of sugar and acids, both of which are in kombucha. I'd google "carbonation health" and apply what you find to your practice. Happy brewing! P.S. I love to drink flat kombucha, right off the brew jar.

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  • Kylie

    Hi Chris, I have a customer who has just purchased a 4 head filling machine, She is wanting to filter as well. They are starting to bottle it commercially and dont want to many 'floaties' in the bottles to put people new to Kombucha off purchasing them....
    Kombucha is new to us (we usually sell into the Wine industry). Do you recommend filtering and if so what micron would you use? Thanks, Kylie

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  • Elle B.

    I was reading an article and found out I was doing my secondary fermentation wrong. I would mix my juice and kombucha then put it straight in the fridge. But I read that you have to leave it out for a few days then add it in the fridge to end carbonation. I just took out my kombucha jars from the fridge after letting them sit in there for 3 days. Will that affect my carbonation?

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    • Chris

      Hi Elle, they'll start refermenting outside the fridge so you should still be able to build up some carbonation at room temperature.

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  • MissChievousRN

    i see 2 differing amounts of time approximated for the 2nd brew- some places say 3 days, some say 2 weeks. what are the guidelines? does it depend upon the size of your bottles? i just dont want to over carb
    im 1st brewing in gallon suntea jars (perfect vessel in my opinion), then im using 16oz gt bottles with hit/miss success but i dont want any explosions! i will start using a plastic test bottle too ;)

    Reply
    • Chris

      It really depends on a number of factors. More sugar in your brew = more food for the yeast to convert into CO2. Also higher temperatures = faster secondary fermentation. Different teas and ingredients will affect the brews in different ways. The test bottle is one of the best ways to observe and appropriately gauge your brews.

      Reply
    • Chris

      Hi, it will depend on the amount of residual sugar that is in your kombucha when you bottle it, sweeter 'buch when you bottle it will create carbonation more quickly, generally. Size of your bottle is less of an issue than is the quality of the lid on your bottle. The test bottle is a great protocol!

      Reply
  • Kyle

    Hi Chris. Great article.
    On our second batch now. Black and green tea with sugar and a very active scoby has the first fermentation done at about 8-9 days (or so we think).

    We bottled our first batch in flip top bottles after 8 days of first fermentation and the flavors were:
    raspberry ginger mint, blueberry cinnamon stick vanilla bean, and lemon rosehips.

    The raspberry and lemon ones were crazy carbonated and on the verge of erupting after only a day, and again when I released some pressure on day 2 of second fermentation. Once we strained out the fruits and put in the fridge, they virtually lost all carbonation (drank within 2 days). Do you think that this might be caused by the short first fermentation? Was there still too much sugar in the tea that it was rapidly reactive early on in second ferm? What would you recommend changing, and would it be okay to leave some fruit in the finish bottle to retain some carbonation?

    Thanks, any info would be awesome.

    Reply
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