Three tips for tasty and simple kombucha brewing

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Our love affair with kombucha has been going on for years now. We kept it warm next to heat radiators when we lived in the north. Now we protect it from heat and sun here in the south.

After we moved across the country, one of the first welcome gifts we were given was a fresh SCOBY since ours didn’t make the trip. That’s my kind of welcoming gift.

Along the way there has been some trial, and definitely some error. I had my first case of mold since moving to a hotter climate, which I quickly remedied. And I found a few things that have both simplified the brewing process and made tastier kombucha

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We Began Using a Very Large Vessel

Specifically, a large vessel with a big surface area. Increasing the surface area increased the oxygen flow to the yeasts in the culture, which made them very happy. This helped my kombucha brew faster when compared to the half-gallon containers I was using. A faster turnover means more kombucha for our whole family.

We Started a Semi-Continuous Brew System

Because of the larger amount of kombucha I am brewing at a faster rate, I can “harvest” my kombucha in smaller increments. This sometimes results in leaving 1/4 to 1/2 of the brewed kombucha in the vessel, which I then add fresh sweet tea to. I never wash the vessel in between, either, so not only does this give us at least some of the benefits of The Continuous Brewing System, but it also saves me some dishes.

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We Allowed it to Ferment Just Until It Started to Show the Beginning Signs of Being “Ready”

We like long-fermented, hardly sweet kombucha. Our sons love that “It’s got some kick!” and we love that there’s not much sugar left. But, for bottling kombucha for a 2nd fermentation I have found that bottling it while it’s still fairly sweet, even if you’re adding juice or sugar, helps to create more carbonation. More carbonation = yummy and by the end of the 2nd fermentation it’s definitely got that kick we love.

So, those re the three things that have improved our kombucha brewing.

What has helped you to make tasty kombucha while keeping it simple?

Shannon

Shannon is a mama to four small children, homesteader, freelance writer, and picture-taker. She lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead where they make and eat kefir, kombucha, sourdough, and fermented vegetables.

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Comments

  1. Sherri says

    We tried kombucha before , but I was the only one drinking it after a while. My husband was worried about sugar content and the kids hadn’t adjusted to the flavor. It was overwhelming having multiplecultures going with what seemed like mass quantities coming out. I accidentally killed my skoby and water kefir grains within a week of each other. I really want the health benefits for my family so I want to try again. What are your favorite flavors and what has worked best for your second fermentation?

    • says

      Sherri – My husband’s all time favorite is grape kombucha made with just a little bit of grape juice. I’ve also experimented with whole fruit flavors such as apples, berries, and citrus. All are delicious and easy!

  2. Elizabeth says

    I was watching the video on making Kombucha and I had one question – the water. Does the water need to be spring water? From reading online, others mentioned that you should not use tap water or even RO water (which I have at home).

    So a) Is a certain kind of water important? b) if so, what kind? or I guess c) does it matter?

    Thanks a bunch.

    • michael says

      tap water usually contains chlorine & fluoride. You can boil the water for 10 min or so to get rid of chlorine. Unfortunately you will not be able to boil away the fluoride. If you plan on using RO water, add a mineral supplement like the one sold on the site to re-mineralize your water. You can add minerals to your water if you live in an area that has “soft” water on tap as well. Best bet would be to find a spring/well and use, or find bottled spring water with low chlorine & fluoride levels. Boiling water before hand will ensure that the water is sterile, meaning there will be no competition for the bacteria once fermenting.

    • says

      Elizabeth – I passed your question onto Rosalyn, our resident expert, and she has this to say:

      Regarding the water for kombucha: Kombucha likes a pretty clean water: either filtered spring water, RO water, or filtered tap water. I use filtered tap water myself, and have no problems with it. Unlike water kefir, which can use well water or non-chlorinated/fluoridated tap water, kombucha is more fussy. We have a good article on our website that talks about water: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/water-source-making-cultured-fermented-food

  3. robbin melton says

    I love kombucha, but decided to make my own for financial reasons. I just finished my first brew with two small scobies I was given. I had enough for four bottles that are hopefully carbonating and my brew grew a huge scoby about 9 inches in diameter! So, with my baby scoby, I’m attempting my first continuous brew. I use tap water boiled 20-30 minutes and my brew’s pH came out at 3.0 and has an even hint of sweet and tangy. I added a cranberry lemonade juice to my bottles so I’m crossing my fingers!

  4. Deanna McCambridge says

    I really enjoy reading everyone’s comments. If you are interested in making a lot of kombucha the Healthy Home Economist has a videos on how she does this. Hope this helps

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