Kombucha Phase 3: Bottling & Fermentation (How to make it fizzy!)
IT'S TIME. All this "growing bacteria in a dark closet while praying and hoping it actually becomes something delicious" is finally approaching the day of proof. I've done my best to guide you through in what I think is the simplest and most sustainable way to brew your own kombucha at home, but this is where you get to venture off and find out what really suits your tastes and preferences.
Personally, I'm always looking for that perfect mix between what takes the least amount of time and what produces the bubbliest, tastiest kombucha. (I mean, I'm betting you'll be in the same boat.) You'll learn from here on out that bottling and flavoring can, and should, be tweaked often until you find what works for you. This means you might let your kombucha ferment for a bit longer, a bit shorter, or in a different area of your kitchen. You might fill you bottles more or less, you will definitely try all kinds of flavor options. If it sounds daunting, I promise it's not! Just have fun with it – experiment!
So, here's what we're going to do. First, I'll tell you how to bottle and ferment your tea to drink, and second I'll give you a few tips and flavor ideas. A lot of you have been sending over DMs through Instagram with questions, so feel free to contact me that way anytime you're brewing.
Cool? LET'S DO THIS.
Second Fermentation: Bottling Your Kombucha
For the continuous brew:
14 cups water (3.5 quarts)
1 cup sugar
8 bags black tea, green tea, or a mix
2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha
1 SCOBY (if you're just joining us, here's how to make it, or you can purchase one online)
Note: I always find it helpful to read through the entire process before getting started!
Begin by starting your continuous brew:
1. Boil the water and stir sugar to dissolve. Brew with tea bags until the water has cooled.
2. Wash your hands and remove your SCOBY from the jar. Place it on a clean plate, careful not to touch any metal as this will weaken the SCOBY over time. Reserve 2 cups of the kombucha tea for your next brew.
3. Transfer the rest of your kombucha tea to a large bowl with a spout (optional, I just find it easier to pour into the bottles this way).
4. Pour cooled sweet tea in to your clean, gallon size jar. Add the 2 cups of kombucha tea and stir.
5. Slide the SCOBY gently into the jar and cover with paper towels, secured by a rubber band. Ferment for 7-10 days, then do it all again! Note: Your SCOBY will continue to grow at this point. You'll see a fresh layer form on the top! For every fresh batch, peel off the bottom (oldest) layer. Toss it or give it to a friend who wants to brew their own kombucha, too!
Bottle the kombucha tea:
1. Distribute your flavorings into each bottle.
2. Using a funnel, pour your kombucha into the bottles, leaving about 1/2 an inch at the top. Make sure the top is secure so that no oxygen can enter the bottle. Set the bottles in an area away from direct sunlight to ferment for 1-3 days.
3. Important! You have to burp your bottles. Yep. All that carbon dioxide builds up and can easily shatter your glass bottle into a million tiny pieces, spewing kombucha all over your kitchen. (It happened to me once and sounded like a bomb.) Every morning, flip open the top over your sink to let some of the gas out.
4. When you're ready to pause fermentation and carbonation, put the bottles in your fridge to chill. Fermentation will slow at this point, but it will continue. This basically just means your kombucha will grow a bit more tart over time.
5. Before drinking, I like to pour my tea through a strainer so that it's nice and smooth.
Tips to Encourage Fizzy Carbonation + How to Flavor
How does it carbonate?
The way you carbonate kombucha is by adding sugar and decreasing it's ability to absorb oxygen. So, not only do we add fruit to make it tasty, fruit is essential to make it fizzy!
It may take a few times around to find out how your like your tea. If you want a stronger flavor, let it ferment longer in the jar. If you want it less sweet, let it ferment longer in the bottle. Find what suits your tastes bests.
My tea isn't fizzy. What do I do?
If you find that your kombucha isn't carbonating to your likeness, there are a few things you can try:
- Leave it to ferment longer in the bottle
- Try a different fruit or puree (remember that fruits have different amounts of sugar)
- Fill the bottle closer to the top
How Do I Flavor My Tea?
This is the fun part! You can try any assortment of fruit (fresh or frozen is fine), juice, tea, even herbs. Here's a general guide:
- If you're using juice: 2-3 TB per bottle
- If you're using fruit puree: 1 TB per bottle
- If you're using cut fruit: 2 TB per bottle
Sometimes I plan ahead here, but there are many times I just turn to what's in my fridge at this point (aka, apple juice).
Raspberry + Lemon + Ginger
Apple Cider + Lemon
Blueberry + Ginger
Simple Syrup + Grapefruit
Cranberry + Citrus
Apple Juice + Cinnamon Stick
Strawberry + Lime
Strawberry + Thyme
Watermelon + Lime
Sweet Hibiscus Tea
Post fermentation, you could also add a drop of your favorite essential oil, mix it with sparkling water, or even make a cocktail. Get creative and have fun with it!
THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU
Okay, not really. But this post officially concludes the #ATDbrewparty series! I hope you guys have enjoyed it and that you feel encouraged and empowered to brew your own kombucha at home. Please check in with me and share how it's going, your favorite flavor combos, and how your day was suddenly brightened as you sipped the kombucha that you made all by yo' self while you pondered the sweet little joys of life. (It'll happen.)
Note: I suggest you read this article from The Kitchn if you're interested in the science behind the SCOBY and kombucha tea.
Disclaimer: If you purchase any item from the affiliate links in this article, I'll get a little moola. And every single cent of it will go toward paying off our debt so that one day we can buy a house!