Adventures in Kombucha – Continuous Brewing

So it’s been a few months since my I started my Kombucha Adventures, and I wanted to give a quick update… we are in full-on brewing mode over here!

 

At the beginning, I was doing the batch method of brewing, where I would start over and make a new batch of kombucha every time.  For me, this would be a good option if I just wanted the occasional batch of brew.  It is kind of time-consuming due to the washing/sanitizing of everything and the messy clean-up.  I’m pretty sure I personally would come to dread this process if I were going to do batch brewing weekly.

 

My hubby and I decided we wanted to start drinking kombucha regularly, so we switched over to the continuous brew method.  In a nutshell, you brew it in a vessel with a spigot and dispense the kombucha directly into bottles.  Then you simply top off your vessel with more sweet tea.  SO much easier (and cleaner!).

 

The first thing I had to do was find a brewer.  This is something I didn’t want to ‘go cheap’ on.  I wanted something opaque since I was going to be leaving it out on the counter full-time, and more importantly, I needed to find a brewer that wasn’t going to leach anything into the kombucha.  Some ceramics contain lead, so it’s important to find something that is food-safe.  Also, kombucha is very reactive and will ‘eat away’ at metal, so I needed to find a brewer with a plastic spigot, not a metal one.  I’m sure you could find something cheaper at a store/yard sale/Goodwill, but for me, it certainly wasn’t worth risking having an unsafe brewing vessel.  I ended up purchasing a vessel specifically for fermenting kombucha.  It cost about $40 + $10 shipping.  But it is well worth the peace of mind knowing I have a safe vessel!!  Mine is 2.5 gallons.  Here is what it looks like:

 

 

Not the cutest thing, but it certainly works.  It doesn’t have a lid since the kombucha needs air to brew, but it did come with a piece of cloth and a plastic ring to hold the cloth on.

 

Using this method, we make 1 gallon of kombucha about every 5 days!!  That’s a lot of booch!  But if my hubby and I both drink 8 ounces a day, that comes out to roughly a gallon a week.  I share the rest with my mom.  :)

 

It took me a couple of cycles to get into my groove, but now it’s so simple to maintain!  Here’s what I do when the kombucha is ready to bottle, about every 5 days or so…

 

1.  Dispense it straight from the spigot into bottles.  You can add flavorings to the bottom of your bottles, but we have been enjoying it plain.  We dispense about 1 gallon into bottles.  I just eyeball my brewer… when it’s about halfway down, I stop draining it off.  :)

 

Kombucha Bottles

 

2.  Make a batch of sweet tea!  I use 1 gallon of distilled water, 1 cup of organic cane sugar, and 5 tea bags (or 5 teaspoons of loose leaf tea).

 

Sweet Tea

 

3.  Pour the sweet tea in the brewer.  That’s it!  I told you it was simple!

Benefits of the continuous brew method

  • Quicker and less messy
  • Since you are only dispensing half of the kombucha, there is kombucha left in the brewer that is left to ferment longer.  There are beneficial acids that only develop after a few weeks; in other words, the continuous brew method contains beneficial acids that don’t have time to form when doing the batch method.
  • The pH of the continuous brew leaves a much smaller chance to develop mold or other problems that could contaminate your kombucha
  • You can read more about continuous brew benefits here!

 

Some Notes

  • It is so inexpensive to brew your own kombucha!!  For one gallon, it simply costs the price of 1 cup of organic sugar and 5 tea bags.  I’ve been using distilled water as well, so an extra $0.89 for that.  :)  Compared to the $3.50 or so it costs in the store per bottle, it truly costs a fraction to brew your own.
  • Brewing can take longer or shorter depending on the time of year.  Fermentation will happen more quickly in warmer weather, slower in cooler weather.
  • The time it takes to ferment is subjective.  It’s best to taste it every day and find your balance between sweet and sour.
  • A few cycles we were letting it ferment for 7 days, and it started tasting like vinegar!!  :(  With the warm weather, that was just too long.  5 days is our sweet spot right now.
  • You can keep doing this process, only cleaning out the brewer once every 4-6 months!!  Which leads me to my next point…
  • The SCOBY haircut!!  No, I am not kidding.  Stay tuned!

 

 

**Disclaimer:  We are not physicians.  As stated in our disclaimer, information found on this site is meant for educational and informational purposes only, and to motivate you to make your own health care and dietary decisions based upon your own research and in partnership with your health care provider. It should not be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis or courses of treatment.

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8 Responses to Adventures in Kombucha – Continuous Brewing

  1. Autumn says:

    I just happened to stumble upon your Adventures in Kombucha (actually because I accidently used Earl Grey tea in my first ever Kombucha batch and got really nervous! I’m hoping mine works out, as yours did). I want to say thank you for such a clear and straight forward blog with lots of good information on the process, especially for a beginner. Its nice to really get the personal experience from someone who started in the same place I’m in now as a beginner! Assuming all goes well with my first couple batches, I’m definitely looking into continuous brewing! :)

    • Angie says:

      Hi Autumn! I hope your first batch of kombucha turns out, too! Thankfully the Earl Grey tea didn’t kill my scoby. Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment!!

  2. Alexandra says:

    I’ve been curious about continuous brewing for a little while now. You mentioned that you only clean out your brewing vessel every 4-6 months? How do you avoid the accumulation of yeast and yeast byproducts from getting into your bottles? This is how I’ve been doing it: http://www.creativesimplelife.com/2012/12/08/how-to-brew-kombucha-tea/ but I’d be curious to try this new method. Thanks!

    • Angie says:

      Hi Alexandra! Oh my, ever since I switched over to continuous brewing, it is SO easy to keep up the kombucha! I’ve probably been cleaning it out closer to every 3 months (not because anything wrong was happening with the kombucha, just because I felt better about it!), but I have had no trouble with yeast accumulation. That was one of my fears! I would have been really grossed out. :) Now the SCOBY trimming/haircut is a little gross, but my husband does it for me. I still need to do a post on that. But after using this method, I will never go back to doing the batch method. If you have questions, let me know and I can see if I can help!

  3. Tali says:

    Hi Angie, how long the first brewing needs to take before you fill up your first bottle.
    I saw a source who says 30 days, and then filling up bottles every 2-3 days . is it what you do ? Thanks

    • Angie says:

      Hi Tali! The first brew (or first brew after a SCOBY trimming and cleaning out the entire pot) usually takes us about 14 days or so, depending on the weather. After that, each additional brew usually takes 5-7 days, again depending on the weather. Fermentation occurs more quickly in warmer temps, so it usually takes us 5 days in the summer, more like 7 in the winter. This may take shorter or longer depending on your climate. Hope that helps!

  4. Hu says:

    Hi Angie, I’m new to Kombucha and excited to try continuous brewing. Based in the UK I’ve been looking at the following two vessels. Could you please tell me which you think is more suitable? (I’d like to begin brewing on the small side). The first vessel’s tap is higher up. . I wonder if this is an advantage as it allows room beneath for yeast sediment to build up undisturbed and it seems you only need to draw off half of the liquid anyway?

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B00CYIUUDI/ref=aw_ls__1?colid=11HCK6RI1N2AY&coliid=I3LTTF4SKACUQ9

    http://www.captaincooks.co.uk/jamie-oliver-drink-up-drinks-dispenser/p4810#tdesc_9

    Any advice would be much appreciated!

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