Kombucha Bubbles: How to Increase Carbonation…for Beginners

One of the most common questions homebrewers have is how to get more carbonation (i.e. fun bubbles) in their Kombucha. Yes, bubbles are fun, and there is something inherently exciting about seeing a fizzy glass of iced Kombucha froth over the edge as you pour.

Beautiful carbonation bubbles rise through amber liquid.

Bubbles add flavor and texture, scientists say.

It emphasizes the “living” energy of the drink, and because it’s natural, it feels and tastes different than CO2 that is added.

Let’s get the basics down before we dive into the solutions:

What is Carbonation?

When CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) dissolves into a liquid and is kept under some pressure, carbonation results. When that pressure is released, so are the bubbles, and that brings the lip tickles.

What causes Carbonation?

As always, there are the natural and the man-made versions. “Forced carbonation” involves mechanically adding Carbon Dioxide while a liquid is under pressure. Natural carbonation requires only the magic of fermentation and a closed container.

But wait! Kombucha is fermented in an open container, uses a cloth cover and requires air circulation. How can CO2 build up? The answer is your SCOBY. As it grows on top, it makes an airtight seal to the sides of the brewing vessel, trapping the newly created gasses inside. Have you noticed your SCOBY developing a lot of holes or bumps? If so, that is the CO2 (and other gasses) trying to escape. Totally normal.

Kombucha Carbonation: What to Expect?

So why isn’t your Kombucha bubbly? Let’s talk about expectations. Most people have experienced carbonation in two forms: soft drinks and beer. In both cases, almost all the products sold on shelves undergo what is called a forced carbonation process, where CO2 is literally forced into the beverage and kept under pressure to maintain the effect. Beer is usually somewhat naturally carbonated but rarely goes to shelf without a boost, usually of the forced carb variety. Modern day commercial sodas have zero natural carbonation, and anyone who has ever accidentally sipped a flat soda knows they are undrinkable without bubbles.

What’s important is that in both cases, the carbonation produces artificial bubbling when poured, and if you pay closer attention, you will be able to tell the difference. Artificial bubbles tend to be more uniform, stick to the side of the glass and do not tend to “interlace” each other. They also dissipate more quickly, are more “aggressive” in the mouth and have a much “harder” taste to them. Natural carbonation, even when it causes the bottle to explode on opening, delivers softer bubbles that tickle rather than burn and look a little more soap-like.

All this is to say that when some complain about their homebrew not being “fizzy enough,” it may just be a matter of perspective. When I pour a glass, sometimes it fizzes up and sometimes it just bubbles along the side of the glass. A little carbonation can go a along way, especially if one is not expecting their Kombucha to look like a Coke when it’s poured. Be more sensitive to the bubbles that are present and you may find your Kombucha is plenty carbonated just as it is.

But I Want More Carbonation! Help!

Okay, okay. I’ve given you the background info and warned you to really be present with your Kombucha and think about if the bubbles are already doing what they are supposed to do. Now it’s time for the tips.

These tips are the easy ways to get carbonation, so I’m labeling them as “Beginner.” The truth is, these are the only techniques I use regularly. Next week, I will post “Advanced” techniques for increasing carbonation. Again, any brewing level can attempt any of these tricks, but the advanced level ones require a more adventurous brewer.

Secondary Fermentation

The easiest ways to get additional bubbles are in the bottling process. Whether you are using the Batch Brew method or the Continuous Brew method, you must bottle your booch to make it effervescent. During this bottling period, the beverage will undergo a period called “secondary fermentation.” Depending on the conditions, either a little or a lot of fizz will be created, and you may even have an exploding (yes exploding!) bottle problem on your hand if you don’t monitor them well!  As part of this stage, there are 3 tricks to employ. You can use one, 2 or all 3 techniques.

The common requirement for all of these methods is: You must have a tight cap for your bottles. Reusable bottles are GREAT, but often the caps do not hold bubbles in well. If you are still unable to get the fizz you want after trying these techniques, try better bottles. You can look for Italian made locking swing top bottles or buy a few Grolsch, enjoy the beer and then reuse those.

  • Fill Your Bottles Completely – Like all the way to the top, leaving just a centimeter or two of space. By reducing the amount of oxygen present in the bottle, more Carbon Dioxide is dissolved into the Kombucha. This stage is also known as the anaerobic fermentation stage, meaning “without air.” In your Continuous Brew or Batch Brew, the fermentation was aerobic (although, under the SCOBY there’s a bit of anaerobic happening also, but I digress). Now we are starving the liquid of oxygen, which induces a different type of action among the yeast and bacteria, which then produces more bubbles, among other things.
  • Add A Little Sugar – What? Sugar? Yes! Sugar is what sparks yeast the most, and the yeast are responsible for the bubbles. You can use a 1/2 teaspoon of plain white sugar per 12oz bottle, and that’s what many beers do to create carbonation, but Kombucha mixes much more symbiotically with pieces of or pureed fruit and juice or other natural sugar sources, and the resulting bubbles can be quite explosive. Frozen, fresh or dried fruit all work equally well and spark both the flavor and fizz of many of my favorite recipes.Another fine choice is fresh ginger, cut into centimeter sized blocks or grated (freeze first to make this easier). Of course fresh ginger is extremely healthful, goes great with lemon juice or any fruit and tends to produce a spicy, more aggressive fizz. About an ounce, or 8-10 small pieces is what I use for a quart sized container, but find your own taste preference. You will see that the Kombucha literally sucks all the life out of these little pieces of organic material, usually leaving them blanched of color and limp.Bonus Tip: The most powerful fizz inducer might be Strawberry Puree! My advice: open over the sink.
  • Leave Them Out of the Fridge – Once you’ve got that Kombucha all bottled up tight with very little air (flavorings optional), it’s time to sock it away somewhere dark and warm if possible. We are no longer concerned with airflow. In fact, the less the better, so in a cupboard or any other enclosed space is just fine; avoid sunlight. How long you leave them out is up to you. The more flavorings you have added, the more closely you need to monitor your bottles, potentially burping them to prevent an accident. Give them at least 2-3 days, then you can move them to cold storage if you like. Mine rarely go into the fridge and continue to ferment in the bottle. I enjoy the deep flavoring.

Those are the basics. Tried these and still not getting any fizz? Next week we’ll cover advanced techniques for improving carbonation naturally that require changes to the brewing method plus a multiple stage secondary ferment for the adventurous.

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Hannah Crum is The Kombucha Mamma, founder of Kombucha Kamp, Industry Journalist & Master Brewer, educating others about Kombucha since 2004. Connect with her on Google +
Kombucha Mamma SCOBYs & Kits ship free in the US!
106 Responses to Kombucha Bubbles: How to Increase Carbonation…for Beginners
  1. We used to do secondary fermentation with fruit juice and after careful split testing decided we liked drinking our kombucha straight from the continuous brew over ice with no additives. Hanna is absolutely right that there is more carbonation in the brew than you might realize if you are used to artificial carbonation.

  2. Beverly Ferguson

    Hannah,

    When the carbonation builds up, and it may do so very quickly in less than a day, it can explode, causing KT and glass to shatter explosively everywhere. Children, pets and adults are all at risk of serious injury if an explosion does happen.

    **Ms. Ferguson’s comment was edited for clarity and tone**

    • Hello Beverly & thank you for your comment. I appreciate your concerns about exploding bottles and I agree that one must be vigilant when bottling Kombucha, especially during the second fermentation stage. That is why I included specific warnings to monitor the bottles closely and burp (the bottles, not you! lol) to avoid an accident, especially when particularly active flavorings have been added. As with all elements of brewing Kombucha, one must be engaged in the process to avoid a mistake. Thank you for reminding us that there are some people who don’t conduct secondary fermentation out of fear of explosions. Your experience is always welcome here. P&L, H

      • Brandy

        I was also told that you can put your fermenting tea bottles in a box and close the lid. That way, if your bottles do explode then at least they are more contained. I thought it was a good tip and now keep my bottles in a box in our laundry room where my children rarely hang out. :) HTH!

        • Gary Sloan

          I place my bottles in a small plastic ice chest and partially close the lid. I’ve never had a bottle explode, but if it did the mess would be contained!

          • Good thinking Gary!

          • nancy bell

            Great idea Gary, thanks!

  3. The wife and I traveled the US and Canadian maritimes by RV for 6 months and I took my kombucha brewing vessels and SCOBY along for the ride.

    As for fermentation and blowing the corks as it were, well, I did just that. After a 5 gallon brew fest, I put the kombucha into used and cleaned wine bottles and re-corked them (1/2 way). Then set them in a box down on the floor of the drivers area. We had the seat swivelled for the cats to sleep in.

    The corks started to blow, scaring the crap out of the sleeping cats. Funny as hell.

    In another bottle I had, opened it in the kitchen and sprayed Kombucha all over our RV as I made my way quickly outside.

    From then on, I’d always open my bottles at the doorway with it open.

    I’ve moved on from wine bottles to 1 litre beer bottles with those swivel re-corking tops. I find that they’re the best.

    • Hi Rob! Sounds like a wonderful adventure and how fun to bring your SCOBYs along for the ride. Good thing you had corks in your bottles or they might have exploded! You are absolutely right about the swing tops; they are the best for releasing excess carbonation without popping the bottle. I love it when my bottles froth forth – fountains of bubbly goodness! YUM!

      • Betty Reed

        have been drinking kombucha tea for a long time and mine had never been carbonated. I really think I would prefer it that way. Each to his own.

  4. I love the idea of the secondary fermentation – Do canning jars work? Or will they explode (glass)? Beverly got me nervous…………

    • Hi Gary. The main concern with canning jars is the metal lid. Kombucha has a pH similar to vinegar which could cause the lids to corrode. You will want to line them with some saran wrap to protect them.

      Also, keeping them in a cooler or box will prevent much damage from being done should an incident occur. If you are vigilant and burp the jars, you should be fine. Just be aware =)

  5. GREAT article Hannah! I’m sharing immediately!

  6. Ailu

    I learned my lesson quick. I opened a warm bottle of Kombucha one summer day and it sprayed all over my kitchen ceiling, leaving me with nothing but a wet head and an empty bottle. So although I like to leave my Kombucha bottles out of the fridge after the second ferment so they can get as much carbonation as possible, I now make sure to chill them for several hours before opening.

  7. So, I decided to do the second fermentation and have added dried fruit to each of the four quart bottles I was using. The dried fruit (one apricot, half peach, goji berries) seemed to work well. I did two days leaving it out of the fridge, burping the bottles each day. Then put it in the fridge. Yet, the fruit rose to the top and mold grew on it. I think that happened in the fridge. Should I take the fruit out when I put it in the fridge? Should I not use dried fruit?
    I scooped the fruit off the top and am still drinking anyway. I do like the extra carbonation and fruit kick to it. Oh yeah, one more question…. I picked up a couple of swing top beer bottles – do they not have to be burped?
    peace, thanks

    • victoria c.

      I suspect the mold was introduced either via the fruit used or airborne when you opened the bottles to ‘burp’ them. Your work area should be away from plants, trash and be clean so new airborne spores don’t get in the brew. I don’t open my bottles, leaving them alone for two weeks in a closet. During this time, I check to see if the tops are bowing up from too much pressure. If bowed, then I place the bottle in the refrigerator, for a day or two, to settle the carbonation before carefully opening.

      Recently, I did open a couple of bottles a few days into the 2nd ferment stage, worried I’d added too many cleveland sage leaves that are very strong. What a mistake, froth came out like mad and it took half an hour to get the air out of the bottle before recapping. I suspect if you plan on opening the 2nd stage ferment bottles midway, it is better to use plastic bottles and then transfer the brew to glass bottles for longer storage.

    • teresa

      I also used goji berries for flavoring and it molded. Haven’t tried it again because I don’t want to waste my kombucha.

  8. smidth

    Hello. Great Post.

  9. Humnkd

    Can you explain how to burp? Do you burp while partially opening the bottle or just tap the bottom while the top is fully on?
    Thanks all!

    • Burping is the act of opening the lid in order to allow the carbon dioxide to be released. There may be a sound of CO2 being released or not.

  10. Merina Amos via Facebook

    We purchased a ribbed (scalloped) beverage container for continuous brewing and the scoby has so many points of contact, that it creates a really good seal. The result is very fizzy right from the spigot. :)

  11. Michele Nuckolls via Facebook

    Thanks Kombucha mama! Great info and so easy!

  12. Blynne

    I’m getting ready to start my very first batch. I’ve chosen to do the continuous brew method. Question… Do baby scobies form using this method or does the mother scoby just grow large? I’d like to have multiple batches brewing and am concerned about getting baby scobies to use.

    Any other words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated! Love your website and information and don’t think I would be attempting this without your knowledge and support!
    Thanks

    • Hi Blynne! The mother culture produces multiple layers that remain attached to each other. When you are ready to thin the culture, you can then use the extra for setting up more brewers or your SCOBY Hotel. Detailed descriptions are available either in the Complete Handbook or in the EZ Upkeep Video Series.

  13. Jasmine

    I have just brewed my first batch! =) I am wondering how I check how much carbonation there is in the bottle/ when I should move them too the fridge.

    • Burping your bottles will reveal how much carbonation is present. Some brewers also bottle in plastic which will swell up as the carbonation increases. Move them to the fridge when they have the flavor you like best!

  14. I’m mostly following these and still having trouble with my latest batch. I didn’t add sugar, but bottled it while still a little on the sweet side…is that not enough? I have mixed results…sometimes fizzy, sometimes (like now) … not.

  15. click through to part II of carbonation tips – it’s in this post

  16. Dana Bosiger Hale via Facebook

    Carbonation is something that I wanted to happen so bad when I first started brewing. I think I’ve gotten the “hang” of it because every bottle spews open like champagne now! ha I wish I had corks instead of flip tops to let off some of the gas a little better. It’s delicious though!

  17. Thanks! I needed the reminders….had read all this about a year ago right before beginning to brew, and just now i indeed missed the link to “advanced” :)

  18. Betty Reed

    I’ve never had carbonation in my kombucha. I like it fine that way. I guess we all have different tastes.

  19. Jackie Dover-Vickery via Facebook

    I. have. never. had . bubbles…..even once. sniff, sniff….I want some.

  20. Anne Tess via Facebook

    Mine *always* has bubbles — LOVE them! :-)

  21. The link is talking about bottling, & I used to have very very fizzy right from the ever brewing batch (as I prefer to use daily from the “live”). I just don’t know what happened to my carbonation :( I want it back.

  22. Nancy Rabe – you may have a brew that has gone out of balance – do you still get good scoby growth or are they thin? If so, you may have too much yeast – here are some advanced techniques you can try but they are involved: http://www.kombuchakamp.com/2011/02/kombucha-brewing-carbonation-techniques-advanced.html You could also try a new scoby if you don’t want to take all these steps: http://store.kombuchakamp.com/Kombucha-Culture-SCOBY.html – if you want to send pics you can do so to customerservice@kombuchakamp.com

  23. Kavita Rosepetal via Facebook

    bubbles are a MUST; SECOND FERMENT! <3

  24. Heather Roberts-VanSickle via Facebook

    mine gets mad bubbles every time! love it! :D

  25. Sherri Korsun Scott via Facebook

    Love my bubbleys!

  26. Nestor

    Hello Hannah,

    How about a jar or jug with hermetic lids? I am using these in the fridge to store extra “booch”. That got me thinking…since it’s a tight seal maybe it can work too for the 2nd fermentation process. Your thoughts? Thanks.

    • Yes! The tighter the seal, the more carbonation it will hold inside. Just be cautious about where you store your bottles. Burping them daily will prevent any accidental explosions.

  27. Andrea

    What if there’s amproblem with too much carbonation? When I open my bottles half of the bottles worth turns into bubbles, champagne bottle style. I end up losing a lot and it is pretty messy too.. Any suggestions for me?

    • The yeast can be very active. To capture the Kombucha, open your bottles over a pitcher in the sink. To dampen the activity of the yeast, store in the fridge.

  28. Nancy Russell

    I’M MOST RELUCTANT TO TRY MAKING KOMBUCHA BECAUSE OF THE FEAR OF AN EXPLODING BOTTLE SHATTERING BROKEN GLASS UNEXPECTEDLY. HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO BURP A BOTTLE AND NOT LOSE FIZZ UNNECESSARILY? WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF A BOTTLE ABOUT TO GO? FOOD GRADE PLASTIC BOTTLES BETTER AND WHAT ARE THEY AND WHERE TO YOU GET THEM?

    • Burping is easy! Simply untwist the cap, allow the CO2 to escape and then close. Doing this on a daily basis ensures that the CO2 won’t build up and create too much pressure. Using swing top bottles are another great way to store Kombucha as the top will pop off when the pressure builds.

      • Tia

        My last batch of bucha was disappointing. One batch made four bottles. All four flavored the same (with ginger) and all four were burped. Only one of the four got bubbles during the second ferment. Strangest thing! (Using Grolsch bottles no less). Trying again now, but I have a question. When you open a bottle of soda like pepsi for example it tends to go flat. Wouldn’t repeated burping of the bucha do the same thing and prevent the fizziness from forming (like in my experience?) Not sure what I did wrong, hoping this next batch behaves better!

        • Yes, over burping will lead to no carbonation because it is a gas and will ultimately dissipate. Best to find balance – it will take a little experimentation, but you should find the right ratio for you after a few batches. Be mindful that Kombucha left in over warm climates may cause the bottle to explode – storing your booch in a cooler or box will help contain the mess.

  29. Nancy Russell

    WHERE CAN I GET FOOD GRADE PLASTIC BOTTLES FOR MAKING KOMBUCHA?

    • Most of the plastic bottles are made with PET which isn’t good for Kombucha storage as it is not corrosion resistant. Some do an initial fermentation in 2L soda bottles to test the carbonation and inhibit explosions. We find that storing our bottles in a closed box or cooler is a safe way to store them. That way, should an explosion occur, the mess is limited and nobody is at risk of getting hurt.

  30. Jennifer

    I’m stopping with the first ferment because I like mine plain. Can I increase carbination by bottling the first ferment and leaving room temperature for a couple days without adding anything?

    • That may be possible depending on how much sugar is left. If it ferments too long and all of the sugar is converted, then the yeast won’t have anything to create CO2. Beer brewers also use sugar to “prime” their bottles to increase carbonation. Try adding 1/4 tsp of sugar to each bottle to build carbonation. That small amount will end up converted but will also make CO2 in the process.

  31. conrad

    hi Hanna
    I am a first time brewer and obviously having some problems.My first batch is going for 2 weeks now but isnt ready jet. It doesnt have the fermented taste and hasnt changed colour, the house isnt very hot and isnt up to the 75 deg that is good for brewing, should i get a heating pad or be more patient for the first batch?

  32. Isaac

    I have done two rounds according to your instructions. The continuous brewing is good and I am getting the bubbles. Thank you very much indeed.

  33. Debora

    I’m brewing my third batch, one gallon with original scoby and the second gallon with one the my scoby babies. My last batch was fermented 3 days past my usual 7 days and I have a heating pad on a low warm level as the house is too cold.
    This last batch wasn’t clear, it was cloudy and too tart, almost vinegary for me, and I like it not too sweet anyway. I only let it go 3 days for the second fermentation and placed in the fridge. What do you think caused the cloudiness, it showed after the 3 days on the counter? I like some good fizz, not overflowing when opening the bottle, but this batch is almost flat?

    I’m thinking all the sugar was used up and I should have added a bit to each bottle when bottling for the second fermentation.

    My first batch was perfect. Maybe I don’t need to have the warming pad on the jars and let it go for two weeks fermenting slowly? please advise, Thank you Hannah!

    • Sounds like by keeping the heat source at the bottom of your vessel, that the yeast has gotten over active. Our heating systems heat from the sides to allow the yeast to fall to the bottom and go through their natural respiration process. The lack of carbonation sounds like it is too cold. You can leave the bottles out for a few minutes to see if that will revive the yeast & increase the carbonation.

      Best to have some heat on the SCOBYs in winter or your booch may turn out flat and lack depth of flavor. Plus you could leave your cultures vulnerable to mold if it is too cold.

  34. Rebecca

    I’m wondering what’s the best way to add chia seeds to my booch? Any ideas?

    • For a 16oz bottle. Soak 1-2 Tablespoon of chia seeds in water or juice for about 20 minutes. Once hydrated, stir into your Kombucha. The chia seeds will soak up the sugar in your Kombucha so you may need to add a little juice or sweetener to balance the flavor. Drink your chia Kombuchas fresh or within a day or two for maximum flavor.

      • Rebecca

        Wow! Thanks for that:) my hubby loves the chia seeds in his drink, but I’m finding that the seeds make an over active carbonation bomb! Crazy angry explosions! I’m experimenting with chia and not doing the second fermentation to see if that helps cut the carbonation. I don’t like both together.

        • How have your experiments fared, Rebecca?

        • Katie

          Hannah (& Rebecca) –
          I have been making my first batch of kombucha over the last couple weeks. I added flavorings and chia and started the second fermentation process on Sunday. I didn’t know you had to monitor and ‘burp’ the jars/bottles during the second fermentation. I came home to a Mason jar with a bowed out and bent top! Sure enough, it was the one with chia seed! Thank goodness I didn’t do a lemon + ginger + chia — that would’ve been even worse! I was able to open it safely, but lost about half of it as it frothed over the sides.

          I know you’re not supposed to use metal jar lids, but mine are coated and it was all I had at the moment! I have bought some plastic ones.

          Mine is too sweet. Do I use less sugar next time, or ferment longer? I did 8 days for the first fermentation, and our kitchen is pretty hot this summer!

          • Good reminder to check your bottles daily – especially in the summer! Glad it didn’t leave a permanent mark on your ceiling ;)

            The longer it ferments, the tarter it becomes. Let it go longer to achieve the flavor you are looking for. Taste daily as it can change quickly, especially in summer when temps are hotter.

  35. Patti

    I am wondering I am brewing my kombucha in a 5 gallon glass container with a heating belt. I live in Canada and its winter here. After brewing (usually 10 days or more) I want to do the 2nd fermentation with flavoring in the same container. I remove my scoby, flavor and wait for the 2nd fermentation. After which I will bottle.

    What do you think of this?

    • I think that is a great idea! Is your Kombucha very sweet? 10 days seems a short time to ferment 5 gallons of sweet tea. Suppose it all depends on your taste preference =)

  36. Keri

    what would you suggest if it is just NOT getting fizzy at all and still sugary after a month of first fermentation? I have checked my SCOBY and he is looking healthy but the sweet tea is not lessening. So I bottled to try second fermentation and it still is really sweet.

    • Sounds like your brew might be too cold. This time of year, Kombucha hibernates unless you use a heat source to keep it at the optimum temperature of 78-80F. We offer 2 models of Heating Strip to make brewing year round easy!

  37. Alicia

    I just had my first drink of my very first home brew! I did a secondary ferment with 100% cherry juice (that RW Knudsen stuff) for only three days and it is very bubbly! It smells a bit yeasty though and I wonder if this is normal? My scoby is pretty thick and seems pretty powerful. It grew a baby in less than two days! And it’s about 68 degrees in my apartment! When summer rolls around I won’t be able to keep up with it!

    • Congrats on your brewing success! Yes, a yeasty smell is normal. Summer is the perfect time to bottle up extra Kombucha to save for the Fall & Winter. Happy Bottling!

  38. Stevie S

    Hi! Love all your info on brewing kombucha…it’s been very helpful to me! I bottled my first batch last week and am drinking it now! Delicious. Much better than store bought! But I do have a question…my first ferment was 9 days for 1 gallon of tea (it tasted right to me) and I bottled with a tablespoon of organic strawberry puree + ginger. I’m using the swing top bottles and when I opened my first one this morning, 1/2 of the liquid came bubbling out! While I’m happy for the BUBBLES, I want to keep more of my kombucha in the bottle to drink. I let them second ferment out of the fridge for 4 days prior to putting them in the refrigerator. Was that too long?? Other than that, I’m extremely HAPPY with my first batch and have 2 more gallons brewing as we speak!

    Thanks for all the help!

    • This is normal. Some folks have found that opening their Kombucha over a pitcher in the sink helps them save some of the booch that bubbles up. Because you pureed the strawberries, that made the fruit sugar even easier for the yeast to consume & create CO2.

  39. Michelle Hernandez

    Hi Hannah,

    thanks for all the knowledge and extra tips on Kombucha. Im so excited!

  40. Kurt

    Brewing first batch so excited!!!I ordered bottles from you,I was wondering how much fruit juice I should add per bottle??

    • A little bit of flavoring goes a long way. Start with adding 2oz and increase from there depending on your flavor preference. Taste, tweak, repeat!

  41. Michael

    Hello! Thanks for all the helpful advice in this article – i’ve been looking for a way to get my KT more carbonated and you have some great advice.

    I’m planning on using strawberry puree for my next batch as you recommended…how much per bottle do you suggest? I am reusing my old GT’s kombucha bottles which are 16 fluid oz I believe.

    Also, do you make your own strawberry puree from fresh strawberries or do you use store bought puree?

    • I use fresh or frozen strawberries – organic for sure. I don’t do puree as I prefer to use chunks of whole fruit. I make a layer on the bottom of the bottle then fill with Kombucha. The puree will be a bit more potent due to the smaller surface area so a little bit will go a long way. Experiment by putting a different amount in each bottle then see which one has the flavor you prefer!

  42. Patie

    I don’t want carbonation – is that possible? And how is that managed?

    • Carbonation is a natural by-product of the fermentation process. To avoid carbonation, ferment for a long time until all of the sugar is consumed (quite tart), then strain the KT into bottles and do not add any flavoring or sugar. Loosely cap and put immediately in the fridge. All of these techniques will reduce the activity of the yeast which are responsible for creating carbonation.

  43. Helen Morres

    1. My SCOBY produced a second layer after the first batch and, not knowing what to do with it, I left in for the second batch. Should I have discarded the one of the layers, and which one?
    2. I live alone and will be away for 2 weeks. Can I refrigerate the SCOBY soaked in tea during my absence to keep it “alive”?

  44. Victor

    Hello Hannah,

    Thank you so much for all your great information! I would like to have more carbonation but I am very paranoid with the introduction of alcohol.
    I need to stay away from alcohol.
    I looked at most of your literature and this is pretty much what I have found:
    “then the bacteria consume the ethanol and convert it into healthy amino acids.”
    So does that mean that there is no alcohol or is there a trace?
    Not sure on how to proceed.
    So far I do my usual 10 day 1st fermentation, then I strain it, and I add grated ginger and lemon but I put it in a container that is not tightly sealed so I do not ferment it too much.
    I would love to put it in a tight sealed container but again, I am not sure of the level of alcohol.

    Thanks for all your help!

    Victor

    • You will never eliminate all of the alcohol. Alcohol is present in soda, fruit juice and your body! The amount and type of alcohol present in KT is non-inebriating and very quickly metabolized by the body. Plus it helps to relax your organism and makes the nutrition easier for your body to absorb. Moreover, Kombucha detoxifies the liver rather than damaging it in the same way that hard liquor or over consumption of liquor might cause.

  45. Jessica

    Two questions:

    1) Do you leave the fruit (pureed or chunked)in the second ferment indefinitely? Or do you strain it before you put it in the fridge?

    2) Do you continue burping the kombucha after it is in the fridge?

    Thank you so much for this wonderful, informative website! Reading through this is what got me into exploring different kombucha brewing methods. You rock! :)

    • You can leave the fruit in the bottles if you know you will consume it within a brief period of time. Some fruits will start to have an off flavor if left in too long. Once it is in the fridge, the yeast should calm down and not need to be burped.

  46. Hannah R

    I just brewed my first batch and it is ready to drink but it looks a little cloudy and has a strong vinegar smell. Is this still ok to drink? Its not very fizzy but I didn’t add any fruit juice because I like it plain.
    Thanks so much for all your information I wouldn’t be able to do it without this website and I live in Hawaii where its about 6 dollars a bottle.

    • Taste is king. If it has the flavor you like, then you are good to go. Strong vinegar smell is a positive sign, though if you don’t want it as vinegary next time, shorten your brewing cycle.

  47. Mark

    So I put one cherry in a qt flip top bottle, let it set a week and opened. It was like opening champagne. Lost most of the bottle. It literally shot out the neck. Do I need to open it every several days to release pressure? It was on refrigerated. What remained was great as far as fizz goes.

    • Burping bottles is recommended to prevent explosions (either of bottles or Kombucha!). If your brew is particularly frothy, open over a pitcher to collect any spillover.

  48. Juliette

    I love your website, you have help my confidence levels tremendously! Thank you, I just did a second brew today of eight different flavors with different types of glass bottles, jars. I will now go to the garage and put them in a cooler just in case we have an explosion, WOWzerssss, one just popped as I am typing, LOL, running f.a.s.t., for the c.o.o.l.e.r, lucky it was one that had a cork! This stuff is going super fast! Whoot….:0)AWESOMNESS IN THE MAKING….:0)

  49. Sandi Taylor

    I will be getting ready to put my 2nd batch into bottles in a day or so when my headache leaves. I just wanted to say that I got the 16oz clear bottles with the swing tops to start with and have not had a problem except for “uncorking” to burp the bottles and later on to drink it. The swing tops fit tight indeed! I have a bruised knuckle from this as I have to use a spoon to pry it up! LOL I am learning how to get my knuckle away. Enough of this part.
    I personally think it was a good idea for me to start with these bottles because they are not gonna explode easily I don’t think since they are thick glass.

    Also letting you know that out of all of my first batch I liked the taste of the plain that I squirted in the flavoring for water stuff “Mio” like, but I used Walmart’s brand of Great Value Energy with caffeine and it has B vitamins in it and Berry Blast flavoring. I see it is called a drink enhancer. lol Anyway, i also made one with this and the others I put in strawberries and ginger pieces. I liked the one with the Berry Blast flavor the best and the color is really pretty! I think I will do this with all of my bottles this next time. I may add just a few fresh ginger pieces because ginger is a help for picky tummy’s like mine. Next time I go to the store I will see if I see a flavor I might like to try.
    One thing about the carbonation … I kept my bottles out of the fridge for 3 days and burped daily. Funny thing is, mine seem to have gained carbonation after I put them in the fridge! Is this a normal thing? Maybe I didn’t notice the carbonation until it was cold or something? I also had added too much sugar!! I can barely take it that sweet! I am gonna definitely try adding less! My hubby hasn’t had the nerve to start drinking it yet. A friend of his tasted it and said it tastes like wine to him.
    I am chatting too much here. I did want to say that my first baby is beautiful!!! It is so white and healthy looking! Bless its little heart!!
    Happy Brewing everyone!
    Sandi

    • A towel over the top will help you ease the caps off more gently. I banged my knuckle once and I’ve been “gun shy” ever since. Using the towel allows me to control the speed at which the gas escapes.

  50. miumiu

    Thank you for the info

  51. larry

    Hi, Could you explain to me the difference between first and second fermentation. Is the second in the bottles? I do three days on the counter burping each day and then refrigerate.

    • Primary fermentation is done in the brewing vessel with the tea, sugar and SCOBY. Once it has the flavor you prefer, then we put it into bottles – during 2F, you can add fruit, herbs or other flavorings to create more carbonation and added health benefits. We keep the flavorings separate from the SCOBY to protect it from any oils that may cause an adverse reaction to the mother.

  52. Forest

    Hannah, when the second fermentation is done do you strain the tea again or leave the ginger bits ( i’m going to use ginger ) inside the bottles ? Also, when you say freeze the ginger first is that peeled & chopped ginger and is it necessary to freeze it ?

    • Freezing the ginger makes it easier to cut but is not a necessary step. As for how I do my Kombucha, I flavor in larger batches, then strain into bottles for storage. I like to bottle age my KT for a week or two before drinking (I have a surplus handy so I always have enough) =)

  53. Glenda

    I have a 2 litre Mason Jar with airlock lid used for fermenting vegetables
    Can this be used for second fermenting
    Then bottle the KT to put it into refrigerator
    Thanks for all the helpful information
    Regards
    Glenda

  54. Simon

    Hi Hannah, thanks so much for this great website. I just brewed and bottled my first batch ever, and I have been extremely pleased with the results.

    However, mine was not very carbonated (but I am still greatly enjoying it nonetheless). I have read from some sources that in order for there to be much carbonation, it is necessary to stop the original fermentation 2-3 days BEFORE it reaches one’s “preferred” sweetness/tartness (which I guess is made up by the 2-3 day long secondary fermentation).

    I checked the taste starting on day 7, and even though it didn’t seem too vinegary then (the day I bottled/flavored), I tried two different kinds after they had been secondary fermenting for almost 48 hours, and they tasted vinegary, which makes me wonder whether I should have probably bottled them sooner (my next batch shouldn’t be as vinegary, because I didn’t put distilled vinegar in that batch, unlike in my current batch).

    Also, I believe I may have left too much air in all my bottles, so I will do follow your guidelines and see if that doesn’t produce more fizz.

    Do you think that only fermenting for 5 days or so, prior to bottling, takes away from the beneficial properties of kombucha?

    • Everyone finds their brewing rhythm over time. Bottling earlier in the process leaves more “sugar” to convert to carbonation in the bottle. Taste & test and Trust YOUR gut! You will find what works best for you!

  55. Linda

    i am new at kombucha but am on my second batch, the first one was great and am enjoying the multiple favors i created but it took a long time

    the second batch, i keep by the heat register and periodically turn on the heater, the scoby has doubled in size. cant wait to savor this batch

    my ? is continously brewing can i have more info on exacting the technique this requires?

    • Continuous Brewing is covered in detail in our Complete Handbook – Chapter 5 & Chapter 8. It also includes recipes, flavoring tips & more! The right brewing conditions are key to tasty booch. Just like learning the Hokey Pokey, it takes some practice to get the steps but once you have them down, you will turn yourself about without even thinking about it ;)

  56. Lori

    Hi!
    I did get some carbonation using chia/grape juice and gogi berries. I’m using strawberries today with candied ginger. I found that setting the bottles near my continuous brewer with the heating mat helped form the carbonation. If I burp will they still continue to form carbonation or go flat? Also if I try what you do and do a second ferment in one big vessel with fruit then pour into bottles do you leave those individual bottles out to carbonate or will they still go flat?

    • There is only so much CO2 that the yeast will produce so over time, if you keep burping the bottles, all of the CO2 will dissipate. Best to burp as needed, then move to the fridge as soon as they have the flavor you prefer. If you flavor in a larger vessel, then strain off the fruit and decant into bottles, as long as they are tightly capped, they will build carbonation.

  57. Travis

    I have been second fermenting for 2-3 days with great success but always have baby scobys and yeast buildup in the bottles. It makes it hard to drink on the go. Could I strain carbonated kombucha into new bottles and recap then fridge to remove this? Would they keep their carbonation? I have been priming with fruit juices like blueberries, raspberries etc. Thanks

    • They will lose a little fizz when you strain them but may rebuild in the bottle once recapped. Alternately, you can strain before drinking to remove any particles you prefer not to consume. Try it both ways and see which you prefer!

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Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

How does it work?

By changing the starting ratio from…
1 Part KT:9 Parts Starter (orignial method)
to
3 Parts KT:1 PART Starter Liquid (CB method)
…the brewing cycle is dramatically reduced (just 1-2 days to complete).

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

What about the Sugar?

Your colony of bacteria and yeast will be hungry and will very quickly process the small amount of sugar into mature KT.

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

I don’t want to take on more work.

Actually, CB results in less work.  One example: a more streamlined bottling experience, without the need to lift your brewing vessel, clean it every week or deal with the mess afterwards.

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

I can customize the flavor?

Sure, just drain mature KT and add starter liquid to taste.  Or for bottles, flavor as desired – no funnel, no mess!

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

It’s actually healthier?

So says Michael Roussin and experts worldwide.

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

Will I have too much Kombucha?

Not at all.  Having it on tap will change your perspective.  Plus, you’ll find friends, family and neighbors eyeing your Kombucha set-up with envy and maybe even helping themselves to a fresh glass.

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

Really? You’re telling me it’s fun?

Yes.  With a straight face.  It is.

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

I’m nervous. Is it hard?

Don’t be nervous.  You have the experience of hundreds of homebrewers backing you up in the form of my detailed instructions and maintenance plan.  You will be guided along the way.  You will save time and effort.

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ