How To Bottle Kombucha Tea: Easy FAQ

Bottled Kombucha

Homebrew bottles flavored with rose petals (left) and blueberries.

Bottling is one of the most enjoyable stages of the Kombucha process.

Flavoring your Kombucha (my favorite part!) becomes possible plus carbonation can be increased.

And of course, bottles make carrying your booch around much easier than lugging around a gallon jar or Continuous Brewer.

Here’s a quick rundown of the most common questions about bottling Kombucha.

Got your own question?
Leave it in the comments below!

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Why bottle Kombucha?

Pour Kombucha Through a Funnel to Bottle

This is how I bottle.

Kombucha tastes delicious straight from the jar or Continuous Brewer, especially right from the spigot over ice.

However, one of Kombucha’s great powers is how flexible a beverage it is, adapting well to many flavors with the addition of fruit or herbs.

Actually the possible flavorings are endless. Remember that any beneficial elements present in your flavorings will be passed on to you through the Kombucha.

Moreover, with a few tricks, bottling your Kombucha presents an opportunity to boost the bubbles to try to mimic your favorite commercial brand.

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How do I bottle Kombucha?

Very DIY Bottling Operation From Loving Superfoods Com

A Very DIY (and awesome!) bottling operation From LovingSuperfoods.com

Bottling Kombucha is a simple process.

In short:

  1. insert a funnel into the neck of your bottle
  2. add your flavors (optional)
  3. carefully pour your fermented KT in the bottle
  4. cap
  5. wait 1-4 days
  6. enjoy

If you have a Continuous Brewer, simply hold your bottle under the spigot and use the tap, no funnel required.

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What type of bottles should I use?

A more Exactling Kombucha Bottling Process By Rocking The Stove Com

A more exactling (and equally awesome!) Kombucha bottling process by RockingTheStove.com

I recommend using recycled glass bottles or jars with a tight fitting, non-metal lid (if possible). If your brew is particularly active, store the bottles in a cooler or box so that should an explosion occur, the damage and mess will be minimized.

Wine or champagne bottles work as well, with the added benefit that if too much carbonation builds up, the cork will pop out before it explodes the bottle. Messy though! :)

Flip top bottles are very popular and look fantastic, but can be pricey.

Plastic is an option. The bottle will harden and swell due to the accumulation of CO2. While Kombucha is tested as safe to use with food grade plastic, plastic bottles should be used only once during the flavoring stage and then recycled.

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What flavors do you recommend?

Insert Flavors directly into the Bottle

Dont forget the flavors!

Use your imagination! I recommend using fresh fruit when it is in season, whole or pressed ginger, or fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme & sage are nice).

If your Kombucha is too tart to drink, then add garlic and spices to create a healthy vinegar that may be used in marinades or salad dressings.

In the winter, use dried fruit, jam or juice to achieve your fruity flavors. Dried herbs and spices may also be used at anytime.

Want to know more? Check out this Kombucha flavoring video!

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How much flavoring should I add?

A little bit goes a long way with Kombucha. A good rule of thumb is about ½ tsp – 1 tsp of flavor per 16oz bottle. For more intense flavor, increase the amount used. Experiment and discover your preference.

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Can I flavor in anything other than the bottle?

Sure. If you have extra brewing jars, you can flavor right in the jar. First, remove your culture to either a new batch of sweet tea (don’t forget at least a cup of starter liquid – 2 is better – from the top of the current batch) or to your SCOBY Hotel, then add your flavors and screw on the lid.

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How long should I leave them to flavor out of the fridge?

I generally recommend leaving your bottles or jars at room temperature for 1-4 days for maximum flavor. Taste daily until the desired flavor is reached, then move them to the fridge to preserve this flavor.

Weather will affect the speed of flavoring as your brew will be more active in warmer months.

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How long will my KT last in the bottle before it goes bad?

Although the fermentation process will continue in the bottle, even with a tight lid, Kombucha never technically “goes bad” or spoils. The pH of the KT is such that it inhibits the growth of other microorganisms.

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But the commercial brands have a shelf life?
Does homebrewed KT also have a shelf life?

Longjevitea's commercial bottling operation

Lonjevitea's commercial bottling operation

Kombucha has an indefinite shelf life. Commercial brands are required by law to have an expiration date stamped on them. If you come across a bottle past its date, you may be able to consume it, however depending on how old it is, the flavor may have changed and it may no longer be palatable.

I’ve had bottles of KT age 3-6 months, some more than a year. It definitely changes the flavor as the fermentation process continues in the bottle (bottle conditioning is the term used by beer and wine fermenters to describe this process). Sometimes the results are good, but often it just tastes kind of old and limp is the best I can describe.

Again remember to use caution in where you store the bottles and how often you burp them in order to prevent damage from explosion.

I usually age my bottles out of the fridge, though keeping them in the fridge will cause them to age more slowly.

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Do I have to put my KT in the fridge?

No! Many people (including me) enjoy the taste of Kombucha at room temperature. Using caution, you may keep your bottles at room temperature indefinitely.

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How does bottling increase carbonation?

CO2 is a gas.  When we brew our Kombucha, the CO2 is allowed to escape naturally due to the cloth cover. When we put KT into bottles with tight fitting lids, the CO2 gets trapped, which increases the carbonation. This is when burping your bottles becomes important.

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What does “burp your bottles” mean?
Why and when should I do this?

Burping your bottles is a recommended step when you are leaving your KT out of the fridge. Slowly unscrew the cap, allow the CO2 to escape, then tightly recap. This will prevent excess CO2 from causing your bottles to explode.

Too much carbonation could cause your bottles to explode. Be safe and store your bottles in a separate box, cupboard or cooler to prevent damage or harm and to contain the mess should an explosion occur. Until you learn how active your brew is, your bottles ought to be burped on a daily basis.

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Do I need to filter my brew?

A close up of brown yeast strands mixing with rose petal flavorings in the neck of a Hannah's Homebrew Kombucha bottle.

A close up of brown yeast strands mixing with rose petal flavorings in the neck of a Kombucha bottle.

Some people prefer to filter out the brown strands (spent yeast). Adding cheesecloth or a funnel with a strainer to the process makes it easy remove them, otherwise bottle as usual.

I do not filter my brew so that the maximum amount of culture remains in the KT, keeping it alive. However, I generally pour the last bit of brown dregs from the bottom of the bottle down the drain.

Many people drink the yeast as they are a great source of B vitamins, but to each their preference.

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How do I prevent the ooglies from growing in my bottles?

It is near impossible to prevent your Kombucha culture from continuing to grow, even without oxygen. Keeping the bottles in the fridge will slow the growth of new culture, but it won’t necessarily prevent it from occurring. It’s just part of the miracle of Kombucha that it is always making more of itself!

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Can I drink the ooglie in my bottle?

Absolutely! Many people believe that the most concentrated form of the healthful acids is present in the culture itself.

I treat an ooglie in my glass or bottle as an oyster shooter; open wide and swallow whole. Gulp!

It isn’t required to eat the ooglie, so if you find it not to your liking, simply dump down the drain or into your compost pile.

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If you’re not already on the Kombucha Kamp mailing list,
enter your e-mail at the top right corner of this page
for the free DIY guide and e-book.

:)

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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!
36 Responses to How To Bottle Kombucha Tea: Easy FAQ
  1. Cortney

    I have the flip top bottles. I’ve made two batches that we couldn’t drink, all 12 bottles wouldn’t stop fizzing after they were opened and the first bottle shot it’s contents onto my ceiling :) The first batch sat for 7 days(way too long) and the second batch sat for 2 days. I didn’t know about burping!! My poor scoby has been sitting there waiting. I guess I’ll start some new brew and try again, this time remembering to burp!

  2. Vanessa Tortolano via Facebook

    got any leads on where to get an actual bottling machine??

  3. Hmmm…let me put on my thinking cap and see what I can come up with…

  4. hannah

    Hi Courtney, If that happens again, you can let the foaming KT overflow into a pitcher and recapture some of your brew. Placing your bottles in the fridge will calm some of the carbonation too.

  5. Zoe

    The 1st batch of KT that I brewed for 10 days, I bottled into 10 flip-top bottles and waited watchfully for a week as they sat at room temp (approx 68 degrees) before reluctantly refrigerating 5 of them with no fizz present. The other 5 sat for another 10 days or so at room temp. I took the risk of not burping them at all for about 7 days. Three of those five finally had fizz and after 3 more days the last 2 acquired sufficient fizz. I refrigerated the fizzy ones only to consume them as soon as they were cold enough for my liking. They were flavored and they were DELICIOUS!
    My question is…
    The first 5 (non-fizzy) bottles of KT have now been in my fridge for about 3 weeks now. They still do not have fizz. If I allowed them to sit out at room temp again for awhile, what would/could happen? I just want to know if there is anyway to reclaim the opportunity to carbonate those chilled bottles.

  6. Hi Hannah!!! Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting!!! I love your site and everything that you do!!! :)

  7. Just added your site to my blogroll!!! I would love to help you get the word out!!! Your videos are the best out there!!

  8. Yolie

    Once the Kombucha reaches the 3.0 pH does and it is ready, you can drink or bottle…correct? and if you bottle it does the pH change after bottling?…Do I need to recheck it after?

    • The pH is an important indicator that your brew is protected from invasion by other microorganisms, however, it does not indicate that the Kombucha is ready to be consumed. Taste is king – allow your taste buds to tell you when enough sugar has fermented out of it. The sweeter the brew, the more sugar it contains.

  9. Sherry Morris via Facebook

    seriously need to bottle a couple gallons today…or it is going to turn into super-booch!

  10. What should I do with my 2 gallons of “super-booch”???

  11. lisa

    Hi Kombucha Mama,
    Can I use refrigerated kombucha as a starter liquid for a future batch?
    Thanks Lisa

    • Best to use starter out of your SCOBY Hotel. It will be quite strong, so you won’t need as much. Then, top off your SCOBY Hotel with fresh sweet tea to keep your SCOBYs happy!

  12. annalee

    U r just the coolest and the best. As an “aging” 26 year old dancer in nyc…… Kombucha literally changed my life. My hair, skin, and even depression have been so improved. Im saving $ to buy a continuous brewer….. But even with my gallon pickle jars (i enjoy the process…..I just need more continuous supply) I have saved so much money n EVEN LIKE MY KOMBUCHA MORE! Until then I was just wondering, as the winter approaches…. Do u think I need to use a heating pad on the.shelf? That’s what I did oinitially but then it got warm……. Now I have jars everywhere as my knowledge n confidenc grew…….b ut. I only have so many heating pads as winter approaches…haha….any particular pointers for cold weather brewing? I refuse to return to coffee n red bull! Thank u so much! Love to u and all fellow brewers!

  13. Tony

    Hello, I am new to brewing and have been doing continuous brewing for about a month. I am bottling my brew in EZ cap bottles with about 1 1/2 tspn of sugar (1 liter bottles). I have read that if bottles of Kombucha are sealed Acetone could be produced, is all Acetone harmful and do you have any info on this ?

    Thanks, Tony

    • Acetone is a normal by-product of fermentation and may be present in small amounts in Kombucha. These small amounts are not harmful. If your Kombucha smells like acetone, then it may have been contaminated with a foreign bacteria – in which case you would want to dispose of that batch.

  14. Gretchen

    I am interested in brewing on a larger scale. Any tips? Our town needs some local booch. Thanks. P.S. The SCOBY I got from you was great!

  15. kev

    ginger and blueberry

  16. Amy Rood

    I am having trouble getting my Kombucha to fizz in my flip-top bottles. I have tried batch after batch, in various climates, for varying lengths of time. Nothing changes, nothing works. Any pointers or tips?
    Thanks!!

    • Adding priming sugar or fruit (which has natural sugar) will reactivate the yeast. If you are doing CB, then stir the KT gently before decanting to get yeastie bits in your bottles. Do NOT filter your brew if you do not have enough carbonation as you will remove the yeast which makes the CO2.

  17. Bryan

    In your book you mention to bottle without using metal lids/caps, but I’m curious whether you’ve had (or heard of) success using sanitized beer bottles and re-capping them? I homebrew beer as well, so I always have bottles and caps, and was planning on bottling booch with pop-off caps, but I’m pausing due to your no-metal comments. They do have oxygen-absorbing caps for high-alcohol beers, maybe that’d work? Any advice? Or should I go buy some Grolsch instead and use those? (not that enjoying a few pints of Grolsch is an inconvenient chore…)

    • The Grolsch bottles work great. I believe the beer caps have a lining so that it isn’t metal on the glass. Also, if you store them upright, the Kombucha won’t be touching the cap. We have Swing top bottling kits available as well.

  18. Judy Morris

    When you covered bottling in your manual, nothing was said about sanitizing the bottles. Should they be boiled or just washed and rinsed well?

    • Bottles should be washed prior to use. We recommend using vinegar & hot water.

  19. Howard Wilkinson

    I’m wondering about using a two stage fermentation process. Ferment to the desired PH, then put a tight lid on with a fermentation lock and allowing the yeast to ferment out the remaining sugar………or vice versa. If you ferment out the sugar entirely… as with beer, then the bottling sugar should produce a predictable pressure and carbonation. Any thoughts? The two stage process could be done in the same container.

    • Provided you have a tight fitting lid for that vessel, then yes, you certainly could keep it in the same vessel. Most folks move it to bottles to help keep the CO2 in the booch.

  20. Marianne

    My question is about bottling and burping the bottles. I am new to this and want to understand the process. I have ordered the flip top bottles. I plan to brew the KT then do a secondary fermentation (I like a little fiz and want to replicate some store bought flavors I like). So, Brew, Bottle and flavor with flip top bottle, Three days (in a protected box). Then refrigerate. Question: Do I need to burp the bottles during the three day secondary fermentation? Once in the refrigerator is there a risk of bottles exploding? If I burp the bottles will I not have any fiz? Thanks for your help!

    • Marianne

      I have another question: Can I secondary ferment (with flavors) in a large jar and then bottle after the 3 days. Will the flavored Kombucha still be fizzy or is the only way to make if fizzy to secondary ferment it in the smaller sealed bottles?

      • That is a great way to flavor. If the jar is open, the CO2 will evaporate into the atmosphere since it is a gas. That is why bottling works to create carbonation because it holds in the CO2.

    • Once in the fridge, there won’t be a need to burp the bottles because the yeast is temperature sensitive. You may want to monitor them during 2F because we have reintroduced sugar to the yeast in an anaerobic environment (with the lid on) and that is when they make CO2. If you over burp your bottles, you run the risk of letting all the CO2 out and ending up with flat KT. Balance is key!

  21. Myrna Magandy

    Can you please explain what metal does to kombucha? Is it harmful? Does it decrease its effectiveness?
    Thank you!!

    • Kombucha is a powerful detoxifyer. Metals are sometimes composed of elements that can be harmful to the human body – i.e. lead or aluminum. So if we brew in vessels not appropriate for making Kombucha, it may leach those harmful elements into the KT and when consumed could have a negative effect. Stainless Steel 304 grade and higher is safe to use for brewing Kombucha because it is corrosive resistant and is also used in the beer and wine industry.

      Incidental contact with a metal funnel or spoon likely won’t be an issue because it is for a brief period of time that the KT is in contact with the metal.

  22. El

    If my Kombucha was bottled and refrigerated, then taken out of the ‘frig and kept at 60-65 degrees for 3 weeks, then 75-80′ for 2 days…is it still okay to drink? There seems to be no pressure on the caps of the regular or fruit flavored ones, but a bottle of one made with chia seeds, blew the cap off forcefully when I opened it. I re-refrigerated them all. Are they okay to drink, and should I be burping them all everyday in the ‘frig? What is an indication that I should not drink it?

    • Kombucha never “goes bad” in the same way that processed foods do. What that means is that it can be stored indefinitely. Now, it will continue to ferment in the bottle and the flavor will continue to change over time, so when you go to taste the Kombucha, that is how you will decide if you want to drink it or not.

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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