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Continuous brew! the way of the ancients!

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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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 +