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At some point, transporting Kombucha is going to be an issue. Whether you are moving SCOBYs to your new home or want to bring Kombucha on a plane to share with friends, traveling with Kombucha is possible.
That said, there are important considerations to maintain the health of the cultures and brew when taking Kombucha on a plane or driving trip. Follow the suggestions below for best results.
*Note: We love to make all kinds of ferments and share them when we travel. The basic concepts in these tips apply to any cultures or ferments you would like to bring with you when visiting or moving.
Whether it’s JUN, Milk Kefir, Water Kefir, homemade sauerkraut, kimchi, or any other ferment you like to make at home, sealing it up tight is critical.
- Transporting Kombucha by Plane
- How to Bring a SCOBY on a Plane
- How to Fly with Kombucha In Bottles
- Transporting Kombucha by Car
- What to do with Kombucha when on Vacation
- Brewing Kombucha in an RV or on a Boat
Transporting Kombucha by Plane
Keep in mind that Kombucha has a low viscosity similar to water and can leak. Air pressure in flight can make this worse in some cases, so be sure to follow the below tips when transporting Kombucha. You don’t want to arrive with smelly clothes and no starter liquid!
Can I fly with a SCOBY?
There is no restriction on flying with just the SCOBYs, which are made of bacterial cellulose, so technically you could bring them in your carry-on bag. However, without starter liquid, the brew will not be the same. And we have heard more than one story of SCOBYs being unfairly confiscated by security as a precaution.
Because airlines restrict the amount of liquid we can bring into the cabin to 3 ounces, many people wonder how to bring a SCOBY on a plane along with enough starter liquid. The best method is to securely pack the SCOBY and starter liquid for Kombucha in checked luggage.
How to Bring a SCOBY on a Plane
To minimize leaking, place the SCOBY(s) and starter liquid into a ziplock bag (THRIVE, AMZ) and close tightly. Wrap the bag in a small towel (THRIVE, AMZ) and seal it in a larger plastic bag (THRIVE, AMZ). The towel helps absorb any leakage that may happen. Pack inside the luggage. You could also wrap the outer bag in a second towel for an additional layer of protection.
Or to reduce leaking even more, keep them separate. Pack the SCOBY(s) into a ziplock bag with just enough liquid to stay wet during travel. Then fill a plastic or travel bottle (AMZ) with mature Kombucha to act as starter liquid. Close tightly and apply packing (AMZ) or duct tape (AMZ) around the lid. Then wrap the SCOBYs and starter liquid in the towel and second plastic bag.
*Note: If not taped, the bottles will leak!
When you arrive, move the SCOBYs and liquid to a normal vessel with cloth cover so they can breathe again.
How to Fly with Kombucha In Bottles
While taking Kombucha on a plane is not easy, there are times when it’s just too important to leave your bottled brew behind. Maybe you’re going somewhere that doesn’t have any ready made Kombucha to buy? Or maybe your brew is the only one you can enjoy? Or perhaps you just have to show your aunt that your booch is the best! No matter the reason, we’ve received more than a few last minute emails that can be summarized as “oh no I wasn’t thinking about this but how can I bring Kombucha on a plane right now?!?!”
Just as with the SCOBYs and starter liquid, Kombucha in the bottle can leak in travel, especially due to the air pressure. If possible, it’s important to store the bottles upright to minimize this issue. There are a variety of products already available that can hold your Kombucha bottles safely in checked luggage. These reusable padded bags have a triple seal already included. While these bags inflate for an extra level of protection from breakage.
Flying with lots of Kombucha – Ship Instead?
If you plan to bring at least 6 bottles, a dedicated box like this one could be a good solution. You can check it and pick it up just like your other bags.
And it appears a few people use the padded sleeves with this 6 carrier box to maximize protection. Again, we would recommend taping the lids of the bottles to prevent additional liquid from seeping through the seams.
These 6 pack carriers may also be a good choice if you just want to ship the Kombucha somewhere. Keep in mind that shipping full bottles of liquid will be expensive.
CLICK HERE for more on Choosing Safe Bottles for Kombucha and Other Ferments
Transporting Kombucha by Car
Whether permanent or just for a vacation, when the time comes to move your brewing operation, most people do so by car or truck. This is a simple and painless way to transport Kombucha SCOBYs and starter liquid. However, even in a car the Kombucha can leak as it sloshes around, so follow these tips to prepare.
Moving with Kombucha SCOBYs
The first step is moving SCOBY(s) and liquid to a glass jar with a screw on lid (preferably plastic to avoid corrosion). Do not fill the jars more than 75%. If you have it, place a piece of plastic wrap over the mouth of the jar, then screw the cap over the plastic.
Place the jar(s) in a box, or better yet a cooler with a lid (AMZ) if available. Surround the jars with dish towels to absorb any liquid that escapes from under the lid. The extra layer of plastic will help but it’s not spill proof, so always keep the booch upright as you travel. Wedge the box or cooler into a low location in the vehicle, which reduces the sway of the liquid.
After you arrive at the new location, replace the breathable cloth covers as soon as possible. And keep in mind that the first batch or two brewed after a move may not turn out exactly the same as before, but eventually the cultures will adapt and the flavor should follow.
*Special Note: Leaving your brewing set up in the car while exposed to full sun will kill the cultures pretty quickly if the temperature rises over 100 degrees, so it’s important to park in covered areas or bring the brew inside your location if you plan to leave the car for an extended period of time.
Transporting Bottled Booch in your Car
Just like with the jars, it’s important to keep the bottles upright at all times. The same cooler or box that works for the jars should be a good option for bottled Kombucha too.
When you are traveling, your bottles will get more jostled than usual. If you normally have good carbonation in your brew, open the bottles carefully. The extra motion could build up more pressure than normal, so examine closely prior to opening to avoid spraying everywhere.
Time to Burp the Booch
Especially when you are traveling, your bottles will get shaken up by the movement of the vehicle. Check on your bottles from time to time to make sure that none of them are over-pressurized or leaking. To prevent the buildup of too much gas, burp your bottles; that is, open the top to release the air pressure. Ah! That feels better.
Leave Your Kombucha Behind?
Sometimes you will have to travel and won’t be able to bring Kombucha with you. Of course these days you can locate Kombucha at almost any grocery store, plus health food stores, restaurants, bars, and more. Bringing your bottled Kombucha with you is not really necessary in most cases.
Take the opportunity when traveling to become a “Kombucha Tourist” as we say, sampling the local and regional brews as you make your way to different locations. Some breweries even offer tours, call ahead to find out. You may find inspiration for your homebrew flavors while on the road!
We also recommend Kombucha Concentrate as the perfect way to take the essence of Kombucha on the road in a convenient 1 ounce container (THRIVE, AMZ) that you can keep in your purse or carry-on bag. Hannah even brought it to Egypt and it helped her avoid King Tut’s revenge 😉
What To Do With Kombucha When On Vacation
If you’re going on vacation and have decided to leave the Kombucha brew behind, what should you do with it? Assuming you will return to the brew within a couple of months, you can simply leave it alone.
As long as the cultures have enough liquid, whether it’s a Batch or Continuous Brew, when you come home the cultures will still be hydrated and you will have plenty of starter liquid to begin again.
If you don’t have much liquid left, consider brewing a fresh batch before leaving to maximize. Depending on how long you are gone, you will either have sparkling, delicious Kombucha ready to welcome you home, or great sour starter liquid for the next batch.
Plus you can use the extra sour Kombucha you have to make hair tonic, facial toner, cleaning fluid or marinade.
Or if you already have a SCOBY Hotel, simply make sure that is refreshed before leaving.
*Note: We never recommend storing your SCOBYs or SCOBY Hotel in the refrigerator. CLICK HERE to learn more.
Brewing Kombucha In An RV Or On A Boat
If you’re not just transporting Kombucha but actually brewing Kombucha or other ferments while on the move, that is perfectly fine. You shouldn’t have any specific brewing problems, however the brew may behave differently.
SCOBY formation may be lessened by the consistent motion, and the movement may actually mean the brew is ready a little sooner. You may also need to make special arrangements to ensure Kombucha doesn’t end up everywhere on a bumpy ride!
In general when in these situations it’s best to brew in vessels that have a screw on lid which can be added when it’s time to move. Then remove the lid and replace the cloth cover once you have arrived or the ride has smoothed out again.
LauraJanuary 29, 2023 at 5:50 am
How long can a SCOBY last in a plastic bag? I transported it and am waiting on my vessel to arrive. It’s been lounging in plastic for 19 days now….
Anthea TayagJanuary 30, 2023 at 9:25 am
Unopened SCOBYs in its original packaging will last indefinitely as long as it is kept at room temp (70-80F) and away from direct sunlight. If any other plastic bag, it bag must be airtight otherwise the SCOBY will continue to be active and may cause the bag to bloat. If you are not able to completely seal the bag, place the SCOBY in a glass jar (with starter liquid and sweet tea) and cover with a tightly woven cloth with rubber band. Store in a room temp location away from direct sunlight until you are ready to brew.
EleanorSeptember 10, 2020 at 7:55 pm
In regards to flying with a SCOBY across the country, should I be worried about the temperature or altitude in a checked bag?
Hannah CrumApril 2, 2021 at 6:05 pm
No – we’ve traveled with them numerous times in checked luggage and they always arrive safe and ready to brew
AmandaAugust 20, 2019 at 6:27 am
So… what if you already put your culture in the fridge? Can I still take it out and use it? I just saw your post and it’s been in the fridge for a couple weeks. I’m hoping it can still be restored!
Hannah CrumAugust 20, 2019 at 6:29 am
Yes, go ahead and take it out. Storing it at room temp will ensure that it will be ready to brew whenever you want to use it. Long term cold storage can cause the culture to go dormant and it may or may not revive.