Kombucha: Batch Brew or Continuous Brew?


Most Important things to remember before you start

Do not wash any of your supplies or hands with soap, it will kill the bacteria and yeast in the SCOBY making it useless. To sanitize supplies and your hands:

  1. Clean with hot water
  2. Rinse with vinegar

Do not use tap water in your brew, the chlorine will kill the it. Make sure any water used has been boiled or is distilled. Do not place your SCOBY in too hot or cold water, it must always be room temperature

1 Gallon (Double/Triple Recipe as needed)

  • SCOBY & 1 cup starter tea/vinegar
  • 8 cups water (boiled for 10 minutes or distilled)
  • 4-6 bag/tsp tea
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. Clean your workspace and supplies you will use with hot water and vinegar. It’s a good rule of thumb to always do this when doing anything Kombucha related.
  2. Boil half the water and add tea. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes before straining/pulling out the leaves/bags.
  3. While warm, add sugar and stir until fully dissolved
  4. Once liquid has cooled to room temperature, pour your sweet tea and starter tea (or vinegar) into your brewing container
  5. Fill container with the rest of the water leaving an inch or two at the top
  6. Put in your SCOBY and cover it with a brewer’s cap or other tight-weaved cloth secured by rubber band
  7. Now you just leave it alone for at least 7 before testing the flavor.
  8. Gently insert a straw beneath the SCOBY halfway down, place you finger over the top of the straw to collect a sample. Drinking directly from container can contaminate the culture. If too tart, then reduce your brewing cycle next time and go to pg. 16. If too sweet, allow to brew for a few more days.  Continue to taste every day or so until you reach your optimum flavor preference.

Here is where the two methods differ…

Continuous Brew Method

  1. When it tastes just how you like it, you pour off 25-35% of the Kombucha. You can do this by using the spigot to add directly to your bottles, or by pouring it through a strainer into another container before bottling.
  2. Once you have poured off your Kombucha, you will add back the same amount of your sweet tea mixture.
  3. Repeat steps 8-10 continuously. However there are a few things to keep in mind.
  • Because you don’t need an entire gallon to replace the amount your have poured off, I would suggest cutting the recipe above in half.
  • Since you are keeping a larger amount of the finished brew in the vessel and only adding a 25-35% of your sweet tea mixture the fermentation time is dramatically reduced, sometimes to just a day or two depending on temperature.
  • The SCOBY you place in your brew is called the “mother”. She will continue to make babies throughout the brewing process. When the SCOBY baby thickens you will want to take it (or the mother) out and place it in the hotel to allow a new SCOBY to be formed. If you take out the mother, the SCOBY that is left will be the new mother. Baby SCOBYs always grow on top, regardless of where the mother is. They may grow in layers at the top and so you might have to peel them apart from each other to keep them from becoming too thick.
  • Even with a continuous brew, eventually you will want to clean your container out from dead yeast gathered at the bottom or from bits clogging up your spigot. When you plan to do that, you can follow the steps below in the batch brew.

Batch Brew Method
9. When it tastes just how you like it, prepare your workspace, supplies, and your hands. Only hot water and vinegar!

  1. Remove the SCOBY and set aside in the hotel, or on a cleaned plate with a little bit of Kombucha. If using a plate, cover with a towel to keep fruit flies and such out.
  2. You can use a funnel and pour your Kombucha directly from jar to bottle, or if floating bits bother you, you can pour it through a strainer into another container before bottling. I would suggest using something like a measuring cup to pour, it makes things a lot easier generally than trying to pour straight from the mouth of the jar. If you are using a jar with a spigot you can pour almost all of your Kombucha through there to the bottle or strainer instead of trying to pick up a gallon or more of Kombucha.
  3. Save enough tea to use for your next batch. (1 cup if you are making a gallon, 2 cups if you are making two gallons, etc.)
  4. Once you have finished bottling all the Kombucha clean and rinse your brewing container, or not. If you choose not to, that’s okay also. As long as nothing has touched the inside to contaminate it you can just leave it as is. If you think you have contaminated the inside of your jar while handling it and trying to pour, or if there is a large buildup of yeast and stuff, it is probably a better idea to do a quick rinse with some vinegar.
  5. Start back at Step 1.

 


 

The Benefits of the Continuous Brew Method

  1. It’s a time saver. Continuous brewing allows you to skip much of the time that it takes to make a batch, wait for it to ferment, bottle it up, make a new batch, etc.
  2. It’s neater. If you are like me, you drink a lot of Kombucha. When batch brewing, I would typically have three 1-gallon jars brewing at all times. Counters were always cluttered with big jars of Kombucha. The CB system is neat and tidy and also looks prettier than a bunch of gallon jars sitting around.
  3. It’s easier. Batch brewing was always messy, no matter how neat I tried to be. I was always sloshing the Kombucha tea all over the counter and then imagine the mess I made when pouring up the bottles for the second ferment! Even using a funnel, I always made a mess. With the CB, I just put the bottle under the spigot and fill ‘er up!
  4. It’s safer. While there is always a risk of cross-contamination with any fermenting endeavor, the risk is much higher with batch brewing, primarily because you have to handle the SCOBYs each time you make a new batch. No matter how sanitary I was, I would, on occasion, get a moldy batch that had to get tossed. It broke my heart every time. With the CB system, the only time you ever touch the SCOBY is when you take it out to clean the system (which is not often).
  5. It’s faster. When batch brewing, you may run out of Kombucha before new batches are ready. With the CB system, you will continuously have fresh, delicious Kombucha right at your fingertips.
  6. It’s healthier. Some of the beneficial acids in KT don’t begin to form until 2-3 weeks into the ferment cycle. Since more of the mature KT is staying in the vessel, you are getting more of those beneficial nutrients in your finished brew.

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