I have been religiously making Kombucha for about 4 years now. I drank commercially made “booch” long before that, here and there as the budget allowed. I always enjoyed it. But I traveled a lot for work so making it myself was not practical.
When I began my Kombucha making journey I decided that I wanted to go with the batch brewing method. It seemed simpler to me. If I forgot about it for several weeks, I wouldn’t really waste much and it wouldn’t be a big production to start over.
After a couple of years making 3 gallons of Kombucha weekly, I started to tire of the batch method. It was messy, time consuming, and not always practical with a toddler on the loose. Funny how quick those little hands are when they see a huge jar of booch on the counter!
But even though I knew I needed to make the switch, continuous brew Kombucha just seemed so daunting.
Well, two years later and I finally made the plunge. I am seriously kicking myself for not doing this sooner but at the same time, the universe works in mysterious ways because had I switched to the continuous brew method long ago, I probably would not have this gorgeous handmade crock on my counter!
What Is The Continuous Brewing Method?
Simply put, continuous brewing is a process by which you take away some finished Kombucha and add more sweet tea to replace the Kombucha you took away. This process can continue indefinitely.
Why Make The Switch?
I will give you ten reasons why I personally feel that continuous brewing is the better booch brew method.
More health benefits! There is a broader array of bacteria and other beneficial compounds in the final product. Hannah over at Kombucha Kamp explains it like this: “While regular brews of Kombucha are healthy, researchers have noted that when homebrewers allowed their Kombucha to ferment longer than 10-14 days, as you do in a Continuous Brewing System, an even greater number of beneficial acids formed in much higher concentrations than in shorter brewing cycles. In fact, shockingly, some of the absolute best acids for your health don’t begin to form until 2 weeks into the fermentation process. Some not till 21 days into fermentation. Once you’ve begun using your Continuous Brew, not only will the acids be expressed more fully, the bacteria and yeast will have time to mature. What worldwide researchers have discovered is that some of the acids found in the more mature Kombucha brews can successfully bind to toxins and allow the body to flush them from the liver and gut more efficiently than without Kombucha.” That seals the deal for me!
No lifting large glass containers. No spilling half your brew. Most continuous brewing vessels have spigots which make it super easy to fill your bottle or cup with booch either to drink immediately or to prepare for a second fermentation.
You can make a large batch of sweet tea and keep it in the fridge for a week or so, using what you need when you need it. This saves time. Brew a lot once a week instead of every few days.
You generate fewer dishes and there is much less sanitization needed. With batch brewing, you have to remove the SCOBY with super clean hands or super clean wooden spoons. You have to place it on a super clean dish. You have to use a super clean funnel to move your Kombucha to the next bottle. Blah, blah, blah. With continuous brewing, you do not need anything but your bottles for a second ferment or your glass to drink it fresh from the tap! And you only need to clean your vessel a couple of times per year.
There is a decreased mold risk as your SCOBY stays in the liquid at all times. With batch brewing, you open the door for contamination and mold since you are handling it often. You have no need to handle the SCOBY in the continuous brew method (except for twice yearly cleaning) so unless you forget to put the cloth cover on the top of the crock or dispenser, you should have a happy and healthy SCOBY.
Saves space! With batch brewing, I had to bottle all of the booch at once which often meant 6 flip-top 36 ounce bottles either on my counter for a second ferment or in the fridge until I drank it all. And then there was the various jars I was brewing in. My kitchen was congested! Now, I have one crock that lives in its special place on the counter and I just draw off what I need for 2 days. Now my problem is what to do with all the extra bottles and not how I am going to cram them all into the fridge!
Continuous brewing is very forgiving. With batch brewing, if you let it go, you get some really strong, vinegar like booch. If you let your continuous brew go a bit too long, you can remedy it easily by just drawing off a bottle full and adding more fresh sweet tea.
Less risk of running out of Kombucha! It only takes 2-3 days for a continuous brewing system to turn that fresh tea into Kombucha, whereas with a batch brewing system, it takes 10 days or more depending on your climate. If you run out 4 days into your batch brew session, you have to wait almost a week for new booch! You never have much of a wait time, if any, once you get your first batch of Kombucha established with the continuous brew method.
Better flavor! I was floored when I tried my first taste of continuous brew booch! It was divine! Truly. The flavors were way more complex than those found in a batch brew. This is because with continuous brewing, about 70% of the mixture is fermented kombucha, with only about 30% being sweet tea. With batch brewing, only about 10% of the liquid is fermented kombucha, and the rest is sweet tea. Huge difference eh?
Way more fun! Yes, fun! With batch brewing, I sort of dreaded bottling day. It was a mess to be honest and I get a little edgy around messes. But the simplistic nature of continuous brew Kombucha allows me to relax into and truly enjoy the process both as a means of taking care of my body but also as an art form if you will. Seriously, creating Kombucha is kind of like creating art. Each batch is a new masterpiece with an entire crock full of potential material waiting for you!
Not All Continuous Brewing Vessels Are Created Equal
Sure, you can march into a big box store and pick up a glass beverage dispenser with a nifty little spigot on the cheap. But chances are, the dispenser is made in China which could mean a product filled with lead. Additionally, the beverage dispensers that I found in stores had plastic and metal spigots, both materials of which can leach contaminants into the tea when they remain in contact with acid/kombucha tea. No good.
The best kind of vessel to use is one with a wood and cork spigot. The vessel itself can be made of porcelain, stainless steel, or lead free glass (although you will need to keep a glass vessel in a dark place as light messes with the brew!). You can also use an oak barrel (fun!) or what I have, a handmade stoneware crock.
Now, I do not want this to discourage you from making the switch to continuous brew Kombucha by making it seem all complicated to pick the right vessel. You don’t have to invest an arm and a leg to have your own high quality continuous brew vessel. Kombucha Kamp (my affiliate partner) offers all kinds of brewers in a wide range of packages. You can also just purchase the brewer by itself! I suggest you head over to their website to learn more about each type of brewer. And while you are there, sign up to receive the FREE Kombucha Recipe and DIY Guide. There is a lot of great info in there!
Until next time when I tackle the topic of second ferments for Kombucha making!