I have been religiously making Kombucha since 2010. 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 kombucha on the counter!
But even though I knew I needed to make the switch, continuous brew Kombucha just seemed so daunting.
It took two years but I finally made the plunge. Since that time I have gone back and forth between continuous brew kombucha and batch brew. When I moved to Arizona from Northern California I had to get used to the whole new temperature situation and went back to batch brewing kombucha while I figured my new climate out.
Ultimately – I ended up back with my beloved continuous brewing method.
What Is Continuous Brew Kombucha?
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 From Batch Brew Kombucha?
I will give you ten reasons why I personally feel that continuous brew kombucha is better than the batch brew method.
1. 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!
2. 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 kombucha either to drink immediately or to prepare for a second fermentation. Trust me – there was always a lot of spilled kombucha with the batch brew method. That also meant sticky counters and floors. If you know anything about me, you know that I cannot handle sticky anything.
3. 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. Yes, you can obviously forget that you are running low or have run out but even if that happens you just brew some more which you would have done if you were using the batch brew method anyway.
4. 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 brew kombucha, 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. Yes – only a couple of times per year. Trust me – the time spent on sanitation efforts required for batch brewing is huge.
5. 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. (Learn more about mold on and in your ferments here).
6. 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!
7. Continuous brewing is very forgiving. With batch brewing, if you let it go, you get some really strong, vinegar kombucha. 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. Same with vacation neglect. If you take a short vacation you just draw off 50% of your kombucha and add new tea.
8. Less risk of running out of Kombucha! It only takes 2-3 days for a continuous brew 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.
9. Continuous Brew Kombucha Has Better Flavor! I was floored when I tried my first taste of continuous brew kombucha! 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?
10. 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!
Continuous Brew Kombucha Instructions
Now that you’ve decided that the continuous brew method is for you, let’s take a look at how to actually make continuous brew kombucha.
- 2 tablespoons loose leaf black tea or tea blend of your choice. I use this tea blend.
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 1 quart of water
- 1 cup of kombucha from a previous batch brew
- Your kombucha SCOBY
- Bring one quart of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the tea and
sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
- Allow the tea to cool to room temperature.
- Strain the tea through a fine-mesh sieve into your continuous brew
- Stir in 3 quarts water.
- Add the kombucha SCOBY and the kombucha tea to the container.
- Cover it loosely, and allow it to ferment about a week. Depending on the temperature of your house, the initial ferment can take anywhere from 5-10 days. Feel free to check it daily by tasting a spoonful of it.
If you prefer to make a large batch of tea and keep it in the fridge to "feed" your continuous brew with, that is totally fine. Just increase the ingredients in equal portions.
When it comes time to "draw off" your kombucha, it is best to remove 25% of your batch and replace it with an equal amount of sweet tea. If you are removing the kombucha cup by cup, just replace it with sweet tea after you have removed 2-3 cups worth.
Not All Continuous Brew Kombucha 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 aluminum spigots, both materials 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)!
I had a gorgeous handmade stoneware crock when I was living in the moldy house. After I relocated to Arizona I decided to go with a stainless steel crock. I liked both and they worked equally well. The handmade crock was just so gorgeous!
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 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. There is a lot of great info in there!