Kombucha can be made one container at a time or using a continuous-brew system.
Benefits of a Kombucha Continuous-Brew System
Continuous-brew systems are easy to set up and maintain. They have a number of benefits:
- Low maintenance.
- Maintaining the ecosystem created during the fermentation process provides the best defense against the development of mold and invasion by transient yeasts and bacteria.
- Provides the healthiest environment for the scoby and allows the yeast and bacteria to develop relatively undisturbed with a consistent supply of new food.
- Provides a more consistent supply of kombucha for your family.
Setting Up a Continuous Brewing System
For choosing the best material and cover, read our article Choosing Equipment for Making Kombucha.
A continuous brew container should hold between 1 and 5 gallons. A spigot located near the bottom of the container is necessary for drawing off kombucha without disturbing the contents. Do not use a spigot that has metal on the inside of the container. Continous brew containers can often be found at a local home brew supply store.
Clean everything thoroughly prior to setting up the brew system. Avoid antibacterial soap, and rinse with vinegar to remove soap residue.
Preparing the Kombucha Mixture
Prepare the sweet tea mixture according to this chart of ingredients, ratios, and instructions. Pour the mixture into the continuous-brew container and add the scoby. Do not overfill the container. Allow space for the mother scoby, development of the new scoby. Cover.
Fermenting the Kombucha
Ferment the kombucha for the desired period of time Click here for more information on kombucha fermentation periods.
Harvesting the Kombucha
There are two methods for harvesting kombucha:
- Once the kombucha has fermented to your liking, drain off the kombucha you wish to consume for the week and bottle the kombucha. Leave at least 20% of the kombucha in the vessel to act as starter tea for the next batch.
- Drain off the kombucha as you drink it. At the end of a week, add more sweetened tea.
Feeding the Brewing System
Prepare new sweet tea using the normal ratios. Allow the tea to cool thoroughly, then slowly pour the solution into the top of the container to feed the system.
Timing Harvesting and Feeding
Harvesting and feeding can be done every 7 to 30 days. If you wish to draw off kombucha to drink daily but only feed the mixture weekly, be aware that kombucha drawn off at the beginning of the week is likely to be sweeter than kombucha drawn off later in the week.
Controlling Sugar Content
If low sugar content is an important factor for you, allow the fresh sweet tea an adequate fermentation period prior to the next draw.
Cleaning of the Brewing Vessel and Spigot
Cleaning the vessel and spigot is required only if the spigot becomes clogged with yeast particles or if too much yeast builds up in the bottom of the container.
To clean the system, remove the kombucha and scoby and set aside in a safe container. Clean the container using white vinegar and warm water. Once the system is clean, add the kombucha and scoby back to the vessel, add fresh sweet tea, and resume the process.
The Large Scoby
Continuous brewing systems produce large scobys. The primary issue with a large scoby is that after some time they grow very thick, taking up valuable space in the container. Reduce the large scoby's size periodically, to allow more efficient fermenting. The scoby can be torn or cut up using a non-metal utensil. Check out our list of ideas for using extra scobys.