Kombucha 102: How to bottle and carbonate


So you’ve finished Phase 1 of making Kombucha, and you’ve got a tangy, slighty-sweet tea that tastes ok, but not great. I promised you it was a tasty drink and you now you’re starting to wonder if I’m one of those health nuts who calls foul things nice, just because they’re healthy. Phase 2 of the process is where we make kombucha taste great, bottle it and naturally carbonate it. You’ll soon end up with a delicious fizzy drink that I promise you’ll love!

Sometimes called second fermentation, but what I call the Flavour Phase. It is optional (some people do actually like the taste of the plain kombucha), but recommended.

Phase 2: The Flavour Phase

 

1. Remove the Scoby:

Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch of kombucha, using the same steps as before. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate.

SCOBY kombucha

kombucha

 

As you do, check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick.

Tip: You can give this bottom layer to friends, or use it to double your brewing capacity. I started with 1 L, but I used my bottom SCOBY layers to now make 3 L each week.

2. Bottle the Finished Kombucha:

Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch.  (About 1/3 cup of starter tea to make 1L)

how to bottle kombucha

Nothing fancy about this step – just pour your kombucha into bottles, ready to add flavour.

Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if desired) into bottles using the small funnel, along with any juice, herbs, or fruit you may want to use as flavouring. The kombucha is already a little fizzy at this stage, so be careful when pouring that it doesn’t foam up too much and overflow. 

I recommend using plastic bottles, ideally bottles that are designed for carbonated beverages. You can use plastic water bottles, but they tend to swell up and the base becomes unstable. This is generally fine, but they can fall over easily and the pressure may cause it to explode.

3. Add Flavouring: 

This part is where you can get creative.

  • If flavouring with fresh, frozen, or dried fruit, start with 10-30% fruit and 70-90% Kombucha.
  • If flavouring with juice, start with 10-20% juice and 80-90% Kombucha.

Here’s some flavour ideas to get you started:

  • Mixed berries
  • Raspberries
  • Ginger, grated – turns out similar tasting to ginger beer.
  • Any berries plain (my all-time fave is raspberry)
  • Green apple, cinnamon, cardamom
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1/2″ crushed cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp fennel seed
  • Rosemary and lemon zest
  • Pineapple and basil
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • 1 split vanilla bean

Ginger and/or berries are my favourite! Leave about 2 cm of head room in each bottle.

4. Carbonate the Finished Kombucha:

Store the bottled kombucha at room-temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Plastic bottles are ideal because it makes it easier to check the carbonation level. Squeeze the bottle gently each day, when it’s rock hard you know your kombucha is ready. 

If you forget about the bottles and leave them too long you’ll find it tastes super vinegary. If you can cope with the flavour, it is still ok to drink but I recommend diluting it a little with water or juice! Otherwise throw it out and try again.

Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month. Once it’s chilled, it’s delicious to enjoy!

flavoured carbonated kombucha

Finished product! This one’s flavoured with strawberries and ginger during the second fermentation phase.

Questions or comments? Feel free to post them below. 

 


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2 thoughts on “Kombucha 102: How to bottle and carbonate

    • abishead Post author

      Hi Kristina,
      Great question. Yes it does contain caffeine due to the tea base. However, the amount of caffeine present in a glass of Kombucha will vary widely. This is because different teas have different caffeine contents and varying fermentation times will also change overall caffeine levels. Kombucha is generally considered to have about ⅓ the amount of caffeine as the tea it is made with. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, I suggest making your kombucha with mostly green and/or white (80%) tea to reduce your caffeine content by about half over black tea alone. You can also use herbal teas, just make sure not to use an oily tea like peppermint and every few batches will need a refresher with regular tea. I’ve never tried herbal teas but I’ve heard they’re delicious for this purpose! I hope that answers your question.
      Abi