Kombucha is that effervescent, sourish, slightly sweet drink that is touted as a cure-all and has been seen in the hands of many Hollywood stars. (Ronald Reagan supposedly drank it regularly after his bout with cancer). Made with sugar and tea, and then brewed with a kombucha mushroom (or scoby) that ferments it into an elixir of probiotics, it has a lot of good things going for it.
But it is expensive when bought at the store. I have attempted to make it at home several times, but I was not happy with the results. It was fine. But it lacked the flavor and bubbles of the professionally brewed version. I decided to try it again, but this time I decided to try the continuous kombucha brewing method.
What is continuous kombucha brewing? Continuous kombucha, as the name suggests, is kombucha that is brewing continually. You never have to restart the brew once you have bottled your kombucha, but rather, you just draw off part of the brew (generally 10 to 20 percent of it) and then replenish that amount. When you are only making single batches, you restart the process after every bottling, whereas with continuous kombucha, you never have to.
I have been very happy so far with this method! It has solved all of my home-brewing kombucha woes. Here are some of the benefits.
1. Continuous kombucha tastes more like professional brewed . While kombucha is very simple to make at home, many don’t realize that professional kombucha brewers control the variables (like temperature) much more than we home brewers generally do. This is why homemade kombucha can be inconsistent. However, my continuous kombucha is much more consistent. It is significantly more effervescent, properly sour (at a low pH) and tasty.
2. Continuous kombucha is safer. You have to wait until the kombucha reaches the proper low pH levels of 2.5 to 3.0 to make sure that any adverse bacteria in your brew had been killed. With continuous kombucha, you are keeping your brew at a low pH the whole time, only slightly raising it when you add your 10 to 20 percent. This makes it safer.
3. You are much less likely to have mold issues. Mold most often happens during the beginning stages of the kombucha process when the pH levels are still high. It is always discouraging to have this happen. You are unlikely to have mold issues with the continuous method once you have gotten it properly started.
4. It is easier to maintain . Using the method outlined in the Weston A Price Journal, I have found it much easier to maintain my kombucha. In these instructions, you brew a large amount of concentrated tea and sugar solution. With this in the refrigerator, you simply have to add a bit of it with some water each time you replenish your kombucha. I have really enjoyed the simplicity of it.
5. It could have more health benefits. According to the Happy Herbalist, “Only Continuous Brewing of the kombucha allows the formation of the vast array of the many nutrients and acids that are constantly being produced and broken down throughout the active ferment time. Kombucha researcher Mike Roussin indicated that at 80 degrees F and 7 days the ferment has the greatest variety of health benefits. (vitamins, oxylic acid, etc). However, he also noted that the longer the ferment was allowed to proceed, the more beneficial acids will have a chance to form.”
6. It brews quickly. In warm weather (or if you are using some sort of heating pad), after you have fed your brew, it can be ready in 24 hours! No long waits required anymore! With our still-cold house, it sometimes takes two to three days, but that is still fast!
How to get started:
- You will need a kombucha mushroom. Sometimes a local friend may have an extra to get you started. I have been happy with the ones I have gotten from my affiliate, Cultures for Health, as well.
- Instructions for the method I used are found here.
- Happy Herbalist has a huge amount of information about how to make kombucha, how to make sure you are using best practices, and problem solving as well.
- You will also need a lead-free container to brew with a plastic spigot. I bought one from Infused Vodka on eBay (they sell their seconds there). They were glad to exchange the metal spigot for a plastic one for me.
Related on MNN: The risks and benefits of kombucha tea