With spring in the air, dandelions in bloom, and seed planting up on us, I'm also dreaming of cooler drinks over hot ones.
While there is always room for a good cuppa hot tea in the morning, the warmer weather has me turning to iced and sun tea as well as cold, bubbly, kombucha. There is just something about that fizz that is refreshing after a hot day out in the garden.
In our family of 6, brewing kombucha with the batch brew method doesn't cut it. It just doesn't make enough tea for all the thirsty people in our house and so we use the continuous brew method for making our kombucha. Plus continuous brew kombucha is faster, easier, and simpler to make.
Continuously brewing kombucha allows me to make a large amount so that each of our six family members can enjoy it, daily, at dinner. It makes it easier on my already busy schedule. In fact I've been continuously brewing kombucha almost the whole time I've made it without realizing that I was doing CB and not batch brewing! If your not sure what this "kombucha" thing is I'm talking about you can read more about what kombucha is here.
Batch Brew Vs. Continuous Brew (CB)
Some of you may be wondering what the differences are between batch kombucha and continuous brew kombucha.
No worries, I was wondering that myself not too long ago. As I mentioned earlier I've pretty much always brewed kombucha using the continual method.
The most basic way to brew kombucha is called batch brewing. It's used for small quantities from 1/2 gallon of kombucha up to five gallons of kombucha. This is the size that most home brewers and experimenters use. Sometimes not much more than that is needed. This is a great amount to learn with as well as experiment with.
Sweet tea (the nutrient solution for the scoby and fermentation) is added to a starter liquid (already fermented tea) and a mother culture (the scoby).
This is done every time that the kombucha is made. Starting from scratch, aside from the 1 cup or so of already fermented starter tea saved from the previous batch. When the tea is done it's bottled or drank except for that one cup of starter tea.
Now, when kombucha is continuously brewed, it's a bit different. The same ingredients are used: scoby, sweet tea, and fermented tea (starter liquid).
But this time around instead of using 1 cup of the starter liquid, 1/3 to 2/3 of the fermented tea is used. Continuous brew kombucha is made in much larger quantities, no less than 2 gallons at a time, clear on up to huge commercial batches.
Continuously brewing kombucha can have more variations in finished product than the batch brewing process that allows more control over a smaller amount of tea. CB also requires a little bit different equipment since the amount of tea is quite different.
Continuous Brew Equipment
When brewing large batches of kombucha such as during a continuous brew the 1/2 gallon and gallon jars no longer work. The minimum suggested amount of tea to brew at one time with the continuous method is 2 gallons.
Most home fermenters average about 2.5 gallons of tea when continuously brewing kombucha at home. I believe our container is about 3 or 3.5 gallons.
With a large amount of tea, a larger container will be needed. Preferably a container that has a spigot, making tasting and bottling much simpler. Make sure your container will hold at least 2 gallons. The continuous brew container should also be made of a non-corrosive material such as glass, stainless steel, or a lead free ceramic container. Shown below are several that would work for setting up your CB station at home.
Also make sure that your vessel has a non-corrosive spigot as well, we switched out plastic one out with a stainless steel spigot. Metal usage with kombucha is ok if the material is non-corrosive but in general metal should not touch the kombucha for long periods of time. Metal is OK in the short term for helping to get the scoby out or to stir the yeast at the bottom of the continuous brew container.
A breathable cloth and rubber band are also needed, as they are with batch brewing, to cover the top of the vessel and allow air into the ferment.
Tea for making your kombucha with is also needed making sure that this tea is free for added oils and flavorings. Like our Mossy Rock Green Tea Blend or Three Sisters Black tea blend.
Different Methods of Continuous Brew
Now that you have your equipment lets get some tea fermenting and chat about methods of drawing off finished tea. As well as replenishing the tea in your continuous kombucha brew.
First up lets get some tea steeping and brew going, here is what you will need!
Continuous Brew Kombucha
- 5 cups starter tea (already fermented kombucha)
- 5 tablespoons of loose leaf tea (mossy rock or three sisters blends)
- 2 gallons of room temperature water (no chlorine)
- 4 scobies (4 small or 2 large)
- 2 cups organic sugar
- Brew 3-5 tablespoons of loose leaf tea in 2 gallons of water. Steep about 6-20 minutes.
- Strain loose leaf tea from water and discard into the compost.
- Add the 2 cups of organic sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Let sweet tea come down to room temperature.
- Add 3-5 cups of starter tea to your brewing vessel along with scobies and starter tea.
- Cover with a breathable cloth and rubber band to allow air in and keep critters out.
- Let ferment for 10-28 days and then repeat process while decanting off 1/3 to 1/2 of starter tea for consumption.
Now that your tea is fermenting in it's new continuous brew vessel and it's sat for 10-20 days it's time to start tapping the tank for refreshment. There are lots of ways that this can be done and it's all about which method best suits your schedule.
Cup by Cup
Fill your gladdest right from the spigot of your continuous brew and sip away. Just make sure that you add equal amounts of new, room temp, sweet tea to the batch each time. This will keep your brew fed and happy and keep you with enough kombucha to enjoy.
Bottle Her Up
Don't want to brew a cup of sweet tea every time you want a sip of 'booch? No worries! Bottle up some of the finished continuous brew - no more than 1/2 to 1/3 of your finished brew - and then add equal amounts of room temp sweet tea to continue your continuous brew!
See how simple it is? Just make sure that what ever you take from your finished batch you are adding back in sweet tea and you will keep your brew going indefinitely!
Now your all set to keep on brewing the fast and simple way! A couple of care tips for down the road:
#1 Scobies will continue to grow and should be trimmed down twice a year.
#2 If too much yeast gathers in your continuous brew it's a good idea to clean it up a few times a year. Use a metal strainer to filter your kombucha starter and clean out your jar with some vinegar and water before placing your starter and scoby back in. DO NOT use soap to clean with as it will kill some of the beneficial bacteria and yeast. With those two simple tips you should be on your way to bottles of tea bubbly.
Are you going to give continuous brew a try? Or maybe you already use this method?
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