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Do you brew your own kombucha? If you're like me, you learned how to start brewing kombucha using the batch brew method. I wrote a detailed beginner's guide on batch brewing that you can read here. But, in the long run, batch brewing is tedious and time consuming. I knew there had to be a better way, one that would save me some time and effort.
Enter Continuous Brewing (CB).
Continuous brewing changed my kombucha-brewing life. It is SO easy and takes so little time compared to batch brewing. Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against batch brewing — it holds a special place in my heart. But, I do like the time and work I save with the continuous brew method. Since I work a full-time job, in addition to everything else going on in my life, I am always looking for ways to save time and make my life easier. Frankly, I don't have nearly the amount of energy that I once had, so batch brewing seems exhausting now.
If you're new to kombucha don't know what all the craze is about, check out this post for an overview of the health benefits and why people are so krazy for kombucha (yes, I used a “k” instead of a “c”). There is also an excellent post on Kombucha Kamp's website about the health benefits of kombucha that you can read here.
DISCLOSURE: I purchased a continuous brew system from Kombucha Kamp to review. I was under no obligation to post a review or giveaway, nor did I receive any monetary compensation for this post. All views and opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links. I am part of their affiliate program and when you make a purchase through any of these links, I earn a small commission on each sale, which allows me to cover a portion of the cost of this site. This has no effect on your sale price and is simply a cost of doing business for the company you are purchasing from. All funds received help with the continued maintenance of this website and free content. You can view it like leaving a tip. Thank you! Read our full terms and conditions here.
The Benefits of the Continuous Brew Method
You may be wondering what continuous brewing is. In the simplest terms, it a way to keep kombucha brewing around the clock. Here are some of the benefits of continuous brewing:
1. It's a time saver. Continuous brewing allows you to skip much of the time that it takes to make a batch, wait for it to ferment, bottle it up, make a new batch, etc.
2. It's neater. If you are like me, you drink a lot of kombucha. When batch brewing, I would typically have three 1-gallon jars brewing at all times. My counters were always cluttered with big jars of kombucha. The CB system is neat and tidy and also looks prettier than a bunch of gallon jars sitting around.
3. It's easier. Batch brewing was always messy, no matter how neat I tried to be. I was always sloshing the kombucha tea all over the counter and then imagine the mess I made when pouring up the bottles for the second ferment! Even using a funnel, I always made a mess. Now, with the CB, I just put the bottle under the spigot and fill ‘er up!
4. It's safer. While there is always a risk of cross-contamination with any fermenting endeavor, the risk is much higher with batch brewing, primarily because you have to handle the scobies each time you make a new batch. No matter how sanitary I was, I would, on occasion, get a moldy batch that had to get tossed. It broke my heart every time. With the CB system, the only time you ever touch the scoby is when you take it out to clean the system (which is not often).
5. It's faster. When I was batch brewing, quite often, I'd run out of kombucha before I had new batches ready. What a bummer, especially when you have the taste for some cold, fizzy booch! With the CB system, you will continuously have fresh, delicious kombucha right at your finger tips.
6. It's healthier. I have always known the kombucha is full of beneficial yeasts, bacteria, and acids. However, I did not know until recently that some of the beneficial acids in KT don't begin to form until 2-3 weeks into the ferment cycle. Since more of the mature KT is staying in the vessel, you are getting more of those beneficial nutrients in your finished brew. Also, since I now prefer a much more tart kombucha than I did before, I am getting more benefit from each batch I make, because I am fermenting it longer.
The picture at the top of this post is my CB system on my kitchen counter. I think it's pretty – a shiny black vessel and black wooden stand, plus I can easily scoot it out of the way when I am not using it. It also makes a nice conversation starter when people come over and ask “Oh, what's that?”. Then I can share the benefits of kombucha with them!
How the Continuous Brew System Works
It is super easy and everything can be done in three simple steps:
1. When you start a continuous brew system, you will begin with a sanitized, lead-free vessel with a spigot. To that, you will add your sweet tea, your scobies, and your starter liquid. Then, you cover it with a tea towel or other tight-weaved cloth and let it work its magic. The first batch will take the longest, while you get your system up and running. I like a really tart kombucha, so I went for about 28 days for my first ferment (most people would probably think my kombucha is more like vinegar). Of course, you can adjust this time frame to your own personal tastes. I have found that since I started my healing journey back in August 2012, my taste for kombucha has changed. I like it really tart now, whereas before, I liked it a little sweeter. Also, brew time is going to vary from season to season. When the weather is cooler, the batches take much longer to ferment (highly recommend using the Year Round Heating System for consistent kombucha brewing during the coldest months). During the summer, things speed up dramatically, so you can adjust your schedule as needed.
2. Once the first batch is ready, you pour off 25-35% of the kombucha. You can either drink it right then and there, or you can flavor it and do a second ferment, which is what I always do. I like using fresh and dried fruits, herbs, and more.
3. Once you have poured off your kombucha, you will add more sweet tea (always make sure it's at room temperature and not hotter, or else you will kill the scoby), and let it work its magic again. Because you are keeping larger amounts of the finished brew in the vessel and only adding a little sweet tea in at a time, the fermentation time is dramatically reduced, sometimes down to just a day or two, depending on the temperature of your house. You literally have kombucha on tap at all times.
Kombucha Kamp Complete Continuous Brewing Systems
So, once I made the decision that I needed to start continuous brewing, my first stop was Kombucha Kamp. They are my go-to resource for anything kombucha related. After talking to the Kombucha Mama herself, Hannah Crum, I knew I wanted to try the CB and was thrilled when I got the opportunity to review one of their Continuous Brew Systems. To be quite honest, even after I had placed my order for the new CB system, I was still slightly resistant I was comfortable with my batch brewing, I knew what I was doing, and well, sometimes I am resistant to change, even when I know it will make my life easier. I know many of you can relate! 🙂
One of the things I love about Kombucha Kamp's continuous brew systems is that they come with everything you need. You don't need to go shopping around at a bunch of different places to find everything for a CB set up. It's all in one place, which makes my life easier. Right before I decided to start the CB method, I had gotten mold in my last batch of kombucha. I was scoby-less and was stoked that the system came with two super healthy scobies ready to go (plus a whole bunch of other fun things like tea, flavoring, pH strips, and more).
The system that I chose was the Complete System (in black), but Kombucha Kamp also offers a Basic (No-Frills) System and a Deluxe System, depending on your needs. You can see a handy comparison chart of these systems here.
What really stands out about Kombucha Kamp is the support. First, when you buy a system you are given access to a TON of helpful tutorial videos that walk you through everything you need to know about your CB system, including how to set it up, how to know when the tea is ready, how to clean the vessel, troubleshooting tips, and much more. These videos are priceless, especially if you're brand new to continuous brewing and don't know where to start. I have watched them several times and actually want to go back and re-watch them again.
In addition to the videos, the website itself is full of tons of helpful information. I often find myself going back to the site to brush up on something or find an answer to my question. The Kombucha Kamp site is a true resource. All in all, I love my CB system and I don't think I will ever go back to batch brewing, now that I know how easy continuous brewing can make my life. Want to learn more? Check out Kombucha Kamp's continuous brewing article here.
The Big Book of Kombucha
My favorite kombucha guru, Hannah Crum, is releasing an AMAZING new book (March 2016) called The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea.
This book is an amazing resource for anyone who loves kombucha, whether you are new to brewing or a seasoned expert. Everything you need to know about brewing, flavoring, bottling, troubleshooting, etc. will be covered! Order it on Amazon here.