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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. This has no effect on your sale price and is simply a cost of doing business for the company you are purchasing from. 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.
I have a good suitable container for continuous Kombucha brewing but it had a copper tap so im reluctant to use it for that reason, Do you supply the tap part in a material that is scoby ?
Hi Marie – Thanks for stopping by. I don’t personally sell any products, but you can check out the Kombucha Kamp website, as they have lots of products for brewing. Happy fermenting! 🙂
that is scoby friendly…
That’s great!.. Thanks Jessica 🙂
Question – do you ever worry about the alcohol content of kombucha? Is it safe for kids? During pregnancy??
Hi Andrea – I personally don’t worry about the alcohol content, but I know some people do. The longer the brew cycle, the more alcohol develops, though even with a 3-week brew cycle it’s not going to be much. According to Kombucha Kamp, “When you brew at home, primary fermentation (pre-flavors) alcohol content will likely be less than .5%. Should you decide to add flavors, that level could elevate due to the naturally occurring sugars reactivating the yeast. To test your ABV – alcohol by volume – you can purchase a hydrometer at your local brewing supply store.”
In regards to drinking kombucha during pregnancy, here is an article about that: http://www.kombuchakamp.com/2011/06/kombucha-tea-pregnancy-safety-probiotics-fermented-foods.html. In regards to kids, the very last question on this FAQ page discusses that: http://www.kombuchakamp.com/2011/04/kombucha-questions-candida-plastic-children.html
Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
Hi Jessica! Love your page!! In reading about CB, What does “KT” stand for? Btw, this couldn’t of come at a better time! I just set my system up last night. Yikes! I’m nervous! Thank you!
Hi Maggie – KT is the abbreviation for Kombucha Tea. Happy to hear this is of help! 🙂
I’m so glad I found your post, I’ve been wondering when you add new tea mixture into continuous kombucha, I just got done with my first batch and I think it’s going to be gone before another is ready unless the temperature here warms up and stays that way for awhile. One question relating to that will it hurt the kombucha or scooby if I have it in one place during the day and another at night? Or here with spring time in Colorado, one place when It’s warm another when it’s cold, I’m pretty sure I read somewhere it shouldn’t be moved much.
Hi Lori – You will add the fresh tea mixture to the kombucha when it’s 25-35% gone. You don’t want to let it go much lower than that, as it won’t be able to catch up fast enough. Kombucha Kamp does sell a little heating pad especially for the CB systems. I don’t have one, but will invest in one when I start brewing again. I’m taking a break from kombucha right now. In the winters here in CO, I just always know that my kombucha is going to take A LOT longer to brew — sometimes upwards of 6 weeks to get it to the taste I like (which is pretty tart).
Hi Jessica, can I ask why you’re taking a break? I’ve been guzzling like no tomorrow, should I be restricting my consumption? Thank you!
Jac – I decided to take a break because I was no longer liking the taste of the kombucha (any variety, homemade or store bought). I went for many years drinking it daily and then one day my body decided it didn’t want it any more. I am a big advocate of listening to what your body is telling you. At the time, I was starting on a new healing journey and I think that played a role in my tastes changing. I have started drinking a little bit here and there again, but my tastebuds are still not back to normal! Cheers!
I just noticed you also live in Denver so you know about the weather issue, and we don’t turn the thermostat above 6o.
Hi Lori! Yep! Crazy CO weather! 🙂
Hello, my spouse here loves kombucha. He has been making it for the past month. Though he doesn’t use a brewer. Using a brewer, can you still make the kombucha cold? What’s the difference from brewing and making it in mansion jar?
Hi Jennifer – There is nothing about continuous brewing that heats up the kombucha. It is not much different than batch brewing, except that it is less work and you consistently have kombucha, rather than having one big completed batch and then having to wait for a week or two for the next batch to finish brewing. If you have a really cold house, they do make a very small heating strip that will keep your kombucha at just the right temp to ferment properly, but not hot enough to damage the good bacteria and yeasts. Hope that helps!
I have a question about the second brew, when I put it into the bottle and put the fruit into it, do I seal the lid (flip top porcelain w metal bands)or do I put another piece of fabric with a rubber band across the top?
Trela – You will seal the bottle with the flip top. This helps build up carbonation and makes the beverage fizzy. Just be careful not to fill it to full (always leave at least an inch or two of head room) and use caution when opening. Happy fermenting!
At what thickness, with either continuous or batch brewing, should I remove some layers of SCOBY? I read something that said to peel the new one off each time and another that said to let it get very large. Thanks!
Abbi – Those scobys can grow HUGE! I had one that was almost 2 inches thick! For regular brewing, I like to use one that is about 1/2 inch thick or so. If you let them grow and grow, they can get enormous! 🙂
2 questions. .. I tied to pour my kombucha out of the spout today and it was clogged. Is that normal?
Also is the rubbery thing that grows on the top different from the scoby…and do I leave it in there when I pour more tea in?
Hi Connie – Yes, that can happen if a small piece of the scoby or sediment from the bottom of the crock gets caught in the spigot. You may have to scoop out some of the tea and reach down there (with clean hands) and try to unclog it. The rubbery thing that grows on top of the scoby is your new scoby. Every time you brew a new batch, a new scoby will grow. You can just leave it in there when you add more tea. If the scoby gets too big, you can peel it or cut it into smaller pieces. You can give them away, store them for backups, or compost them. Hope that helps and happy fermenting! 🙂
Hi Jessica I recently set up a continuous brew in a 2 gallon container. I only had enough starter tea to make 1 gallon and it has now been 2 weeks. I have been tasting it and it tastes pretty good with quite a bit of fizz. My question is should I now make up the extra gallon of sweet tea and add to it now? and also do I just pour it in? do I have to move the scoby? do I have to stir it in? A lot of questions sorry but I want to make sure I do the right thing. I do not want to hurt it in anyway.
Hi Vivienne – Thanks for stopping by! If you are happy with the taste of the current batch, you could pour off some of that (about 1/3 of the gallon) and then bottle that to drink later (or do a second ferment with fruit or juice if you like). Then, go ahead and add your fresh sweet tea to the remaining 2/3rds of the original batch. You can keep building up your continuous brewing like that. Once this next batch ferments, you could probably pour off about half of it to drink and then add more tea. And so on and so on. Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂
Hi Jessica thanks for your help I will do as you say it makes sense. Also when I pour in the new sweet tea do I have to move the Scoby, and do I have to stir the fresh tea into the KT. Thanks
No need to remove the scoby, you can just pour it in. You could stir it if you wanted, but I never do (I’m lazy) 🙂