Continuous Brew Kombucha vs Batch Method

by Sarah Fermented Foods, KombuchaComments: 235

continuous brew kombucha vs batch methodI love kombucha, that tasty, fizzy, probiotic filled traditional drink which originated in China and later in Russia. My husband and I have been drinking it for over 15 years, and I’ve had few breaks in the brewing cycle in all that time.

Going on vacation? No worries. Just set a fresh batch on just before you leave and even if you’re gone a month, the new batch will be perfect and ready for you when you return!  If it’s a little strong, just dilute with a bit of plain seltzer. Or, you can use it to make kombucha salad dressing.

It’s amazing to me that I’m using today the great-great grandbaby culture of the original culture I purchased all those years ago! What a great health investment it was to purchase an excellent quality SCOBY!

I’ve tried making kombucha several different ways over the years including continuous brew and the batch kombucha methods. About 7 years ago, I settled on a routine that works well for me.  I make huge batches of 7-8 gallons every 10 days or so split among four 2 1/2 gallon clear glass jars that I purchased at Target for $12.99 each.

Batch Kombucha Method

How I make my large kombucha batches is described in detail in these two articles plus video demonstrations:

If you are a beginner and wish to make a small batch to start, check out these newbie lessons which include videos:

Continuous Brew Kombucha vs Batch Method

I’ve been asked several times recently about why I do not use the continuous brew method for kombucha. The process adds fresh sweet tea to the fermenting vessel periodically to mix with tea in various stages of fermentation. You essentially rarely wash the brewing vessel and simply keep topping it up with fresh sweet tea as it gets used up.

While this method is awesome for some folks, I’ve tried it myself and it just didn’t work for me.

My 4 reasons for my sticking with batch kombucha for so many years are outlined below.

Low Mold Risk with Batch Kombucha

Some folks say that the continuous brew method reduces the risk for mold.

Despite living in Florida where it is hot and humid much of the year, I’ve only had mold one time in over 15 years of making kombucha. The reason was simple. I foolishly put the fermenting vessel near the fruit bowl.

In my experience, the risk is very small indeed for getting mold in your brewing kombucha. If you wish to eliminate the risk to virtually nil, simply double the amount of starter you use for each batch.

It’s that simple.  Increasing the starter at the beginning increases the acidity of the initial brew and mold just won’t go there.

As a bonus, increasing the amount of starter ensures a faster brewing batch!

Batch Kombucha a Healthier Brew

I am a bit sensitive to caffeine and have never had a problem with batch kombucha causing any stimulant issues for me.  This is because caffeine is broken down during the fermentation cycle.  The sugar is also fermented away during the brewing cycle.

With continuous brew kombucha, however, sweet unfermented tea is periodically poured into the fermenting vessel which ensures that at least some caffeine and sugar that has not been fermented might end up in your glass.

Since I don’t want to consume any caffeine or white sugar myself and I most certainly don’t want my children to have any on a regular basis, the batch method is the better choice for our family.

Continuous Brew Kombucha Containers of Concern

When I tried making continuous brew kombucha, I used 2 1/2 gallon clear glass jugs. This is because the continuous brew fermenting vessels I examined at that time all had plastic spigots at the bottom. What’s more, they clogged up all the time from the bits of kombucha culture that came out when you filled a glass with your brew.

Another problem with the continuous brew kombucha fermentation vessels is that the kombucha really should not be in contact with plastic for any length of time as it will leech chemicals from the plastic into your drink!

The back of the spigot is inside the fermenting vessel and is exposed to brewing kombucha 24/7, so this didn’t make sense to me to choose this type of container given the possible health concerns. It does not matter if the spigots are BPA free or not. Plastic is a a petroleum based product and there are plenty of other chemicals that would be of concern coming in contact with kombucha.

With much of the convenience of continuous brew kombucha lost due to the impracticality and possible health danger of the plastic spigots, I chose to stick with large glass jugs which lend themselves best to the batch approach. Note that since this post was originally written, there are now safe continuous brewing vessels available from Kombucha Kamp. However, most on the market are still not safe enough, in my opinion.

Batch Kombucha More Budget Friendly than Continuous Brew

It’s significantly cheaper to get set up to brew batch kombucha versus continuous brew. Continuous brewing vessels are quite expensive, whereas a gallon Pyrex bowl costs just a few dollars. Hence, for newbies, batch kombucha is definitely the way to go at least until you see if you are going to make this beverage long term.

Even when you make large amounts like I do, it is still a lot cheaper to set up for batch kombucha. I make 7-8 gallons several times per month with little to no mess.

In the final analysis having tried both methods, I find batch kombucha to be an overall easier and healthier choice than continuous brew.

Does Kombucha Prevent Grey Hair?

On a side note, I’d like to take an informal poll of anyone who’s been drinking kombucha for a long time.

If you had no grey hair when you first started to drink it and have been drinking it consistently since, do you have much if any grey hair now?

Kombucha has anecdotally been linked to grey free hair. My husband and I are both 2 decades beyond the age most people see their first grey hairs. We both still have essentially none despite parents and siblings who went grey at much earlier ages. Has anyone else has experienced the same?

Where to Source Strong Kombucha Cultures

Please refer to my Healthy Shopping page for where to source excellent quality kombucha cultures and equipment for very reasonable cost.

More Information

Want to know more about kombucha?  These articles provide more detail for your research.

Fluoride in Kombucha: Should You Be Concerned?
Can Candida Sufferers Drink Kombucha?
Does Kombucha Prevent Grey Hair?
Jun Tea:  Kombucha Champagne
Have You Tried Kombucha?
Safe Traveling with Kombucha
Kombucha: Drink It and Wear It?

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

The Healthy Home Economist holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Mother to 3 healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, ABC, NBC, and many others.

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