Batch vs Continuous Brew Kombucha

by Sarah Fermented FoodsComments: 233

I 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 10 years and I’ve never had a break in my brewing cycle in all that time.

Going on vacation?  No worries.  Just set a fresh batch on to brew just before you leave for vacation 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.

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 kombucha culture!

I’ve tried making kombucha several different ways over the years including both the 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 4 – 2 1/2 gallon clear glass jars that I purchased at Target for $12.99 each.

How I make my large kombucha batches is described in detail in these two videoblogs:

Advanced Kombucha Topics 1

Advanced Kombucha Topics 2

If you are a beginner and wish to make a small batch to start, check out these beginner video lessons:

How to Make Kombucha for Beginners 1

How to Make Kombucha for Beginners 2

Is Continuous Brew or Batch Kombucha Better?

I’ve been asked several times recently about why I do not use the continuous brew method for kombucha which adds fresh sweet tea to the fermenting vessel periodically to mix with tea in various stages of fermentation.   While this method is awesome for some folks, I’ve tried it myself and it just didn’t work for me.

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

Mold Risk with Batch Kombucha Easily Eliminated by Increasing Starter Liquid

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 10 years of making kombucha and it was because I foolishly put the fermenting vessel quite near the fruit bowl.  In my experience, the risk is very small indeed for getting mold in your brewing kombucha, but 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 Does Not Contain Much If Any Caffeine or Sugar

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 away by a completed brewing cycle will 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 which 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.  To me, 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.

In the final analysis having tried both methods, I find batch kombucha to be an overall easier and healthier choice than continuous brew.    It’s also a lot cheaper to set up for batch kombucha and you can still make huge batches quite conveniently (I make 7-8 gallons several times per month) with little to no mess after you get into the groove.

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 in our late 40’s and have basically none despite parents and siblings who went grey at much earlier ages so was wondering if anyone else has experienced the same?

Where to Source Kombucha Cultures of Excellent Quality

Please refer to my Resources 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?
Kombucha:  What it is and How to Make it

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

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